Boagworld Show S07E11

Web & Digital Advice

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

Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Thursday, 28th November, 2013

Educational Decisions

This week on the Boagworld web design podcast, should clients be the ultimate decision maker about design and is web design education failing?

Season 7:
The estimated time to read this article is 44 minutes
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Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld web design podcast, should clients be the ultimate decision makers about design and is web design education failing?

Well this is very exciting, Marcus, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Well how many episodes have we done not in this room?

Paul Boag:
It’s been ages since we’ve done a face to face meeting.

Marcus Lillington:
Because we’ve been very sickly boys.

Paul Boag:
I’ve been very busy, that’s my excuse, and sickly, but mainly busy and professional, go getting.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve been very – both of those things as well.

Paul Boag:
So we have been in this office for about three months, three years something like that?

Marcus Lillington:
We moved in – when do we move in?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. The middle of …

Marcus Lillington:
Middle of October.

Paul Boag:
Middle of October and it’s now …

Marcus Lillington:
So we’ve been in for a month.

Paul Boag:
And we’re only now recording our first podcast in our new very green meeting room. By green, I don’t mean environmentally friendly.

Marcus Lillington:
Of course not.

Paul Boag:
Perish the thought. Now we’re talking about a lime green end wall, a lime green door and an Astroturf floor, which felt like good idea at the time. It would have been a great idea if Marcus had actually ordered the Astroturf that I picked.

Marcus Lillington:
You didn’t pick any Astroturf.

Paul Boag:
I did. I got an email. I’ve got an email specifically saying it. We picked it out today and I sent through a photograph and everything. Don’t start, Marcus, you’ve been nothing but contrary all day.

Marcus Lillington:
Contrary, Marcus.

Paul Boag:
Because I was happy, I was so happy this morning when I got up. I was in a great mood. It was just a really good day and the minute I have anything to do with Headscape is misery and pain.

Marcus Lillington:
No it isn’t.

Paul Boag:
Two hours to get in here and no car parking space and then I walk in the door and what am I confronted with? You. You being man fluey still, you were ill before me, you’re still ill after me.

Marcus Lillington:
I got better in the middle. Yes, I just feel blurgh again. Poor me.

Paul Boag:
People are fed up with it to be frank. This is turning into a like.

Marcus Lillington:
Nobody wants to hear about anybody else’s illness, do they?

Paul Boag:
No, well, you don’t really do you. It is boring. It’s like do you want sympathy, because you’re not going to get it. It’s like – this is turning into Marcus’s ailments podcast, which is not a really kind of compelling podcast, is it really? Do you know I went out with someone from lunch today who listens to the podcast and I said to him – best comeback ever. And he is – I said to him, because he runs a kitchen manufacturing company, high-end kitchens, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Is that what they’re called?

Paul Boag:
No, that’s what he sells. Don’t – you’re being contrary again.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s supposed to be adding a bit of wit to the proceedings.

Paul Boag:
If wit was shit you would be constipated. So I was saying to him, why does someone who is the managing director of a kitchen company listen to a web design podcast and his response was? Well you don’t talk about web design much.

Marcus Lillington:
True.

Paul Boag:
Which is a very good point. So, yes that was funny when he said it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, because I have to add the wit and the funny bit.

Paul Boag:
No, you just have to laugh when I’m funny, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And when you’re not funny?

Paul Boag:
No, no just when I’m funny, it’s just that you don’t always realize when that is, because you …

Marcus Lillington:
Because I’m a bit slow.

Paul Boag:
You’re a bit slow and you got a bit man flu and you are not on your best form.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m not on my best form. Don’t like it. I’m bored of it too, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Totally and utterly bored of it.

Paul Boag:
Well, I had a reason for getting ill, because the University of Strathclyde broke me.

Marcus Lillington:
We covered this last week. Yes, it’s also very cold up there.

Paul Boag:
Did we, was it last week?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I can’t remember. Was that when I was actually up? No we didn’t do one. We missed the podcast. We need to apologize – that was last week oh for crying out loud.

Marcus Lillington:
We did apologize for missing one.

Paul Boag:
Did we? We did that last week.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right. Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
And we talked about you blaming just going to work on being …

Paul Boag:
Actually doing an honest day’s work made me ill, yes. No what we need to say on this one is this show is the last of season seven, because I’m taking a ridiculously long break over Christmas.

Marcus Lillington:
We have got a Christmas show coming up as well.

Paul Boag:
We have with the people Andy Clarke from Unfinished Business podcast and Sarah Parmenter from the Happy Monday podcast. So it’s going to be the ultimate web design mash up podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Really? I hope we don’t talk about anything web designing at all?

Paul Boag:
I want to talk about presents

Marcus Lillington:
That’s fine, Christmassy stuff.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
What’s your favorite Christmas tune that kind of thing? I might have a selection to choose from.

Paul Boag:
Why do I get the feeling Hands to Heaven is going to be in that list.

Marcus Lillington:
It wasn’t a Christmas song?

Paul Boag:
Well it’s talking about heaven and then …

Marcus Lillington:
You’re trying to make Christmas a religious festival? Come on.

Paul Boag:
I’m so sorry. It just so amuses me that you wrote – you …

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t write the words.

Paul Boag:
I know, but your number one hit that made you famous was …

Marcus Lillington:
Not that David was religious in anyway.

Paul Boag:
Pseudo religious song that got picked up by Christians. Your success …

Marcus Lillington:
It wasn’t really …

Paul Boag:
… came down to my group that you’re so rude about the Christians.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not rude about Christians.

Paul Boag:
That sounds really funny when you say the Christians. That sounds like a band. Was there a band called?

Marcus Lillington:
There was a band called the Christians, they were quite good actually.

Paul Boag:
Really?

Marcus Lillington:
‘80s sort of souly thing, if I remember rightly.

Paul Boag:
You’re not rude about – no you’re just rude about me; I suppose that’s different isn’t it.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not rude about you either.

Paul Boag:
You’re patronizing and condescending and contrary.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s not rude. I am all of those things you just described.

Paul Boag:
But not rude.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So, yes I’m going to the Maldives, have I told you that? I have been upgraded for free this week.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yes, we were having this conversation, this is where it all stems from, this is where the contrariness. You said I’ve been upgraded.

Paul Boag:
And I was really excited about this, right. For me it’s a really big deal – this is the holiday of a lifetime I would love to have the – I would have loved.

Marcus Lillington:
It was your showing off tone, Paul.

Paul Boag:
No, I wasn’t.

Marcus Lillington:
It deserved a bit of pushing back.

Paul Boag:
No, I was sincerely excited about something – oh I’m breaking the mic.

Marcus Lillington:
Not because – because you didn’t bring this up just one minute ago, because you wanted to show off again.

Paul Boag:
No, I was sincerely excited because it’s a holiday of a lifetime, but we couldn’t quite afford because Maldives is very expensive, couldn’t quite afford those water villas, the ones are on legs. And I was sharing with Marcus, my friend and colleague for 15 plus years.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve lost count.

Paul Boag:
A million years and to be honest it’s showing on Marcus a bit those years of living with me actually, that could backfire. I was sharing with my colleague and friend how excited I was about getting a free upgrade to the fancy facilities and all he could do was mock. It was hurtful and painful.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I hope it genuinely is a –

Paul Boag:
You can’t say it. You can’t say it with sincerity can you?

Marcus Lillington:
I do. I just hope they weren’t tricking you, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I don’t think they were.

Marcus Lillington:
Good.

Paul Boag:
I hope not. Now you’ve made me nervous. So all the excitement I felt has now been replaced with a slight sense of anxiety and fear. Thanks, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Come on, it will be great whatever.

Paul Boag:
It is going to be awesome, yes. To be quite frank if it doesn’t happen, and there is a chance because I …

Marcus Lillington:
I was only partially joking.

Paul Boag:
Yeah – no, actually there is, because I was reading the Trip Advisor reviews and apparently they’re a bit and miss about which rooms you end up with. So we could well end up back in the beach, beach bungalow.

Marcus Lillington:
The reason why – and I’m not sure if this is podcast appropriate, but …

Paul Boag:
Why, is it pornographic? Are you talking about …?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, a little bit. The reason why I figured you might and I’m sure that the rooms on stilts are an upgrade, it was just taking the mick on that.

Paul Boag:
But whether we would actually will get them.

Marcus Lillington:
But would you really want them.

Paul Boag:
Right. Oh because all the honeymoon people.

Marcus Lillington:
Because there will be full of honeymooners.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but there is quite a bit gap between each one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, right okay. In the middle of nowhere. With no sound for a million miles.

Paul Boag:
Oh god. I’m just going to be envious, that’s what it was like before we had a son.

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t remember.

Paul Boag:
God the grumpy old man podcast. But we do talk about web design a little bit. So yeah this is the last show of season seven, which has been our debate season. Next season which will start on I think January the 10th. I think we’re back on January the 10th is when it actually comes out. So we have to record the first season before Christmas and pretend that it’s after Christmas.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve got three friends whose birthday is January the 10th.

Paul Boag:
Three?

Marcus Lillington:
Three.

Paul Boag:
That’s pretty impressive.

Marcus Lillington:
It is, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
And if you work back nine months from that …

Marcus Lillington:
It would springtime, I suppose.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Randy, everyone is randy in the spring, so I’ve heard. So yes, we’re back January – no, not January the 10th. That’s December, I’m looking at December. January the 10th, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So we’ll be back then and we’re going to do – so I ummed and ahhed about what to do in the next season. An essential …

Marcus Lillington:
I know, you’ve told everyone what it’s about.

Paul Boag:
Oh have I already done that? About how is one massive big advert.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. It’s all about me.

Paul Boag:
It’s all about – how about my book and …

Marcus Lillington:
But that’s fair enough. You put lots of effort into it. Let’s use that.

Paul Boag:
But I’m going to do it a little bit different, I don’t know why. So you seem to remember this last show that is blanked from my memory entirely. I have no memory of it. Did I talk about how I was going to do questions? Anyway that’s what we’re doing in the next show.

Marcus Lillington:
Which I think is a good idea, Paul. There you go, I’m being nice.

Paul Boag:
Thank you. I think it will be quite good, because I’ve really enjoyed the debate season so it’d be good to carry that on and we will be doing that. So there is lots of questions for you to answer already by the time this comes out on the website that you can answer, two questions about the next season show and you get stuck in there and it would be great and I’m going to post a lot of cool stuff for you to read while we are away as well so that there will be ample to keep you entertained, because I know how easily you all get bored. How would you possibly survive without Boagworld for a month and a bit?

Marcus Lillington:
New toys on Christmas day and that will be it. The only thing that will be amusing people while we’re away.

Paul Boag:
That’s true. I am going to do a blog post which by the time this podcast comes out may or may not been released, I get – I’m so confused with the reschedule, which will be about geek gifts, because I do that every year.

Marcus Lillington:
You do?

Paul Boag:
People are actually bribing me now to do them.

Marcus Lillington:
What you’re actually getting …

Paul Boag:
I’m getting stuff sent to me. I told you that I got – I said it in on the podcast, I think about getting a Leap Motion. The one, the Minority Report thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I’m not interested in that. What else can you send me.

Paul Boag:
We will talk about this on the Christmas podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And that will be a good time to talk about it. Best freebies you want …

Marcus Lillington:
As an aside, anything you think I might like, Paul.

Paul Boag:
That you actually want to get – you want my castoffs.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I want the good bits.

Paul Boag:
The good stuff, it’s not going to happen is it?

Marcus Lillington:
I know.

Paul Boag:
If you’re listening to the show and you have cool shit to give away, send it to me and not Marcus. So there we go. Should we actually talk about what we’re supposed to be talking about? This is the longest introduction ever.

Marcus Lillington:
It is fairly a long one.

Paul Boag:
How we are up to?

Marcus Lillington:
So stop talking …

Paul Boag:
Four, five hours now.

Marcus Lillington:
13 minutes.

Paul Boag:
13 minutes of pointless waffle.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Let’s move on then.

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t argue with that.

Is web design education failing us?

This house proposes that web design higher education is failing in its role of producing quality graduates prepared for working life.

Share your thought!

Paul Boag:
So, Marcus, I want to give you control, right. I want to show that actually I do care and love for you deeply …

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
… and that you are a good friend. So I’m going to give you the choice. Do we talk about web design education first or do we talk about the other thing, which is about clients having the final say about design sign off. Which would you prefer to talk about first? We don’t need to make a big deal at this; we just make a decision man.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
Right. I will decide.

Marcus Lillington:
Let’s do the other way round, the way it’s written on …

Paul Boag:
Just to be contrary.

Marcus Lillington:
… be different.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
So what’s this about, Paul?

Paul Boag:
I thought for a minute you were going to take control and be in charge.

Marcus Lillington:
So yes, this house it proposes that web design higher education is failing in its role of producing quality graduates prepared for working life.

Paul Boag:
Now I will be really interested to hear what you think about this. As somebody that has no qualifications whatsoever, because you went off to become a superstar. Do you think – what is your view about, if you’re recruiting because you’re somebody that’s involved in our recruitment process and have an uncanny ability to pick good people, which is an entirely sincere comment. You are incredibly good at it. Does education factor into your decision making at all?

Marcus Lillington:
Some, yes a bit. Let’s put it this way. If you’ve done well in university situation particularly sort of back end developers, maybe we should just say – I said there almost like a different case. Back end developers who have got a first in computer science that says an awful lot about them and probably makes them employable.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Probably, it’s almost that cut and dried.

Paul Boag:
Really?

Marcus Lillington:
Almost, almost.

Paul Boag:
Almost. Fair enough.

Marcus Lillington:
All right?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
But when it comes to a project manager, a visual designer or front-end coder, a salesman whatever, those kind of people then I think it is just – it shows if you have done well in a university, in the university format, then I think it shows that you can analyze stuff. And basically work out what a problem is and work out what the solutions are and all of that kind of things, because that’s what you do, what most people do in any degree.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And I guess for a consultant, we just employed a consultant.

Paul Boag:
We didn’t even ask.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, we did.

Paul Boag:
Oh we did.

Marcus Lillington:
We did and he does have a university education. It didn’t count an awful lot towards whether we employed him or not.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
So, I think where I’m going on it is, it’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a necessity.

Paul Boag:
So, you said some interesting things that I was – I kind of picked up on, because I know the comments that coming up. Your implication there is that it’s not really the education; it’s not the specifics of what you’re learning.

Marcus Lillington:
Can I add one more point …

Paul Boag:
Yes, go on.

Marcus Lillington:
… before go into this. If what would be – it would be better, if young, let’s say designers, web designers, so a bit of graphic design, a bit of front end coding that kind of thing, could do what would be considered to be a high-quality degree that would make them – would make them the same as I described the backend developer doing the computer science, wouldn’t that be nice?

Paul Boag:
So, what’s stopping that happening in your mind?

Marcus Lillington:
I’m guessing it’s the fact that potentially the people to train people that aren’t enough to go around.

Paul Boag:
Right. So the implication is in your mind that people are not taught the right things.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I think that is – also probably got a lot to do with the fact that things move very quickly and curriculums can’t move that quickly. So from that point of view, I guess, we can never maybe catch up unless things gradually move to a kind of slowed down place rather than this craziness that it’s been over for 10 years.

Paul Boag:
Now that’s quite interesting because what you’re saying there to begin with made it sound like the real value you see in education …

Marcus Lillington:
That’s why I wanted to make in the next point. Wouldn’t it be good particularly for very young people to say I’m going to get that …

Paul Boag:
And then I will know the skills I need.

Marcus Lillington:
… I will have the skills and I will be employable. At the moment its bit more than that. It’s just getting on the wagon is the hard thing, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes. But the implication is that as things currently stand, the value in a university education or higher education is the ability to learn. You learn to learn. Keith talks about this, he says I’m finding the main goal of education is that student learns how to learn. If the instructors and mentors can inspire passion for always learning then education won’t fail any industry. And David says a similar point; a good tertiary education will provide students with skills of critical thinking and analysis and the aptitude to learn.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s what I was trying to say, but I was much more fumbling about it. Exactly that. You learn to learn and you learn to think critically about issues.

Paul Boag:
Yes, which is – but then you kind of contradicted …

Marcus Lillington:
I can do that and I’ve never been to university.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but then you – yes, that’s true. Just not very well. Then – but you kind of contradicted yourself, because you then said but actually that’s not enough or are you saying that or are you just saying that it would be nice.

Marcus Lillington:
I think it would be nice.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
It would be nice for someone who is 16 or 18 or whatever to think, that’s what I want to do. I’ve obviously got some kind of aptitude in this area. I’m going to go and do that and I will get a recognized qualification that will get me a job as long as I – pass it with flying colors or whatever and I can maybe show – I mean you’re always going to show some kind of portfolios well with the kind of work that we do or experience if it’s project management, but then most people moving to project management are they do that later in their career anyway. So talking about younger people, it is almost certainly designers. So as long as you to have that qualification as well as a portfolio would be great for everyone. But it’s not there at the moment. I’m not sure why it’s not there.

Paul Boag:
One of the things you suggested is that there aren’t enough people that are there teaching that good practice, which is something that got picked up in the comments again. Excellent name, thecodezombie wrote, ultimately, if education is going to work for our industry, it requires industry to take a more active role. As employers, it’s more proactive to help out with education than to whinge about the quality that comes out the other end. Craig wrote a similar thing when he said, as an employer running my own web design agency, I don’t moan about the quality of graduates, I just teach once a year at my local institution and provide advice on the course. And perhaps that is the answer here.

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve done it. Chris has helped out with a course at Southampton Solent.

Paul Boag:
Yes, he did didn’t he; I forgot about that.

Marcus Lillington:
And it would be great if we did some more. I know I’m pretty sure Andy Bud has done some stuff.

Paul Boag:
Well, interestingly we kind of do it indirectly, because believe or not this podcast is required listening on a number of courses. Oh shit.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, that hasn’t made me feel any better.

Paul Boag:
No, it hasn’t really. I don’t think it shows us off to our best, does it? Yuck. What would be great however if my upcoming book Digital Adaptation was required reading then all students had to buy it, that would be brilliant. So if you’re running a university course, if you could arrange that, that will be great.

Marcus Lillington:
Although it’s not aimed at students, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
No, but buy it anyway.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah but buy it anyway.

Paul Boag:
Put it on the reading list anyway, that will be much appreciated. It is a really interesting thing, isn’t it? Because …

Marcus Lillington:
I am a big fan of a) the education system. I suppose I believe in a meritocracy. So therefore I believe in stuff like if you work hard and get a good qualification, then you should earn more, as a very basic way of looking at that. However, I’m the complete antithesis of that myself and I think if you can wing it, then wing it.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s interesting, Simon kind of picked up on this, whinging about graduates with poor skills misses the point for me, good people are good people and they will make the effort to learn and develop whether on the job or around their degree. So and you kind of represent that although the implication is that you’re a good person and obviously I can’t say that, but basically okay you didn’t do the university root, but you picked it up, you learned it, you made it happen. And I do agree with Simon, I think its achievable whether you do university or not, it’s not for me, it’s not – this isn’t a question of what the right root is in order to become a web designer for example, because I know people that have done formal education root then I know people Anna Debenham who chose not to very consciously and has had a very successful career as well. So either root works, but the question is more whether a web design education could be a doing a better job than it is.

Marcus Lillington:
I think Chris, just to give another example of – it’s about good people. Chris Henderson he works for us, is a brilliant example of that, because if I remember rightly, I mean, he came in very straight out of uni, but I’m probably going to do him a disservice now, but I don’t think he got like the highest grade possible, so there was a bit of hmm – because he is backend developer – going on. We always do a test for our developers and we – he’s a .net developer and we gave him the Drupal test.

Paul Boag:
By mistake?

Marcus Lillington:
By mistake and he came back with the Drupal solution. He got the job.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And he has turned out to be an absolute diamond. So …

Paul Boag:
Because he had the right attitude, and because he pushed through anyway. And I think there’s also a degree, as Dan points out, of combining academics and the real world. The great thing about university that I went to is that – this is Dan speaking, is that it started a web company separate to the course, that students could work for. I worked for them for two years so gained parallel industry experience alongside the course.

Marcus Lillington:
I’d love to know who that is.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it’s a brilliant – bloody brilliant idea, that. And I think that’s part of the problem that it seems to vary so much between institution and institution; there are some really good web design courses out there and some absolutely terrible ones as well. Ant wrote about this, he said I would argue that it’s not the web design education industry as a whole, but the specific institutions where education is received that can be viewed as wanting; be it limited resources or out of touch teaching staff or whatever. Thomas had a very similar thing, when he said, as a web design teacher in a college graphic design program, one of my biggest focuses is making sure that the material is extremely up-to-date. It always hurts me a little to hear that so many courses are out to date and it sounds like the community believes all courses are out of date, but that isn’t true. And I do echo that very much. It does seem to vary massively.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, maybe there should be – well I was going to say naming and shaming, but the other way round.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
A kind of like top 10 of courses to go for.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely, I mean you could imagine that, because you get …

Marcus Lillington:
If you want to do physics, you go to Cambridge, if you want to be number one. We all know that.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So there must be a number one course to go and study web design.

Paul Boag:
And newspapers do it don’t they, you get The Times Education top 10, why couldn’t the industry get together and rate courses? That’s quite a good idea, I quite like that idea. If I had time, I probably wouldn’t get around to it.

Marcus Lillington:
You’d do something else more interesting, somebody else…

Paul Boag:
Somebody should do that.

Marcus Lillington:
Somebody young and with some pluck.

Paul Boag:
Somebody motivated. Someone who gives a shit should do that. No, I think that’s a really good idea actually and also I do like this idea of kind of start contributing, I think that’s another big part of it as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
But, and here is the big one for me, right. We’ve just said that you can do either root. If you’re a good person, if you’re self motivated, if you go to university, you can make a success of it. If you don’t go to university you make success out there, so then Samantha hit something which I think is a key point in this. If traditional education were not so gorram expensive at least in the States and increasingly here in the UK, it might be easier – I might have an easier time recommending it to aspiring web developers. If we’re saying that you can achieve that – if you’re going to pay a big chunk of money to go and learn web design, it needs to give you a competitive advantage, there needs to be a return on investment and I’m not convinced, not for all courses again bearing in mind what we were saying earlier, but in a lot of cases I’m not convinced paying nine grand a year or whatever it is, will give you that much better an opportunity when you leave.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. If my son had said I want to go and everyone picks on film study, so I’m going to pick on film studies. If he’d said I want to spend three years of my life studying film studies at some ex-poly, sounding very snooty now, I would have said no way, you’re an idiot. But he wants to go and study physics at what’re they’re called …

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, Russell Group?

Marcus Lillington:
Russell Group …

Paul Boag:
Which won’t mean anything to people outside of the U.K., posh, good university.

Marcus Lillington:
All it means is that, it’s almost a ticket to a job as long as he works hard to get the grades at the end of it and doing physics there are lots and lots of different things he can go into.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So it’s – there is a good chance of ROI.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
A really good job.

Paul Boag:
But then the question is where does web design fall in that spectrum? Is it nearer film studies or is it nearer physics?

Marcus Lillington:
Now I’m not so sure.

Paul Boag:
No. And that’s …

Marcus Lillington:
Because if you could go and be an intern at a decent agency, you’re going to learn more for nothing effectively.

Paul Boag:
Well, being paid, potentially.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you should be paid, not all are. But even if you are not, at least you’re not …

Paul Boag:
Paying.

Marcus Lillington:
… you’re only paying to get there and your cup of tea or whatever, so …

Paul Boag:
It’s very difficult, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
But then I imagine some interns all they do is the same task all the time and make the tea.

Paul Boag:
But then even if you didn’t get an internship, right, you can learn everything you need to for free online.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Really interesting. And then you get into – but this is quite interesting because you then almost get into a general shift we’re seeing in higher education as a whole, because we work with a lot of higher education clients and there is this whole mook thing now, isn’t there?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
Which is this idea that universities are going to put all of their content online, you can go and learn it at your own rate for free and then you pay to do the exam at the end effectively. And so there is this big shift going on in education as a whole, so it’s quite a complicated time, certainly in the UK where tuition fees are really ramping up now, to make a decision over this.

Marcus Lillington:
And I suppose if there was a really good course, let’s say if we get somebody who was – who had enough drive to work out what the best university courses were, okay, and it’s like – this is – so I studied web design at let’s say Cambridge, because that’s as good an example as any other, online, haven’t paid the course, but look at my great work, I did all the study, its good enough isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Why do you have to have the actual grade, why do you would have to be a BA or …

Paul Boag:
As long as you can prove…

Marcus Lillington:
What would you be, a BA or BSC? That’s quite an interesting one, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
It is. Well, I guess it depends what the emphasis of the degree was.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, if I am – yes, sort of graphical design front end …

Paul Boag:
Because that Mark Boulton – you know Mark Boulton?

Marcus Lillington:
I know Mark Boulton.

Paul Boag:
Mark Boulton of Mark Boulton fame. He talked about – that he thinks web design education is failing, but he doesn’t think design education is failing.

Marcus Lillington:
I agree with that entirely and that’s because web design is new and design isn’t new.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. He talks about – he makes an interesting differentiation. He talks about how most web designer education is focused on tools and techniques. And that this isn’t what web design education – the way it should be. Design education should be focused on collaborative, critique-based work that’s highly interpersonal, lots of justifying new designs, learning those – learning to justify the approach that you take and I think that is a really good point.

Marcus Lillington:
That makes the assumption that you arrive at university already knowing a lot about the tools and techniques?

Paul Boag:
No, he’s saying that the place to learn tools and techniques is on the job. He’s saying – right, if you look at my education for example, because obviously there wasn’t web design courses around, so I was doing an Art, Media and Design course, okay. And part way through that I actually left the course to go and do an internship at IBM. IBM taught me tools and techniques, right? It taught me the tools of the time, Windows 3.1 and 3-D studio and all of those kinds of back in the day multimedia tool book and exciting tools like that and HTML when that came along at the end of the year. But my university course taught me creative thinking, it taught me problem-solving, it taught me things like justifying my design, standing up in a critique and dealing with the abuse that you used to get, that’s what university taught me. So I actually think it comes back to the it’s about a combination of academic in the real world and I think that’s perhaps where things will get interesting over the coming years, I hope. And that there will be a closer working relationship between the two. That’s really – it’s a really fascinating subject and I think the reason – the only reason this is a big debate at the moment is because we are in a transition period. Education is changing, web design is changing, the whole situation is totally in flux and so there is a huge disparity between those that are doing it well and those that are doing it badly.

Marcus Lillington:
But if I remember rightly Chris David Mills and Anna Debenham were both saying that it’s all rubbish about five years ago and obviously that’s not the case now.

Paul Boag:
I don’t think so, no.

Marcus Lillington:
So that’s a good thing.

Paul Boag:
It is. I think things are definitely getting better. But even so, I wouldn’t want to be an A level graduate right now because I honestly wouldn’t know whether to go to university or not. I think probably if I was in that position I pushed to give an answer now, I would look damn hard for some kind of internship first, working for a charity or doing something like that. If I really couldn’t find anything that’s quality there, then I will turn to a higher education course, because I couldn’t get a foot on the rung with the knowledge that I had at that point. But yes, it’s really difficult. Anyway, shall we move on to our second debate topic?

Marcus Lillington:
Let’s do that.

Should clients have the ultimate say over design?

This house proposes that the clients preference shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the appearance of their site.

Share your thoughts!

Paul Boag:
Okay. So next up, this house proposes that the clients’ preferences shouldn’t be the deciding factor in the appearance of the site. What do you think, Marcus? Let’s hear your words of wisdom on this issue.

Marcus Lillington:
Depends if they’re right or not really, doesn’t it?

Paul Boag:
I love it. This is a really interesting one, isn’t it? Because it really …

Marcus Lillington:
I know we’re not allowed to say it depends, but if the client – let’s say the client is a James Bond villain sat there in their underground lair with billions of pounds in the bank stroking their white cat on their lap, and they want a website, then – and they are going to spend £1 million on that website, then yes.

Paul Boag:
You’ll do anything for money is what you’re saying?

Marcus Lillington:
Anyone will do anything for money I think or anyone if there isn’t …

Paul Boag:
Such a cynic.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I mean that – what I was – the point I was trying to make was it depends on how much it matters, who cares.

Paul Boag:
Yes. They can have what they want if it keeps them happy.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
There is also – there is – yes, okay, right. Let me play devil’s advocate, although I have actually another reason why I think you would be right. Isn’t there – aren’t we ultimately being hired to produce them a good website and sometimes we need to talk them round because they’re the problem preventing creating a good website.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So we have an obligation to try.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I do agree with that entirely and I think we do that. I also think that sometimes they are right and we are wrong.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I totally agree with that.

Marcus Lillington:
Shock, horror. It does happen. We might have a kind of, I don’t know a particular thing at the time that was our latest thing that we like to add to websites, we think it helps all the websites we, build blah blah blah, and we don’t maybe understand the target audience as well as the client does and the client is saying, no, no we don’t want that thing, because our audience won’t like it and we’re going yes, you should have it because everyone loves it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, or alternatively, we think you should do this thing because your users will like it, yes, but that undermines our business model. So there are lots of reasons why. The other kind of good one here I think is that – but that’s not – that’s slightly different question you’re answering there, but …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you’re talking about appearance there, aren’t you?

Paul Boag:
Yes, this house proposes the client’s preference, personal preference shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the appearance of its website.

Marcus Lillington:
And what do you mean by the client? Are we talking about the marketing department?

Paul Boag:
Good question, good question…

Marcus Lillington:
Are we talking about all the people in the company?

Paul Boag:
You reject the premise of the question …

Marcus Lillington:
I am rejecting the premise.

Paul Boag:
… or statement or whatever. No, I can see that. Another reason why perhaps preference does matter is that the client has to live with the website over the long-term. So that’s another factor that needs to be considered here. And it’s really – that’s a great guy that often …

Marcus Lillington:
Do you know what, sorry I know I cut across you there, but my initial flippant comment is right. It’s about if they’re right or not.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Because if they’re right, if everyone’s agreed and its obvious and everyone has agreed it’s like, well, yes. Then they get – then it is their preference.

Paul Boag:
Okay. All right then, but what if the client is wrong and it’s still their preference?

Marcus Lillington:
Then you should try – you should at least have the conversation and explain to them why you think they are wrong and so will the rest of the world. And at the end of the day, they’re paying the bill.

Paul Boag:
Andrew agrees with you. He says educate clients to understand that they are not building a website for themselves, but for their customers. It’s our responsibility to educate our clients of this if they are unaware.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, the final bit, if they are unaware, is really important, because the majority of the clients get that, most of them.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. But interestingly, David – I love David, David Prince. He is my client and he really gets the spirit of this season, right? He makes massively black and white comments and I just love that. He jumps right in. His response is, yes, of course clients should have the final say over the design. Websites – and he backs it up, he always backs it up with a good statement that I agree with. And he says websites are far too integral and important to the success of a business for decisions to be completely outsourced. And I agree with him over that. I think that’s a fair comment. I think at the end of the day, unless a website is just a kind of superficial bolt-on to a business, in which case what was the point of it? That there are a lot of nuances that we will not understand as web designers. That will …

Marcus Lillington:
I said that.

Paul Boag:
You did say that and David agrees with you. Now talking of David being very into black and white statements, there was a great one that I’ve just included because it was completely just to cause a good argument. And this is …

Marcus Lillington:
I haven’t read this.

Paul Boag:
… Miss George, right. I understand they, as in web designers, because she’s a client supposedly, I’m not – I don’t think she is even a real person. I understand they’re the experts, but they’re the experts for technical skills they have, they should leave the creative ideas alone. I had to include it just because it was so ridiculously arrogant. Well done, Miss George. You’re always welcome to stir the shit. And actually somebody replied going, is this serious or not? I don’t know whether to answer this. So that was very good, I like that one. Simon takes an interesting approach. He says, it’s nobody’s preference. He doesn’t – and he says it’s not our preference, it’s not the clients. In my opinion, the designer should work with the client to produce test candidates rather than final designs. These should then be multi-variant tested to produce the final design.

Marcus Lillington:
We dismissed that though earlier in the season.

Paul Boag:
Did we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Why did we dismiss that earlier in the season?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t remember why, but yeah testing is rubbish, don’t do it. Because at the end of the day, we know best.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I wish I could remember, we definitely reached that conclusion, don’t bother.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
We did, we did.

Paul Boag:
No, there is no way that I would have dismissed testing. Weren’t we having a conversation about – no, it was something that Kenneth said wasn’t it? About how you can test the hell out of everything and actually in the end sometimes people like Steve Jobs for example and Henry Ford were the two that we mentioned. Henry Ford, when he said, if you ask people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse, or Steve Jobs who famously never did market research. And I think that sometimes works, but I don’t think that dismisses testing by any means.

Marcus Lillington:
I think, well, to be fair with Simon then, producing test candidates is the way as long – because when you produce a set of test candidates, you’re putting barriers either side. You’re not going, you can have everything you like.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re saying in this tiny area you can have these choices. What do you think? Yes, that’s fine.

Paul Boag:
My attitude, and we do this fairly recently, not recently, often – if a client turns around and says I want X and we think it’s a bad idea, we say okay, well we will produce X and then we will produce Y and we will test both and see which one works. So it’s interesting. I mean you are right when you talk about the money issue, you’re saying ultimately if they’re paying us big wodges of cash, and Andy Kingsley takes that approach. He says at the end of the day, the client is paying the bill. This all said, if the client doesn’t trust the designer, yes so – yes he is kind of making two points. One, he is saying that at the end of the day the client is paying the bill, but then on the other hand he said but if the client doesn’t trust the designer then they shouldn’t be working together anyway. The client shouldn’t have hired someone, which I can see where Andy is coming from, but a client doesn’t always know whether they trust a designer before they start, because there is no relationship there. You can feel like you’ve made a mistake in your hiring of a designer. So it’s kind of a difficult one.

Marcus Lillington:
It is. I’m having audio issues, I hope it’s all sounding okay kids. No, no, I appear to have gone down to one side, but I expect you won’t hear that once I’ve…

Paul Boag:
Made it all known anyway. It will all be fine.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m concerned.

Paul Boag:
Are you?

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve lost a channel.

Paul Boag:
Well, it’s fine, because we’re pretty much done.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So all we’ve got to do is only your joke.

Marcus Lillington:
Thank goodness for that.

Paul Boag:
It’s only your joke that’s going to sound shit and that sounds shit anyway. So that’s fine.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, normal service.

Paul Boag:
People are used to that, yes. Have you got a joke?

Marcus Lillington:
I have. One more from Ian Lasky.

Paul Boag:
He gets to be the last joke of season seven.

Marcus Lillington:
Well I’m hoping – actually, please send me – Ian certainly, Ian and anyone else who said – Wizard and the other people, Donavan Bailey. Can’t remember anyone else’s name off the top of my head. Send me lots of jokes for the Christmas show please.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes, we do need stack loads of jokes, preferably Christmassy jokes.

Marcus Lillington:
Well yes, but don’t feel that you have to stay to Christmas. Good jokes.

Paul Boag:
I want jokes about Rudolf.

Marcus Lillington:
Good jokes are what is required.

Paul Boag:
Although I don’t care because I’m not doing Christmas this year.

Marcus Lillington:
Favorite Christmas joke, I will do that one.

Paul Boag:
Maldives jokes, any jokes you have about the Maldives, they’re also welcome. So please keep those coming.

Marcus Lillington:
Maldives jokes. I’m sure I can think of a couple.

Paul Boag:
Yes, about honeymooners having sex, and me with my fingers in my ears.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I’m just trying to think of the Christmas joke, the one about the guys that go to heaven and have to give something Christmassy to St Peter.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes, I remember that one vaguely, but I can’t remember …

Marcus Lillington:
What’s your favorite Christmas thing? One of them says, oh, the candles and all that, so why is that then? Blah blah blah and the other one says, oh, it’s the tinsel and the Christmas tree, no, I’ve got this wrong; I will remember it for the show.

Paul Boag:
You’ve totally ruined that. Can you do the joke you were intending to do?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but it’s a good one.

Paul Boag:
It’s not even December yet.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s reminded me that we will do Christmas jokes on the Christmas podcast.

Paul Boag:
See, there will be Christmas jokes after all.

Marcus Lillington:
A cowboy walked into a bar and ordered a whiskey. When the bartender delivered the drink, the cowboy asked, where is everybody? And the bartender replied, they have gone to the hanging.

Paul Boag:
You’ve told this one.

Marcus Lillington:
Have I?

Paul Boag:
I think so, keep going.

Marcus Lillington:
About Brown Paper Pete?

Paul Boag:
No, actually. I’m sure you’ve told one about hanging before.

Marcus Lillington:
Hanging? Who are they hanging? Brown Paper Pete, the bartender replied. What kind of a name is that? The cowboy asked. Well, said the bartender, he wears a brown paper hat, brown paper shirt, brown paper trousers and brown paper shoes.

Paul Boag:
You have told this.

Marcus Lillington:
Have I?

Paul Boag:
But I can’t remember the punch line.

Marcus Lillington:
Weird guy said the cowboy. What are they hanging him for? Rustling.

Paul Boag:
Yes, rustling. That was it.

Marcus Lillington:
Have I told that one before?

Paul Boag:
You definitely told that one before. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Marcus Lillington:
Here’s another one then.

Paul Boag:
Give us another one.

Marcus Lillington:
A little 11-year-old boy …

Paul Boag:
Told it before.

Marcus Lillington:
… came up to me and said, can I please have a cigarette? I was shocked. Kids today are so polite.

Paul Boag:
I like that one. That was a good one.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go, see, and we got there twice.

Paul Boag:
We got there in the end. It took – three, there was half or two and a half. There was half a Christmas joke as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, which I got wrong.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I can remember the punch line but I can’t remember how to get there.

Paul Boag:
Never mind. That’s like so much in life in my experience. All right. Well thank you very much for listening to season seven. I hope you really enjoyed it and I hope you have a great Christmas break and that you will join us in the New Year. In the meantime, if you desperately want some podcasting entertainment, check out Happy Mondays and Unfinished Business, both excellent podcasts worthy of your attention and then you can join us for the Christmas special which will be on all three podcasts, I was going to say simultaneously, but probably not because that would require organization that’s beyond our abilities.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
But nevertheless, see you in the New Year.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Bye.

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