Educating, evaluating and reputation

This week on the podcast we discuss educating clients, evaluating hosting and building your online reputation.

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Paul Boag:
This week on Boagworld, we discuss educating clients, evaluating hosting and building your online reputation.

Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag and joining me today is …

Marcus Lillington:
Marcus Lillington.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know quite what happened there. I think I’m just …

Marcus Lillington:
Is that Radio 2 or is that the circus presenter or something like that. No, it’s “come on down!”

Paul Boag:
It’s come on down, the price is right!

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
Wow, is that on anymore. I think that must date you massively. I’m frigging hot, and not in a sexy way either. In more of a sweaty, quite disgusting way to be frank.

Marcus Lillington:
Actually, yes. There is water coming off my neck.

Paul Boag:
I’m complaining, I don’t care, I know I’m British, I know I’m talking about the weather, but it is too frigging hot. I want air-conditioning. Has this new office got air-conditioning?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course it hasn’t.

Paul Boag:
Well, that’s shit, Marcus, quite frankly. You didn’t even look to see whether it had decent broadband or enough plug sockets.

Marcus Lillington:
I did!

Paul Boag:
You’re just so useless. I give you one job to do.

Marcus Lillington:
Shut your face. I found an excellent new office.

Paul Boag:
Georgian.

Marcus Lillington:
So there.

Paul Boag:
It’s Georgian, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
I was actually going for the other one.

Paul Boag:
You were, weren’t you – this is really boring. But I would seriously like to know why you picked the other one? The one above the chip shop or whatever it was, a nail salon. It looked terrible.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but as I believe you Mr. Paul Boag: said to me, it’s got nothing to do with the outside. It’s all about the inside.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but above a nail shop.

Marcus Lillington:
How would you know? It wasn’t immediately above it. It was above an office above an office.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but you essentially, it just wouldn’t look very professional for clients. Look, you know I’m allowed to change my mind at the drop of a hat. I’m an artist.

Marcus Lillington:
Like a woman.

Paul Boag:
Like a woman.

Marcus Lillington:
I believe they’re allowed to change their mind, as the saying goes.

Paul Boag:
I think a lot of women will be deeply insulted that you lumped me in with them.

Marcus Lillington:
As the saying goes – oh, fair enough, yeah. Terribly sorry. Yes, I liked them both, but no, the main reason why I liked the other one, this is obviously so important for people listening.

Paul Boag:
Again, nobody cares.

Marcus Lillington:
The space was a bit better.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
It was kind of the – the ratio between the big room and the little room was better.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
It was a blank canvas and it was much cheaper.

Paul Boag:
Here we go. Here is the – that’s not like you to be a tight-arse.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I was thinking extra toys.

Paul Boag:
Oh, extra toys.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
No, I think the decision has been universally made without you, even though we haven’t seen it.

Marcus Lillington:
I like the other one anyway, so it’s not a problem – not a problem at all.

Paul Boag:
It’s best to go with the group consensus, because we are a big happy family, a democracy.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed.

Paul Boag:
We let our employees dictate what we do. That’s exactly how it is. Anyway, so we’re moving office soon. When’s that going to be? When is it, Marcus? When, Marcus? When, when?

Marcus Lillington:
Hopefully in September.

Paul Boag:
Awesome. I’m going to spend I’m going to spend the whole of August waltzing around.

Marcus Lillington:
Ed needs to draw another drawing of the new Georgian Building. That’s why we can’t go for the other one. It looks so shit from the outside.

Paul Boag:
It would do, it wouldn’t work, would it? But yes, as I – because been living in Blanford, apparently I live in an interesting Georgian town, that’s what it says on the signs.

Marcus Lillington:
Interesting.

Paul Boag:
So I’m very used to that kind of architecture.

Marcus Lillington:
Is that interesting as in backward?

Paul Boag:
Don’t you be rude about Dorset. You want to live down there, so don’t give me all that.

Marcus Lillington:
I think its lovely down there. Really, really lovely.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I went to stay there for a couple of nights, or it was it only one night, because it was just so expensive? It must have been for two, for our wedding anniversary last year. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was near – it was kind of north of Dorchester a bit.

Paul Boag:
Oh right.

Marcus Lillington:
Into the countryside of …

Paul Boag:
That’s a weird area to go to.

Marcus Lillington:
Of loveliness.

Paul Boag:
No, its lovely area, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And we went foraging with the …

Paul Boag:
Foraging?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, foraging for mushrooms.

Paul Boag:
That isn’t what normal Dorset people do. Just to be clear, we have developed agriculture. We can have our own cattle and stuff, we don’t have to go foraging in the woods.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I wonder if Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall…

Paul Boag:
We even have supermarkets. Did you go foraging in Sainsbury’s, is that what happened?

Marcus Lillington:
No, we went wandering around the countryside. I wonder if Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a star chef around the world, because if he isn’t…

Paul Boag:
Nobody has heard of him.

Marcus Lillington:
Because if he isn’t, this is a waste of time. He is one of – he lives the countryside dream, doesn’t he? He has got his cottage and he grows all his own stuff and farms his animals and he has got a restaurant in Axminster and – yes, he has got …

Paul Boag:
Why are you telling this story?

Marcus Lillington:
The guy on his programme, John, who does the foraging and makes all the booze out of, I don’t know…

Paul Boag:
Twigs and things, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
He is the one we went on the foraging trip with.

Paul Boag:
Oh, cool.

Marcus Lillington:
How we got to this I’ve got no idea. But that was my day in Dorset. It was bloody brilliant.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I was saying how great Dorset was.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
It’s lovely at the movement as well in this weather. I’m only about half an hour away from Studland, which is one of the nicest beaches in the whole of England.

Marcus Lillington:
I tend to go there for a holiday every year, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, well that’s because it’s so nice.

Marcus Lillington:
But I go in January or February when it’s cold, so I can take my dogs for…

Paul Boag:
Which is also nice.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, it’s fantastic.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Take the dogs on the beach then.

Paul Boag:
And there will be nobody else around.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, there is lots of other dog walkers, and horse ridists.

Paul Boag:
Horse ridists?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but …

Paul Boag:
What was it, I was watching a program, I think it was Top Gear, and there was this beach …

Marcus Lillington:
In New Zealand

Paul Boag:
… in New Zealand, which is a highway.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, which was the road

Paul Boag:
How awesome is that? I don’t know suddenly made me think of that. Because of the horses going down it. That was it. Tangent upon tangent upon tangent, but there we go that sums up this podcast, probably one …

Marcus Lillington:
My shirt’s actually sticking to me.

Paul Boag:
I know it’s disgusting, isn’t it? Yesterday I was sitting around somebody’s house with shorts on, and they had a leather sofa and you kind of (squelching noise) when you got up, it was disgusting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. My car seats were a bit like that. We had a client coming today, so I thought, well, I had better put some trousers on, so I put some jeans on, then I thought, well I’m not wearing normal shoes, so I’ve got jeans and flip flops. What was the point? My full length jeans are making me all sweaty.

Paul Boag:
Never mind. I’m full of sympathy for you. But believe it or not, the web design world carries on despite the heat wave here in Britain.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Although it’s not bad as Washington, which is unbelievable – Washington DC, unbelievably hot over there.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but it is always hot out there in the summer.

Paul Boag:
I know. It is unbelievably – and we have a question from somebody from Washington DC today and in fact I’m going to use that as a transition. We’re going to straight into that question, even though it’s supposed be the second one, because it was such a seamless link. So, here is our question from somebody in Washington DC.

How do I pick the right hosting company?

What are the key considerations when evaluating a web hosting provider? And should I be concerned if the vendor suggests a “shared pod” or a virtual server?

Cindy McCollough

Marcus Lillington:
Right. Yes, I’m all out of kilter now, I’m going to do the second question first.

Paul Boag:
I know, and I’ve been agonizing over this question.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Because what I want to say is this question is from my favorite client.

Marcus Lillington:
Can you say, ‘From the lovely Cindy McCollough’?

Paul Boag:
But if I say favorite client, I’m going to alienate all my other clients.

Marcus Lillington:
So you say what I said.

Paul Boag:
So, is that the diplomatic thing to say? From the lovely Cindy.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. There you go.

Paul Boag:
Who is one of our clients in Washington DC, but not necessarily our favorite client or my favorite client. She might be.

Marcus Lillington:
Now you’ve just upset her now.

Paul Boag:
Now I’ve upset her! No! You are really. I am not very good at this.

Marcus Lillington:
Here is the question.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
What are the key considerations when evaluating a web hosting provider? And should I be concerned if the vendor suggests a shared pod or a virtual server.

Paul Boag:
Cindy, you should definitely be very concerned if they offer you a shared pod, because I’m pretty sure …

Marcus Lillington:
It doesn’t sound like a hosting thing to me.

Paul Boag:
… that doesn’t exist. I have Googled the term and I can’t find any reference to a shared pod. So, I think that might be some kind of strange living arrangement that you might be agreeing to, well I’m not quite sure, some of kind of birthing chamber or …

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t answer this question.

Paul Boag:
Because you know nothing.

Marcus Lillington:
No, because I’ve recommended a virtual server.

Paul Boag:
Well you’re correct in your recommendation.

Marcus Lillington:
No, but I can’t comment on whether it’s right or wrong, can I? If I’m the one who said you should have a virtual server?

Paul Boag:
Oh, do you reckon she is referring to you?

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe, it’s possible.

Paul Boag:
No, I think she has been talking to other people that have bamboozled her with technobabble, as hosting people like to do. So, I can help you with this Cindy and I will tell you why I can help you with it, because back in 2008 I wrote a post on the subject.

Marcus Lillington:
And it is still relevant?

Paul Boag:
That’s still relevant.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t believe a word of it.

Paul Boag:
It really is. It really is, it’s great, because it’s all kind of fairly generic advice, because actually the decision about hosting companies isn’t what you think it is, right? You think it’s about giga-flops and technobabble. But the reality is, is that most hosting companies are much much of a muchness.

Marcus Lillington:
They’re all up for 99.999% of the time.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well, that’s interesting. That’s what – yes, so they’ve all got these kind of – they all offer very similar things. That’s not a big deal. If you’d get your developers to talk to a hosting provider, they’ll sort out the gigaflops and the Windows servers and the Linux servers and the PHP 5.3 and all the rest of it. By the way gigaflops is not a real thing in this context. But it sounds like a cool word.

Marcus Lillington:
In what context is it a real thing?

Paul Boag:
Gigaflop is a proper amount, so it is terabytes – so essentially you can get up to gigaflops.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, it sounds right. I think so. I think that’s right actually. I’ve now got to Google gigaflop. Here we go, let’s see if I’m right. I’m pretty sure I’m – Gigaflop, define, here we go. It’s a load of bollocks. A computing measure of processing speed consisting of 1,000 million floating point operations a second. Yes, gigaflop is a real thing. I knew it was, there we go.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So, yes, our link in the show notes to this post. But I will kind of go through it very quickly with you because it’s got some good stuff. So the things that you kind of got to really be aware of, the criteria that you need to consider are up time support, the control panel, limitations on growth and hidden charges, right. I think those are the top things. So let’s look at them very briefly. The last thing any website owner wants is for their website to be unavailable and most hosting companies will provide an up-time guarantee. Now I’m putting air quotes around that. Figures range from 95% up time right through to 100%, but actually I think most situations those guarantees are worthless, absolute waste of time. They’re not actually guarantees that the website will be available 95% or 100% of the time. This is merely a figure that they’re striving for. If they fail, they will in some way compensate you for the failure to meet that level.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
However, the nature of this compensation varies and that’s what you want to find out about, chances are they’re just going to give you a little bit money back on your hosting. But that could be insignificant compared to the amount of business that you loose. And they won’t compensate you for that, or on very rare occasions do they. But I think it’s important to remember that even the largest of organizations have down time and there is no way that this could be entirely avoided and there’s nobody that we can recommend to be up the whole time. Even Gmail goes down. It happens.

Marcus Lillington:
I was going to say, I mean, we’ve had issues with – I can’t remember the last one, but when basically the pipe coming from America into England is down.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
So it’s kind of like, well all the Tier 1 hosting is down, so that means everything is.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. So and even if your website goes down, it’s not necessarily the hosting company’s problem, that’s a good example, but there are other examples like it could be a poor code on the website that brings it down or a number of reasons. There is all kind – a software update that’s patched on the server or whatever. As a result, a lot of these guarantees exclude certain things anyway. So they’re bit of a waste of time. In short, they’re pretty much meaningless. So they’re a marketing tool, right, for getting gullible people to go, ‘Oh, yeah, 100% up time, that’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, yeah it’s more to make people be able to turn around to their boss and say, ‘Yes. we’re covered’.

Paul Boag:
Yes. What I will do instead is have a look and see if there is a lot of complaints about the server being down, service being down, you can usually look at their support forums or stuff like that. That’s usually more useful than any kind of guarantee that they are likely to give you. So that’s that one. Support. I think – well this is arguable, but I think the single most important factor in choosing a hosting company is support. Whether your site goes off-line or a piece of functionality is not running properly, its inevitable that you will end up having to deal with problems relating to your hosting at some point, and you need to know that you can get good support. So things to look for, 24/7, 365 days support, because your website may well go off-line at some bizarre time. This is particularly important if you’re an international business where you really could – do need 24/7 support on your website.

Marcus Lillington:
99 times out of 100, it’s only a server restart that’s required.

Paul Boag:
Something very basic.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyone can do that.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. Next thing is telephoning support. There is an increasing trend towards e-mail only support as a way of cost – cutting costs in hosting. And I think just to get something that doesn’t offer telephone support is suicide in my opinion for the majority of people, and certainly for somebody in Cindy’s position. Speedy response time is also good, whether contacting your hosting company by email or telephone, you should expect a speedy response. It’s unacceptable to be sitting on hold for a long time. I actually recommend calling up the technical support telephone number before you sign up just to see how long you’re going to be on hold for, even if you then go, ’Oh, sorry wrong number,’ and put the phone down again. Just – and it’s also interesting to see how long it takes you to speak to a real human being. Oftentimes you have to jump through numerous kind of ‘Press three for this’ and all of that business.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
In-country support. Personally, I prefer speaking to a local support member of staff. I find that support centers in far flung locations can be frustrating, especially when dealing with a complex technical problem. If the person you’re talking to, their first language isn’t English, it can cause problems, it can cause misunderstandings and also …

Marcus Lillington:
Isn’t your own language, not just isn’t English.

Paul Boag:
That’s true. Yes, your own language. How very …

Marcus Lillington:
English-centric.

Paul Boag:
Anglo-centric, of me. Also I think the other problem often is when they go to these support centers in far flung places, Eastern Europe, India or whatever else, not necessary they’re far flung if you live in them, but you know what I mean. Often their level of training isn’t as high because the primary reason that the company is going to these places is because it’s cheaper to do so and so it shows that they’re not really investing in their support as much. So that always makes me a bit concerned, which brings me on to the next thing which is knowledgeable staff.

It’s so important to have staff that really know their shit, so to speak. Ideally you want to be able to speak directly to an individual who manages the web server rather than having multiple tiers of support within you, within the organization. If you’re not – if you give them a ring and ask to speak to someone that’s got direct access over the server, it’s an interesting question to ask, to see what kind of response you get to that. Then there is the – also the flip side of that, which is finding staff that can speak to you in English rather than the technobabble you get from some support centers. So again speaking to them beforehand will help you establish that.

And finally, whether they offer good self-service support as well. In case you don’t want to ring them or you can’t ring them for whatever reason, it’s nice to be able to look up frequently asked questions and there to be a knowledge base, forums, all that kind of stuff, known issues. All of that is worth looking for as well. Talking of support, control panel, self service support that is, control panel is really important. That you could do things like managing email, changing password, uploading files, rebooting the server, backing up and accessing statistics, all of that kind of stuff is really good as well. Talk to a developer, if that isn’t your thing, your bag, which I know in Cindy’s case it probably isn’t particularly.

Marcus Lillington:
Probably it’s Andy’s though.

Paul Boag:
Andy’s yeah, who she works with can probably vouch for that kind of stuff, really useful. So that’s the support side of it. Then there’s limitation on growth. So this is where you get into the realms of virtual service and this kind of stuff. You want to make sure that – are multiple websites being hosted on the same box? Is a question you want to ask. So in a virtual server that is not normally the case, is it? That you get your own – that’s a dedicated box, so yes it will be.

Marcus Lillington:
It will be, but …

Paul Boag:
It won’t affect your performance.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s the idea of it.

Paul Boag:
Which is what you have got to watch out for. Upgrade path is always good, so in Cindy’s case, if she goes for a virtual server, which is perfect for her business. If they grow or the situation changes, or they are going to get a lot of traffic. Maybe they hit the news big time and you know you’re going to hit the news and you’re going to get a load of unexpected traffic to your site – well, expected, you know it’s coming, then is there an upgrade path? What happens if you exceed your bandwidth? That’s a really important things to know as well. Are you going to have to pay for each piece of data that’s then downloaded over that cap, how’s that managed? They’re not going to suddenly take your website offline or anything like that. So, you want to check out all of that. And that brings me on to hidden charges.

Sometimes there can be extra monthly charges if you exceed your bandwidth, if you exceed a pre- number of – defined number of email accounts if you’re managing your email accounts for your hosting as well or certain advanced email functionality can cost more, or if you need a technician to physically restart your server that can be a hidden charge.

Add-on technologies, ability to run databases, access to webstats, they can all have additional charges associated with them. So just be aware of that kind of stuff. But basically that hopefully will help. Give you some advice Cindy. You absolutely want – in Cindy’s case you absolutely want a virtual server, but not all virtual servers are equal, and that’s why you need to ask these kinds of questions that we’ve talked about.

Marcus Lillington:
Cindy is now going to ask me all these questions.

Paul Boag:
Well, you’ll have to ring up the hosting company on her behalf, the people that she is talking about going to.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s fine.

Paul Boag:
We can recommend companies.

Marcus Lillington:
We are making recommendations.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I’m sure we are.

Marcus Lillington:
We are making …

Paul Boag:
Who we’re recommending?

Marcus Lillington:
MT.

Paul Boag:
The Media Temple, link in the show notes. Yeah, I mean, they’re pretty rock solid I have to say. I’ve been very impressed with them. Boagworld is hosted on them. Free advertising for them, which is great.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, indeed.

Paul Boag:
And that post actually is an extract from my excellent book The Website Owner’s Manual. It’s available at all good retailers. So there you go, two advertising for one. First one we’re not getting paid for which is a bit shit. Right, so that was the question for Cindy. Shall we move on to our first question, that’s now our second question?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Should web designers be educating clients?

To what extent should a web designer/developer go out of his or way to educate a client about how the web/computers works? I completely understand that not everyone is great with computers, and I’d love to educate my clients if it would solve some of their frustrations. However, I’m afraid of sounding patronizing, OR if I try to teach them about too many things, annoy them. I believe that a more educated client allows for a better relationship and smoother project, but where do you draw the line?

Anne Sexton

Next question is from Anne Sexton, the first question, not the second question. This is confusing me. It’s quite a long question. What’s the chance of me getting through this without making mistakes? Zero.

Paul Boag:
Very poor, especially as it’s got a lot of slashes.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. I’m going to have to say all the slashes as well. I won’t say forward slash though. I will just say slash.

Paul Boag:
But if you say slash, it makes you sound like you’re going to the toilet. I’m going to have a slash. That’s very British. Isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, it is a very British thing, yes.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Here we go. To what extent should a web designer/developer go out of his or her way to educate declined about how the web/computers work?

Paul Boag:
Is that slash or ‘Flash! He saved every one of us!’, sorry. A bad 1980s reference or 1990s, anyway carry on.

Marcus Lillington:
1980s, I think. I completely understand that not everyone is great with computers, and I would love to educate my clients if it was hope some of their frustrations. However, I’m afraid of sounding patronizing or if I try to teach them about too many things, annoy them. I believe that a more educated client allows for a better relationship and smooth the project, but where do you draw the line?

Paul Boag:
I couldn’t agree more, Ann. You’re spot on. I believe that an educated client is the best way to go. You should educate clients. That is our job, that is what we are paid for, we are paid to provide a service as well as build a website and a key part of that service is to educate our clients. Well done. Oh, she wants more than that, does she? In terms of sounding patronizing, personally I embrace patronizing. I find it comes very easily to me and – to be honest I …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, Ann this is a really good question. We really appreciate it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, thank you. Thank you, Ann. Well, done.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Well done for your question. Yeah, I don’t think you want to worry too much about it. I think you’ve just got to carry out things by saying, ‘Look, tell me if I’m teaching you to suck eggs, so to speak.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I think there is a difference between the – Ann has grouped web slash computers. And I think if we start telling people how to use a computer…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I wouldn’t get into that.

Marcus Lillington:
…then that’s a bit tricky. Well, I’d love to know what she means by that. The print function in Safari or something like that maybe.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, well it will be something like that, won’t it, or how to clear your cash.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s alright.

Paul Boag:
I think – yeah, you need to help clients with this kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s fine. That’s absolutely fine.

Paul Boag:
And I think educating them is great.

Marcus Lillington:
But stay on track with web, I suppose, is what I’m thinking. Don’t show them how to organize their email or anything like that.

Paul Boag:
No, no. I mean, what …

Marcus Lillington:
That’s outside of your job remit.

Paul Boag:
I think to be honest the whole of Boagworld sprung out of a desire to educate clients and attract more educated clients. One of the great benefit – I mean we talk a lot that Boagworld being a marketing tool but I think probably as equally a benefit to that is the fact that not only does it attract clients, but it attracts clients that have read my stuff, so they’re clients that are more educated, which means projects go much smoother.

Marcus Lillington:
Enlightened.

Paul Boag:
Enlightened. And so, it does mean I think an educated client means a smoother running process and a more effective website over the long-term, because they are the ones that kind of have to run this website. So, I think the more we educate them, the better really we do fact sheets; this is another thing we gave out to clients, sometimes. Our kick-off meetings I would say are probably 50% education, 50% gathering information.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, as our proposals.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s like – it is explaining how we work and why we do stuff.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. And certainly, when it comes to getting design sign off or something like that it’s fundamentally important to educate a client as to why you took the approach as you did? Otherwise how are they supposed to provide informed and useful feedback. In terms of where to the draw the line I think that it’s – it’s one of those universal it depends question, isn’t it? It depends on the client I think. And I think pretty quickly you gain an understanding of what they know and what they don’t know. The problem ones are the clients that think they know when they don’t, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Also you got to be careful of putting a lot of effort into something that you’re not being paid for. That’s not black-and-white though

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
You don’t just stop when you’ve used up your [indiscernible] or whatever because if you educate someone chances are the next part of the project will be easier and quicker.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But there is …

Paul Boag:
But you’re not being directly paid to educate at all. There isn’t a line in your proposal that says teaching you because you’re stupid. So, it’s always the benefit of education is for us, as much as it is for the clients.

Marcus Lillington:
But there must be a limit, surely.

Paul Boag:
Well, you don’t start running free worships

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
You know that’s a chargeable thing, but a kind of one to one teaching them and helping them.

Marcus Lillington:
Going around their house in the evening.

Paul Boag:
Setting up their printer. No obviously that kind of stuff, but anything it relates to the project that make the project run smoother, I think is worth doing personally. Like I said, mind, it’s the clients that think they know and understand stuff and don’t. The approach I often take with people like that is, I probably shouldn’t give this way in case I do it to somebody who has listened to this, but it’s you know, that I’m sure you know this, but it’s that kind of approach that you use quite a lot, isn’t it? Because that’s a voice sounding to patronizing and or something – or I often say things like to clients like well this is how I would explain it to one of your internal stakeholders.

Marcus Lillington:
This is how would explain it to someone stupid. No, I’m joking.

Paul Boag:
Because often that is the case, that they then have to go back and justify a design or something to somebody else and you want them to do it in a good way and it’s a chance to kind of educate them at the same time. So, I’m a great believer in education. Lots and lots of it. Do it. I don’t think I’ve got anything more intelligent to say on that. Oh yes I have…

Marcus Lillington:
I’m completely running out of intelligent things to say. I am melting.

Paul Boag:
I wrote an educating – I did a talk ages ago that you might want to check out, Ann, just Googling, It’s sad when you have to Google it yourself, isn’t it. Okay, I’ll put a link in the show notes, it’s called educating clients to say yes. And this is spot on for this, why I didn’t think of this before because it essentially the whole basis of the talk is really that education is a process to kind of encourage clients to make the right decisions about their website.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And that’s why I think – where the value of educating is to us and why we should be doing it and that’s what that talk talks about and it will help you get signoff and it will also talk about different ways of educating. So check out that. See, I am full of useful stuff for my blog today.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re making me tired.

Paul Boag:
What you, with my enthusiasm and excitement?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I only want to curl up in the corner, but for my listeners, I make an effort. I make an effort, because I love them and they’re special, all six of them. Right, can we go on to last question because I want to see you pronounce the name.

How can I improve my online reputation?

Do you have any recommendations concerning the creation of a positive online reputation and the increase of my web presence?

Richardo Muniz

Marcus Lillington:
I can pronounce this name. It is Richardo Muniz.

Paul Boag:
Muniz, it’s the Muniz I love.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you have any recommendations concerning the creation of a positive online reputation and the increase of my web presence? Paul knows nothing about this sort of thing.

Paul Boag:
So, it’s interesting. What am I instantly doing?

Marcus Lillington:
I certainly have nothing to say about this.

Paul Boag:
I am now Googling myself again, to see if I have written anything about this.

Marcus Lillington:
What you need is a social media guru.

Paul Boag:
Yes. That’s what I am. I did a workshop on this, didn’t I? Guerilla Marketing 101. Surely I can steal some stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
Out of my own workshop. That’s not stealing, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Is it not stealing, if it’s your own marketing?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Marketing without being a douche bag. Well, that sounds like a good kind of possibility. Let’s open that; see what I’ve got to say.

Marcus Lillington:
Positive online reputation and increase of my web presence.

Paul Boag:
So he’s talking about basically marketing and promoting himself, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So, this is an interesting area, isn’t it? Because it’s like everybody – you’ve said, oh you need a social media guru and you said it with that disdain in your voice.

Marcus Lillington:
It was very much there.

Paul Boag:
And it all feels – and everybody treats this like it’s a bit of dirty subject.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s because it is.

Paul Boag:
Because its saying look at me, I’m special, which obviously I find very easy.

Marcus Lillington:
Let me answer this. I haven’t done one of my…

Paul Boag:
Go on then.

Marcus Lillington:
… my quick summaries.

Paul Boag:
Here we go.

Marcus Lillington:
To gain – to create a positive online reputation and increase your web presence is do something good.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay? That’s it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well, I’ve managed to make a reasonable good career without doing anything good.

Marcus Lillington:
You just talked an awful lot, an awful lot about educating people. Well, that’s doing something good. It had a spin-off of helping your business, that’s fine. But you weren’t just promoting yourself for the sake of it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. To be honest, I think I have got a talk online that you can check out on this which is marketing without being a douche bag and I’ll put a link in the show notes there and that will help. I just needed to say that because I am very proud that all the three questions that I have written about in the past. The heart of it I think is actually – it’s going to sound like hippy crap. But it’s true, it’s be yourself.

Marcus Lillington:
Man.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I could have said it …

Marcus Lillington:
Be honest to yourself.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, be true to oneself. I think a lot of people become when they think they are doing marketing and promoting themselves, they fall into their –you know they have this perception of how you have to write and behave. And we have done it a well. Whenever I sit down and write you know somebody says I try to get from time to time when we’re sponsoring an event. Oh, can you write a paragraph about Headscape, right. I so struggle to write it without it sounding like marketing bullshit. You fall into this kind of …

Marcus Lillington:
Gold standard web experts.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. That is horrendous. For me I think online reputation is about being who you are, it’s about integrity, it’s about being open and transparent with people, I think it’s about admitting when you are wrong, it’s about being enthusiastic and passionate about your subject, it’s all those kinds of things rather than necessarily, I mean, you said about do good work and yes it is about that, but …

Marcus Lillington:
And have something reasonable to say.

Paul Boag:
Okay, I’ve seen this time and time again, right. People have produced damn good work, but they know it, right. It’s like the pretty girl at school who knows she is good looking, right. And as soon as she opens her mouth you hate her. Do you know what I mean? I don’t joke, I’m actually being serious here and I think there are …

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t remember hating any of the pretty girls.

Paul Boag:
Well that’s probably you were the – probably one of the good looking boys, weren’t you, Mr. Popstar.

Marcus Lillington:
Not really.

Paul Boag:
I on the other hand was awkward and nerdy. So pretty girls didn’t talk to me. I’ve forgotten what I was saying now, just gone into bitterness about my childhood….

Marcus Lillington:
That’s it. I’m going. Slams the door. I know what you’re trying to say, I could …

Paul Boag:
Okay. I can think of …

Marcus Lillington:
People can be arrogant about their success.

Paul Boag:
Or I can certainly think of certain individuals

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t say good work. I said do something good. There is a difference.

Paul Boag:
I’m going to write somebody’s name down on this bit of paper, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Am I going to giggle?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know how to spell it. So I will just write that.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, yes quite

Paul Boag:
So there are people out there, this is terrible. There are people out there that are really very talented, but are dicks, fundamentally. So, I don’t think it is just about creating good work. In terms of online reputation, I think it’s about being giving, enthusiastic, passionate, open, honest, real with people and not being a dick.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah I know. There is being a dick and there is being a dick. Do you know what I mean? There is being – you can recognize that someone is a dick, but there you can still go, they know their stuff.

Paul Boag:
Right, okay.

Marcus Lillington:
So there is respect there, or there is just – they’re complete idiot, I don’t want to ever see…

Paul Boag:
Yeah absolutely, fair enough. But in terms of building online reputation, think about the people you respect within the web design community, right. As I think of – if I think of the people I really respect, people like Zeldman, Steve Krug, Jeremy Galvin, Jeremy Keith. Well Jeremy Keith is bit of an exception actually, because he is a dick. But he is a dick in a nice way.

Marcus Lillington:
See you said it yourself, you dig these holes, Paul. You try and walk around the edge of them and then you just fall in half way round don’t you.

Paul Boag:
No, no. But most of those people actually are really kind of humble people who, I mean, you talk to Steve Krug for example, Steve Krug is more a hero, he wrote the most incredible book ever. But you talk to him, and he is the nicest guy in the world actually. No this does apply Jeremy Keith as well. Jeremy can be a bit dickish online, but you meet him face to face and he is the nicest guy. I remember the first time I met him and I was a bit in awe of him to be honest and he made me feel welcomed and included and that – those are the kind of people that I respect. Those are the ones whose online reputation I respect. Then there are another group of people that yes they might know there are shit, but I wouldn’t want to meet him.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah yeah.

Paul Boag:
I wouldn’t want to hang out with them. And I think online reputation is a lot about would you want to hang out with these people. It’s the old …

Marcus Lillington:
I couldn’t agree more, because I have – I kind of turn my nose up a bit at Twitter in particular and I tweet less and less and less and less. I’m going about once a month now. And I’ve always been very snooty with my attitude towards promoting yourself on it. But actually you can’t do both. You can use it as a tool to come and just – you can just – you can show yourself if you’re going to be bothered, I suppose I’m just being lazy not doing it. You can just have a chat with people and it will be, probably my view, more effective at promoting yourself than worrying about…

Paul Boag:
…every word you say…

Marcus Lillington:
…posting this every four hours or …

Paul Boag:
No I mean I do – you know I will share stuff on Twitter, I share stuff on the podcast, but I do it even when I am self-promoting I hope people perceive it as me being very open and honest about it. I’m not sneaky about it. There are some people that I follow on Twitter that say things like hey, it’s great, so and so has just said how amazing my book is and you know it’s like, oh. That kind of thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, there are quite a few people that do that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that kind of thing makes me feel uncomfortable. Seth Godin’s book Tribes, link in the show notes, summarizes this really well for me. That throughout history people have formed into tribes, right? You’re a music person, I’m a geek, we like to give ourselves labels. And part of that is that we like to associate ourselves with certain people and we like to associate ourselves with people that we want to be more like, right. Like-minded people, but also aspirational people, that’s why people follow Stephen Fry and he has so many followers because is a nice bloke. You want to be like him.

Marcus Lillington:
Because he is a bloody clever …

Paul Boag:
You want to be associated with people like him. And that’s I think what it – on building an online presence is for me, it’s about standing up and saying I’m this type of person, I try and be very inclusive, try and be to be very welcoming, try and be very open, be enthusiastic and passionate about my subject and then I think it draws people to you. But you need to do that consistently and over the long-term, which is the thing that people always are shit at.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
You know they will start of stuff and then they – oh, I’m going to start blogging and they post once a month and then only do it for three months

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve gone full circle here. It’s about being yourself.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Because if you be yourself on Twitter or in your blog. You are much more likely to do it.

Paul Boag:
And that’s the really – that’s the other really interesting thing as well about all of this, is I think where it falls apart is where you – you look at somebody like Jeremy Keith, right. No I will pick a – pick a different example. Cameron Moll, link in the show notes to Cameron, alright. I friggin love that guy. I’ve got so much respect for him and he is this quiet, well considered, very gentle man that produces craft and beauty and elegance, right. I would love to be like him. But it’s never going to happen and I …

Marcus Lillington:
It’s not, is it?

Paul Boag:
No, but oh sorry – but I could bullshit it. I could pretend to be like that and I could probably carry it off for a while. But people see through that and that’s when you seem insincere and when people aren’t drawn to you. And I think that there are so many people that are afraid to be themselves online for fear of criticism and yes you will always get people that criticize you. But the great thing about the web is there are so many people out there. You know there are a lot of people on the Internet. I know, it’s a shock isn’t it

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
That you can – there will be enough people that view the world like you and are attracted to you that you don’t need to be anything else. You don’t need to fit in with a crowd like you use to at school because there is such a big crowd that you can make your own crowd within that, if that makes senses to, your own tribe within that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And I think that’s the point of it. You got to be yourself and you got to approach yourself and like you said, it becomes so much easier when you do that. I don’t think there is any valuable advice in any of that whatsoever.

Marcus Lillington:
It was every word was utter drivel. It was either that or really useful.

Paul Boag:
But you ought to check out seriously – check out my how to market without being a douche bag, because it is not really about the kind of stuff particularly that we have kind of covered here. It’s about more kind of practical stuff. But there is some great stuff in there. It’s not actually we do – if I look at it, things like show passion, and I mentioned Gary Vaynerchuk in that, show personality, again …

Marcus Lillington:
Gary Vaynerchuk.

Paul Boag:
Well, no actually I didn’t pick him on that one, but yes you could have put him in that …

Marcus Lillington:
Being funny.

Paul Boag:
Persistence is another one. How to approach if you want kind of – yeah, persistence, presentation now you present yourself online. Being a peace maker I talk about avoiding conflict and encouraging corporation bringing people together, building communities, is a great way of marketing yourself. Building real relationships is actually taking an interest in people. That’s another thing, right.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s another thing.

Paul Boag:
That’s another thing. I’ve – I remember going to a conference, right, where I met – what’s his name, the guy who set up, Mike Arrington set up TechCrunch.

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
Okay. I met Mike Arrington and it was the most revealing conversation I’ve ever had. This is the guy with a huge reputation, right. But not liked; very well known, but not liked. And I’m one these people that I tend to think the best in everybody. And I think he is not liked because he ran TechCrunch and he can’t include every person that comes along that wants their site promoted, and so people get pissed off because Mike didn’t feature my new star on that so screw him kind of thing. But I met the guy and it was fascinating. So he started, oh hi, who are you, very friendly, very approachable, until he discovered that I wasn’t anybody worthwhile, right. The moment he realized that that I wasn’t a mover or shaker within the Valley. He was like ah ha ha and looking over my shoulder at other people and he was off in seconds. The rudest, rudest conversation I have ever had with anybody. And I think that’s another thing that I hate online, it is where people dismiss you and make judgments about you. So I get people writing to me all the time and I try and respond to everybody and I try to engage with everybody, even if I know they are students. Students lowest of the low, no value to me whatsoever, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Valueless.

Paul Boag:
Valueless. I am never going to get any work out of them, why bother. But I don’t think you can have that attitude, because (a) you don’t know who everybody is and even if it is – yes it’s a student one day they’re going to go and get a job somewhere and if they – if I’m you know if I’m their hero, yeah if I’m – if Paul was the cool guy that answered my question years ago, they’re going to think of me and that might win me some work one day. So, building real relationships …

Marcus Lillington:
That’s called what goes around and comes round.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. And just being sincere and giving unconditionally. This could go on forever.

Marcus Lillington:
Giving unconditionally, wow!

Paul Boag:
Now I’m sounding like a Christian.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Love one another. Jesus said love one another.

Marcus Lillington:
Fine, okay.

Paul Boag:
So that’s what ….

Marcus Lillington:
Can we move on now?

Paul Boag:
Yes, we can. I think – oh, I mentioned religion Marcus wants to move on, okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Getting a bit uncomfortable now.

Paul Boag:
Was that our last one?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah

Paul Boag:
Well this show has gone quick, it’s because I’m full of enthusiasm and passion, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
We do have to actually stop fairly soon because my computer is going to die.

Paul Boag:
I know because it’s overheating. So have you got a joke to …

Marcus Lillington:
It’s also I’m down to 10%.

Paul Boag:
Okay. We better finish soon then.

Marcus Lillington:
Donovan Bailey or it must be Bailey. Isn’t Bailey spelt slightly strangely, but my eyes are too shot to be able to read it.

Paul Boag:
You haven’t got your glasses with you. This is going to be funny, I love watching Marcus without his glasses

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I think it’s Bailey. A little girl went up to her mother one day while holding her stomach saying mummy my stomach hurts. Her mother replied that’s because it’s empty, you have to put something in it. Later that day, when the girl’s aunt and her husband were over for dinner, the aunt began to feel bad, holding her head she said, I’ve so such a terrible headache. The little girl looked up giving her the sweetest smile that any child could give and then she said that’s because it’s empty, you have to put something in it.

Paul Boag:
Oh, there are so many people I’d like to say that to. Excellent. So next week last podcast of the season.

Marcus Lillington:
Is it?

Paul Boag:
And then we get our summer off to enjoy ourselves.

Marcus Lillington:
No. How awful – what I’m going to do.

Paul Boag:
I know. People will be distraught and crying in the street.

Marcus Lillington:
Could somebody send me a really good joke between now and next week then.

Paul Boag:
And we need one more question actually. We got two questions for next week, but we need one more. So give us an extra question, give Marcus a joke and then we should be out of your hair for an entire month. Won’t that be nice, you can listen to other good podcasts of which there are none. All right. Talk to you again next week. Bye guys.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

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

Headscape

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