Sunny coastlines and micro payments

On the first show of season nine we talk to a web developer working on a council website and discuss online donations.

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Paul Boag:
On the first show of Season 9 we talk to a web developer working for a council website, and discuss online donations.

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

Marcus Lillington:
Hello Paul, how are you?

Paul Boag:
Very well. Have you enjoyed our hiatus?

Marcus Lillington:
Very much so. It gave me time to work out that this show is the 500th show.

Paul Boag:
No!

Marcus Lillington:
No, it’s not, I just made that up.

Paul Boag:
I believed you for a minute!

Marcus Lillington:
It could be though, for all I know.

Paul Boag:
So I’ve just had an ethical dilemma.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Well, I’ve just been judging the .net awards, and we’ve been short listed as podcast of the year. So my ethical dilemma was ‘should I vote for myself or not?’

Marcus Lillington:
Of course you do. All politicians vote for themselves.

Paul Boag:
I didn’t. I didn’t. I voted for ShopTalk.

Marcus Lillington:
But you can vote for more than one can’t you?

Paul Boag:
No, you can only vote for one.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And I voted for ShopTalk because they’re a better podcast than we are.

Marcus Lillington:
How could you say that?

Paul Boag:
Well, it’s true.

Marcus Lillington:
No, you should just think that.

Paul Boag:
They’re really funny and make me laugh so much. Well, I laugh at myself, yes, but that’s not quite the same. So yes, we’ve had a break. Did that not sound like the most boring introduction, it sounds like this is going to be such a shit show, doesn’t it? We’re going to talk to a web developer from a council website.

Marcus Lillington:
But he does work for a council website on the sunshine coast, or something?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So it’s – there is a bit of glamour in there.

Paul Boag:
And by the sunshine coast you don’t mean Cornwall, you mean Australia?

Marcus Lillington:
I mean Australia, yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, such envy. So we ought to explain the premise of this season’s show, because then that will sound a lot more exciting than perhaps it first did. Because what we’re going to be doing on this season of the show is covering people and projects. So we decided we want to do some interviews, because we haven’t done interviews for a gazillion years.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, a very long time ago.

Paul Boag:
So, everybody else now does interviews, because it’s easy and it draws the big names – if you have Jeffery Selman being interviewed on your show, or Jakob Nielsen, then you can be sure that you will get a lot of listeners and it’s great. But the downside of that, I find, is you get the same old people, it’s like conference speakers, people like me that just spend their whole lives writing books, speaking at conferences and never actually do any work. So …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I don’t know if I’m capable of anything these days.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So you…

Marcus Lillington:
You’re just furthering these web celebrities’ careers.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. Screw them and their wanting to promote their book. I’ve got a book of my own to promote. Thank you very much.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
So we decided we didn’t want to hear from the same old crowd. What we’ve done is I sent an email out to my newsletter list and said anybody who runs a website, if you would like to be interviewed on the show we would love to hear from you. And then we got absolutely bombarded with people. So we’ve interviewed as many as we possibly can, so this could be the longest season ever.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I’m not sure we got, about 16 or 17, something like that?

Paul Boag:
Something like that, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
A lot.

Paul Boag:
In the end I just started saying no, I’m sorry we can’t do any more. So what we’re going to do… and then just-

Marcus Lillington:
What if Jeffery Selman comes along?

Paul Boag:
No, we don’t want you Jeffery. I love you dearly, but not on our show, thank you very much. We’ve already interviewed him anyway, years ago.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So the idea is that we talk to normal people doing real work, that are kind of suffering from real problems. Because it’s all well and good being somebody like Jeffery, I don’t know why I’m picking on Jeffery…

Marcus Lillington:
Andy Clarke.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it’s all well and good being Andy Clarke. You walk into a client meeting and you go “we need to do this” and the client goes “oh, you’re Andy Clarke, we must do that.” But for the rest of us, obviously not myself, because I’m just as important and wonderful as Andy Clarke and have that same impact, but for most people, for the plebs …

Marcus Lillington:
Stop now.

Paul Boag:
Oh, God. Right, the truth is, that in a lot of cases we can’t get away with doing stuff that maybe some more famous people may be able to do. And we have to put up with internal politics and all kinds of other challenges. And that’s what I want to kind of cover in this season of the show is real people struggling with real stuff. So that’s kind of one half of what we’re going to do. So that’s the people part. Then is the projects part. So if you have got a project that you’d like for us to chat about in the show, I’m not talking about some sexy web app or start-up that you are doing. Again, we have – we hear far too much from Silicon Valley start-ups or tools built for other web designers and all that kind of stuff. I’m not interested in that, but if you’ve created something just on a normal boring arse project and there is some little element of it that you’re really chuffed with and you’re really pleased about and you want to share, then go to boagworld.com/featured/projects. I think that’s right, let me check that. Now I’m worrying that that’s not the right URL. It’s something like… yes – boagworld.com/featured-projects and …

Marcus Lillington:
You should trust yourself more Paul.

Paul Boag:
Sorry?

Marcus Lillington:
You should trust yourself more.

Paul Boag:
I should trust myself.

Marcus Lillington:
Trust your judgment.

Paul Boag:
Yes, so there is a form that you can fill in there and you can submit your project and we’re going to pick one a week and we’re going to just have a little chat about it basically. It won’t be… we’re not going to have two sets of interviews, because that felt a bit over the top. But me and Marcus are going to have a look at it. We’re going to see what your comments are on it and we’re going to just chat it over. So it’s a chance for us to look at some of the little cool things that people are doing on the websites that they build. So that is the plan. First of all we have Steve, who is Steve Fuery:, which I just love. What a great interview to start with, Steve Fuery:.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know whether – I don’t know he works really for Bass Coast Council. I think he works for SHIELD. Now that’s a reference you won’t get, is it Marcus, because you don’t like sci-fi?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t like sci-fi?

Paul Boag:
Oh, yeah that’s rubbish, what am I talking about?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course I love sci-fi. I’m not a major follower of every sci-fi TV Show, more of a reader. I do follow some, but no I don’t know who Nick Fuery is, I’ve heard the name, but I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
You’ve not seen Avengers?

Marcus Lillington:
What as in…

Paul Boag:
…with Thor and the Hulk and…

Marcus Lillington:
Not really no.

Paul Boag:
See, amateur.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s not sci-fi.

Paul Boag:
Well, it’s comic book, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
They’re comic books.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, you like proper grown up sci-fi.

Marcus Lillington:
I do.

Paul Boag:
You’re an old man.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m a proper grown up, kind of.

Paul Boag:
In the loosest sense of the word.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, exactly.

Paul Boag:
So yes, so we’re going to talk to Nick Fuery, sorry I mean Steve Fuery:.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re going to do that over and over again, aren’t you?

Paul Boag:
And then we are going to look at something called Cent up, which is a project that someone sent in which is quite cool and worth a little chat. So should we kick off and talk about… do our interview first? Is that a good place to start or is that pointless waffle that you want to cover?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t think of any pointless waffle, other than I’ve just been and bought some new socks.

Paul Boag:
…Really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Is that the best you can do?

Marcus Lillington:
I probably can do better. That was after going to the pub.

Paul Boag:
I will do better than that. I bought a Roomba.

Marcus Lillington:
A what?

Paul Boag:
Roomba.

Marcus Lillington:
Roomba?

Paul Boag:
You know those electric, those vacuum cleaner robot things.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh really?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I think they’re rather good actually.

Paul Boag:
I was gob smacked.

Marcus Lillington:
So – yeah, I know talking about vacuum cleaners isn’t that sexy, but I think they are rather good.

Paul Boag:
Well you see, it’s really interesting because I bought it… to be honest I wanted one for a gazillion years. But you know how can you justify it? It’s one of those things, and it was my birthday weekend and I thought ‘screw it’.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yes, happy birthday for yesterday. I did say happy birthday by an email.

Paul Boag:
Yes, you did. You’ve said it via email. There is nothing that says I love you like saying happy birthday via email. The only thing that is less effort is possibly posting to someone’s Facebook wall ‘happy birthday’. It’s basically saying I don’t like you enough to in any way do any kind of effort whatsoever.

Marcus Lillington:
I would have phoned you, Paul, obviously, but you’re having a holiday.

Paul Boag:
Well, my holiday I was going to IKEA and buying flatpack furniture and assembling it. That was my birthday.

Marcus Lillington:
Which piece of furniture?

Paul Boag:
The bedside tables, Hemne?

Marcus Lillington:
Hemnes.

Paul Boag:
Hemnes, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s child’s play.

Paul Boag:
It was actually. It was quite straightforward. I sense some story here about your heroic efforts in assembling furniture, but I’m not going to let you get it in, because I want to talk about Roomba.

Marcus Lillington:
Go on then. Go on.

Paul Boag:
So my Roomba – I bought the Roomba and I thought it’s going to be a bit of a gimmick. It’s bloody amazing! It proper cleans! We have a cleaner that comes to our house. And we’ve said don’t bother vacuuming anymore, it’s not worth the effort. This thing does it all for you. Doesn’t do stairs, obviously.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
How cool would that be, if it hovered like a Dalek and went up the stairs.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m actually slightly jealous.

Paul Boag:
Oh you ought to get one. Best thing ever.

Marcus Lillington:
I already have two vacuum cleaners, two.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s excessive.

Marcus Lillington:
So I’m not going to get another one.

Paul Boag:
But with dogs, it would be particularly good.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, and that’s I’m not – yes, dogs are another thing entirely because we’ve got one of those battery plug in Dyson jobs and it can’t pick up the Labrador hair.

Paul Boag:
Well, all I mean, obviously I don’t know because I don’t have a dog. But the reviews on this Roomba said that it does deal with dog hair.

Marcus Lillington:
They all say that because they have to, but yeah maybe it does.

Paul Boag:
No, the reviews, not the description.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh right, okay.

Paul Boag:
From real people.

Marcus Lillington:
Real people?

Paul Boag:
Real people, well as much as people that fill in Amazon reviews are real. I always think they must be strange, because they’re so detailed.

Marcus Lillington:
They are members of the love it or hate it brigade usually.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but I mean people must spend hours, I mean they’re like blog posts, most of these reviews. And really detailed. Anyway, I think it’s a strange type of person does that personally.

Marcus Lillington:
But you can’t say that, I reckon that other podcast you were talking about that I can’t even remember what it’s called.

Paul Boag:
ShopTalk.

Marcus Lillington:
I could really, but…

Paul Boag:
I’ll promote it.

Marcus Lillington:
They won’t talk about vacuum cleaners. I guarantee it.

Paul Boag:
Probably not. I think that’s why they are a better podcast, to be frank. I’m sorry to break it to you, because they’re young and they’re hip and American, and they actually build stuff rather than us.

Marcus Lillington:
Well we kind of get involved in projects still.

Paul Boag:
Yes, we do. I’m heavily…

Marcus Lillington:
No you do as well.

Paul Boag:
Yes, yes, I do a lot. But I don’t code anything. I mean Chris Coyier is like the god of CSS, isn’t he?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
But actually he is not as good as Dan.

Marcus Lillington:
No one is as good as Dan.

Paul Boag:
Dan is amazing.

Marcus Lillington:
He built this thing called the responsivizer this morning, which was an extension of an idea that Ed had, which is basically where… because we’re currently redesigning the new Headscape site as you know.

Paul Boag:
I wish he’d flipping hurry up – what’s he doing building little side projects. He should get on and do that.

Marcus Lillington:
No, it’s part of that. Basically if you go into a case study and you’re on – I don’t know if it’s going to work on IE8, it’s not going to work on a phone either, but basically it… rather than having even a carousel of images from a particular case study, it’s a little window with lots of buttons across the top which represent different width devices. And you click on that, and it shows what that site looks like at that device.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes it’s a live preview of the site isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly that.

Paul Boag:
An iFrame live preview.

Marcus Lillington:
But it’s obviously, it has to be smaller than it actually it is, but it still looks like a smaller, but proper version.

Paul Boag:
Yes, we do – Ed discovered that you could scale the content in iFrame, which I never knew. I’m sure everybody else knows it, but I didn’t. Which is really cool.

Marcus Lillington:
Dan has moved that on somewhat.

Paul Boag:
Oh really, even funkier, because it was pretty funky when I saw Ed’s prototype.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s still lovely. Lovelier.

Paul Boag:
Oh, I can’t wait. It would just be nice to have a website that’s designed and coded by a grown up rather than me.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m saying nothing.

Paul Boag:
Well, I’ve kind of – I’ve reached that age, haven’t I, where I shouldn’t be allowed to touch websites anymore. I think there should be some kind of age limit. That’s very ageist of me isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
It is. Shall we do this interview?

Paul Boag:
Yes, let’s do the interview. Steve Fuery: coming up now on the Boagworld Show. I bet ShopTalk don’t have anybody called Fuery.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
There we go. We are better!

Marcus Lillington:
It’s two-nil to us.

Featured Person — Steve Fuery (Bass Coast Council)

Base Coast Council Website
Steve Fuery is responsible for the Bass Coast Council website.

Paul Boag:
So joining us on this little interview, we seem to be – we’re doing so many of these, it’s so exciting. We’ve got somebody from the other side of the world. We’ve got Steve Fuery with us. Hello Steve.

Steve Fuery:
Hi Paul. Hi Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Hi Steve.

Paul Boag:
What time is it with you there?

Steve Fuery:
It’s about 20 past nine on a Friday night.

Paul Boag:
Oh Steve.

Marcus Lillington:
Thanks for doing it. You should be in the pub.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I know. That’s impressive stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
I would be in the pub, and probably would have gone home by now. I’d be having a little snooze.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Well it’s much appreciated Steve. I’m glad you’re able to join us. Can you start by telling us a little bit about who you work for and what it is that you do with them?

Steve Fuery:
Sure. I was freelancing for a couple of years down here and our local council posted a job to look after a shiny new website, so I was lucky enough to score that. And I actually came in towards the end of the project, I was busy writing content with the whole team and it was all quite well segmented. The content was done separately from the design, from the implementation and it was even externally project managed and it came on budget and on time. So it was really a very slick operation, it was really well done. And that’s being going for about four years. So I think what they ended up with was certainly better than what they had. So it was light years ahead of what they had. And it’s a .net based system based on Kentico CMS and… have you guys worked with that at all?

Marcus Lillington:
No we haven’t worked with it, but we have worked with clients who have worked with it. That makes sense?

Steve Fuery:
Sure. Yes, it’s really nice in the back end. I do like it. And we adopted a distributed content authoring model with about 30 work flows and four steps. So that’s a lot of work. I think it was considered best practice back then, but we’re finding otherwise now.

Paul Boag:
So this is Bass Coast Council, is it? From which …

Steve Fuery:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
… in Victoria?

Steve Fuery:
Yes, that’s Bass Coast Shire Council. It covers about 850 odd square kilometers. It’s about two hours south-east of Melbourne and it takes in a few towns like Montague and Grantville, also Philip Island, which you might have heard of because it’s home to the world famous Penguin Parade, we see about 3 million visitors a year.

Paul Boag:
All right.

Steve Fuery:
Also home to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit where they have the MotoGP racing, superbikes come there as well. They have a lot of other events there as well. So it can make the population quite bursty. Also being a coastal area we have a population of around about 30,000 and it can swell to 80,000 during holiday seasons and long weekends, because everyone owns a holiday home.

Marcus Lillington:
It sounds awful. I really, I’m sure we’d hate it!

Paul Boag:
I’m looking at pictures here and it’s lovely coast line, blue skies. 80,000 people, that’s so busy. You get that per square foot in Britain.

Marcus Lillington:
Certainly in our little corner of Britain.

Paul Boag:
Oh dear, I just – I hate Steve now. So what is it exactly that you do Steve? What’s your role?

Steve Fuery:
Well I’m not so much hands on in terms of development. It’s mainly content wrangling and teaching the content authors about the system and how to write for the web. And I’ve found that’s quite a change in roles from different peoples. So that’s quite a challenge to keep up with us well. And I think we kind of needed perhaps a little bit more governance in place at the end of it. When the site was launched, I can see that happening now and that’s reflected in the audio gap and someone now, so I’m about to have a deep dive into that.

Paul Boag:
Right, okay.

Marcus Lillington:
He does the sort of things I do.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s cool.

Paul Boag:
You’ve found a friend.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, hi Steve.

Steve Fuery:
I probably have a very similar bookshelf to you!

Paul Boag:
Okay. So my next question for you is, what’s the biggest challenge that you have faced running your website? What are the things that you really struggle with?

Steve Fuery:
Primarily I think just developing that sense of content ownership with the teams because it’s very, very hard. I think that the distributed authoring model is a great idea because you have the subject matter experts writing the content, but when they’re so used to writing reports and in report language, it’s often hard to translate that. So yes, keeping those content writers writing for the web skills is essential. I think the other thing that we’re facing this year, and all councils and governments in Australia actually are facing this is another milestone in achieving WCAG 2.0 compliance.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Steve Fuery:
This is something that the government of Australia adopted back in 2010 and that was from a very high level, they just basically laid down the law and said, you know what, not only is it the right thing to do, but if we’re going to make it mandatory now, so we’re going to set a realistic timeline of say five years to achieve AAA compliance. And ..

Paul Boag:
AAA?

Steve Fuery:
… AA – yes, AA is actually due at the end of this year. So and although they’re not tracking as well as could be expected I think. The report – the last update report quoted around 26% and going up from 5%. So 5% in 2010 to 26% now, it’s a pretty big achievement for a whole country and especially in government as well. So it’s quite a bit of momentum and I think it’s going to be unstoppable. So it’s a good thing for the Internet and all the users and …

Paul Boag:
I have to say I’m incredibly impressed by that because that’s quite an ambitious target with WCAG 2.0 because WCAG 2.0 is fairly stringent and expecting AAA compliance across a whole site.

Marcus Lillington:
AAA is definitely.

Paul Boag:
And to maintain it as well. That’s good on them; I mean a lot of pressure on you I’m guessing?

Steve Fuery:
Yes, well I think the old web agency sort of said they find that it’s generally 80/20% – 20% of your compliance is in your templates of your CMS and 80% is in your content. So that’s where the crunch comes. So if you can get that right, then you’re well on your way and I think a lot of people are working towards it and coming up with really clever ideas and different ways of approaching it too. I think I will just give a – mention about Lisa Herrod who went to the Accessibility Conference here in Melbourne a couple of years ago and I called her podcast of Web Direction South the other day, and she was talking about a role based approach which basically pulls WCAG 2.0 apart and assigns each requirement to each role …

Paul Boag:
Nice.

Steve Fuery:
This part goes to a developer and this part goes to a content author and this part goes to the designer. So it’s – yes it’s a much better way of approaching it.

Paul Boag:
That’s very interesting. I really like that kind of approach because you’re right. I mean – you can create a website with nice templates, that’s all accessible and then the minute people start putting content into it, they put in a piece of video that doesn’t have captions or they fail to give an intelligent alt-tag on to the imagery. How is it being – sorry this is massive tangent now, but how is that being monitored by the Australian government? Because I mean a lot of the things in WCAG 2.0 aren’t the kind of thing you can just throw an automated tool at to check.

Steve Fuery:
No, they do work with agencies to monitor certain sites and I think they have a – I think it was about – roundabout 1,500 sites they were looking at in terms of their monitoring. But they are subject to order, I believe in the – there is a document I think it’s called the National Transition Strategy, NTS and that’s available on the government website, they’ve put it out there and I think it’s awesome. They’re certainly making a lot of – challenging a lot of people and – but I think we’re all past the well this doesn’t apply to me sort of perspective I think everyone’s going, what it is really the right thing to do and it does make the web a better place.

Paul Boag:
I think that’s a big part of it isn’t it? It’s getting people – it’s almost like drink-driving isn’t it? When they – I remember when I was young, this is a funny comparison but it does go somewhere honestly. When I was young and they first started talking about drink-driving. It was this law you must not drink and drive, but it wasn’t in the consciousness of people, it wasn’t considered socially unacceptable to drink and drive and it took a long time for that mental shift where people got to the point where oh no you just didn’t do this. And I think it’s almost the same with accessibility that having a set of rules means nothing until the culture of an organization has adopted that kind of belief that it is unacceptable to build in inaccessible sites. So it’s really good to see that you guys are getting there with that, that’s wonderful.

Steve Fuery:
Absolutely. One of the councils actually at the meeting I went to on Wednesday actually came up with a brilliant, quote that they use and that’s to say, if you’re talking to say the infrastructure team, you kind of say well, when you build a road or a building these days how do you build it, do you put in an accessibility ramp and they say yes, of course all the time, you can’t build it without it these days. So why is the web any different?

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. Very good. Okay, let’s move on from there. I could talk about accessibility all the time, especially as there’s big news at the moment that Google have just removed their underlines on their links, on their search results and that’s an interesting accessibility issue. But anyway, let’s move on.

Marcus Lillington:
You can’t just leave that.

Paul Boag:
Why?

Marcus Lillington:
No one knows.

Paul Boag:
Why does Google do anything, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
They’re not saying. Okay fair enough. Move on.

Paul Boag:
What’s the most important lesson that you have learned? Because you used to be a freelancer and now you have moved into this kind of in-house role and not just an in-house role anywhere, but an in-house role in government which is very, very different from a freelance life. And I’m just interested in what lessons you’ve learned from making that transition?

Steve Fuery:
I think passion only carries you so far and I’m pretty passionate about the job I do, I do love it. But I think when you’re talking internally with other teams to get them to come along on the journey you’ve got to sort of put some data in front of them. I think that’s what you need. You kind of have to point out what they’re doing as seen from their user’s point of view and back that up with evidence if you can like with analytics and so on or, examples of usability testing that is always an eye opener, so it’s some really, really important to do that and I think it’s – a really good quote I heard the other day was to just focus on what you can control and just try getting governance on what you can’t and that’s getting management support and as you say changing part of that culture.

Paul Boag:
You’re so right about data and how that can really win an argument if you can show some analytics or like you say even better show a clip, a video of someone really screwing up with something.

Marcus Lillington:
Hesitating, that’s the one and they’re just like, I don’t know what to do.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know what to do. Yes, just wonderful. Misinterpreting it, that kind of thing goes so far, doesn’t it? So here’s quite an interesting question for you, because you’ve been in the freelance world and now you work internally and you’ve already mentioned that you’ve been involved with various agencies. What do you look for now? Now that you’re on the client side of things, what do you look for if you’re hiring an outside agency?

Steve Fuery:
I guess, the reputation of the company or the contractor, so you’d actually rely on other clients they have had, other councils, we actually have a – are fortunate enough to have a network, a web network within the Victorian local government network and that’s connecting all 79 councils that, basically people in my role or in communications managers or developers, that’s quite a bit of a mix there, but we all sort of bounce of each other which is quite useful. And for sharing feedback on contractors and so on and I guess looking at the company itself too, do they put into the industry at all in terms of blogs, tweets, noting important things just demonstrating that they’re not building a website in tables anymore or anything, and they’re actually quite savvy with everything, so it’s really important, I think reputation is probably key. Of course other comes into – other things come into it as well when you’re working in government, because we’re – we also have to look at we’re spending rate-payers money, so it has to be all about best value as well. So I think a good balance of those two so…

Paul Boag:
The reputation is a really big one, I mean we’ve found that, that if you can find a community of people that communicate to one another regularly like you talked about between your various government bodies that if you do a good job for one, you can kind of ripple through the whole of that community, because they recommend from one to another.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So, you know but the flip side of that is you screw up once and that’s it. You’re badmouthed in the whole community. So, it’s a lot of pressure, but it is good as well.

Steve Fuery:
So look I have a belief too that people do the best with they can at the time and using that what they consider is best practice, I mean I look back on some of the sites I built in 2008 and I just shake my head at myself.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Steve Fuery:
But I know that it was the best I did at the time.

Paul Boag:
Yes, we do live in that kind of industry where what you did five years ago is quite an embarrassment now isn’t it, because things move on so fast.

Steve Fuery:
Every morning you wake up and everything you know is obsolete.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s really true. Last question I want to ask you is, really what’s the next big thing that’s coming up for you and your website? I mean you have already talked about the accessibility side of things which is obviously a big area, but is there anything else that you are focusing on over the next months?

Steve Fuery:
Yes, this is going to be a pretty big year for us. I say us, it’s kind of a collective me, but it’s a – we’re going to undertake an information architecture review as we – I don’t think we quite so – obviously you think best practice at the time, but you kind of see that reflected now and there are – we have much better ways of doing things, we’ve got card sorting, reverse card sorting, we’ve got all the beautiful tools like treejack and so forth, that we can deploy and really get a really accurate – know that our design I guess, test the design to know that it works. I also want to change to a, move to a hybrid authorship model because we’re not quite there with distributed authoring, so maybe having three or four really highly trained people in each directorate perhaps that would look after all the content and shorten the workflows up and yes and recognize what they’re doing as well and also tighter, much tighter governance, I don’t think we placed enough emphasis on that when we launched four years ago and certainly we had guidelines in place, but guidelines and governance are very different things. And once again it’s just what we thought was the right thing at the time I think so but now having a much tighter control over the production of content is really key. I mean otherwise there is no point in doing the architecture review in three or four years time we will be back at the same point and going through that whole boom and bust cycle that web agencies loves so much. Sorry did I say that?

Marcus Lillington:
Interesting you said you mentioned about the kind of changing to the hybrid authorship, I’ve never heard it called that before, but it’s quite – I like the term. But we found – you probably know we do a lot of work with universities and we found that, that’s the best model for unis. When you just kind of go, we’ve got 700 authors or whatever throughout the university. Then you end up with a mess frankly and a lot of dead content whereas if each of the departments or colleges have their own kind of chief editor, somebody whose role it is to look after it then you get dynamic, regularly updated content that does also fit with guidelines and governance as well. It’s more likely to – people are more likely to adhere to it if it is their job, so yeah I like that model a lot.

Paul Boag:
I’ve enjoyed this interview for one reason that I’ve now just discovered treejack. I’ve never come across that.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve heard of treejack by the way.

Paul Boag:
Link in the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Yes, so it’s a card sorting tool. I just – I Googled it the minute he said it, because I thought oh new tool, new fun thing to play with.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes I’ve never been a massive fan of card sorting myself, but then it – but if something that makes a bit more valuable then I’ll give it a go.

Steve Fuery:
Yes, look I’ve read through a few books, Thomas Bense’s book, the green book on information architecture is a pretty good source and there is a lot of other ones online as well that – can demonstrate it and I think it’s – now we do, when you can do reverse card sorting and actually test the architecture and be prepared to change that, be flexible enough during that design process, be prepared to even chuck it out and start again if you have to just to make sure you get it and I think if you – I think it’s something about, if you get 80% or higher response rate of people guessing correctly where the next page is going to be, then you’re on the money.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Steve Fuery:
The other things just to quickly mention too, post after that, that’s kind of stage one, I think stage two, we need to look at the content itself and that’s reviewing what we’ve got, having a bit of a cull, and I’ve already conducted a content audit and identified that, but also to add some structure to it as well as adding structure to the content. And also rewrite it down a little bit more nicely and to make it a bit more mobile friendly because then that will be stage three down the track as we can move to perhaps a responsive redesign. Obviously we can’t secure the kind of budget in one hit to do all of that at once, so it’s got to be a bit of an evolutionary thing and be – try to be very resourceful with what we can do in-house. But I think it’s in the long run, it’s going to be still a fantastic site.

Paul Boag:
Brilliant. Sounds really good. Sounds like you’ve got a busy time ahead of you. Thank you so much Steve for coming on the show. It really is – just every – everyone of these interviews I’m discovering new things and learning more and it’s so fun to do. So thank you very much for your time and good luck with the future of your site.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, absolutely. Thanks Steve.

Steve Fuery:
Thanks, Paul. Thanks, Marcus. It was a pleasure.

Featured Project — CentUp


Support content creators and charities with the click of a button.

Paul Boag:
So there’s Steve Fuery. He was a nice bloke wasn’t he? I really – I just – oh, I’m really enjoying doing these interviews. It’s so fascinating.

Marcus Lillington:
How could he not be a nice bloke, he lives in paradise by the sound of it.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that is true. That does give you an advantage on the being nice front.

Marcus Lillington:
I was sat there listening to it and thinking. Wonder if I could get a job there?

Paul Boag:
Yes. Well, I’m thinking that. I obviously forgot how to use a microphone unfortunately. I seem to be clipping terribly. So I don’t know quite what happened there, they’re not all that bad.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s just a case – it’s we’ve – because we’ve had to do these interviews via Skype sometimes in three different locations, it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s a lot better than some of the old Skype interviews we did.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes. Well, we’ve got better broadband than we used to.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Well at least my parents have. Have you heard about – have I moaned about this on the show before?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know if you have moaned on the show – obviously you’ve moaned about it before many, many times, but I don’t think you’ve let the dear listener know about your horrors.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s not so much my horrors. I’m okay with my horrors, I’ve kind of come to terms with that. But what really pisses me off right is my parents. My parents went away on the cruise, okay as they do because dad lectures on cruises, and I hate him for that alone. By the way, I’ve started a little blog post that’s a secret blog on his website. This is a tangent of a tangent, which is me being – my embittered I put once a week I put an embittered post about how much my dad gets on my wick, because he has the perfect job. So I’ll link in the show notes to that because that is called funny anyway. So he goes off on a cruise, and while he’s away I have to setup a new Wi-Fi network in his house and broadband and all this kind of stuff and he now has a better setup than I have at home as a web designer and it’s just not flipping fair. So I have resorted to installing a second line in the house, that’s what I’m going to do.

Marcus Lillington:
I still don’t see how that’s going to help?

Paul Boag:
Because you can get a router, it’s not very expensive, but essentially what it will do is it will load balance, what’s going out of the house?

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
So let’s say for example like right now I am having – oh no I’m not doing a Skype conversation, but let’s say this was a Skype conversation and at the same time I am at the moment uploading a video, alright. So what it will do is, it will put Skype down one line, it will put the video down another, so that they don’t interfere with one another. Also if you’re different – basically every HTTP request it will put down whichever line has got the most capacity to it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Yes, I mean I guess that’s going to …

Paul Boag:
So it effectively doubles your speed.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. So yes, so you might be as fast as someone who is not that fast now.

Paul Boag:
Shut up, anyway …

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think you’ve ever said why. The irony of ironies, you bought the house nearest the exchange and that’s the reason why you can’t get the new fast.

Paul Boag:
Yes. So the whole of Blandford is setup with fiber to the cabinet. And when I bought this house, I bought it specifically because it was very close to the exchange. So I can connect straight into the exchange and I get damn fast speed as a result, which was fine in the old days, over the copper wire days. And then fiber to the cabinet comes along, they roll it out, but because I don’t connect to a cabinet and I connect directly to the exchange, I therefore get – cannot get the fiber to the cabinet offering, which means that I can’t get an upgrade on speed.

Marcus Lillington:
I wonder if that’s the reason why I’m not going to get it next year as well, I embitterdly show – I’m inventing new words again. I showed you that map, didn’t I?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
All of my village is going to be upgraded to fiber next year at some point except one little yellow blob or two little blobs and my house is right in the middle of one of the yellow blobs and I’ve got no idea why?

Paul Boag:
Yes, it’s really irritating. It’s really – it just drives me nuts. I mean there is a slight possibility they will solve the problem because there is vague rumors that they’re going to essentially put a cabinet right outside of the exchange. So effectively all of the connections that were originally going straight into the exchange would now go straight into that cabinet instead which would then go straight into the exchange. If they do that, I will get blisteringly fast, because I will have such a short distance that the signal won’t get lost, but who knows. Who knows whether it will ever happen?

Marcus Lillington:
More exciting stuff on the Boagworld podcast show.

Paul Boag:
Nobody cares about my broadband speed.

Marcus Lillington:
No, especially me.

Paul Boag:
So let’s talk about instead our featured project of the week …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
… which comes from Tyler and he told me about a little project he worked on called CentUp. And you can find it at centup.org and that’s ‘cent’ as in the money, so centup.org, link in the show notes. And it’s a great idea. So-, well I would say that as somebody that blogs and puts out content on a regular basis and you’ll see why when I explain it. So you know how you have social media buttons on a website. You have ‘tweet this’, ‘like this’, etcetera.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you think that people are blind to those these days?

Paul Boag:
I do think they are a little bit. We’ll get into the-, my problems with CentUp.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, sorry. I haven’t looked at any of this, but …

Paul Boag:
Yes, let’s explain the concept first.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So essentially you have all your social media buttons and then you have a CentUp button in exactly the same way. Clicking on that, you can make a donation to the person that has: written the blog post; provided the app; whatever it is. So it pops up a little window, you put in how much you want to give them and then it’s done. It’s like leaving a tip, basically, which is a great idea and I think it’s potentially, if somebody can get this right, I think potentially it’s an alternative revenue stream for content providers other than advertising, because we all hate advertising and I think that this is a potential way that people can make some revenue off of their content without it really annoying people. If you give a few – it only needs to be a few cents literally per person that’s great. So I think the idea is brilliant. PayPal offer something similar. They offer a ‘donate’ function.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s kind of what this is as well a bit. I’m reading up, I finally read the notes. Says that it’s a button, when clicked, makes a small donation to the content creator and to a charity of the user’s choice.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So that’s kind of cool, so it’s a bit of both?

Paul Boag:
Yes, which I like. I mean, the PayPal donate could be used in this way, but as-, unless-, I might be out of date, but the last time I looked at the PayPal donate, there was a minimum value per transaction, which meant that if you’re giving a few cents, then actually PayPal are taking all of that or an unrealistically large chunk which this gets round – it doesn’t have a minimum value that it takes per transaction. But yes it does – that’s another interesting thing about CentUp, in comparison to PayPal, is that they’ve got a setup whereby some of the money that you give goes to the writer of the blogpost or the video or whatever it is you’re donating to, and then some of it goes to a charity of your choice. So it means that essentially every time that you’re giving, saying, “Yes this was a great bit of content”, you’re giving to charity too, which I think is a nice idea in some ways. I’ve got a couple of problems with it. One is that the list of charities they support is quite short and I think it really should be any charity that you should be able to define, if that makes sense; instead of picking one of their predefined charities.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but you can imagine the technical issues with that, that’s the problem.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. And yes, I’m not saying it should be limitless, but it should be a lot bigger than it is and it might just be they’re at very early days. They take – CentUp takes 10% of whatever you give and that doesn’t seem unreasonable for me – someone has got to do it. But I’m still not convinced it’s going to catch on and the problem is, is nobody has cracked this micro-payments thing. The problem that you have is the first time, right? Somebody sees …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, no one is going to sign up, are they?

Paul Boag:
Exactly. And to me that’s still the barrier to entry. Now I have got a feeling that actually mobile phone providers might be the answer to this. I could imagine a time where you click on a CentUp type button; you put in your mobile phone number, okay? It sends you a text that you verify that you own the mobile phone number, you click the link in the text, you’ve given the money and it gets added on to your next mobile bill.

Marcus Lillington:
That would be much more pain-free than having to sign up and put your credit card details, or your PayPal details, and all that, because people just don’t want to do it. Especially for a few cents. That’s the problem. If you want to pay 20 quid towards something, then you think, “Right okay, I will jump through the hoops”, but for a penny or whatever who is going to do that?

Paul Boag:
The other problem that they suffer from, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea and that’s why I’m featuring it on the show, because I really–, this is an area I really want somebody to crack. Because I think whoever cracks the micro payments problem, it opens up a world of possibilities in terms of charging on a per post basis or charging tiny little amounts of money for videos etcetera and I think it could break that advertising model that I really hate. I hate the Web is just plastered with advertising. There’s got to be a better way of financing stuff, than using advertising all the time. So I really want this to work and I’m really pleased that there are people like CentUp trying to get it to work. But the barrier to entry has to be so, so low when you’re just talking about a few cents. Now one of the ways that CentUp tries to get around this problem is that they actually give you a dollar or $10 or I can’t remember the amount, but a small amount of money to get you started.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s kind of cool.

Paul Boag:
Which I thought yes, that’s really cool. But then they fall down because it’s incredibly hard to work out how to add more money to that balance.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Yes. What should be a completely, part of the step through process of: I’ve signed up, would you like to add in your credit card details to this. Or, I don’t know, or add some money to your account or whatever it is. But that is very, very difficult and I had to really struggle to find that. So I think, in principal, it’s absolutely brilliant. I hope they keep going and I hope that they solve some of these problems, but there are a few things that I think still need to be sorted about it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I have to agree actually that I think it’s far more – it’s a far more worthy thing than just sharing something on Facebook.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely it’s got more value.

Paul Boag:
And that is one of the problems charities are actually having at the moment. There was a campaign recently that directly tackled this issue and–, which was that people think, “Oh, I’ll like it on Facebook” and that’s almost lets people off the hook.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Well, we’ve said-, we’ve had this conversation with charities in the past haven’t we, that are really keen on their shops and well we can say – we can make X thousands of pounds a year selling cufflinks and teddy bears and the like. But then they’re only making 5% on the cufflink and the teddy bear gift, whereas they’re making 100% of donation or 95% probably. So yes, it’s very easy to-, and they also-, and it has exactly the same effect. I’ve bought this teddy bear for the charity, so I’ve supported the charity – off I go whereas …

Paul Boag:
Yes, and yet they might be making a few pence off that teddy bear when you would have given 10 pounds as a gift.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
And this is the same thing but on a micro-scale; I will just like it when I could have supported it in a more active and a substantial way. So I really like the idea of solving this micro-transactional problem and I think it could make a big difference. But I’m not sure whether a start-up is going to feasibly be able to do it. I think PayPal may have the reach to be able to do it, but I’m not convinced they’re committed to it in the same way. I think it’s a secondary thing to them that’s not – that’s the problem! Anybody with the reach and the power to actually …

Marcus Lillington:
Doesn’t need to do it.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So it’s a bit of a vicious catch 22 really. So I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve never heard that before, a vicious catch 22. That’s a really bad catch 22.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes, that’s serious. That’s a catch 22 that’s out to get you.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s going to get me.

Paul Boag:
But a great thing. I’m almost tempted to give it a go on my website for a while, just to see whether anybody ever did click it, because I do think they’ve got a couple of problems. I do think they’ve got a problem where that the sign up process is too hard, the adding money is too hard and then the problem that you identified right at the beginning of this, which is the fact that I think it gets – they’re trying to associate it with the, “Hey, like it on Facebook, send a tweet and give a few cents”, which, I like that kind of relationship, I can see why they’re going down that route. But I’m just not entirely convinced that people actually, as you say, see these kind of social media buttons or really use them anymore.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s just – yes, it’s just noise now for me. I mean saying that, the majority of our clients, particularly our charity based clients, are massively keen on promoting sharing. So maybe I’m wrong, but I ignore them.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s interesting. If you notice on Boagworld at the moment, I am actually running those social media icons. And it’s because I’m doing, like I did with the Linkbait and the SEO and various things, I’m actually testing how much they get used. And at the moment it’s incredibly low, it’s almost non-existent. That might possibly be my audience that always tends to screw my results a bit, because web designers and web professionals are a weird bunch. But it’s an indication of, certainly the way things go in the future, I think. If web professionals are doing something today, then the majority won’t be doing it in a year or two years, if that make sense. So I’m suspicious about them as well.

So yes, but it’s an interesting service, check it out. Check send – sorry, centup.org, try the sign up process yourself. I mean it’s very difficult on an audio podcast to get into the specifics, isn’t it, about what works and what doesn’t. But try the sign up process yourself and see if like me you found it a little bit more cumbersome than it needs to be. And that’s no criticism of Tyler, he has worked – trying to achieve something that’s incredibly hard. Nobody else has yet succeeded in doing this. So it’s a challenging area, but I wish him all the best of luck in getting it to work longer term.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
Okay. I think that about wraps up the show. Have you got a joke for us?

Marcus Lillington:
I have. This is from Nick Johnson Hill. He sent me a bunch of jokes actually, I’m reminding me. I’m just trying to find the one I like the most. I will do one in between. How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?

Paul Boag:
Eight?

Marcus Lillington:
10 tickles.

Paul Boag:
10 tickles?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s one for your son. Most of these are like this.

Paul Boag:
I like that actually.

Marcus Lillington:
Well do you know the one: what do you call a deer with no eyes?

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
No idea. What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?

Paul Boag:
Go on.

Marcus Lillington:
Still no idea. These are for your boy, you see?

Paul Boag:
This is the end; this is real 11 year-old humor. I like it. Well done. I will go out of this room right after we’ve finished recording this podcast and repeat them.

Marcus Lillington:
I have more, but we’ll save them for next week.

Paul Boag:
And hopefully I get credibility for that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, quite.

Paul Boag:
…being able to tell 11 year old jokes. He’ll probably just roll his eyes at me, he normally does. There you go. Right, okay, do you know? If I do say so myself, that was a good podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Not bad at all.

Paul Boag:
Well done us.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, hurrah.

Paul Boag:
I think this is going to be a really good season.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, it depends on the listeners, doesn’t it?

Paul Boag:
It does. It does, but we’ve got some good interviews.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes we have.

Paul Boag:
I’ve only looked through a few of the featured projects, so-, and I would like some more really. So please send us your feature projects to boagworld.com/featured-projects. And yes, I reckon this could really shape up to be a good’un. Unfortunately it’s not going to come out before the voting for .net podcast of year award is done. And as I’ve already said that you should be voting for ShopTalk.

Marcus Lillington:
That other lot.

Paul Boag:
That other lot. Just don’t vote for Unfinished Business, don’t vote for Andy Clarke’s podcast. I mean, that would just be awful if he won. He would be unbearable.

Marcus Lillington:
He is unbearable already.

Paul Boag:
He is. It was so nice. Okay, I’ve got to hang out with him quite a lot at the Smashing Conference and he is a really nice guy. I do like him and John Hix. Him and John Hix, we had a really good laugh.

Marcus Lillington:
Marvelous.

Paul Boag:
So apparently he’s wish me happy birthday on his podcast. So I will have to actually make an effort to listen to it. Oh my wife’s just comes into the room. Oh, now she’s shushed me to say that she doesn’t want to be seen to be on the podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello Kath.

Paul Boag:
She is now muttering to herself in the background. So I think that about wraps up this week.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Before we have to listen to her, talk about Pinterest. You’re obsessed with Pinterest at the moment, aren’t you?

Kathy
Yes.

Paul Boag:
That’s it. That’s all we’re going to get.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s so girly – Pinterest. Have you ever played with it?

Marcus Lillington:
Not really.

Paul Boag:
It’s made for women. It’s incredible. She is addicted to it. It’s cat nap for girls. Cat nap? No, catnip.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I need a cat nap. That’s it. Right, I think we’re done, aren’t we? I’m waffling now.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, definitely.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Talk to you next week and good bye.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, bye.

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