Code discrimination

This week on the Boagworld podcast we argue about whether Marcus should be able to code and get all sexed up.

Play

Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld podcast we argue about whether Marcus should be able to code and get all sexed up.

Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. This is season 7. I’m Paul Boag and I’m being joined by Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello.

Paul Boag:
Leigh wouldn’t come on the show today, would he? Too busy, too important.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
That’s his trouble.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I don’t think he’d fancied talking about sexing up.

Paul Boag:
Sex. Getting sexed up.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s quite revolting, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I know. Horrible. But it’s the first show of a new season and that’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
It is – that is good. But can we…

Paul Boag:
Did you have a nice August?

Marcus Lillington:
I had a lovely August. Can we just go rewind?

Paul Boag:
Right. What’s the problem? We’ve only just started. How can we be rewinding already.

Marcus Lillington:
I think people need to know …

Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing and running…

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t mean that to there, I mean that people needed an explanation.

Paul Boag:
Of the sexed up bit?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, because it’s not what they might be thinking.

Paul Boag:
No, we’re going to talk about sex discrimination within the web design industry?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Nice light topic that obviously I trivialized by referring to it as getting sexed up.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
An important topic that once again I trivialized. I am quite scared about doing that section of the show.

Marcus Lillington:
I read it and I thought, I just sighed.

Paul Boag:
You just know I’m going to put my foot in it massively.

Marcus Lillington:
No. But anyway that’s later.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I had a nice August. Not particularly…

Paul Boag:
I’ve had a frigging wonderful one. Do you know why? Because I’ve only worked four hours a day, I tell you I can get used to that. Such a good way. Take two weeks holiday over a month, four hours a day, I can …

Marcus Lillington:
See, I’m not so sure about that.

Paul Boag:
Right. Why?

Marcus Lillington:
Because I would think that – some, this year I haven’t taken a two week break. I’ve taken the odd one week break. But when I do – and I try to do it every couple of years – I will take at least two weeks off because it’s a complete – you can completely get away and shut down and shut off from work. With a week you can’t. And I imagine if you take two weeks off working half days it never goes away.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think to be honest the only reason it worked this time round was because I was working on a secret project that …

Marcus Lillington:
Secret project?

Paul Boag:
…that was a secret project. It’s so annoying. I’m like half done with it surely I can talk about it by now. I blame other people that are involved in the process, but if I say who I may give away the secret project.

Marcus Lillington:
You might give everything away about the secret project.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So, because that was all I was doing, it was really focused and quite easy to do, if that makes sense. So it wasn’t…

Marcus Lillington:
Whereas I was running the ship with everyone away.

Paul Boag:
Oh, you’re so hard done by.

Marcus Lillington:
It was horrendous. I had to spend all my time just in base camp ticking boxes and doing project management.

Paul Boag:
I love project management we know this. It’s your strength, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
I so, so don’t. Yes well, actually I’ve realized I’m not too bad at it actually. I’ve never had to do it.

Paul Boag:
If you have to.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. But no, I’ve been a guest on a podcast while you’ve been away.

Paul Boag:
Yes, Anna asked me first obviously. She did as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Cow.

Paul Boag:
And then she said is it all right if I ask Marcus. I said yeah he can be my cast offs. How did it go? Did it go well? Were you witty and amusing?

Marcus Lillington:
Not telling you now.

Paul Boag:
So this was a – what podcast was it?

Marcus Lillington:
It’s unfinished business.

Paul Boag:
Which is Anna Debenham’s and Andy Clarke.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, and Andy was on holiday…

Paul Boag:
Like me waltzing around, probably in a motorhome like me as well.

Marcus Lillington:
No, idea

Paul Boag:
Because he often goes away in motorhomes and RVs in America.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I’ve got no idea what he was doing, but yeah it was great. I was fantastic, obviously.

Paul Boag:
What were you talking about? I don’t know whether …

Marcus Lillington:
Project management.

Paul Boag:
Oh really?

Marcus Lillington:
And estimating and stuff like that.

Paul Boag:
Because they talk all about the business side of running a web design agency, don’t they? Or freelancing or whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. But yeah it was good fun. Nice to do something different.

Paul Boag:
It’s so weird that Anna is doing a podcast. Bearing in mind how many times we tried to get her on this show when she helped out and she was like ‘ee’ in the background. That’s all she would go, ‘ee’ and that was it.

Marcus Lillington:
And now she is all rah rah rah rah rah. Up the front. She doesn’t sound like that.

Paul Boag:
I know. No, I bet she doesn’t

Marcus Lillington:
She still sounds quite sort of little.

Paul Boag:
She is very cheeky and rude to me mind so I’m quite glad I didn’t go on because it would have been nothing but abuse the whole time. I bet you two were rude about me at least once in the show.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think you were mentioned at all.

Paul Boag:
I don’t believe that. Do you know what episode it is so that I can check? Not that I’m that vain.

Marcus Lillington:
I haven’t got a clue.

Paul Boag:
We should put a link in the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
So that was – yes, let’s put a link in the show notes, but that was – obviously the highlight in amongst the running the ship, while everyone was on holiday.

Paul Boag:
I wasn’t on holiday. I was working the entire time. I did take a few days off.

Marcus Lillington:
But not on anything that related to our clients.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
So I don’t care.

Paul Boag:
I don’t really like clients very much. If you’re a Headscape client. I don’t like you.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, he does.

Paul Boag:
So here we go.

Marcus Lillington:
Sigh.

Paul Boag:
So we’re back. And we’re back with something new, new format.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Because I like – I get bored very easily. I have a short attention span.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you Paul, really?

Paul Boag:
I do. Have you not noticed?

Marcus Lillington:
Can we change this one half way through. Sometimes these series have – they’ve gone a bit stale, haven’t they? It’s like what are we going to talk about next week?

Paul Boag:
I’m very worried about this one actually, because right the premise of this series is that we’re going to take – you do like old school debating. Did you ever do debating at school?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes. And it is like Houses of Parliament.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Anything.

Paul Boag:
And this house proposes da da da. I’m going to run out of subjects really quite quickly, because I’m trying two a show.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. And we might not be able to do two. I don’t know let’s see how we go today, because it maybe that we will spend so long on the first one that we can make the next one next week, who knows.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s quite an idea.

Marcus Lillington:
Who knows, who knows.

Paul Boag:
But it’s part of a cunning plan you see, because what I’m doing is each one of these subject matter I’m posting to the blog the week before so that people can share their comments, so that we don’t have to come up with anything original to say.

Marcus Lillington:
Well that’s a good idea. We obviously have to come up with the thing to talk about.

Paul Boag:
That’s my problem and I think I’m going to run out. But by doing two a week, it means that actually I go from having to write five – well four blog posts a week in the show notes down to just two blog posts a week and then a couple of these things which are really easy to put together. So it’s all about laziness as always with me.

Marcus Lillington:
Laziness.

Paul Boag:
Most efficient way of doing things.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, efficiency, I was going to say there. Not lazy – don’t want to make more work for yourself.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. I’ve got other important things to do.

Marcus Lillington:
That would be inefficient. Indeed.

Paul Boag:
I was volunteering to do stuff this morning. That’s the first time that has ever happened.

Marcus Lillington:
I know and we’ve had a good meeting this morning about something that …

Paul Boag:
Doing an animation.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah which is not something we normally do…

Paul Boag:
Like a videoy thingy.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, so that’s cool.

Paul Boag:
Kinetic Typography; see I know all the terms.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you really?

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, looking at the thing we’re going to talk about first, I don’t even know all the terms.

Paul Boag:
So we will talk about that actually. Shall we move on to our first main subject?

Marcus Lillington:
No, no. We need to waffle on a bit more.

Paul Boag:
No, come on. Come on let’s get a move on.

Marcus Lillington:
England won the Ashes.

Paul Boag:
I don’t give a shit. Really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah

Paul Boag:
Yeah, well that doesn’t happen very often.

Marcus Lillington:
Well it has done actually, that’s the third – fourth time in the last five.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know what the, I mean why? It’s like a crappy little

Marcus Lillington:
Little tiny thing

Paul Boag:
Little tiny; it’s the smallest trophy in the world ever.

Marcus Lillington:
It is the smallest trophy but it’s not about the trophy.

Paul Boag:
It’s about the bit – the ashes inside of it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s not even the ashes.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, it’s about winning the competition.

Paul Boag:
It’s not – if it was the ashes of, I don’t know, I was going to say Nelson Mandela but he is not dead. Or is he dead now? I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
No, he is not.

Paul Boag:
He must be teetering on the edge.

Marcus Lillington:
This is where we’re going in the final section of this show.

Paul Boag:
See…Is he dead? Oh, I’m not sure.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s kind of appropriate, yes.

Paul Boag:
Well I’m not sure. Anyway it’s not like it’s the ashes of some great leader it’s some stumps. See, you look I knew that. Aren’t you impressed?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I nearly dropped off then and you said the word stumps and I came back in the room.

Paul Boag:
There we go. Anyway can we please do our first subject? You’ll no doubt waffle through that as well.

Marcus Lillington:
No, but we’ve had six weeks off, something else must have happened.

Paul Boag:
No, nothing has happened. Nothing anybody cares about. I could…

Marcus Lillington:
It was a nice summer.

Paul Boag:
I could get out my holiday photos, but really it’s an audio podcast and it’s not really going to work.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah and it will only be me that’s – I’ve seen most of them anyway on Facebook.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s true, right. Please move on.

Should all web professionals have basic coding skills?

This house proposes that all those involved in the creation of a website should have at least basic coding skills.

Join the discussion

So in good debating style, we’re going to have an intro – a kind of statement and then we’re going to take either side of the statement. Now I think it’s important to emphasize that we don’t necessarily take a position we agree with. We’re just – what we’re doing is we’re collating …

Marcus Lillington:
Someone has to agree and someone has to disagree.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, and we’re collating feedback from the comments on the blog posts that I release, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So if you want to contribute to these discussions, you have to be ahead of the game, you have to be subscribed either to the newsletter that I send out or to the blog via the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter, something like that, if you want to be able to contribute. Because once we’ve recorded the podcast you could comment in the comments and that would be good, we could carry on there, but if you want to get on the show you need to do it in advance, fairly obviously. Right, so you’re taking one side, I’m taking the other. What is our first position statement? It is this: this house proposes – I never understood that, why do you start off by saying this house proposes?

Marcus Lillington:
Because of the houses of commons – the House of Commons.

Paul Boag:
Is that where it comes from?

Marcus Lillington:
The houses of commons

Paul Boag:
The houses of commons?

Marcus Lillington:
The House of Commons, I’m sure that’s where it comes from.

Paul Boag:
Right. Okay. This house proposes that all those involved in the creation of a website should at least have basic coding skills. Which side of the argument do you wish to take, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
I will take disagree.

Paul Boag:
Why would you pick that side?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. Not sure, because I like the comments that people made.

Paul Boag:
So you’re claiming to me when you said that you wanted to pick the disagree side, that you have no coding skills?

Marcus Lillington:
I have.

Paul Boag:
You could write HTML.

Marcus Lillington:
It depends what you mean by basic coding skills. I mean my HTML …

Paul Boag:
No, no no. I need to pick you up on something immediately which is there is a rule for this game.

Marcus Lillington:
No depends.

Paul Boag:
No depends.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. I would say based on my coding skills it doesn’t apply to the work I do.

Paul Boag:
Right. So what can you do and what can’t you do. Come on put your cards on the table. Could you write an HTML document?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Really?

Marcus Lillington:
Really.

Paul Boag:
You so need to learn.

Marcus Lillington:
I can – if I’m in a CMS where you have to tag things with HTML, I can do the kind of basic stuff, the formatting …

Paul Boag:
Right. So you – then you can write HTML?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. But if it’s kind of within a – if you’re flipping between the two, I can check what it looks like and all that kind of stuff. But not from the – not from scratch. Why would I ever have had to have done that? Think back, Paul.

Paul Boag:
There must have been a – well, you put it like you say: editing things in Content Management Systems or …

Marcus Lillington:
So yeah, but I don’t think that’s what you mean here. I think what you mean, to we’re already on depend, already aren’t we – I think what you mean here is that if and I think this relates particularly to designers. Someone who designs how an interface looks should be able to code that how it works. I think that’s what you mean.

Paul Boag:
No. I think it’s broader than that. I’ll be interested to pull up and see what I wrote in the original blog post. I think everybody should understand or what I had in my head when I wrote this was that they should be able to write an HTML page, okay. I mean, I’m not expecting people to remember.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes well I could, but not of any great worth.

Paul Boag:
No, no. I’m not expecting it to be of any great worth.

Marcus Lillington:
But anyway, I disagree.

Paul Boag:
… and to do at least some basic CSS. So make this green or whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Nothing on that, nothing at all. Zero.

Paul Boag:
See we need to spend some time Marcus. You need some help.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I don’t think I do. That’s what I’m saying.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Go on then. Well you give me your reasons or some of the reasons from here. Pick – start us off.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m still employed. There you go. Fullstop

Paul Boag:
Strictly speaking, you’re not employed.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yeah. God, yeah. Damn.

Paul Boag:
You’re running your own company.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. That’s true. I think I would be employable as somebody who did the kind of work that I – not the sales – well certainly as a sales type thing – are we including sales people here by the way?

Paul Boag:
I’m including any web professional, yeah; anybody that works and deals with the web.

Marcus Lillington:
So, let’s make it easy and say that’s the other half of my job which is some UX works, certain IA, that kind of thing, I’m sure I could be employed to do that, because as far as I’m concerned it’s more – it relates more to business logic than to do with UI although I do tend to shy away from wireframing these days. I’ve done some in the past, but I don’t feel like it’s my job and maybe that’s – this is why, I wonder. I think I’m perfectly capable of talking to people about what their objectives are, and how they can be translated into the content that their site is presenting. But when it comes to UI I think that I’m not as skilled as I should be and maybe that’s relates to this.

Paul Boag:
Could be. Can you use Microsoft Office?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course I can.

Paul Boag:
Right. Because Microsoft Office is a tool that you use for writing proposals and stuff like that. Therefore you need it, correct?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right. So Deedrum Jack [ph] wrote: when content was intended for print we required all new employees to be proficient in Microsoft Office and the equivalent. Now that content is intended primarily for web, I don’t think it’s a stretch to require that employee to have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS.

Marcus Lillington:
I would – see, I…

Paul Boag:
So I would say it’s a fundamental tool of the web.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think that somebody who writes content for a website necessarily has to be able to – be able to code CSS. I really don’t think…

Paul Boag:
No. I agree, yes. I would – I’m willing to concede the CSS part.

Marcus Lillington:
So I’m right.

Paul Boag:
No because you still need to be able write HTML.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, that’s true actually. Well you don’t have to able to, that’s the thing. I think if you’re design – this is when I come back to what I was saying, if you’re designing user interfaces I agree with this statement…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…because it’s not just about pretty pictures, it’s about responsiveness…

Paul Boag:
But you’re supposed to be disagreeing…

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot about that. But that’s my only – you had a ‘but’ but I think if you’re a content provider then you don’t have to be able to. I think it’s a …

Paul Boag:
Okay. All right, then – John Good, right, John Good is the …

Marcus Lillington:
He is the guy that’s come up with lot of things I don’t understand.

Paul Boag:
He is the guy – what does that mean? He’s the guy that runs the team at University of Surrey.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right – so doing some really cool stuff – he says yes, that you should be able to code because it encourages mutual respect and understanding and filters out—I like this—time wasting requests and general ‘muppetry’ which is great. I think – do you not agree with that, that it encourages mutual respect and understanding? Don’t you think you would appreciate what Dan does more if you had a basic understanding of HTML and CSS?

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. Absolutely. But…

Paul Boag:
So isn’t that a reason to be doing it?

Marcus Lillington:
…if I had spent time getting the knowledge so that I could appreciate what Dan does more, I wouldn’t have been doing my job for the past however many, 10 years.

Paul Boag:
No, because you …

Marcus Lillington:
I’d be concentrating on other things or I’m lazy.

Paul Boag:
No, because you can learn to write an HTML document in an afternoon.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I can do that. We’ve come to the conclusion – very basic, yes, but CSS; I haven’t got clue.

Paul Boag:
Or even, ah okay, take it a bit further. Right, what’s – Ian Lloyd’s book: How to Build Websites the Right Way Using HTML and CSS, I think it is – something like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I think I started reading …

Paul Boag:
Link in the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
…. Molly Holzschlag book of a similar title and got bored.

Paul Boag:
I just think – I think it’s such a fundamental part of the web, right? It’s what the web is built on.

Marcus Lillington:
I think the web is built on what people write and what people post to it. I think that’s what it’s about. And this is too much of a focus on the technology and not enough on the what it’s really about. Because it’s not – the web isn’t for web professionals, the web is for everyone.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that we both have examples of – I think if you’re the equivalent of a print designer and we – a lot of people are, certainly 10, 12 years ago, a lot of people who were print designers ended up designing web pages. And that argument that they should know how to code I agree with. I’m not going to sit here and disagree that those people don’t – you can just create pretty pictures. I don’t agree with that at all. But I think if you’re a content – if you’re some kind of editor or you provide content, I don’t think that you have to know HTML …

Paul Boag:
Okay, right. So…

Marcus Lillington:
I’m repeating myself over and over here, aren’t I?

Paul Boag:
That’s – yeah, that’s ridiculous. You’re just coming up with the same argument again and again.

Marcus Lillington:
Because it’s true.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s ridiculous. If you’re somebody that writes content, if that content is going to be marked up in any kind of usable form, any way that we can style it visually and the designers do all that kind of stuff, it has to be marked up properly in HTML. Therefore a content – somebody that produces content needs to be able to write HTML. They need to be able to wrap an H1 around a title or a strong tag around a bold and all of that kind of stuff, you need to be able to do that and it’s so easy to do.

Marcus Lillington:
All content management systems need to be kicked out of the window do they?

Paul Boag:
To be frank, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, this is where we start to agree on something else but that still makes me think – because this is my argument: I don’t like Content Management Systems as you know.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s WYSIWYGs we’re talking about.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t like Content Management Systems.

Paul Boag:
Right

Marcus Lillington:
I think that there is a job that – people that create web pages and they have them at the BBC, I’m sure, producer-type people, aren’t necessarily the people that write the content. They’re kind of more of a layout editor type of person. Now, I don’t think that that’s necessary the same – but could be the same person, but doesn’t have to be, and that what we’re arguing here is that you must know this if you’re going to do that and that’s far too strong.

Paul Boag:
But that’s – yeah, but it is absolutely – alright, look at it from a business point of view. It’s absolutely ridiculous to pay a whole another person to layout documents for the sake of half a day of someone’s time to learn HTML, that’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make business sense.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, it’s more than that. It’s about how graphics are placed on pages, it’s producing images to associate it with documents. Yeah, okay, some people do have both of those skills, but basically you’re saying as a writer if you’re not skilful in layout which is a different skill…

Paul Boag:
No, I’m not talking about layout. I’m talking about marking up a document semantically correctly.

Marcus Lillington:
But what I’m saying is the person who does the layout could easily do that for the writer.

Paul Boag:
No, because the point is that if you design a well – if you’ve got a well – see this, to be honest you’re exposing the fact that you don’t know this because the whole fundamental thing is if the website is built in the right way, if it is correctly – the CSS is set up correct and all of the rest of it, you don’t need anyone to do the layout. If someone puts in the content correctly, it automatically formats it appropriately for the sake of – I keep coming back to it for the sake of a small amount of training.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s so not true.

Paul Boag:
I could teach you. I could teach you in half a day.

Marcus Lillington:
No, no what’s not true is this – if you’ve got a Content Management System or it was your statement ‘if it’s set up correctly’ which they rarely are. People, clients break CMSs which is why – or break sites that are built on CMSs which is why I have this kind of I think there should be an expert in there somewhere who is the person who creates your page, especially the kind of top level type pages. It could be your web design agency, but people tend not to want to continue to hire expensive people to do that. And why, I come back to the point, the writer isn’t necessarily that person.

Paul Boag:
But even if that – oh okay, even if that writer isn’t that person, I still think – I see no reason why they can’t learn the basics for the level of investment that’s involved.

Marcus Lillington:
I kind of agree with that, yeah. And certainly the kind of what you’re talking about, the tagging bits, H1s, paragraphs and all that kind of stuff: I can do that and I think pretty much any writer could do that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But I don’t think that’s what you mean or I don’t think that’s what the house is talking about here. I think the house – because it says CSS, we can’t change the subject.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Okay, let’s come on to CSS then. I have got you to agree on HTML.

Marcus Lillington:
Um…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, no you just agreed with me. Yes you did.

Marcus Lillington:
I said I see no reason why you can’t do that, but I still stand by my point you don’t have to. If you’re a good writer, you’re a good writer and that’s the most important thing.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Let’s move onto CSS then.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Understanding the basics of how CSS works is a useful skill to have – the way… Right, Justin Huxley, right, I think it was him …

Marcus Lillington:
Husky?

Paul Boag:
No, it wasn’t. It was John Good again. He argued …

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yeah we didn’t say …

Paul Boag:
No, I skipped all that. I’m not going to say everything everybody said.

Marcus Lillington:
I did think…

Paul Boag:
You’ve not mentioned any of the people in your argument.

Marcus Lillington:
You like the general muppetry.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, all right. I should have a look, shouldn’t I? The thing that John talked about, he talked about a T-shaped team member. And this is what I’m agreeing – what I totally agree with John over and I think it’s a really healthy thing. We’re talking about a capital T that anybody involved in the web should have a very superficial knowledge of pretty much all the disciplines that somebody works with, right? So they should understand the very basics of coding, principles of coding, and you should understand the very basics of design like layout and white space and typography and that kind of thing. So you should know the very basics of writing good copy, they should know the very basics of information architecture and then they should have a specialism, right? That’s what we’re talking about here. We are talking about just understanding the principles because as he says it builds mutual respect and understanding. Is it …

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t deny any of that; that’s all absolutely true and useful.

Paul Boag:
Right. Yes you continue to – you can be employed as somebody that – yes, people will still employ you. But it doesn’t mean it’s healthy, right or good because we work in a sector where collaboration is so fundamental and so important.

Marcus Lillington:
How far do you take it though? I mean how is your Cocoa coding for example?

Paul Boag:
Terrible, but we don’t do any Cocoa here.

Marcus Lillington:
But mine is nonexistent. We have recently done a…

Paul Boag:
Oh, have we? Oh right, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
..an iOS project.

Paul Boag:
Oh right, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Nonexistent, nothing at all, haven’t got a clue, don’t

Paul Boag:
I’m not saying that. All I’m talking about, the house proposes, the house proposes…

Marcus Lillington:
No, but you’re saying is they use very basic use across the board, you said, not just HTML and CSS, across the board.

Paul Boag:
Yes. I would see…

Marcus Lillington:
So where do you stop? On the really hard things we go oh that’s alright you don’t have to know anything.

Paul Boag:
I would, no, I would – anybody I work with I would want at least some superficial knowledge of what they do. Now, I don’t understand – this …

Marcus Lillington:
Of what I do, you mean? What you do?

Paul Boag:
No, what they do. I’ve got more than superficial knowledge of what I do, hopefully.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but they should have more than …

Paul Boag:
No, I’m talking about what I want from – of them. Right, take for example the developers, yes. I haven’t written a line of server side code in donkey’s years, right, but I do at least understand the principle; I understand the principle of tagging, I understand variables, I understand all these kind of various concepts. I understand object oriented, I understand – just enough for me to have a conversation intelligently with them, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, okay.

Paul Boag:
That’s all I’m talking about. That’s all this is talking about.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re a proper – the top of your T is very wide.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And it is with me really, but I miss out on when it gets technical basically, but into the kind of the consulting end of things, it’s wide. And someone like Chris downstairs who is a backend coder, I don’t think he’d know where to start on writing a proposal, for example. And I don’t want him to necessarily know.

Paul Boag:
Well, I think he should.

Marcus Lillington:
I think he should know about how much effort he would be able to help me estimate definitely, there’s a difference which is another skill.

Paul Boag:
Okay. But he has read your proposals before now.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think he’s ever read a proposal.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Well, he should have.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. But writing is – it’s a skill that some people have and it’s – and others don’t. Numbers is another one: some people are useless with numbers.

Paul Boag:
That’s fine. Yeah, I’m not saying he needs to be good at it, but he should at least understand what goes into a proposal.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah. That I don’t deny.

Paul Boag:
So that’s my argument.

Marcus Lillington:
Can I read some of mine?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, go on then.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Chris Taylor this is.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, this is bollocks this one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, this is why I picked it. It’s not important that an architecture can lay bricks, so I don’t think that people like project managers and content strategists should have to be able to write any codes to do their job properly.

Paul Boag:
Okay, Chris, I want to respond immediately to that one. My problem with that statement …

Marcus Lillington:
Is the first bit.

Paul Boag:
…is it’s not important for an architect to lay – know how to lay bricks, I accept, but he certainly needs to know the qualities of bricks, how much stress they can take. He needs to understand in huge detail the underlying – and it’s really funny, I didn’t pick it, but there were other people that were taking exactly the same analogy, but for the other side of the argument, because I think it is important that architects understand the underpinnings, the materials that their buildings are made of and that’s what we’re talking about here.

Marcus Lillington:
Ah, carry on.

Paul Boag:
Go on, give me another one.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know I haven’t read – Ally Robe says a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Paul Boag:
No, I actually do agree with him over that, it can be because you can start making assumptions. I have this problem. I’m terrible for this because I coded websites back in 1924; I think that I know what I’m talking about when blatantly I don’t. So, yes, I will accept that. I think that’s a perfectly fair one.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, this is an interesting one. Tony Mosley: I think any project relying on non-code workers to have a working knowledge of code to contribute would stagnate, that’s far too strong and wrong. But this one is interesting. Sometimes great ideas come from ignorance, which is so, so true.

Paul Boag:
He is and for a long time I did take that position with designers, because Leigh – if Leigh was here – because for years I said to him when we worked at the previous company don’t let the code hold you back, design what you need to design. And I still feel that, but actually – yeah, it’s a fair point.

Marcus Lillington:
I mean I wasn’t referring particularly to design, I was – anything: writing a song, often the best song writers are the people that don’t understand the intricacies of music. They just hear it in their head.

Paul Boag:
But to be fair, I don’t think the level of knowledge we’re talking about here is ever deep enough for you not to be largely ignorant still. Do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I guess I was taking a very kind of staunch position before. I think the principle of this makes a lot of sense. I just don’t think it’s black and white is what I’m trying to say.

Paul Boag:
Should we do a …

Marcus Lillington:
I think the majority of people it would be – it would help their job, if they were working in website, to understand as much as they could of what everyone else is working on.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Wesley Nye [ph] sums it up, I reckon.

Marcus Lillington:
Westley Nye.

Paul Boag:
Westley, sorry. This is I think a nice kind of sum up of the situation. Working closely designer with developer in these early design stages is a must and I think that this really is the best way to work and if the designer does or does not know how to code or vice versa, design decisions can be made jointly and they may even learn a bit from each other. So what he is getting at there is you need to work closely together. Then if you’re doing that …

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah and it’ll rub off, won’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it rubs off and it’s very natural so actually he wins my gold star award for the most sensible comment.

Marcus Lillington:
This is actually the only reason why I know any code at all is purely just from working on the stuff.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but I think – but to be honest I think that is why waterfall falls down sometimes and why agile with a small “a” where you sit down and you’re actually working in a room together and I don’t think we as Headscape do enough of that.

Marcus Lillington:
We did it this morning on that – the script, the story board for the video. Four of us sat around the room, knocked it off in a couple of hours.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, and worked really well.

Marcus Lillington:
If we’d shared that via whatever sharing tool we want to use, it would have taken forever and it wouldn’t have been as good.

Paul Boag:
And also interestingly with that meeting as well there was, there was you who – I don’t know what the hell you do, but …

Marcus Lillington:
I come up with great ideas.

Paul Boag:
Whatever it is …

Marcus Lillington:
Really good ideas.

Paul Boag:
… there is me and I don’t know what I do, there was Leigh that from the design point of view, but also Dan who had an understanding of the tool and actually the combination of those two together worked really well, because he said we could do this really easily and that kind of – that really helped. So, it does help, yes it’s the collaboration that matters. So there we go, we came up with the happy conclusion we all agree with. Should we move on?

Does the web industry need positive discrimination?

This house proposes that the web design community needs to introduce positive discrimination to counteract the imbalance in the number of women within the sector.

Join the discussion

Okay so I’ve got a plan with this one, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
This is the sexy one.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s not sexy. What we do is we just read out other people’s comments, because then we can’t put our own feet in it. Although you –

Marcus Lillington:
Yes that’s very wise for you, Paul.

Paul Boag:
You’re the one that just called it the sexy one, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Copying you.

Paul Boag:
Actually to be honest I ummed and ahhed about whether to even tackle this subject, because whenever I’ve seen it before come up it’s always devolved into this horrible argument, but I thought screw it, there needs to be a proper mature conversation so the blog post I wrote started off, if anyone says anything out of order I’m going to ban them from life and I was really quite firm over it. But actually it turned out to be a really wonderful, mature, good debate. So, I know we’ve kind of joked a little bit about it, but now we come to it I do want to take it reasonably seriously.

This house proposes that the web design community needs to introduce positive discrimination to counteract the imbalance in the number of women within the sector, all right. And it made me sad right out of the gate, okay, I posted this online, posted it on Twitter and the first thing that happened was Relly Annett-Baker replied to me and she wrote I hope this goes well and not like every other attempt ever. I will join in, but I’m kind of tired of the shouting and abuse. And that really depressed me and I can see where Relly is coming from, it’s not a criticism of Relly. But there seems to be this real struggle to talk about this in any kind of mature way. And I guess it’s because a lot of people in the community are young men.

Marcus Lillington:
I was just about to say, I’m going to – I am going to offend people and it’s young men. I was one once and I – so I can talk from experience. Young men often are…

Paul Boag:
Ignorant idiots.

Marcus Lillington:
…not very thoughtful, should I say. And they go positive discrimination, well that’s – it’s just not fair, is it?

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Discrimination, no. People should get things on merit.

Paul Boag:
She shouldn’t get on the stage because she has got blonde hair and big boobs.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but that was maybe taking it further than I –

Paul Boag:
To be honest I’ve heard that many times said.

Marcus Lillington:
But the point of positive discrimination, because by the way I am agreeing. I’m an agreer.

Paul Boag:
Oh, you are agreeing on that one?

Marcus Lillington:
This idea of – as was said downstairs, as we came up there is no such thing as positive discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination and I don’t disagree with that, but I still agree with the statement.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But that’s because I’m old and I like to think a little bit wise and that our industry is full of young men, that’s why this needs to happen in my view. But anyway…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, Emma Bolton [ph], just before we kind of get into the agrees and disagrees, Emma Bolton posted a really good thing that I thought was a very good comment on the whole thing, which she says often rising to the point in your career when you’re experienced enough and feel confident enough to speak coincides nicely, she was focusing on speaking at conferences, coincides nicely with having children. Who is going to look after them when you’re away from home speaking? What happens if like in our house if your partner is away a lot with clients and speaking too? What happens if you also go away with your clients to do work like I do, how do you fit all of this in and also be a good parent? It’s not easy and this thing about child care and parenting, I think it is not really…

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a different debate.

Paul Boag:
It’s a different debate entirely, but I actually think it’s a really important debate because often cases because of historical situations more of the load of looking after kids often falls with the women and child care at conferences is non-existent and to be frank I think that sucks. And in a lot of businesses as well, to be frank.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, and that relates to this debate and yes there should be decent child care for people who want it whatever, whether the male or female.

Paul Boag:
And yeah, you also then get into the things about if you’re talking about employees, and I feel really uncomfortable talking about this because we’ve got no female employees in this company.

Marcus Lillington:
Not deliberately.

Paul Boag:
But got none.

Marcus Lillington:
No, we have had female employees.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we have had.

Marcus Lillington:
At the moment we don’t.

Paul Boag:
We don’t.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And – no, we do actually. We have Liz.

Marcus Lillington:
We do.

Paul Boag:
I forgot Liz. Sorry, Liz. Well there you go, I’m being discriminatory.

Marcus Lillington:
She is part time. I think she is not in the building as we speak.

Paul Boag:
No. But things like providing flexible working hours. I mean our guys. Pete seems to be going ferrying children around every five minutes. So, providing those kinds of allowing people flexibility in their working arrangements is a big part of it, but all of that really is outside of the debate.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. I mean yes, parenting is a different thing.

Paul Boag:
So we’ll set that aside. Perhaps we’ll do that in another week.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Right. Here we go. Here is my first disagree with this statement.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And it comes from Rachel Andrew, who is a public speaker, she is a brilliant author, she is a great coder, and she is not afraid to talk about gender and the problems and persecution she has had over time and she wrote, I am not a fan of positive discrimination in general. I think that the most important thing is that we ensure that woman are not put off from participating. For example, women in all walks of life have to put up with people making comments about their personal appearance instead of their ability. Just look at how the media treats women, female politicians for example. As an industry of intelligent people, it would be fantastic if we could make it socially unacceptable for that to happen. In other words, she is saying it’s about a change in culture and a change in attitude, not discrimination.

Marcus Lillington:
And yes, but no.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but no, but no but yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m going to say what some guy said here, only bits of it because it’s long and Aljeer Halimanda [ph]. I think positive discrimination is something that shouldn’t be necessary, but often is. That’s what I was about to say. And I agree with Rachel’s point about female politicians being really good, especially those in the Labor Party that got in because of positive discrimination et cetera et cetera, or not only. Again, you got be careful of what you say always through this, but what I think that positive discrimination should mean and I hope it will mean is that in 10, 20, 50 years’ time it won’t be necessary. But it was required at the time to balance the books.

Paul Boag:
You see he talks about this, he talks about a period of intense positive discrimination from kindergarten through to retirement to encourage women into the profession, and that will –
he argues then that that will change this kind of boy zone male domain mentality and then it wouldn’t be needed at a later date.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly because – and this exists in so many places, I mean, yes there are women board members, there are women CEOs, but if you – a bit like we had a woman prime minister, but she was the most aggressive masculine leader we’ve ever had.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, she almost had to become a man to survive.

Marcus Lillington:
So, that’s what this is about and yes high quality, better quality for want of a better term, men will lose out.

Paul Boag:
Well, this is – it’s interesting. He goes on to argue about this; sorry I’m doing your side as well now, but…

Marcus Lillington:
That’s okay. I was doing my side. You’re helping me with it.

Paul Boag:
He says there is plenty of people complaining that positive discrimination for one group equates to negative discrimination for another. He disagrees, he argues that it isn’t a zero sum game, because we’ve got an expanding industry and it’s growing so much, actually there aren’t enough people anyway, there is room.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, there is room; well therefore you don’t need positive discrimination then. If that’s really true, if there is room enough for everyone.

Paul Boag:
But the thing is that women don’t…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, they don’t…

Paul Boag:
…feel that they’re – I mean the problem…

Marcus Lillington:
I’m sorry, but I’m going to use the ‘depends’ word. It depends on what you mean by positive discrimination then.

Paul Boag:
Well, what I had in mind when I wrote the statement was things like well in particular conferences, that conferences should actively pick women to speak so that other women go oh wow, these high profile women are speaking at conferences, I can do it too, I can stand up and have a voice in the industry.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, fabulous. What about you’ve got – you’re going to – well a bit like if you’re going to become a politician and positive discrimination was in place there, that certain seats you couldn’t go for as a man.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, no, I don’t – I’m not really suggesting that level of discrimination. I mean so many…

Marcus Lillington:
Well, that’s – that’s basically what you’re saying is I mean you can’t do this, you can’t actually say female only to, because that’s sexual discrimination.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, this is where we’re getting into what I was going to use as the conclusion. But I’ll read it anyway. David Prince, right, it’s quite long so bear with me.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
I think that it is really, really important to draw a distinction between positive discrimination and positive action. Positive discrimination gives certain groups preferential treatment, be it in recruitment, speaking selection and so on, regardless of their ability to do the job. Note that positive discrimination in the U.K. is illegal, and as other comments show it’s a very controversial issue. Positive action is different. This is about saying “hey, we’ve got two people who are equally capable to do the job” and, all other things being equal, giving the job to someone who is under – in an under-represented group because of their gender, sex, ethnicity, etcetera.

Marcus Lillington:
Gender and sex surely are the same thing.

Paul Boag:
Well, I think he meant a homosexual or whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Sure. Okay.

Paul Boag:
This is not about giving female speakers the role for the sake of it. They are given the role because they fill the requirements but are given preference over an equally qualified man. Positive action may also take the form of encouraging applications from under-represented groups by advertising in publications known to have a higher female readership, or changing workplace practices, which we were talking about earlier in child care and stuff, to make it more feasible for groups in this – people in this kind of group to participate. I think that’s damn spot on personally.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. So do I.

Paul Boag:
We’ve almost kind of ruined the conversation with that, haven’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think so. I think that – yeah, I love the idea of calling it positive action. That’s spot – I don’t – I actually don’t – personally, I don’t think it has to be so, you must have an – be absolutely level because that’s impossible. And if you set your rules so stringently that the two candidates must be identical, then you would never – it would never work, that’s not a workable solution.

Paul Boag:
Well, you can’t compare people exactly like that.

Marcus Lillington:
But you’ve got to say is this, when you’re looking at people, are they able to do the job and that’s kind of…

Paul Boag:
I mean a good way of viewing it is with the conferences are quite a nice example of that. What often happens because I’ve been involved in planning conferences before and you sit down and we want someone to talk on this subject, we want somebody to talk on this subject and we want somebody to talk on this subject. If one of the subjects is, I don’t know, HTML 5 or responsive design, well let’s say responsive design we could – yeah, we could go and get Brad Forrest I want to say, but it is not. Frost I think it is or anyway, whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Some bloke.

Paul Boag:
We should get some bloke, some white bloke, young white bloke to come and talk about it or we could get some other – some woman that is just as qualified, is doing responsive design stuff, let’s get her to do it. That’s what we’re talking about, isn’t it, fundamentally?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I’m just seeing if there is any other good comments from the negative side of things. I mean there is a lot of people that are saying any discrimination is wrong, just calling it positive discrimination makes it sound better, but it’s still wrong. And that’s why we’re kind of moving away from that idea of discrimination which essentially like Dave says is illegal in Britain. Yeah, I don’t think we need to carry on this, I think David has just hammered it for me.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
It would be really interesting to hear what other people think on that. I’m quite happy to continue these debates, and perhaps I need to link to the original post where the comments are so that, that people can comment on them there rather than in the show notes. So I will put a link in the show notes to those. Yeah, I think this worked quite well. Did you think it worked quite well? I’ve got quite heated on the first one, which was kind of cool.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed, yes. I wasn’t having it when you were trying to make me say things.

Paul Boag:
No, you weren’t having it, you weren’t. That’s good. This is going to be fun.

Marcus Lillington:
But we’ve got to have other things to talk about. What else can we talk about?

Paul Boag:
I’ve got a few in my head.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, cool.

Paul Boag:
Next week, do you want to know what we’re going to talk about next week?

Marcus Lillington:
Go on then.

Paul Boag:
So we’ve got two. This house proposes that the web design sector should have a professional standards body that web designers should have the option of becoming accredited.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh blimey. Okay, yes.

Paul Boag:
And then the other one is this house proposes that all new websites should be built to be responsive.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So those are the two for next week, but please send in some, because that’s it. Beyond that I’m pretty much stuck at the moment. I’m sure things will come to me, but yeah so you can email me at paul@boagworld or just post it on Twitter. But obviously mention @boagworld, otherwise I won’t know about it. Unless obviously I follow you already, which obviously I do because all six of you are so special to me.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s so easy to follow.

Paul Boag:
It is. I can manage it. So we got – have you got a joke?

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve got this – I’ve done this before…

Paul Boag:
Perhaps you ought to do something different for each season…

Marcus Lillington:
No, no.

Paul Boag:
…instead of doing a joke you could do a limerick this time.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m not going to do a limerick.

Paul Boag:
A dance.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve got – I could do a dance, yes. That’s a good idea.

Paul Boag:
He’s doing an incredible dance that I wish you could see it. He is more graceful than someone that’s very graceful.

Marcus Lillington:
People always use that word when they describe me, graceful. Graceful as a bull. I’ve got the top 10 jokes from this year’s Edinburgh Festival and I’ve done these before.

Paul Boag:
Oh right.

Marcus Lillington:
I probably shouldn’t be using them, but anyway they were on the BBC site so that’s all right, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Credit to the original sources.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, this is – I’m going to go for number two first. This is Alex Holme who got the second best joke of the week. I used to work in a shoe recycling shop. It was sole-destroying.

Paul Boag:
I quite like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I quite like that. There is lots of good ones.

Paul Boag:
Excellent. That’ll keep us going for a while then, wouldn’t it? Go on, do one more.

Marcus Lillington:
I will do one more. Tim Vine, you all know Tim Vine. My friend told me he was going to a fancy dress party as an Italian island. I said to him don’t be Sicily.

Paul Boag:
I like that even more. So there we go, that’s really good. I’m glad to be back, I enjoy our little chats.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely, so do I.

Paul Boag:
Better than proper work.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, yeah. Can we just do this and nothing else?

Paul Boag:
Wouldn’t it be great, I would like to and one day we ought to do this at some point is actually to do this live, because then people could be joining in the debate live screaming in it, it would be so exciting and backwards and forwards.

Marcus Lillington:
We have done it live before.

Yeah, perhaps we ought to set it up, I’ll have a think about it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
All right. Thanks very much for listening, guys, and we will see you again next week for episode two of season 7.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

Headscape

Boagworld