Drugs and law

This week on the Boagworld Web Show we discuss clashes between business and user requirements and how we shouldn’t always fallback on using text.

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This week on the Boagworld web show, we discuss clashes between business and user requirements and how we shouldn’t always just fall back on using text.

Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to the Boagworld web show, the podcast brought to you by digital agency Headscape, and today’s technobabble word, GIT, that’s GIT. My name is Paul and joining me, as always, is Marcus. Hello, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Hello, Paul.

Paul Boag:
GIT.

Marcus Lillington:
At least you remembered it on the second time through to do the new thing.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
And GIT, your favorite thing, something you use a lot, I believe.

Paul Boag:
It’s not – well, yeah, that depends.

Marcus Lillington:
It doesn’t depend. You never do.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s not git. I don’t mind git. It’s I have this problem with version control systems.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, that’s what I meant.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Version control systems don’t work with me, right? For some reason, they are out to get me. It’s so funny, right? When we were working on – we were doing an Agile project with Strathclyde University. And we got up there and we sat down and we were discussing how we’re going to work and that kind of thing. And Chris Sanderson said, we really need to put everything in version control, which I entirely agree with. I think that’s very sensible. So I said to him, yeah, that’s fine, but just to warn you, version control never works for me, right? I think he was like, don’t be so stupid, you’ve just never been set up properly. Four hours later, and he’s still struggling to get it to work on my computer.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe it’s your computer.

Paul Boag:
Well, no, I have had multiple computers with version control. For some reason, I am the kiss of death when it comes to version control. If you don’t know what version control is, it’s basically says that you keep all of your files in one central location so that if multiple people are working on them, you kind of sync your files together so that you don’t end up conflicting with each other’s work. And then also if you make a mistake, if something goes wrong, you can roll back to a previous version. And that’s a part of what GIT does as well. GIT is used for a lot of different things, and then these things like GIT hub and stuff. But then we don’t care because it’s pointless techno babble.

Every week, we’re going to have a different pointless techno bubble. Bubble? Babble.

Marcus Lillington:
Techno bubble.

Paul Boag:
But as it took us about half an hour just to decide on this one, which is our very first one, it doesn’t bode well, doesn’t really?

Marcus Lillington:
I will put money on you will go back to the old intro without thinking about it.

Paul Boag:
Will I? I mean, I started this week, didn’t I, without even thinking about it. So talking of there is no – I was trying to think of a link between what I wanted to say next and what we were just talking about but I can’t think of one. So…

Marcus Lillington:
You could have just gone for it and just been confident and pretended but anyway…

Paul Boag:
Yes. Talking about techno babble, we were at the Net Magazine awards on Friday, see, it didn’t work. Did it?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, did, yeah. We didn’t win though.

Paul Boag:
No, I know how disgraceful was that. But at least Andy Clarke didn’t win, which should have been really annoying.

Marcus Lillington:
Seeing as he was sat next to you.

Paul Boag:
Because he is my nemesis. I then – but what really get on with – no, actually there was a link talking of techno babble, which is the fact that they had a comedian presenting, didn’t they?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, he was very funny.

Paul Boag:
He was very funny and he knew nothing. He didn’t understand anything that was going on and that’s what made it really funny.

Marcus Lillington:
A guy called Allan Cochran.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. He’s been apparently on 8/10 Cats and various other TV programs.

Marcus Lillington:
Stuff.

Paul Boag:
But did vaguely recognize him.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I did. I can’t put it. I couldn’t put his name to a television program but I had definitely seen him before.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But, yes, very amusing.

Paul Boag:
So that was fun. The Net Magazine Awards. There were just so many people there, weren’t there? I was gobsmacked, and I knew about three people. I am so obsolete, Marcus. It’s so funny.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, and they are all about 12.

Paul Boag:
I know. Oh, the young designer and developers section. I mean seriously they did look 12, didn’t they?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, alright, but the old designer and developer is ’over 25’…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I know.

Marcus Lillington:
…which is nearly half my age.

Paul Boag:
But it really meant there was a kind of under 18 section as well, wasn’t there which was the kind of, I don’t know. They weren’t the young designers. So they were the kind of baby designers. Foetus designers.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, that will be the baby designer – the baby category.

Paul Boag:
But even the nominees for that – I don’t know why I am saying this because it reflects so badly on my… how old I must be now. But honestly, they were all like 17, 18. But to me, they look 12. I can’t decide whether that’s just me and my perception because I am old and crinkly or whether it’s just that geeks mature later, or something.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe. Staying in your bedroom means that you stay all pasty and pale.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. But you know what really upset me most of all about these foetus designers and developers is that I knew some of their work, and I’d just kind of presumed that they were produced by 20 something year olds. And the fact that they are produced by foetuses was just cruel to me.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s the way it is. You lose your creative spark because you get older, but you bring wisdom to the table.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, and then what happens? You end up getting the lifetime achievement award. Oh, God save me from that, please.

Now, next year, I’m really going to go for it. We’re going to win everything next year, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Right. So sort of double disappointment.

Paul Boag:
Double disappointment, disappointment in multiple categories.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because we never ever put ourselves forward for the Net Magazine awards, do we?

Marcus Lillington:
No, and it would be nice as an agency because we do have young, talented people working at Headscape.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we can put Dan up for the Foetus of the Year Award.

Marcus Lillington:
Alongside us old crusties, who bring wisdom to the table.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. And I’m on Ed to win Designer of the Year, because to be quite frank, Ed is a better designer than anybody else on the planet. I know… I am not exaggerating over that, he just is. So he should win Designer of the Year. We should win Team of the Year because we work so seamlessly together, Marcus. Don’t you think?

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. You have thought about this, I think.

Paul Boag:
I have extensively. So you and me, we should win Team of the Year for our incredible working relationship. On the basis of longevity alone, we should win.

Marcus Lillington:
To be what, just the fact that we’ve managed to stay again this long.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, like a bitter married couple. They live in the same house but hate each other deeply.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I’ve been with my wife now. Have I told the listeners it is my silver wedding anniversary this year?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
So it is possible. Obviously, I am good at it. And you’re still married, Paul, whether you’re good at it, or I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
I think Cath’s just very patient.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Puts up with you.

Paul Boag:
Cheers!

Marcus Lillington:
Bit like me really.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, exactly. I don’t know why anyone would hang around me.

Marcus Lillington:
You know I don’t mean it.

Paul Boag:
I know. And what – other what? There were other categories that I was going to put us up for and I can’t remember what they are now. Basically all of them.

Marcus Lillington:
Fine. All of them. Every single one.

Paul Boag:
Every single category. Let’s see if we can get… that would be so funny. If we could get ourselves short-listed for every category.

Marcus Lillington:
What – and then not win any of them.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I mean we’re going to really struggle with things like App of the Year.

Marcus Lillington:
Because the thing is we don’t do apps.

Paul Boag:
I’ll find a way, I’ll make it happen. But you know what really struck me, which was really quite a kind of special moment for, I am going serious now.

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
It was – walking around and chatting to Anna Debenham. There was Ryan Taylor there and there was Jamie Knight who are all now well-respected figures within the web design community. Anna writing for A List Apart; Jamie, who works for the BBC and writes for all kinds of people; Ryan, that seems to know absolutely everybody and is involved in absolutely everything. And all of those people started their career at the 100th Boagworld. For each of them, that was the first time – I mean Anna was still in school. Then Jamie was – it was the first time Jamie had ever gone to any web community based stuff and wasn’t a full-time person. And Ryan was working full-time in the web but that was the first time he’d ever engaged with the rest of the community. I just think that’s lovely. That was quite a special evening that 100th Boagworld meet-up.

Marcus Lillington:
Yep, I remember it.

Paul Boag:
I think we ought to do another one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, okay.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. I am committing ourselves live on the show now.

Marcus Lillington:
In Barbados.

Paul Boag:
We’re going to do one in Barbados, so Marcus is going to organize and pay for it. So there we go. That would be good.

Marcus Lillington:
It would be good though, wouldn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Oh, yeah. We could do. It doesn’t need to be Barbados. I’ll settle for the Mediterranean.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought you were going to say Bognor Regis then.

Paul Boag:
No, I won’t go that far. No, we can do another meet up in London or something. Make it happen, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
We did. We did a couple in London.

Paul Boag:
Did we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we did one the 100th one, and then we did another one in a really cool pub.

Paul Boag:
I am just not convinced anyone would turn up anymore, because we’ve waned. I mean there’s only – what did we get up to, I forgot how many listeners we have now it’s 10 isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
10.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, thought so. So Shop talk won.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, Shop talk won, as we said it would.

Paul Boag:
And indeed, it should have. I voted for him. I’m a judge of the Net Magazine awards, although I’m never doing that again because I only knew about four things in the whole of the list because I am so out of touch. But yeah…

Marcus Lillington:
Busy doing other work, Paul, that’s what you’re saying?

Paul Boag:
I’m just so busy. It’s unbelievable. I am so much in demand. That’s my problem. Just so incredibly popular except for in any award sense of the word, when we never win anything.

Marcus Lillington:
We did win the podcast award two or three years in a row.

Paul Boag:
No, I don’t think we did. I think we won it once.

Marcus Lillington:
No, we definitely won it twice.

Paul Boag:
Did we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah. But I don’t think there were any other podcasts in the category.

Paul Boag:
That would enable us to win. I’ve only got one trophy. So that makes me think there is only one. But perhaps you’re a typical salesman.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, we won it hundreds of times. I remember vividly winning it twice.

Paul Boag:
Okay, fair enough. Anyway…

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe…

Paul Boag:
It’s irrelevant. I can’t remember what I was talking about.

Marcus Lillington:
I think like we probably ought to start the show.

Paul Boag:
We’ve been going on for 11 minutes. 12 minutes nearly of pointless crap. Welcome to the Boagworld Show. And this week, we’re going to be talking about clashes between business and user requirements and we’re going to be discussing that with Cyndy. And Cyndy works for a large U.S. law firm. And we’re going to be chatting with her about some of the difficulties that you get when your business objectives and your user requirements clash with one another. And then we’re also going to be looking at a great website – Marcus, I don’t know whether you’ve checked this one out yet, which is really looking at – I’m going to keep it secret what the website itself is about – but we get to look at some alternatives to just always using text. Because you know what we’re like, we always like to use text don’t we because it’s easy and simple, imagery and video and things like that are more difficult. But this site has done some really cool stuff and so we’re going to look at that later in the show.

But let’s kick off by hearing what Cyndy has to say in our featured person segment of the week thing.

Featured Person: Cyndy McCollough — U.S. Law Firm

Dickstein Shapiro Website
Cyndy McCollough works for a major U.S. Law Firm

Visit Cyndy’s site

So joining me today is Cyndy. Hello, Cyndy?

Cyndy:
Hello, gentlemen.

Paul Boag:
Cyndy is one of our favouritest clients in the world isn’t she, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, absolutely. I’m not going to say anything but on the…

Cyndy:
Exactly. Got to say better things than that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, come on, you’ve got to really big her up.

Marcus Lillington:
I think you’re the only client that gets sent Harrod’s hampers, there you go.

Paul Boag:
Wow!

Marcus Lillington:
Plural, I might add.

Paul Boag:
Nothing like a little bit…

Cyndy:
Merry Christmas, lots of chocolates. Everybody here is pretty happy about that.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. We sent you a load of Cadbury’s chocolate, didn’t we?

Cyndy:
Yes, you did. This year it was chocolate covered ginger, chocolate covered orange rind, it was really exotic. Very nice.

Paul Boag:
I do think we make the best chocolate in the world. All this business about Belgian chocolates, it’s rubbish compared to ours. I’ve just…

Cyndy:
I’m sorry, I have to differ with you there because the difference, they are really good dark chocolate, English are all about the milk chocolate.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, so I don’t like dark chocolate very much, though that explains why I’m over – yeah, why I am a British chocolate person, I guess. Right. Anyway, Cyndy, can you tell us a little bit about the website you run and what it is that you do?

Cyndy:
You mean personally or just…

Paul Boag:
Well, either. You personally, your organization, a bit of background for the people that don’t know you.

Cyndy:
Sure. Dickstein Shapiro is a mid-size law firm with six offices across the United States. When I say mid-size, in the States that’s how we define law firms, either large law which is usually over 500 attorneys or mid-size which is in the 100 to 500 range. And then after that it kind of gets down to the boutique law firms which are 1 to 20 people kind of thing. So it’s considered a pretty big law firm. And our website needs to let clients and potential clients know who we are and how deep our attorneys’ capabilities run in both broad and very niche areas of the law.

Paul Boag:
Okay. So that’s quite interesting then because you do try to work on multiple levels at once in a sense. You’re trying to show the whole breadth of what it is that you guys do while at the same time trying to show specific practice areas as well.

Cyndy:
Very true, and the other thing that we have to remember is that the stars of our products, right, our attorneys, they move from law firm to law firm. So we can’t focus – we can’t put all of our eggs in the basket of the attorneys because if they move on, they take all that cred with them, right? So we’ve got to make sure that while we are selling the capabilities of the attorneys, we’re also selling the law firm and the practice itself. It’s very important that we get those messages across.

Paul Boag:
So would you say that’s probably the biggest challenge you face or there are other ones that spring to mind?

Cyndy:
Yeah, the fact that there are several hundred attorneys, right, so we have several hundred products and each have their own key features. So one of the challenges is finding a way to highlight that person’s experience in, for example, patent prosecution in the medical device manufacturing industry in front of Judge John Smith in the Ninth District Court of California. I mean it’s specific kinds of experience that people look for when they are trying to find an attorney. But at the same time, we need to make sure they see the bigger picture of the overall practice in the firm, yes. But another challenge, it’s hard to put it down as one big challenge. I got another one for you, is the helping the user finding information that they are looking for without ending up with a potentially unusable UI, if it’s too complex. For example, as said, there are dozens of tags. What kind of case was it, mediation, was it counseling, was it litigation, what industries were involved, up against what competitors, so on and on and what judge, what location, what jurisdiction. So finding an elegant way to represent all this information, that’s been, I think, probably the biggest challenge.

Paul Boag:
Do you think we’re there yet or do you think we still got more work to do in that area?

Cyndy:
I think we’re getting close. One of the things that we’ve done with Drupal and I think that’s one of the reasons that Headscape and Dickstein chose Drupal is because it has the capability to go that deep to get that specific. Each record has so many tags to it. So we’re getting there. I think getting there also means sometimes we’re pulling back out of the muck because we had to go really deep to find out sometimes that we don’t really need that much detail, let’s pull it back up a little, let’s rein it in.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, because I mean we think it can go on forever, couldn’t it?

Cyndy:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
And you end – the big danger I see with your website is the fact that there could be so many niche use cases that actually you get lost in the hay unable to find the needle, if that makes sense. That was a really bad analogy!

Cyndy:
Yeah, that’s very true. Yeah, identifying our personas was very difficult because each attorney thinks that their area of practice is unique and its own perfect little snowflake. I’m not saying that it’s not but at the same time we have to find some commonality in order to remain sane about it.

Paul Boag:
So what do you feel like is the most important lesson that you’ve learned from going through this process either with us or before we came along or just generally in your role?

Cyndy:
Probably the ongoing collaboration, the importance of that and it’s probably obvious but in previous versions of our website, it was very much a kick-off meeting in which we, the client, met with our web developer and said, here are our requirements, go. And they would go off and then come back a month or so later with three options. We chose one. Sometimes worse we would Frankenstein pieces from each together to select what we were going to build, and then the vendor went off. Said thank you very much and then we built it.

If we wanted something changed, they would say, alright, sure, no problem and then they would go back and obviously charge us for it but they would go out – go back and change it. So what we realized through the course of working with Headscape is the incredible value of even the most heated discussions, and there have been plenty, as you know, about one feature. As a website owner, I need that strong willed, pain in the butt, but sane web advisor to listen to the reasons why I want something, why I need something, discuss with me the best way to achieve it. Sometimes talking me out of it entirely, but then delivering the creative technologically sound solution.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Cyndy:
And that’s… we’ve not had that before and the value is significant. Along the way, we’re both learning so hopefully the pain is less with each interaction. And that’s… trust is increasing, the learning curve is increasing, the cost is reducing because we don’t have to go over the same pinpoints over and over again. So that’s it’s really important. It’s – I’ve learned that, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think we have any pain points at all, do we now, Cyndy?

Paul Boag:
You weren’t on the call me and Cyndy had yesterday, or whenever it was. I mean it’s amazing, that call is a great example of that, Cyndy, I was still learning stuff. We’ve been working together for quite a long time now, and there’s still nuances of how people buy law services that I hadn’t grasped yet. And it is an incredibly complex area, isn’t it really?

Cyndy:
It is, yeah. I mean sometimes it’s just putting together someone’s will, other times it’s keeping somebody out of jail, other times, it’s bedding your entire business.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Cyndy:
So there’s significant risks involved. And lawyers, by definition, are incredibly risk-averse. So it feeds down into the rest of our mentality.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s also – I mean it’s been hard, understandably so, to get the attorneys involved in the project and get them to deliver content as well.

Cyndy:
Yeah, that’s a great point, Marcus. I forgot, you asked me what the challenges are, I mean I would say a huge challenge has been getting, and I know this isn’t unique to legal, but getting fresh content. We are selling the brains of our attorneys and we sell that at a billable hour. So every minute that they are spending on non-client work, it’s a unit of that same billable hour. So example, like a 300-word blog post, it can be viewed very quickly as costing the firm upwards of $1,500.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Cyndy:
And attorneys, they also have a minimum number of hours they have to bill each year. So asking them to create – to spend time on non-billable work, it’s pretty low on the totem pole priority wise.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely and it’s understandably so. I mean it does – really interesting I hadn’t – didn’t realize that they have to bill a certain number of hours in a year, that explains their reluctance, doesn’t it?

Cyndy:
Yeah, yeah. Because we’re asking them to basically put up several hundred dollars’ worth of content.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Well, another question I am asking everybody that we do these interviews with is when you came to looking for an agency, what was it that you looked for? The reason that I ask the question is because there’s a lot of people that listen to this podcast that are web designers and I think it’s really interesting to hear from the client’s side what it is that they look for when they go looking for a web designer?

Cyndy:
Well, in addition to what I had said earlier about wanting that really smart strong-willed collaborative advisor, I want – I need someone who – they are staying on the top of their industry. I don’t have time to know everything there is in terms of whether it’s responsive design that you guys introduced me to a couple of years ago, that was new on my radar. As a matter of fact, that’s, Paul and Marcus, that’s how I met you guys, right? I started listening to your podcast about eight years ago…

Paul Boag:
Wow!

Cyndy:
… and I realized that you guys really stay on top of everything, you know what you’re talking about. So even if you don’t know legal, you know the stuff that I don’t. I know legal, you can tell me about technology and trends and how to build a strong website and how to build for your users and what’s the user pass and all that good stuff, AB testing. So I am looking for somebody who is bringing that expertise. I don’t just want someone to take orders from me, as much as I like that in my life generally. You can tell that’s my personality. I don’t want that from a vendor. So that’s very important to me. But it’s also important to me that a vendor mirrors the way we work.

For example, I mean it’s in your best interest to help me sell up the chain of command, make it easy for me and my boss to say yes to something. Sometimes, someone will give me an invoice that just has a single line item. If I need to unpack that single line item and figure out, well, how much are you charging me for the project matter, how much are you charging me for the design hours, how much are you charging me for the developers, that’s going to take an awful lot more time for me to sell up the chain of command and to put together the business case for that. So help me work the way it’s going to be best for us to sell easily, right?

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Cyndy:
Yeah, I’m selling internally. You’re selling to me, I am selling internally. So work with me on this. So that’s very important. Similar to this, but just impacting I think a broader relationship of expectations, I want transparency. Like it becomes easier the more trust there is, but don’t be afraid to let me know that you screwed up.

Paul Boag:
No, we never have!

Cyndy:
Well, clearly, that’s why the chocolates. None of us is perfect. I don’t expect you guys to be perfect but let me know what’s going on, we will work through it together and I think that’s one valuable part of our relationship is you guys are honest with me. And I am not saying you’re honest when you screw up, you are honest with me when I am expecting too much or expecting a quick turnaround on something that’s impossible to turn around quickly. So don’t fudge, don’t dodge, don’t avoid me, talk to me.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, now that’s really, really good advice. Cyndy, thank you. Alright, I’ve got one more question before I let you get back to your day’s work which is, what’s the next big thing for you guys in terms of your website, what you’re going to be focusing on next?

Cyndy:
As you know, we’re still pulling together some pretty cool features such as an e-folio capability, we’re building our features of the website to allow users to pull together, essentially their own packet of pitch materials to tag this page, tag this attorney biography, tag this practice description and then put together a nice little packet of materials that they can then take off to their in-house counsel who is in charge of buying services. Will our visitors use this, we think so. Our research has told us that they will but we don’t really know yet. So when you talk about what we’re focusing on next, the biggest thing for me is analytics…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Cyndy:
…what’s working and what’s not, right? I mean you guys bang this drum all the time, don’t have a feature just because everyone in the industry has always done it this way, and legal is terrible about that. It’s called, in the legal industry, it’s lock-step. What are the other guys doing, is everyone else using blue and gray, great, let’s use blue and gray, it’s very risky. That’s why it was risky for us to go with something outside of what 90% of law firms use for their website, to go outside and use an external vendor, let alone external technology was unheard of. But I think we got incredible results. I am seeing more firms now doing that. But back to the analytics, we want to connect the dots with all of our marketing campaigns, see where we should be spending the money, where should we be spending our time, we’ve got some dashboards that you guys have put together for us, it will enable us to get quick whiffs of the trends. But we also need to take stock quarterly, annually because not everything can be seen in a one-month trend. But it’s just identifying what needs to be killed, what needs to be modified, what needs to be improved upon. Decisions based on fact, not conjecture.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s good to hear you saying that.

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve been banging that drum forever, Paul, haven’t you?

Paul Boag:
I know. It’s great when a client actually gets it. You know what I mean? And solicitors – so many clients we talk to, they will nod sagely at it, but then they don’t follow through. And what I really love about you guys is the fact that you have followed through, you have made those kinds of… made analytics, monitoring an important part of the way that you’re operating and that’s so encouraging to hear. Cyndy, thank you so much. That was really helpful. Some really great stuff in there, and as the first person we have interviewed in the season, you get a special award of a copy of my book when it comes out, which I was going to give you anyway.

Cyndy:
Thank you! What do I get from Marcus?

Paul Boag:
His love.

Marcus Lillington:
More chocolates.

Paul Boag:
More chocolate, there you go.

Cyndy:
More chocolate, that sounds great.

Paul Boag:
Alright, thank you very much.

Cyndy:
Thanks, guys.

Marcus Lillington:
Thanks, Cyndy.

Cyndy:
Bye-bye.

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Paul Boag:
So that was Cyndy. We must be – we need to go out and see Cyndy. Aren’t we going out to see Cyndy?

Marcus Lillington:
We might be. It’s sort of like…

Paul Boag:
She didn’t know whether she wants us around anymore.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah. No, no, no, it’s just a question of…

Paul Boag:
Of money?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Basically, whether she wants to spend her budget on getting us two out there on some…

Paul Boag:
I don’t mind telling you it’s some tenuous reason. Well, why wouldn’t she want to spend money on having us come and spend time with her?

Marcus Lillington:
She might want to just spend it on one of those talented people that we’re talking about at the start of the show.

Paul Boag:
Alright.

Marcus Lillington:
On their time, doing actual work for her.

Paul Boag:
No, no, no, no, she has got hold of the wrong end of the stick there. No, much better to have a couple of crusty old men come out and talk to her about stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s a possibility, although we will be going to Chicago now.

Paul Boag:
Chicago, yeah, who is that with?

Marcus Lillington:
That…

Paul Boag:
Are we allowed to say?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. I don’t have an official agreement yet. I have just got a kind of, yes, we would like to go ahead. It’s a university, that’s all I’m going to say.

Paul Boag:
What? You’ve now said that it’s a university and it’s in Chicago. So it’s not really be difficult to work out, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I think it’s hours outside Chicago.

Paul Boag:
Now, you’ve narrowed it even further.

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t say in which direction. But obviously it can’t be in the watery direction.

Paul Boag:
This is the most ridiculous guessing game ever.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway, so that’s quite exciting. So we’ll be going – so you and I will be going on a trip to the States.

Paul Boag:
Because I could do with another trip in the States.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Well, and probably Cyndy will say, yes, come out and do something.

Paul Boag:
Oh, good, that will bring me up to what, five or six this year, something like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Stop showing off.

Paul Boag:
But, no, I am really excited about doing our first American university.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
That would be really cool.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it would.

Paul Boag:
Because I – believe it or not, even though universities are quite difficult clients, I do quite enjoy them, because I understand them now. We’ve done 30 plus universities and I now feel like I am in a really solid position to be giving advice and do so confidently, do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So that’s really good. I am really looking forward to that. I really thought what – I love chatting with Cyndy and I love the unique challenges there, that existed about working with her company. Because we must have talked about this whole thing of business requirements compared to user needs before in the show. We often refer to Cyndy as an example of that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we have. And we’re actually because we do sort of ongoing maintenance, going support works, strategic advice type work for them. We’re looking at how successful certain areas of the site are compared to others, what’s working, what isn’t working that kind of thing. And we’ve – recently we’ve been talking about exactly that point where the vast majority of users – visitors to the site are looking for attorney contact details.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And the site does that really well and it’s doing it too well. It seems based on some of the stats that we’ve been looking at, in the fact that not only are those pages the most visited, that’s no surprise. They are also the highest, with the highest exit rate…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…and which is suggesting again that they’re being very successful at the job that they’re meant to be doing but they are not being that successful at the secondary job which is to cross-sell the other things that Dickstein does. So we’re working on that at the moment.

Paul Boag:
But I think it’s really important. See, the conclusion that I have come to over things like this is you’ve got to let the user complete their primary task first.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, yeah.

Paul Boag:
And if you don’t let them get out of the way what they want to do than anything else is just going to be an annoyance. What we need to do and what we’re working on at the moment is okay, they’ve completed their primary task and now we need to grab them. Now, we need to grab their attention and we need to redirect it on to other stuff. And it’s always, like the other equivalent I often see, is the e-commerce sites. And you go on to an e-commerce site and you put into the – you’re about to give you money over, you are about to give them the money so you can buy something, and this pop-up message appears: Would you like to sign up for a newsletter?

And it’s like “I want to buy the thing that I am here to buy, stop distracting me from doing that by asking me to sign up for a newsletter.” Because why you are asking me to sign up for a newsletter, so that you can sell me stuff. But I am here right now trying to give you money. And I often think that actually the time for doing those kinds of things is on that post-check out screen. I’ve gone through the process, I’ve purchased my thing now that I have completed my primary action, now you ask me to sign up to the newsletter or now you ask me to follow you on Twitter or Facebook or wherever else. We get it arse about face half the time.

Marcus Lillington:
I mean there are still e-commerce sites out there that insist on you logging in and becoming a member and all those kind of stuff before you just buy the bloody thing.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And you just want to buy it!

Paul Boag:
Ask me if I want to save the information for future after I have completed the transaction and then you can take my password, right? So we move on to our feature project.

Marcus Lillington:
I already have. I am looking at the site.

Paul Boag:
You see that. What do you think? Right. So let me explain the site to the user first of all.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s not telling me anything at all at the moment, but hey ho.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
I am enjoying rolling over things and clicking on stuff.

Paul Boag:
So effectively, the idea of this site is to teach you more about the effects of taking various drugs on driving, okay? So it’s got cannabis, cocaine, LSD and when you select each of these different drugs not to take, but select them on the website, I am not…

Marcus Lillington:
If you have to take the drugs…

Paul Boag:
You have to actually take the drugs in order to try out the website, that would be an awesome website, an augmented reality website induced by drugs.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m looking at the LSD page: hey, remember the umbrella look for the unicorn, fly like an octopus.

Paul Boag:
And basically what happens is you select these different drugs and it shows you the effect on driving. So for example, if you take cannabis, then your vision starts to blur and you can’t see very much. Your attention span goes down and your reaction time goes down and the graphics all update to represent these kinds of things. And if you go to cocaine, then the speedometer on the car suddenly speeds up massively because you tend to become much faster in your behavior when you’re on cocaine and you become much more aggressive in your driving. There’s all these indicators that tell you, but the best one is LSD…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
…because when you select that, suddenly instead of driving along the road, you’re driving under the sea. And there’s hamburgers floating around in front of you, and a plane flies across the screen underwater and it just goes completely nuts basically. The website is interesting. It’s a bit of fun and it is also quite an impressive build…

Marcus Lillington:
It is, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because all of these is done, not with flash or anything like that, but with CSS3 and java script and things like that. So it’s impressive. So it was Dave Eliss that’s the kind of creative mind behind this. And I have got to say it’s a really imaginative and good way of doing it. The reason that I kind of wanted to emphasize it, is it’s so much… you could have created a normal web page to communicate this kind of information. “LSD has this, this and this effect”, all written out in text. And it would have been totally un-engaging compared to this. I think so often we just fall back on text because we see text as being the easy option, and the easy way of doing things. But there is so much more creative stuff that we could be doing, and this is a brilliant example of that. But even if you’re not going to build up CSS-driven websites with lots of cool animations and that kind of stuff, we can still be doing things like audio, video and imagery and none of that stuff has to be particularly complicated or hard to produce. I was talking about – where was I recently?

When I was with the European Commission a couple of days ago…

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
…I was showing off a video that I produced, in about half an hour, on my iPhone, for one client, explaining what we were doing and how we were progressing. And I literally did the whole thing from beginning to end on an iPhone, and seriously in about half an hour flat. And that was so much more engaging than just writing a dry textual page. And that’s why I love things like this. Because it’s just so much more interesting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, my initial feelings of it were, oh, it’s really hard to use and I didn’t – oh, I have discovered this and I didn’t – what if I hadn’t noticed that and then I kind of realized that that’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting bits of message across.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Just something because like you say, if it was just a really boring page with loads of text, noone would read any of it. So just to read some of it is a – that’s a win. So it makes you do that.

Paul Boag:
It encourages that exploration, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And that isn’t always appropriate. I am not saying that every website should be like this, absolutely not. But I do think there is a place for some experimentation. Talking of which, I’ve just clicked on the brain on the right hand side, have you clicked on that yet?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
So I hadn’t discovered that. So now I have kind of discovered a whole new kind of thing about how it affects the pre-frontal lobe, and I don’t know all kinds of weird stuff. And you go “ooh”, and it’s a design delighter. And you explore it and you get excited about it. And of course, this kind of thing gets shared a lot more in social media.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
If you want something to be shared, it’s got to be visual and it’s got…

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve managed to break it.

Paul Boag:
Have you? Well done. The reason I suddenly started laughing is because I switched to LSD and suddenly the brain turned into a hedgehog. They really had fun with the LSD, didn’t they.

Marcus Lillington:
I thought LSD was something from the 1960s, do people still take LSD?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. I think they just put that in for fun. I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe they do.

Paul Boag:
So, yeah. This – it makes you want to share it and so that in turn helps. People don’t share long boring pages of text, yes, they will share the occasional article maybe. But it never gets shared as much as video, audio, or imagery. And there’s so many tools to make this kind of stuff increasingly easy. Admittedly not something quite as fancy as this website. But to create the video I created on my iPhone all I used was iMovie. But also I notice that Adobe have just released another app for the iOS called Adobe Voice (link in the show notes) and that allows you to create little animations, with voice over and that kind of stuff. And then there are some great tools out there. I think there is one called, I’m just Googling it now, GoAnimate, which allows you to make business videos and that kind of thing (link in the show notes to that as well). So all of these tools are really accessible and you don’t need to be a highly creative person to be able to do this kind of stuff. But it’s just putting a bit more effort in to learn these tools so that you can create this kind of stuff because once you know how to use these kind of tools, it’s almost as easy to do this as it is to do text. You had to learn to use Word for crying out loud so that you could write a document, you had to learn to write, but it was worth it. And it is equally worth it to learn how to create little animations, to record a bit of audio or a bit of video and that kind of stuff.

And I think I’ve written an article about this. Let’s have a look. Video. I am sure I wrote an article. Yeah, I’ll link to the show notes about some of the potential of these kinds of alternatives to text because I think they’re really worthwhile and we should be including more in our sites. Anyway, I am just repeating myself now, aren’t I?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t stop playing with it, I will have to turn it off.

Paul Boag:
But isn’t that a great – that in itself is great.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I was sort of thinking about usability and then I thought – actually no that’s not the point, it’s really good at the job it’s trying to do. I’m impressed.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. That I can’t stop playing with it. I would be fascinated to know what the dwell time is on this site compared to if it had just been textual content, I bet it’s really high. And also if you notice top right corner, you can actually embed it in your own site.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Which is brilliant. I just love it. Love it, love it, love it. Great job, Dave. Good for you, mate, and it is good to see people doing something a little bit different. And it must have been quite a challenge getting the client to agree to this more imaginative approach. But good for you for doing it.

Anyway, I probably should have read more of what Dave actually wrote about it, but I got so carried away, which again is a great sign. Anyway, that’s enough. Right, stop talking, Paul.

Marcus Lillington:
Stop talking, Paul.

Paul Boag:
So that’s it for this week.

Marcus Lillington:
It is.

Paul Boag:
Except for your… I find this very weird when you have an interview inserted halfway through which obviously we record separately. So the actual show always seems really short when we record it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, and yet most of these have been really long.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Put that in mind.

Paul Boag:
Because I’ve padded.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because I feel like the show is really short, but it’s not. Marcus, tell a joke and stop me talking.

Marcus Lillington:
I will. Ian Laskey obviously is feeling the competition. So he’s come in with a couple of crackers like why did the chicken cross the playground…

Paul Boag:
Go on.

Marcus Lillington:
…to get to the other slide.

Paul Boag:
Okay. I don’t know whether I would call that a cracker.

Marcus Lillington:
And this one is particularly for you, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
Knock, knock.

Paul Boag:
Who’s there?

Marcus Lillington:
Smell map.

Paul Boag:
Smell map, who? Oh, no. That’s funny. That’s my kind of level of humor.

Marcus Lillington:
I know.

Paul Boag:
I’m going to walk out of this right now and go and tell my son.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right. Okay, well, thank you for adding that extra level of maturity to the show, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
But it wasn’t me.

Paul Boag:
And we get to do it actually together in a room next week. That sounded really dodgy, didn’t it? We get to record the podcast actually together in a room next week.

Marcus Lillington:
We do.

Paul Boag:
Yay. And I wonder if we can persuade Leigh to come down.

Marcus Lillington:
He is down on Wednesday and Thursday.

Paul Boag:
Oh, no.

Marcus Lillington:
So you will have to come in another day if you want to do that.

Paul Boag:
I can’t, my wife has blocked out Wednesday. Wednesday is a no-go day and Thursday is too late. So there we go, Leigh won’t be on the show which is sad, because he’s the best.

Marcus Lillington:
Less giggling than usual.

Paul Boag:
Alright. Well, I’ll see you next Tuesday, Marcus, and all the listeners next Thursday. Thank you very much for listening and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

“Girl Smoking” image courtesy of Bigstock.com

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