The last of your questions

In this final episode of season 6 we talk designing for mobile, organisational challenges and traffic vs conversion.

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Paul Boag:
In this final episode of Season 6 we talk about designing for mobile, organizational challenges and traffic versus conversion.

Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, that podcast about web design stuff that we do every week. My name is Paul Boag: and joining me today is Marcus Lillington as always. That’s not your whole name, it’s not Marcus Lillington as always …?

Marcus Lillington:
Marcus Lillington as always, that’s my full name.

Paul Boag:
Indeed. So our last episode of Season 6, are you sad? Are you sad to be going?

Marcus Lillington:
I am, in some ways I’m, because you did say that we do the podcast every week and I thought well we’re not going to be doing it for the next few weeks. But I will enjoy having the time off, but only as probably I’m not going to moan about the amount of work because we seem to have done that on every show, or about the last 10 shows. But it will give me a chance to catch up over the summer, which will be nice. I can enjoy the lovely weather.

Paul Boag:
I think we need these breaks that we have between season, I think are crucial. And I think the reason they’re crucial is because it makes people realize how much they miss us, when we’re not there.

Marcus Lillington:
It feeds the love.

Paul Boag:
It does feed the love. What is that – something about the heart…

Marcus Lillington:
Absence makes the heart grow stronger, fonder, something like that.

Paul Boag:
Yes. And that is I’m sure the case.

Marcus Lillington:
You don’t think people just forget about us?

Paul Boag:
I do. I think they probably do, absolutely, and I suspect it’s very bad to stop. But we’re going to anyway. Screw them all, that’s what I say.

Marcus Lillington:
So you’re going on holiday? You’re going on holiday for a month?

Paul Boag:
I’m not going on the holiday for a month. I’m going away for a month and working half days. Don’t start, Marcus, don’t start.

Marcus Lillington:
Swanning about, with your family, going from one beach to another, holiday, holiday for twice as much as time as anyone else is allowed to in the company?

Paul Boag:
You know what I’m doing. I’m not allowed to announce what I’m doing, because it’s not official yet. But you know I’ll be working hard.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re going to be working hard? Okay.

Paul Boag:
At least half the time.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I made no commitments the other half. I think it’s a genius idea, working half days, while traveling around in a motorhome. So I do an hour in the morning, three hours in the evening and then the rest of the day I swan around and have fun.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, so I will be trying to organize as many afternoon meetings as possible.

Paul Boag:
You can get stuffed. You know I can’t do afternoon meetings, because we’ve agreed what I will be doing over that period of time. So, I will be saying no to meetings.

Marcus Lillington:
Working hard.

Paul Boag:
Working hard, indeed on my secret project.

Marcus Lillington:
People will be jealous –A) secrets, so instant jealousy and the secret project that’s what we all want.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it’s not as sexy as it sounds. It will be really cool, if I was creating some cool internet start-up that was going to make me billions, but it really isn’t that sexy. So never mind. So how was your week been, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Still hot, which I like. I love the hot weather.

Paul Boag:
It’s been good, isn’t it.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s great. Although it’s cooled down a little bit today, but it’s still bloody lovely. So, long may it carry on.

Paul Boag:
Indeed.

Marcus Lillington:
So not only have we – not only do we moan about our workload, we also talk about the weather. But it makes a change to talk about it being nice, because it’s been absolutely crap for the last two years.

Paul Boag:
I’m sure we’ve…

Marcus Lillington:
What else have we done this week.

Paul Boag:
You’ve been with me, we being gallivanting.

Marcus Lillington:
We did a bit of gallivanting on Monday, didn’t we?

Paul Boag:
I did more gallivanting on Tuesday. We couldn’t have has – we had the best meeting ever guys. The best meeting ever with a client on Tuesday, wasn’t it? And it was like we were expecting to have a challenge and …

Marcus Lillington:
Monday.

Paul Boag:
Monday, was it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
We’re expecting it to be a bit of a challenge and difficult at times and they just got there and they were enthusiastic and it was great. That’s what – why can’t all clients be like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, indeed.

Paul Boag:
They might even – no, I’m not willing to commit to that yet, I was just going to say they might even knock Cindy off the top of my favorite client pile.

Marcus Lillington:
You can’t say that.

Paul Boag:
No, I know.

Marcus Lillington:
Shocking. So, I’m going to edit that out.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m going to bleep it out.

Paul Boag:
You’re going to bleep? Bleep the name out.

Marcus Lillington:
No, just the whole sentence, it just they might even bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep like that.

Paul Boag:
That will be great. Let’s do that, because people will just wonder. It was really funny. We did this thing at the church where they were recording embarrassing moments that people have had and I manage to get roped into to telling an embarrassing story and it started off something like when I was a teenager, I really wanted to impress a girl, so I, right. And then he cut the video at that point and then just skip to the end bit of me saying and that was an absolute disaster and didn’t say what it was I did. So, obviously people imagined far worse than what I really did. So, editing is a very powerful tool.

Marcus Lillington:
It indeed yes. Well, we can make it – like figures, we can make it seem good or bad whatever it is.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
But, Paul, on this subject I’m not going to say you skip over it. You held the Muppet award at Headscape pretty much every year from its beginning to its end. I mean we don’t do it anymore and probably should resurrect it. But – the one about – the fire brigade coming out to find you because you drowned in a field or something. The not turning up to a speaking engagement, because you thought it was the following day, trying to remember some of others.

Paul Boag:
But why is it necessary to drag all these up and how does this in anyway relate to what we were talking about?

Marcus Lillington:
Embarrassing things Paul has done.

Paul Boag:
Oh well, if we go down that line that could – we could do a season just dedicated to that. Let’s scrap this idea of the great debate for season seven and just do Paul’s embarrassing moments. That sounds like a great idea.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. We could – yeah, we could bring back Headscape employees far over the years to talk about their personal experiences.

Paul Boag:
Their favorite most embarrassing thing they’ve seen me do, absolutely. Actually I’m quite excited by – I’ve just scheduled the first two posts for these great debate topics we’re going to do in September. So they will go out and then people can comment on them. And they’re really good. The first one is about the – this house proposes that all websites should be built responsively. And the second one is this house proposes that all those involved in creating a website should be able to least to write some HTML, which I think is going to be two excellent debate points. So, I’m looking forward to hearing what we get back.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, cool.

Paul Boag:
You seem totally unimpressed and unexcited about that?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I could – I probably could argue both on – both of those.

Paul Boag:
Which is good, that’s exactly what you want from a good debate subject.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So, I’m really – that’s going to be really good. So those would be posted on the website soon so, you need to make sure you’re either following me on twitter @boagworld or you’re subscribed to the – yeah, the feed. So that you know when those exciting topics come out. So you can join in the conversation, because it will be really cool. And the idea is that when we kick off again in September, do we know what date we’re kicking off? Can you remember?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t remember. All I know is I’m away the week commencing, I think is the 9th or the 10th.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
So I would imagine it would be week after that.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m guessing. Don’t know. You know these things, I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
I think it comes back – when are you away.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m going to have to get a calendar up now, it’s so …

Paul Boag:
It doesn’t matter. This is really boring.

Marcus Lillington:
So professional, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
It doesn’t matter.

Marcus Lillington:
Right, here we go. I’m doing it now.

Paul Boag:
I think we’re coming back – for people, for them rather than when we record it. I think we’re going to be back for you dear listener on the 12th of September.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. When are we actually recording this episode for the 12th then …?

Paul Boag:
Well, I thought that was going to be the week before, but apparently you’re away.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, we could do it the week before?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, so the week beginning of the 2nd.

Marcus Lillington:
The 2nd, yeah, but I can’t record one the week beginning the 9th. People really want to know this, don’t they?

Paul Boag:
They don’t want to know this at all. So, this is the kind of problems you have when you do a weekly podcast and obviously there is so much pressure for us to be putting out quality material that we – because so many people deeply love this show and so reliant on it, that we – we feel an enormous pressure, don’t we Marcus to recording…

Marcus Lillington:
We have such high standards.

Paul Boag:
We do, and that’s very hard.

Marcus Lillington:
Such high standards.

Paul Boag:
I mean, we have to – this half an hour episode, no an hour episode, let’s be honest. That takes – the best part three days to record by the time we’ve emptied out all the crap bits and just left the good stuff. It’s a major undertaking. I don’t think people appreciate how long it takes or indeed believe us.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. I will say, I’ve stopped listening, Paul. Are you still talking about the same thing?

Paul Boag:
Actually I think that’s probably a signal we need to move is it not?

What resolution for mobile design?

When it comes to designing for mobile sites, what device or resolution should you use for the first initial template design?

Salan Brown

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. First question is from Salan Brown. Do you think that’s just meant to be Sally or something? I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
No, no I think it’s right.

Marcus Lillington:
Salan Brown.

Paul Boag:
Do you always – do we always have to comment on the names? It’s like …

Marcus Lillington:
Pretty much.

Paul Boag:
Okay. All right. I just – perhaps it’s a thing we do now like your joke at the end of the show.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Okay, that reminds me I’ve got to find one.

Paul Boag:
He is so prepared. So prepared and professional, it just blows me away.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Okay. I’m going to read the question and deflect your mocking tone. When it comes to designing for mobile sites what device or resolution should you use for the first initial template design?

Paul Boag:
A very good question. And I always say that as well. I suppose I wouldn’t include it …

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah you do, don’t you? Very good question. That is because you selected it.

Paul Boag:
Well, I wouldn’t include it on the show. Yeah, it’s like if it was shit, I wouldn’t be including it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So it should go without saying that it’s a really good question.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a really crap question.

Paul Boag:
Yeah this is a terrible question. Well it kind of – I mean, I guess to some extent you could argue it is a terrible question but I don’t know, you know, it just depends on your perspective, doesn’t it. I think it’s a good question. No, the reason I included this one actually is because on Tuesday, so the day after we have that such successful meeting, we were doing a kick off meeting with a publisher in Basingstoke.

Marcus Lillington:
I wasn’t but – yeah.

Paul Boag:
No you weren’t, but I was with Chris and Dan and Leigh and we kind of got to the – Dan said, oh you really should start mobile first with your wireframing, so we think about mobile from the start and I was like yes, yes I totally agree, absolutely. And then when I came to do it, I found it really difficult to kind of start with mobile first. I felt the need to keep kind of falling back into a desktop way of doing things. And I know – but actually he is entirely right, Dan is right. And I – it was for the first time that I kind of thought oh dear, I’m getting old and stuck in my ways. I have to think desktop first, but I got over it, it was fine. It was all good. And I actually think it’s really worthwhile when you’re designing a site for mobile that you do start mobile first. But that’s almost a kind of given in this question.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
You know when – when it comes to designing a mobile site what device or resolution should you do your first initial templates on? So he is kind of going a step further than that isn’t he? And saying well okay, yeah fair enough, we have got to do mobile first, I get that. Do you think – I ought to come back in a minute and say why do mobile first? Perhaps we ought to answer that question first, even though it’s not in the question being asked. I think – there might be people listening that’s going, well why should it be mobile first? And I think this is such a good idea because mobile first helps focus you. It helps you focus you on absolutely key content. You know, what is it you really need to include? Because you cut back don’t you when you – when you start thinking mobile, you’re forced to think about what really matters and you’re forced to prioritize what really matters. And that –

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not a major fan if I’m honest. Oh well, no that’s not true. I – because I don’t think it’s black and white, I don’t think it’s yes mobile first is the right approach. I think content first …

Paul Boag:
No, it is a matter of opinion.

Marcus Lillington:
Is the right approach?

Paul Boag:
Oh yeah. Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And one of the reasons and this is more of an excuse really than a reason not to go down mobile first. But as long as you’ve done content first and you prioritize your content then I guess to a certain extent some people would argue well that is mobile first if you – if you know what the content is and you’ve prioritized it then maybe you could argue that that is mobile first. But let’s say we’re saying it’s content first. I think if …

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
If you then present that as effectively it’s going to be a single column layout maybe some …

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Some kind of tweaks to the layout that wouldn’t be just a linear thing, but pretty much you’re looking at a linear layout.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
That that is not the best way to present it to your client. And the best way to present it to a client is desktop first as long as you’ve done the content first exercise, because they will get it, you know.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I think it’s – yeah, I think there is probably more design challenges in desktop, which is perhaps why you can’t not address desktop with the client. And I think that was what I was partly struggling with in that meeting is that you know you’ve got limited time. We’ve gone through the content first exercise as we always do.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
You know, what content do we want on this page? What’s the priority of this content? What do we want users to look out first and we do things like user attention point exercises. Link in the show notes to something on that, but yeah I would agree. I think it is content first. I think it sometimes helps to think in terms of mobile first because it forces you to make tougher decisions. You know I think if you just think in terms of content first and desktop and that kind of thing, then it’s more – it’s more – you know content first is more abstract isn’t it? So you’re more likely to just include stuff that maybe you don’t want 100% need to include and you’re more likely to fudge the priority issues. While – when you are thinking about mobile, there is a very specific application for it –

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And maybe that encourages you to focus and go well we need to put one thing above another because we can only have one common – column.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So you know, what are we going to put above one another and it kind of forces the issue maybe a bit but I totally agree.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. That’s true actually.

Paul Boag:
Content

Marcus Lillington:
Good reason to do it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But we still – we still haven’t answered the question.

Paul Boag:
But – we still haven’t answered the question as is our wont. Yes, so he is talking about what device or resolution should you start with when you’re designing mobile first? And that’s a very good question. Again, I would almost – I would take the kind of content first mentality and so work from the lowest common denominator up. So depending on what platforms you are supporting, this will be dependent on where you should start. But let’s say for example – well let’s just pick you know pick more common example, I was going to pick something a bit obscure but let’s pick something common like an – okay I’m going to design for the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 and the iPad. I would encourage you to start with the iPhone 4, because that’s got the most constraints, because it’s a smaller screen, so therefore that has an effect on – makes the design harder. If you want to take that even to the extreme, if you say want it to work on a dumb phone or a feature phone as they call them, then I would start with that because that’s going to be even more constraints still or if you’re going with the Blackberry that’s going to be more constrained maybe than an iPhone and so therefore start with that. So, always start with the lowest common denominator, because it forces you to make the tough decisions out of the gate, which is the important thing. Do you reckon that makes sense?

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
Good.

Marcus Lillington:
And to a certain extent, I was – what – I was wondering whether you really need to kind of nail down a particular size, I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
Well, no I don’t think – well, yes and no. I think it depends on how you’re going about designing it. If he is – if – I presume this is a he, I’m not quite sure. He or she? Salan. Hmm, don’t know. But if this person is wanting to present comps to a client, in other words, if they haven’t designed in a browser, I mean this comes back to the oldest issues of the shortcomings with the – most of the design tools that we’ve got these days. The first thing it does when you open it up is it says set a browser size.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
You know, or set a canvas size should I say. So, if you’re working with tools like that, then yes you do have to set a device or resolution to start with. If of course you’re designing in the browser, then maybe it’s a bit more flexible and you can play around a little bit more.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s interesting. Very interesting conversation. But that’s where these new generation of tools get quite interesting. Things like Adobe Reflow, link in the show notes to that, because you can put in breakpoints and that kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I think it – personally I think before you’re kind of presenting stuff to the client, you need to be able to show them multiple states – is my personal opinion.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
But there you go. Okay. So, I think that about covers that question, doesn’t it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yep.

Paul Boag:
Should we move on then?

Marcus Lillington:
Let’s.

What is the biggest organisational problem for digital?

It strikes me that many of the issues that dictate whether a site is successful is nothing to do with design or build but rather organisational issues. Would you agree and what are the biggest problems?

Jeremy Bush

Paul Boag:
So this next question I’m really excited about and think is a really good question. In fact, it’s so …

Marcus Lillington:
A really, really, really good question.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It’s so suspicious, that it actually feels like a question I would write. It feels like one I have just made up.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh right. So it’s so good, it could be from you.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. So – so do you want to read it?

Marcus Lillington:
The ego is bubbling up near the high-end today I see.

Paul Boag:
What does that mean? No, I wasn’t saying that the questions that I write are all good questions. I meant it’s the kind of subject I love talking about. Don’t be facetious or whatever. You’re an ass sometimes, you really are.

Marcus Lillington:
But that’s what it sounded like. Anyway right. So this is from Jeremy Bush, a very normal sounding name, if you’re from England.

Paul Boag:
You couldn’t help it. Could you? You couldn’t help the comment on the name.

Marcus Lillington:
Beautiful British name. All right, here we go. It strikes me that many of the issues that dictate whether a site is successful, have nothing to do with design or build, but rather organizational issues. Would you agree and what are the biggest problems?

Paul Boag:
Great question. It is. It’s a superb question. 10/10. I think – possibly the reason Jeremy is asking this is because this is what I’ve been writing so much about recently isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And yes, Jeremy, I would 100% agree with you. I think a lot of the success is interesting. I was having a chat with Andy Budd, link in the show notes. Earlier today we were talking about exactly these kinds of issues that how when it comes to designing a website you could create the best website in the world for a client, that you do all the right things you build it responsive. It does all the stuff that it should do, but it’s not going to necessarily succeed. It won’t succeed if the organization doesn’t have everything in place to be able to support and maintain that website.

And he compared it to office buildings, which is probably because at the moment his company Clearleft, link in the show notes, are getting new office buildings, getting – buying a building, renovating it and all of the rest of it. So, I suspect he is very much in his head at the moment. And he was saying that it’s like you spend a big chunk of money in doing up a building, but if you don’t spend time and effort on ongoing maintenance, and you don’t regularly repaint it and all the rest of it, slowly it will fall into disrepair. And he’s saying that and I totally agree that websites are very much like that. If the organization isn’t equipped to maintain that website, then it will fail. And I absolutely agree with that.

And he went on to make another interesting point. He says, he finds it ironic because the most large organizations have more staff employed to clean the toilets and keep the office tidy than they do people dedicated to working on their website, which I’d never thought it like that. But actually it’s really true, isn’t it? That is just so such a depressing thought. So, I guess the question – the second part of the question is what is the biggest problem here? And that’s quite hard because there are so many isn’t there?

Marcus Lillington:
I think and I suppose it depends on where which level you’re – which level of business. But I think for SME, small to medium companies, I mean, what’s being implied in the question is that sites are deemed successful for reasons nothing to do with the quality that – the quality of the build or whether they are delivering on useful things like more contacts coming through or something like that. And I think that probably sites are often deemed successful if senior managers or CEOs or Managing Directors like them. So, yes I like it. I think it suits me. It fits with me. So therefore it’s – I view it as a success and I suspect that lots of designers out there are bullied by these people to design something by these people, when they really should be designing something to help further that business rather than fit with the Managing Directors idea of what a good website is.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that reminded me of something else that Andy said, which is a lovely phrase that I hadn’t come across before, which is the swoop and poop of senior management. Have you ever heard about this?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Yes. Never heard it called that before, but I know exactly what you mean.

Paul Boag:
It’s some senior manager that, all these decisions are made by whoever is actually responsible for the website and then senior management swoop in at the last minute and poop all over the project by – saying that, it’s not what I want and you didn’t you give an example of where this happened before, Marcus. There was I’m sure you were talking about where somebody didn’t like the color or something or am I imagining that?

Marcus Lillington:
Hang on, give me a – it hasn’t happened recently or has it?

Paul Boag:
It’s the kind of thing that does happen, mind isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course people in management, even people who are kind of clever and have valuable ideas, feel that they have to say something.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But anyway, we have been through this. I mean, they’re always of avoiding this.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve to make sure they’re involved earlier on and that they understand the process and that they’re not allowed to do swooping and pooping.

Paul Boag:
But it’s not, I don’t. So, I wouldn’t actually call that the biggest problem here. I think the biggest problem is …

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a problem.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think there are probably much more fundamental issues that are much harder to solve and I think a lot of the big ones are around organizational structure. So, where you’ve got business units that are competing with one another or there is some or just the departmental organization means the websites been carved up across the company, with marketing responsible for kind of branding with – and design and then, IT responsible for the infrastructure under it and then content maintenance spread across all the different departments. And that never works very well and then you have situations where actually you’ve got different business units, competing over priority on the website.

And that’s something that we came across with this publisher yesterday, when we were working with them is essentially there are two businesses in one. And there are two heads of marketing for these two separate companies who are appealing to different audiences and have different priorities and different product offerings, all trying to communicate with via a single website. And there is problems with that and another one I remember very vividly was years back when we work for a company that sold prior project management software to enterprise, in particularly the construction industry and they had a really peculiar set up where their marketing team had targets for the number of leads generated. So the number of potential leads that can convert. And then the sales department had their own separate target to meet of how many of those leads that come in, they then convert. So one what was interested in driving traffic, one was interested in conversion, which is interesting. We are going to come on to that in a minute with the final question. But you had this bizarre situation where the marketing departments said, right before anybody can see a demonstration of our software, they first have to register. And that forces people to handover their information which means they’re now a lead and we can pass those across to the sales and we’ve met our target.

The problem is a lot of the people that wanted to view a demonstration were miles away from actually being ready to make a purchase. And so the sales department was then suddenly inundated with tons and tons of leads and their conversion – leads that weren’t at all useful. And so their conversation rate drove through the floor and that caused conflict and problems and all the rest of it. So, often I think there are kind of fundamental organizational issues that the web kind of highlights essentially. That makes things quite challenging, and that’s why we’re spending as much time these days working with organizations to improve their internal structures and processes and policies as we’re actually building websites. It’s fascinating.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, indeed.

Paul Boag:
I think the problem is that, that the web has become so business critical now that it’s not enough for it just to kind of be tagged on or squeezed into the existing structures and actually it’s got to be a fundamental part of the organizations DNA and in terms of how they work and how they operate. I mean, the government digital service calls it design by – sorry, digital by default, digital has to be at the heart of everything that’s going on. I don’t think there is many organizations have got their head round that yet unfortunately.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. If anything – if there is any kind of campaign or any kind of exercise that needs to be carried out digital by default basically means can we do this using digital first rather than maybe an assumption that you’ve always create a leaflet if – for an annual leaflet for a particular department or something like that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
This got – or leaflets for maybe it’s giveaways in business centers or something like that. Can that be delivered as digital, you might decide. No, it can’t, but digital by default …

Paul Boag:
It should at least, yeah, think of digital first. I mean that there is one other area actually which is a big organizational issue that I think damages websites, which is that the internal web team if there is one, is often just treated as a service department to service rest of the business, that actually has no power or authority in its own right. And that creates massive problems as well, because essentially they’re just pulled in from one direction to the other and so never, never really get into a position whether you can think strategically or take the website forward, because even if they had time to do that, they don’t have the power to implement it anyway. So, that’s another massive issue that we spend a lot of time dealing with. This is all interesting stuff, web design is a very different beast than what it was even five years ago, in terms of the complexity and the challenges behind it and I think Jeremy’s question is a very astute one or his observation should I say that, that actually designing or building a website is almost the easier part of the equation now than actually managing it and running it and the organizational challenges that go with that. So, yeah interesting stuff. Should we go on to our last question because it’s kind of builds on that one actually. So should be a good one.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Which is more important driving traffic or converting?

Where should I focus, on improving the amount of traffic to my site or how many visitors go on to convert?

Ryan Buswell

Paul Boag:
So this final question again is a – is one that’s very in the front of our minds. It kind of goes back to the meeting we had on Monday again, Marcus. Do you want to read it out?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. This is from Ryan Buzzwell, we used to work with somebody called Buzzwell.

Paul Boag:
Oh yeah we did didn’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
Jayne Buzzwell. Jayne if you might just happen to be listening. What are the chances of that?

Paul Boag:
Pretty slim. Although I do – I’m still vaguely in contact with her because she – I know she reads some of the blog posts and stuff we put out. Because she does marketing, so she is vaguely related.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Anyway, here is the question. It’s not Jayne Buzzwell, it’s Ryan Buzzwell. Where should I focus on improving the amount of traffic to my site or how many – hang on, where should I focus: on improving the amount of traffic to my site or how many visitors go on to convert?

Paul Boag:
So it’s kind of a conversion versus traffic debate?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Which was exactly the conversation we were having on Monday, which is fascinating.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed.

Paul Boag:
But I don’t think it’s always the same answer.

Marcus Lillington:
It depends.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it is, it’s one of those, isn’t it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Both.

Paul Boag:
So what does it depend on, Marcus? What advice can we give Ryan?

Marcus Lillington:
Quite – well basically there is no point in driving traffic to something that isn’t converting very well. So get your conversion stuff done first and if you’re happy with how that’s working, you think it’s as effective as it can be, then you can go mad on driving traffic.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up doesn’t it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Shall we move on to the joke?

Paul Boag:
Yes, actually you summed that up a bit too well. That really is very little else you could add to it. I mean, in terms of what is a good conversion rate, again that kind of depends on what you’re doing if it’s an e-commerce site, if it’s less than 2%, you definitely have got work to do. If it’s over 10% you can sit back very smugly. If it’s between 3% and 6%, that’s about average, but there is probably ways you can improve it. But if you’re a charity or if you’re call to action is something different than selling, then that’s a bit more hard to judge. I think you kind of – yeah, you need to look carefully. I think the tendency is to fall back on just driving traffic, but that can be an expensive business. I mean again, but it depends. You could put up with a fairly poor conversion rate, if the cost of driving traffic to your website is low, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
If it’s expensive for you to improve the conversion rate, if you need to do something fundamental like reorganize your business or implement an entirely new technology, then you might be better off to drive more traffic to the site. It’s about a return on investment thing, isn’t really? So you know it’s not as black and white as perhaps you implied, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Perhaps.

Paul Boag:
What is – I mean the assumption is that driving traffic is more expensive than improving conversion and that’s not always true, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
No, not – I see what you mean – yeah in some cases – I mean conversion maybe really, really hard. You might not be able to improve it. It maybe just simply a numbers game, throw as many as you – things as you possibly can at it and then you will get the one in a million. So if you get one in a million you need to throw 10 million at it or whatever. Yes, that does makes sense. You’re right, it’s not just black and white.

Paul Boag:
And it also depends on the value of the conversion as well. So, I would say that probably conversion rate can be improved more when it’s a lower value of purchase, right or it’s a lower – so if it’s something like download a document or sign up to a free newsletter, then it – the conversion rate – getting someone to convert is relatively easy, which means small improvements to the UX may increase that dramatically. However, if your conversion is purchase a £30,000 car or a diamond ring or something then maybe it’s about just driving more and more people to the site in order to see the – to be exposed to the product and you get that one in a million. And you can also, if there is a high enough profit margins on that diamond ring, then you could afford to spend a lot of money driving traffic just for the one in million conversion.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. You just got to make sure that you’ve got a million coming to the site, I guess that’s – yeah, it’s a different way of looking at it. So, I hope that makes sense.

Paul Boag:
The answer is actually not just it depends, but it’s very complicated. I think you need to know your profit margin on each transaction, you need to know the number of people that are currently converting, at what …

Marcus Lillington:
Average value, if its value.

Paul Boag:
… yes, the average value, the level of conversion and then you need to start doing some maths basically and go well for me to increase that conversion rate by say 1%, it’s going to cost me X amount and will generate this much additional income. But if I took that X amount and spent it on marketing instead, how many extra users would that bring in and would that convert enough to bring in a better return on investment. It’s a kind of thing that you have to get a calculator out and Google Analytics. Trust me, I spend a long time doing this on Monday night. It’s not – it’s the kind of area where you want someone that’s got a good understanding of analytics to help you out. This is where Chris comes in, because he does really cool stuff on this. But it’s very interesting.

Again, this is a growing area, a lot of organizations have data researchers, people that’s job is just dedicated to managing and analyzing data. I know that again Government Digital Services do this, I know Twitter have got people like this. And you might think, oh that’s quite a specialist piece of work and you might not want someone internally doing that, but there are experts outside that you can hire to do that kind of analysis and it’s really worth it, because it can make an enormous difference. I mean on the client we were working with on Monday, the figures that were coming out were millions of pounds worth of improvement. It’s worth spending a bit of money to analyze the data and do those calculations.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. I’m going to think it’s fair to say that e-commerce sites have been doing this for years, but I think it’s other sites are basically starting to measure their spend against ROI, really …

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
… and one of the best way of spending their budgets.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So that’s that one done I think. I think we’ve covered those with three really good questions for our last episode. But I think it is time to move on to bigger and better things in our next season. I think we might come back to questions mind, because I enjoyed that. I’m quite happy to repeat a season.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. Yeah, we must do apps again one day as well. I think people liked that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely or we might do a combined season with one app, one question and something else, I don’t know. It will be interesting to hear people’s feedback on that actually. What they think we ought to do topic wise. So send me an email at [email protected] or Boagworld or however I’m pronouncing it this week.

Marcus Lillington:
There is something that would be meaning to say is – and something I’ve been meaning to do is count how many episodes we’re at, because ever since we went to series obviously I don’t know what number podcast is this. Because this might be the 300th episode.

Paul Boag:
Who cares mind really?

Marcus Lillington:
I was thinking we could do – last time we had – the 200th show we did a 12 hour show, didn’t we? Or was it a 24 hour, I can’t remember anyway.

Paul Boag:
12 hour.

Marcus Lillington:
This time we could do a show on a desert island or something like that.

Paul Boag:
Now that I like the sound of. A show from the Maldives. How about that?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah or whilst on a cruise liner around the West Indies?

Paul Boag:
So, if you fancy supporting that episode, please make your PayPal donations to [email protected] Thank you very much.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go, done.

Paul Boag:
So, Marcus, you got joke for us?

Marcus Lillington:
Another joke from Donovan Bailey, I think it’s Bailey. Science joke.

Paul Boag:
Oh, my son will like this.

Marcus Lillington:
So here we go. Two atoms are walking down the street and one says to the other, wait, wait we have to go back, I’ve lost an electron somewhere. And the second asked and says really? Are you sure. The first atom replies yes, I’m positive.

Paul Boag:
That’s very cool. That I like yeah, good. Well done.

Marcus Lillington:
Not my favorite joke, but no one sends me jokes. That’s an old one. I have had that one for ages.

Paul Boag:
Perhaps we need to replace the jokes next season as well and not have jokes, but have recipes or …

Marcus Lillington:
Recipes what an excellent idea.

Paul Boag:
… favourite album.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Or your favourite album? Oh you can do favourite recipes. Okay, that will be a change.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, favourite album will be easier or would it? I don’t know, one or the other.

Paul Boag:
Just go back doing a recommended song and then we can put a Spotify link in or something like that. You could create a Spotify playlist.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
That’s a great idea. Let’s do that and then each week you add another song to the playlist.

Marcus Lillington:
Right. You know what – start of next season we’ll go, what was that idea you had?

Paul Boag:
Write it down, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, writing it down now.

Paul Boag:
Good. You’re lying. That’s your level of commitment is horrendous. All right, so that about wraps up this season. As we said, we will be back at some point indeterminate in September …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, sometime.

Paul Boag:
… we should – it will be the 12th. 12th of September you will get the podcast back. We are actually going to be stopping blogging as well over that period of time. So the site is going to be quiet and you can get on with some work for a change you bunch of slackers. You know they sit around listening to podcasts. They should be doing something useful with their lives. Go out and create something amazing and then cut me in for a percentage of the money you make out there. I’m being very money grabbing this episode.

Marcus Lillington:
You are.

Paul Boag:
… it’s not good. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop then. Thank you very much for listening, guys, and we will be back again next season with the great debate.

Marcus Lillington:
Good bye.

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

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