Boagworld Show S06E13

Web & Digital Advice

Digital and web advice from Headscape and the addled brain of Paul Boag... tell me more

Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Thursday, 11th July, 2013

Sub-contractors, briefs and resumes

This week on our little web design podcast, hiring sub contractors, writing a good brief and what to put in your resume.

Season 6:
The estimated time to read this article is 47 minutes
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Paul Boag:
This week on our little web design podcast: hiring subcontractors, writing a good brief and what to put in your resume.

Did you like the way I said resume, in the introduction?

Marcus Lillington:
I like the fact that you call it a little web design podcast.

Paul Boag:
Little web design.

Marcus Lillington:
You call it a little web design podcast. You’ve been calling it a little web design podcast a lot lately.

Paul Boag:
It’s cute. I like to think of us as the kind of the My Little Ponies of web design.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s one word that I don’t think would describe us.

Paul Boag:
Cute.

Marcus Lillington:
Cute.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, I’m quite cute.

Marcus Lillington:
Or, I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
I’m cute and fluffy.

Marcus Lillington:
War-like would be a similar word in a different direction.

Paul Boag:
Yes. We are kind of insipid in the middle of somewhere, lukewarm.

Marcus Lillington:
Little web design, no we’re the biggest podcast in the world. That’s not quite right, is it?

Paul Boag:
No, that’s a lie. An absolute lie. You’re doing the talking this week, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m not.

Paul Boag:
Because last Thursday and Friday I did back to back workshops for two day solid and I’ve lost the ability to communicate.

Marcus Lillington:
Chris and I were just kind of – we kept kind of because you sent that email through, I won’t repeat the content of it. And we both said to …

Paul Boag:
No, that’s – no, I’m sorry. You got – I received …

Marcus Lillington:
That makes it sound rude. It wasn’t rude.

Paul Boag:
… some criticism from one person about one of the workshops I was at, after then receiving a lot of praise from everybody else.

Marcus Lillington:
Adulation.

Paul Boag:
Adulation, they were bowing down before me.

Marcus Lillington:
But basically Chris and I were both going “why did he agree to do this?”

Paul Boag:
I don’t know why I agreed to do it. I don’t know why I agree to do half the things I do.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s what I said; it’s one of those things that somebody probably asked him three months ago.

Paul Boag:
That’s the trick, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
When he thought, yeah that sounds like a great idea.

Paul Boag:
Because it’s miles ahead and it’s happening to a future me. That is the thing is that, I don’t view future me as the same person as me now.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
Well, what is it they say? All your all atoms are replaced in your body every five years so every five years you’re a completely new person.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought it was more than that, but not…

Paul Boag:
No, it’s five years.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re making this up …

Paul Boag:
No, I’m not making it up.

Marcus Lillington:
… as you go along.

Paul Boag:
No, I’m not making up. I heard it on the internet so it must be true.

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
Somebody come write in and clarify this for me.

Marcus Lillington:
I think your bones are completely replaced in something like 13 years. Yeah, whatever.

Paul Boag:
No, every five years at least. But in my head it’s probably about every three months. So anything further than three months ahead in my head is happening to somebody else and not to me.

Marcus Lillington:
Underlines the importance of your genes, doesn’t it? Because all of this stuff that you think is you, isn’t. It’s that signature inside.

Paul Boag:
I know. But also how do you maintain consciousness when the whole of you is being replaced?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s far, far too big a question for this show.

Paul Boag:
It does your head in, doesn’t it? I am really into this. It is my son’s fault, because my son is into physics and stuff like that. He’s subscribed to all these YouTube channels that like have kind of fascinating facts about your body or the universe or whatever. And then that’s kind of lead me onto kind of pseudo philosophical ones as well and they all just blow my brain. It’s like the universe – the universe is far too complicated. Everybody just needs to calm down, stop discovering shit that confuses me. I am much more of a flat earth kind of person, simplified all.

Marcus Lillington:
So, this is the – that’s an interesting point and this isn’t going off into a difficult questions at all. My son is also a physics, philosophy based kind of person. And I have been trying to keep up with him for the past two years while he has been doing is A-levels and failed miserably. And I kind of thought that it was because we have reached such complexity these days, that if I had been born 40 years ago, I would have been able to keep up with him, but it’s actually the pace that human race has gone at in the past 25 years has meant that somebody like me doesn’t stand a chance. But then none of us do, apart from the true geniuses or I’m just an old fart.

Paul Boag:
No, I think it’s because physicists make shit up. I don’t think half of it’s true, I’ve decided. I mean some of the – like, I mean we were talking about quantum computing, right? Makes no sense. A particle can exist in multiple states as long as it’s not observed. I mean, that is just silliness; it either is in one stay or another, it can’t be in multiple states at the same.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not going to join you on this one.

Paul Boag:
Schrödinger’s cat makes no friggin’ sense.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it does.

Paul Boag:
It doesn’t.

Marcus Lillington:
It does.

Paul Boag:
It doesn’t in my head and I am obviously the definitive guide. It all just does my head in and confuses me.

Marcus Lillington:
I would like to talk about …

Paul Boag:
What would you like to talk about?

Marcus Lillington:
… macaroni cheese.

Paul Boag:
Why?

Marcus Lillington:
Because I had some for lunch today which was…

Paul Boag:
This is the bizarrest change of subject ever. We’ve gone from Schrödinger’s cat to macaroni cheese.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s just the best thing ever.

Paul Boag:
Oh, it’s so not.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, it is.

Paul Boag:
Oh, it’s grim.

Marcus Lillington:
No, but it’s homemade.

Paul Boag:
Oh, homemade. Yeah, no, I’ll give you that.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s three cheese and it’s got like sliced tomatoes and sesame seeds and macaroni. It’s gorgeous.

Paul Boag:
See as soon as you say, macaroni cheese to me, right?

Marcus Lillington:
You think sick on a plate, don’t you?

Paul Boag:
Well, I do think that, yeah. But also I think WeightWatchers macaroni and cheese …

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, god.

Paul Boag:
… which is just foul. It tastes like sick on a plate. It doesn’t look like it, well it does. But it doesn’t just look like it, it also tastes like it.

Marcus Lillington:
No, no I’m taking about the super fat boy version with three different types of cheeses, mustard in there as well and cream and yeah, then you do sliced tomatoes all the way across the top of it and then you melt cheese and not sesame seeds, sunflower seeds on the top. And it is utterly divine and it’s a vegetarian thing and I’m always going on about steak and stuff.

Paul Boag:
Perhaps we need to replace your terrible joke at the end of each show with a recipe.

Marcus Lillington:
With a recipe. This week I have not got a terrible joke. I’ve got a good joke this week. Yeah, it’s big talk.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s – that will keep people listening.

Marcus Lillington:
It was from Ian. Downstairs, Ian.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Ian Luckraft.

Paul Boag:
Our Ian not Ian…

Marcus Lillington:
Not Ian Lasky.

Paul Boag:
Lasky, that’s it. So Luckraft instead of Lasky.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Another “L” though.

Paul Boag:
Do you know – do you want to know something terrible? I shouldn’t confess this on the inter webs. But since …

Marcus Lillington:
So, don’t then. Pause…

Paul Boag:
Since Ian has joined Headscape, how many months ago was that? Six months maybe?

Marcus Lillington:
March, I think, he joined.

Paul Boag:
March.

Marcus Lillington:
So what’s that? Three, four month.

Paul Boag:
I haven’t met him.

Marcus Lillington:
What do you mean you haven’t met him?

Paul Boag:
I have not physically seen him since he joined Headscape. And to be honest I’m struggling to remember if I saw him when he came in for an interview. It’s terrible, we keep missing each other.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I don’t think you did. No, I don’t think you’ve…

Paul Boag:
So, I don’t think I’ve ever met the guy.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh right.

Paul Boag:
That’s horrendous.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go.

Paul Boag:
I met him on Squiggle.

Marcus Lillington:
You will see him on Wednesday.

Paul Boag:
I see him every day on Squiggle …

Marcus Lillington:
You do, this is true.

Paul Boag:
… which I’ve just released a – well a little while ago, I released a blog post about Sqwiggle, link in the show notes. I always hate my – see there is another example of me doing horrible things to my future self. Every time I say link in the show notes I create a little bit of pain for me further down the line. It’s amazing. Right, should we talk about our stories for the week?

Marcus Lillington:
We could do but I’m trying to think of something else we could link to.

Paul Boag:
Well, they’re not stories are they? We are not talking about stories, it’s peoples’ questions. Its not stories, once upon a time.

Marcus Lillington:
We could turn them into stories.

Paul Boag:
You’re trying to think of things link to?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Just to annoy me?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but I can’t.

Paul Boag:
See, there you go. We will link to your latest iTunes album.

Marcus Lillington:
Not that latest, but yes I do it – actually I am going to, I decided over the weekend that I’m going to make an album on my own, yes. A sort of instrumentally type thing.

Paul Boag:
Oh right. A kind of muzak. You’re going to sell it to shopping malls.

Marcus Lillington:
Tijuana Brass. Yeah, I’m going to redo the Beatles songs in – using synthesized trumpet noises. Yes, that’s it, Paul.

Paul Boag:
You should so, do it. Actually I would quite like an instrumental album from you. Do you want me to tell you why?

Marcus Lillington:
Because you can work to instrumental albums, you’ve told me this before.

Paul Boag:
Spot on.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So that would be really nice. Do it. I might even pay money for it.

Marcus Lillington:
You don’t have to pay, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I’m thinking about writing a book, not a work related book.

Marcus Lillington:
A fiction book?

Paul Boag:
No, not a fiction book. I would like to do a fiction book, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Do a story. Talking about stories.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that would be quite cool.

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve stolen my story, by the way.

Paul Boag:
I will be the next Iain M. Banks. Oh so sad. If you haven’t heard about – Iain M. Banks is one of the greatest science fiction writers of our time, link in the show notes to him.

Marcus Lillington:
He is one of the greatest writers of our time.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, of course he does a lot more than just …

Marcus Lillington:
He used to sell four to one his non sci-fi. It changed over the years to about equal.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
He was known as a serious literary writer. Read some of his …

Paul Boag:
I have done. The Wasp Factory I’ve read, which is weird.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, quite dark. But then his sci-fi is quite dark as well in places.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, Wasp Factory is darker than his sci-fi except possibly the guy that’s body was covered in penises. Was that him?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Don’t let that put you off. That’s quite rare and his sci-fi is excellent. He created an amazingly rich universe in the culture, which is brilliant. Very, very good, but he’s recently died, which is why we are very sad.

Marcus Lillington:
Far too young.

Paul Boag:
Yes. No, I’m going to write a book on happiness in the digital age.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Because it sounds pretentious.

Marcus Lillington:
You might sell some – I reckon I could write that as well.

Paul Boag:
Anybody could write that. I’m listening at the moment to …

Marcus Lillington:
Throw all the shit away and grow vegetables.

Paul Boag:
And that wasn’t what I was going to say. I’m listening to Seth Godin – Seth Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception, link in the show notes and although I could …

Marcus Lillington:
That’s Godin surely.

Paul Boag:
Godin? I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
No, that’s okay.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, the book.

Paul Boag:
To be honest, I don’t even care.

Marcus Lillington:
The book.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, so I’m listening to his Icarus Deception and essentially it’s an entire book which says go out and make cool stuff. And I should do – I could do that, I could write a book like that. It’s easy so that’s what I’m going to do.

Marcus Lillington:
I reckon it’s not easy, but you could do it.

Paul Boag:
Well he manages – I think the art of it is saying the same thing in like 150 different ways.

Marcus Lillington:
You can do that. Definitely. But anyway as I was saying …

Paul Boag:
We are not going back to macaroni cheese, are we?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m going to make an album. It will take me a long time but I’ve been inspired, which is rare these days, but by the fact – I went back and converted some song files that I made on the old Atari…

Paul Boag:
Atari? Bloomin’ heck.

Marcus Lillington:
… computer back in the early ‘90s. And I managed to – on floppy disks…

Paul Boag:
Gee whiz.

Marcus Lillington:
…I’ve converted them into stuff that Logic – that we’re recording this on now – understands. So, I’m listening back to the thing – these things and thinking oh, I like that one and I like that one and it’s kind of inspired me to kind of …

Paul Boag:
Build on that. Oh, that sounds exciting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, basically. And so one day probably in about three years, there will be a new album.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Well, you need to set yourself some deadlines, Marcus, otherwise it will never happen.

Marcus Lillington:
I just did.

Paul Boag:
Three years?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Wow, really ambitious there.

Marcus Lillington:
Well how long is it going to take you to write the book then, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Oh, I’ll churn that out next week because I’ll basically just say the same thing again and again 150 times, I could do that. Right, I actually am quite excited to talk about some of the questions this week. So, if it’s all right with you Mr. Lillington, I would like to actually vaguely maybe talk about them.

What do you look for when hiring subcontractors?

What do you look for when hiring subcontractors, whether a designer, developer, digital marketer, etcetera? Do you have tips for finding and hiring quality subcontractors?

Chad Warner

All right, our first question is from Chad Warner, who we did a question of his before. He sent in about like 20 different audio questions.

Marcus Lillington:
We like Chad.

Paul Boag:
Chad is cool.

Marcus Lillington:
We haven’t checked the level here. This could be interesting.

Paul Boag:
It’s going to be deafening. Ready? Are we ready?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, go.

Chad Warner:
This is Chad Warner from optimwise.com. What do you look for when hiring subcontractors, whether a designer, developer, digital marketer, etcetera? Do you have tips for finding and hiring quality subcontractors?

Paul Boag:
I like his – he is so just to the point. None of this waffle you get from some of these other weirdos that send in their questions. I always get told off for insulting our listeners.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not surprised.

Paul Boag:
This is why we’ve only got six of them.

Marcus Lillington:
Please, please send me some stuff in so I can be rude to you.

Paul Boag:
I know, people like me being rude to them. It’s because I do it in such a charming way. Americans particularly like it because I’m rude to them in a British accent and they think that’s quaint. So they …

Marcus Lillington:
Quaint. Yes, here we are sat in our tweed.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I’m not only cute, I’m quaint too.

Marcus Lillington:
Should we go out shooting after this, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. I could do with shooting people actually. That’ll make me feel…

Marcus Lillington:
I wasn’t thinking people actually …

Paul Boag:
Oh right. I thought you were talking about kind of gunning down some random people.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I was being typically English.

Paul Boag:
Oh I see.

Marcus Lillington:
And living in the countryside.

Paul Boag:
Clay pigeon shooting?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I was thinking pheasants. That’s what shooting – shootists do isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s fine. That’s good, I could do that. I quite enjoyed clay pigeon shooting when we went clay pigeon shooting. I actually managed to hit things which was a real shock.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. You did, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Anyway so Chad and subcontractors: you’ve got opinions over the subject?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, well don’t bother. That’s my answer.

Paul Boag:
We haven’t had the most success in the world with subcontractors.

Marcus Lillington:
It depends on what they are or if you know them. That’s – basically you can’t …

Paul Boag:
Hire people you know and trust.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. We have once. I remember Charlie subcontracted some HTML CSS work to a Polish firm.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, which I thought at the time would be a disaster of monumental proportions.

Marcus Lillington:
And they – and it was based on a kind of – I don’t know maybe got an email from them, a phone call or something like that and they worked out fine.

Paul Boag:
That must have been more luck than judgment.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but we’ve hired backend developers from agencies to fill in and they’ve all been not great, shall we say.

Paul Boag:
Very well put. Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve had issues. So I don’t think we would invest in that again because, yeah, I mean invest is the right word. They cost you a lot of money and they end up doing things you don’t want them to do.

Paul Boag:
Yes, and work in a different way than you work and I think they need – if you’re going to go down that line, you need to have somebody on tap that understands exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. And sets very strict parameters in terms of how you want it delivered. Yeah and even then I’m not particularly comfortable. For me it comes down to you’ve got to work with people you know and trust.

Marcus Lillington:
However, we talk a lot about why you should hire Headscape, even if you don’t know us. So the same applies I suppose to a certain extent – I’m viewing it in the situation of we – I don’t know, somebody has left us or somebody has gone on holiday for long time, we’re in a big problem – we got a big issue with delivering a project so we need someone in fast and they always cost you loads of money and it’s one person you’re looking for, they’re the – that’s why I’ve got a problem with subcontractors in that particular situation. However, using the digital marketer that he’s got in the question, what are you looking for when hiring subcontractors and what are the examples with digital marketer, you would go to a firm, because if you like – if you wanted to design a new website, you would go to a firm that does that. So then I guess all the other things apply like what’s their track record like, who’ve they worked for …

Paul Boag:
I think that’s part of the – yes, perhaps part of our bad experience has been that speed element we’ve always had; we need someone quick. And to be honest the good people aren’t going to be sitting around waiting for you to call. It’s only going to be the not so good people that are sitting on their hands waiting for calls.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. Yes. You get what you paid for.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. And so yes I suspect if we could go through a proper process of – if we had the time to go out, interview different people, maybe do some tests with them we do with developers or whatever – be able to talk people through it properly and have time and energy and all the rest of it, then I’m sure you can find good people. But essentially it’s like interviewing for a permanent member of staff to get someone that you can be sure of. I think the only, the kind of – there goes the tractor for the day.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
That’s good. The only – I think maybe it’s a bit easier when you’re going to a company like you say, because there are multiple people within that organization so you’re not so reliant on one individual being exceptional. There is a kind of load of people behind them. In terms of finding, because that’s the other part of this question, finding and hiring quality subcontractors. I mean we’ve talked about this before, didn’t we? About in terms of you go with personal recommendations first and a Google search is last kind of thing. The other typical one, if you’re just hiring one off subcontractors to come and work with you, is recruitment agencies but that costs a fortune.

Marcus Lillington:
And we’ve had bad experiences from recruitment agencies. If anything they’re the biggest culprits of this, because it’s all about just …

Paul Boag:
Getting someone in.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, ticking the box, unless you say the people who, and this is a very – I don’t mean everyone in this situation, but you’re more likely to find someone who is available to work, who has got – the way you put it was better, but the best people will be working.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, they will already be busy. I mean, okay let’s turn this round. We’ve talked about in our kind of situation as an agency, when we go to hire subcontractors. I mean my attitude now would be we just don’t take on the work. I would prefer to not take on the work then take on something and use a subcontractor for it.

Marcus Lillington:
Because you can’t guarantee the quality. We can still guarantee the quality, but what might happen is that we might not get the quality, then we’re put back even further while somebody who works here already has to fix it, et cetera.

Paul Boag:
So that would be my response. If however you were a fairly large organization that built your website in-house and they – somebody left and you wanted a subcontractor to fill that space, would you go down that route or would you turn to a freelancer to work with you which is subtly different or would you go to an agency? I think – it’s really difficult, isn’t it, being an agency but I almost think that an agency type approach would probably be better because you’ve got multiple people available to you that way and specialists in different areas. And you’ve got project managers within that organization to kind of help you out and that kind of stuff. So I think that would be the route that I would go down, but you can have the same problem with agencies of the ones that I have got – are available to take on work immediately aren’t necessarily the ones you want to work with. At the moment we’re scheduling work months in advance. So it kind of – yeah, it’s difficult this one. I’m struggling to answer it. I’m struggling to give a scenario where …

Marcus Lillington:
Our first recommendation if you’ve got any kind of personal contact, if you can ask other people what their opinion is, if they had any good experiences of working with the type of person that you’re after or company you’re after, then that’s better than anything else.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. And to try and then the other aspect is the trying not to rush into it. Try not to get into a situation where you need someone desperately urgently. I don’t feel we’ve answered this question particularly well but I think it’s because we fail with it as well.

Marcus Lillington:
We have waffled on for ages, so…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I know we’ve waffled on but we haven’t answered the question.

Marcus Lillington:
No, we did.

Paul Boag:
Did we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Have we said enough, do you think?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I think we’re the wrong people to answer this because I think we’ve had nothing but bad experiences in this area. If people are listening to this and they have had really good experiences of hiring subcontractors, put in the comments why you think that went well? What was it that you did that ensured you ended up with a good person, or was it just luck? Because I will be quite interested to hear. I think it will be just as interesting for us as it would be for Chad to be honest, because I would like to get better at this because it is frustrating not being able to use subcontractors to fill those gaps. But that’s where I’m at the moment. I wouldn’t want to pay money for them.

How can I be a more helpful client?

How to be a helpful client? What should a request for quotes/design spec contain and not contain to get the best outcome for both?

Charlie Westney

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Charlie Westney, who I also believe has…

Paul Boag:
I don’t think so.

Marcus Lillington:
Name rings a bell.

Paul Boag:
Does it?

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway – maybe from something completely different.

Paul Boag:
Maybe we’ve even answered this question before for all we know.

Marcus Lillington:
How to be a helpful client? What should a request for quotes/design spec contain and not contain to get the best outcome for both?

Paul Boag:
I think that’s a superb question. We don’t get enough and the other thing I know about Charlie is, she is in …

Marcus Lillington:
I know Charlie. She works for – yeah, of course I know the name. She is developer for the Lake District National Park. One of our clients. So you better be careful what you say, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Well, no what I was about to say is that she said on Twitter that she is in the process of creating specs at the moment and she’s like what do I write in it? What should I add that would make it a good thing to send out to people? I hope she’s sending it to us.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, we’ve done the work for her. Maybe she is doing it for other …

Paul Boag:
Might be for other stuff. Other things.

Marcus Lillington:
…other people, other projects or possibly other people in similar positions in other like National Park agencies and that sort of thing.

Paul Boag:
Well, I would have thought all she needed to do is come to us. I mean, what’s the problem here? I don’t understand why she needs this question answered.

Marcus Lillington:
Kept thinking I knew that name and now it – because it was, clicked.

Paul Boag:
Click-click. It’s weird when you see a name out of context, in the way you would normally expect to see it. Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
She basically was …

Paul Boag:
She might have wanted to remain anonymous of course, in which case you’ve totally ruined it.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway I think I was going to say …

Paul Boag:
What’s the telephone number and e-mail address? Do you want to share that too?

Marcus Lillington:
I was going to say nice things. Well, she said nice things about what Ed delivered to her and she managed to, I think, integrate them into their CMS quicker than any other client has ever done it. Nice responsive design.

Paul Boag:
Good. Good woman. Like her. Let’s hire her, steal her from wherever she is working. Oh, no, we’re not taking on anymore people, are we? I keep forgetting. Except our consultancy person that we’re still working on. Right, answer the question then. What do you like to have seen in a brief, Marcus? Oh, you’re useless. I think the best briefs are ones that aren’t overly restrictive. The ones that say here is the problem we’ve got, here is some ideas that we’ve had about how to solve it, but what do you think? I like ones that enable the agency that’s responding there to that to make some creative suggestions about the direction you’re going in, because I think that’s good for everybody. I think it shows the designer that you’ve – or the agency that you’ve got a client that is open minded, flexible, that wants to make the kind of most of the relationship.

But equally from the client’s point of view, I think then you get to see is this agency ones that are going to think in depth about this project or are they just a factory that’s going to churn out whatever we want – we ask them for. And I think to get the most money out of an agency you want an agency that’s going to say, okay we could do it this way but this would be so much better and this is why. So I think ones that aren’t overly prescriptive are good. Ones that talk about their brief – their budget, actually are honest and up front because the reality is that there are so many different ways of building things that without knowing the budget it’s very hard to kind of predict the best way because that’s one of the big constraining factors. I like briefs that don’t set an arbitrary deadline, right? So, fine if there is a specific reason that a site has to be done by a certain date but I don’t like briefs that just kind of pluck a figure out of the air and that’s what – because an agency will take that as written in stone. What else?

Marcus Lillington:
There are so many things. Yeah, don’t expect agencies to be able to start work the day after you select them, that’s a good one.

Paul Boag:
Yes

Marcus Lillington:
We used to work for Natural England and they used to send quite a lot of different project briefs through. Some of which we won, some of which we didn’t. And it was always a case of we will select the agency on the 20th of January and you will start work on the 21st January. I was like well, we can’t. And they would always have tight deadlines. It was like well, we need it done in 10 weeks and you’re thinking well it’s a 10 week project, probably. If all goes well, it’s a 10 week project, but we can’t start on the day after it we come and see you. But anyway, so that’s – be realistic; have a deadline, but …

Paul Boag:
Be flexible to discuss that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, if or I suppose people don’t always know how long things are going to take, but I think most people who are putting out a web design brief these days or some sort of design brief do have an inkling of how long it’s going to take. So, yeah just be reasonable I suppose is what I’m trying to say there.

Paul Boag:
This idea about being …

Marcus Lillington:
Don’t be too prescriptive. I agree.

Paul Boag:
I sense a but.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but don’t be too prescriptive in what you want in the response to your brief as well, if that makes sense.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Because some you get like we want two years of financial records and we want CVs of everyone that is actually going to be working on the project set in stone and is that the kind of thing you mean or something …?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, no I was thinking actually about creative stuff as well because what – an ideal brief for me is one that says show me why you should work for us. We’ve got this problem, all that I agree with, why should you be the people to hire rather than show me lots of creative ideas because quite a lot of time I will say well, I can’t. I can give you some ideas …

Paul Boag:
But we don’t know enough.

Marcus Lillington:
… but we don’t have enough about you yet. So, these are our processes. This is how we – I can show how our process was successful with another client, that kind of thing is what I want to show in a brief – in a proposal.

Paul Boag:
So it’s more about why – us demonstrating a proven track record to be able to deliver this kind of project rather than necessarily nailing down all the specifics about how we’re going to deliver the project in this particular scenario.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a really tricky one though, because I’ve often said in the past when I have been – when I’ve put – when I’ve basically gone off into speculative thinking, which is what we’re talking about here; it’s speculative design without any colors and whatever…

Paul Boag:
I don’t mind a bit of that going into proposals.

Marcus Lillington:
And but I’ve quite often done it and it’s quite often been successful. So I’m umming and ahhing about it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I don’t – I haven’t got a problem with that kind of stuff going in as long as it’s caveated with there’s shit loads we don’t know yet, because this is – you never know everything that’s in it. But that brings us onto the most important thing I think that any brief should have in it, which is your contact details and an invitation to pick up the phone and talk to you. Too many projects these days seem to be heading in the direction of “this has been released through a procurement department.” We’ve – we must have ranted about this before?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And it is so annoying, you have to be able to talk to the person that’s written the brief so you can clarify stuff, you can ask questions, so you can learn the stuff that they’re never going to put in the brief, they’re not going to think to put in that are so specific to that particular project and you need to discuss them and talk about them so then we can do a bit more of speculative thinking in our response rather than just churn out what is essentially, what do they call it? Bullet – not bullet, bullet proof, not bullet proof …

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know what you’re trying to say, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Boilerplate.

Marcus Lillington:
Boilerplate, yes.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, instead of just – if you want a response that is tailored to your requirements rather than just boilerplate, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is why we’re great, then you’ve got to allow us to talk to you to really dig in to the requirements of what you’ve got in mind. So I think that’s a really important part of it.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, many people like to have a chat, would you like to come and talk to us. And we’re like yeah, alright then, definitely.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
But yeah, we’ve had a couple lately where yeah, you can’t even talk to them. Yeah and you can ask questions, but it’s all to an email address and everyone who has been invited to tender, which might be 60 people, gets all the questions come back from all these 60 different firms. I’m making – picking a big number to exaggerate the point. But still, it’s just impersonal. And I know why people do it, it’s like it wants to be seen to be fair so we’re following EU guidelines and all this kind of thing. But what you end up with is – and this I think is the – this is the lesson which I wish people would learn that the absolute best people, and note I’m not putting us in that group because we still do go for these things on occasion, don’t bother. You do not have access to the best people by taking this approach because they go well sod you, I’m not interested. I would like to just have a chat and if you want to work with us then just ask – say you would like to work with us.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. What do you think of those kind of days where you all go up as a group and all the different providers sit around because I’ve avoided…

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve only done that twice.

Paul Boag:
Oh, have you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
…because I’ve avoided ever going to one of them. What’re they like?

Marcus Lillington:
Quite amusing.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
Because it’s watching people trying not to point score while they’re trying to point score.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
And I’m included in that.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
You can’t help yourself going “yes but when we did bla bla bla” and it’s like oh no shut up.

Paul Boag:
Do you know what I would have thought it’s the best way of accessing providers, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
It’s nothing to do with that. That’s the – what people – the two times I’ve been to those have been for these very heavily run by purchasing department type scenarios where there – somebody has gone well, yes okay, we will have people up and we will have given them a chance to have a chat but we don’t want to do it 10 times over so we will have them all up in one go…

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
So, yeah – I don’t know. I go back to my point previously that if you want the really truly best people and they’re not necessarily the most expensive, then they won’t be going through this – through your tedious processes.

Paul Boag:
Because a lot of the time they’re just too busy to do it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Especially if you talk – I mean and it works at all scale, all sizes as well. We’re not just talking about big agencies that do high end stuff like maybe us. But if you’re after a really good freelancer, really good freelancer is going to be so busy actually building flippin’ websites that they’re not going to have time to jump through all your hoops.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, quite a lot of people just ring us up and say, we rate you highly, we’ve been listening to the podcast, we read Paul’s blog, we’d like to work with you and we go, brilliant, we would like to work with you, after we’ve spoken about what it is.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we just accept anything.

Marcus Lillington:
And then we get on with it and it all – everything starts off in a much nicer kind of more relaxed, more equal footing as well where you get this more – it’s more of a collaboration; it’s just a nicer way to work.

Paul Boag:
I mean it is still possible that that wouldn’t work out and that they would have to then go to somebody else and that’s fine.

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve won these processes many, many times. You have to if you can do them well. But, yeah you said rant so I’m ranting.

Paul Boag:
No I totally agree with you. I got – there is something a bit – I think because what we do is so – it is so collaborative, it’s so relationship orientated. To go through a formal tendering process often isn’t the best way, because it’s all about the relationship and building the right relationship with the supplier and with the client and it’s all about seeing if you can work together, whether you’ve got the same outlook on things and stuff like that and I think some times that’s about more of an informal discussion.

Marcus Lillington:
And what often happens is people go well, okay we will make sure we take on board by having you up for a pitch like presentation/meeting questions and answer thing, but then there is a panel of 10 people who all get to vote on who goes through, but actually only two of them you’re going to be working with.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
And how many times have I had the impression that the people that would be who basically commission the work are going we want to work with you, but they didn’t win it on the vote…

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
… of the people that just will have nothing to do with it. Baaaaa.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. Baaaaa indeed. And so we don’t want your work if you’re going to make us jump through hoops. Is that what you’re saying, Marcus? Is that – is my understanding right?

Marcus Lillington:
It depends what it is.

Paul Boag:
It depends if it’s cool enough.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
If you’re cool we’ll work with you.

Marcus Lillington:
And how much we’re requiring work at the time I suppose.

Paul Boag:
That is the honest answer. I like that. I like it when you give honest answers. It’s difficult, isn’t it? In a perfect world we would be able to just pick and choose what we wanted to do.

Marcus Lillington:
But in some of the time we can, some time we can’t.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Okay let’s do our last question just because I want you to – hear you, how you pronounce the name.

What should go in my resume?

Should I put courses I complete from @treehouse and @lynda on my resume? Do agencies consider them when hiring?

Raushan Farjan

Marcus Lillington:
This is from – I don’t know Raushan Farjan.

Paul Boag:
That sounds a cool name.

Marcus Lillington:
Rorshan – Rowshan?

Paul Boag:
Raushan.

Marcus Lillington:
Raushan. You don’t know.

Paul Boag:
We don’t know. Let’s see how my computer pronounces it. Is my volume up?

Marcus Lillington:
Is now.

Paul Boag:
Okay, here we go. Raushan Farjan. It completely ruined that.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway…

Paul Boag:
It’s a good question.

Marcus Lillington:
Should I put courses I complete from @Treehouse and @lynda, or TreeHouse and lynda even, on my resume? Do agencies consider them when hiring?

Paul Boag:
I picked this question because I don’t know the answer.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know why you think I’m going to know the answer.

Paul Boag:
No, not it’s interesting. So, did you know what…

Marcus Lillington:
I know what Tree House is, I don’t know what Linder is.

Paul Boag:
Linder is basically very similar to Tree House. So you can do all these courses and stuff online with videos and you learn stuff and you do tests and you kind of go through this process. So it’s online learning basically. But quite informal; it’s not like an education online learning thing, all right?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Now I was torn in my answer to this, right? Because on one hand…

Marcus Lillington:
Shall I talk off the top of my head, because that could be quite amusing?

Paul Boag:
Well, let me tell you why I’m torn first.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, go then.

Paul Boag:
Oh no, go on then. No go on, because the more information I give you the more informed you might be.

Marcus Lillington:
The more informed I’d be, yeah.

Paul Boag:
And that would be boring. Yeah, go on.

Marcus Lillington:
Obviously it depends what the role is first up, but generally I think you should include them on your resume, but don’t expect that people who are going to read it to take too much into it as, say, over your portfolio and commercial type work you’ve done.

Paul Boag:
Well, that’s dull because that’s a really good answer.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go. Can we more on now?

Paul Boag:
See why I was torn over it was on one hand…

Marcus Lillington:
There is no reason why you wouldn’t, is there?

Paul Boag:
I quite – well …

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Let’s do the reasons perhaps why you wouldn’t is because these things aren’t kind of – they’re not really formal qualifications and I’ve looked through – the Tree House courses for example are – they actually get into some real heavy stuff, some quite good coding stuff. But the whole way it’s presented is a little bit kind of cheap and cheerful and I can say that because I’ve presented a course on them. It’s all a bit kind of happy fun time TV kind of thing. So, I’m wondering whether including it to some extent maybe undermines your credibility slightly, I don’t know. I really can’t make up my mind because then on the other hand I’m going well it’s kind of – I actually think it’s kind of quite cool that people a) are aware of these services and have been shown to use them and have obviously spent money on developing their career. But I’d certainly – if somebody came to me with a 2.1 degree in computer science or a Tree House course, I’m going to pick the 2.1 in computer science for a developer position. When you get into designers, then as you say it’s your portfolio and example work that really matters and I don’t give a monkey’s arse what qualifications you’ve got particularly. Because these things like Linder and Tree House, they don’t develop anew the kind of analytical and process decision making skills that a University course would create in you. But they do teach you really hard good practical skills.

Marcus Lillington:
So therefore …

Paul Boag:
I guess, there is no point of including them, but I wouldn’t play them up too much, which is essentially what you said.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I said don’t expect them to be taken – don’t expect people to look into it in a big way. However, I don’t know I think …

Paul Boag:
I wouldn’t pay – if you make too big a deal out of them, I’m going to look at it and go is that the best you got. Gee, okay it’s kind of cool you’ve been doing that, but really that isn’t – that’s not replacing either good qualifications or an outstanding portfolio. So, I’m kind of happy for them to be there as oh, by the way I’ve also done this. But it shouldn’t be the main thrust of your argument as to why I should hire you.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I agree.

Paul Boag:
That makes sense. Okay, that’s a really short answer. I was really – I was struggling over it and it’s an interesting one. But I have to say I think in the future these things will become bigger and bigger and more and more important, because I’ve got to say that I’m becoming more and more unsure of where the traditional education can support the kind of skill sets that we require. I hope that it can, but I actually – I eventually see – I would love to be able to offer an internship like say Clearleft does, because I think that is actually the best way of getting the skills you want from new graduates and people coming into the industry rather than traditional education route.

Marcus Lillington:
I think the traditional education route will pick up.

Paul Boag:
Do you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I do.

Paul Boag:
You reckon they’ll adapt. Well they’ll have to, won’t they?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I mean, there will be people like you and like Andy Budd who will end up setting up departments in universities.

Paul Boag:
Oh, for all that is good in the world.

Marcus Lillington:
Like you.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, people with your amount of skill and …

Paul Boag:
Toss or possible.

Marcus Lillington:
… experience.

Paul Boag:
They don’t exist. It’s mythical people with whom you speak.

Marcus Lillington:
Who would be able to hire the right people and you would end up getting a reputation as the place to go and you’d make a lot of money as a department.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but I don’t think it’s – that’s where I perhaps disagree with you, because I think there are already people that have got that level of knowledge within universities. I think the problem is not the people, I think it’s the system; that it takes three years to get approval for a curriculum. That’s the problem as far as I see it. But that’s a whole another conversation. There are lots of people that have actually qualified.

Marcus Lillington:
But then surely the same thing applies to kind of physics as we were discussing earlier. I mean, physics is ploughing on – it’s this rollercoaster that’s endless.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, maybe you’re right. Perhaps the whole of University is doomed.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I think that they’re full of people trying to continually teach the latest thing, but I just think there is not enough of the good people in universities. They all work in industry at the moment, is what I’m trying to say.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I think if I was a teacher in a web design course, I would now be highly insulted by what you’ve just said.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, maybe. May be they’re not supported at high enough levels is what I meant.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s what …

Marcus Lillington:
Making things happen people.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think that’s what I was getting at, that I don’t think the system is supporting web design very well. It is seen as a bit of a second class course anyway compared to things like physics, which is very academic and…

Marcus Lillington:
Which it is.

Paul Boag:
…proper. It’s also – it is too slow moving, the system is too slow moving. I don’t believe people that are teaching these kinds of things are getting the training that they require or the time to go and learn stuff and stay up to date with stuff. And I just think there are better ways of learning this kind of stuff at the moment, but I hope that will change. And also you can spend £9,000 per year on tuition fees to go to a University and learn that kind of stuff or you can pay what 35 quid a month to be signed up for Tree House. That’s what, I think – I’m not saying Tree House is in anyway a replacement of the University experience, I’m not. But things like that are becoming a viable alternative and Tree House is a charge model but you could equally learn that kind of stuff on the job. That’s why I think to be honest web design is a perfect environment for a kind of basically a good old-fashioned apprenticeship type scenario. I mean you call it an internship instead and make it sound posher, but it is essentially “I want to learn to be a blacksmith, I go and work with a blacksmith doing the shitty jobs.” I mean that to be honest, that’s how I got into multimedia is I went and left my degree because my degree was useless, spent a year working with IBM creating icons. It was boring as shit and I had the rubbish jobs, but that’s how I got in and that’s how I learnt practical skills. So, I’m actually – I’ve got mixed feelings. The whole area of education is quite interesting because that’s a huge tangent from what the original question is and …

Marcus Lillington:
What was the original question?

Paul Boag:
And it’s also into areas where there are a lot more intelligent people writing much more intelligent stuff. So, check out Anna Debenham who writes a lot about education …

Marcus Lillington:
She does.

Paul Boag:
… link in the show notes and Chris Mills – the guys at Opera doing some quite good stuff. They’ve got a whole kind of curriculum based type of thing that they’ve got going. So, I’ll link in the show notes to that as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
All right, now the whole – everything that’s gone before has just been a build up for this moment.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s so not a good joke.

Paul Boag:
You told me this was a good joke. You promised me it was a good joke.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s not.

Paul Boag:
You’re now back tracking.

Marcus Lillington:
I am.

Paul Boag:
So you lied to our audience.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I quite liked it but you’ve got to remember that there are quite a lot of jokes that I like and nobody else does.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?

Paul Boag:
No, I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
A thesaurus.

Paul Boag:
That’s so obvious. Why did I not get that? That’s brilliant.

Marcus Lillington:
What we did is give everyone loads of time to shout the answer back at us.

Paul Boag:
Yes, everyone was screaming “thesaurus you idiot, Paul. It’s blindingly obvious. What’s wrong with you?” Oh well, that’s another show done.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And yeah we need some more questions people, because we’ve got I think about three episodes left for the season after this one and we’ve run out of questions basically.

Marcus Lillington:
We can make them up.

Paul Boag:
So send us a question into [email protected] Well, that’s what I do. All of these ones this week were made up. Even Chad, I had to put on an accent especially.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, that is you.

Paul Boag:
That is me, yeah. That’s my American accent. I think it is quite good. All right talk to you again next week, guys; bye, bye.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

Our sincere thanks to the guys at PodsInPrint for transcribing this show.

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