106. Back to work blues

Paul Boag

On this week’s show: Paul and Marcus discuss common mistakes when creating your sites structure and Rachel Andrews shares her experiences of getting into web design.

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News and events | Common mistakes of site structure | Rachel Andrews on building your web design career | Listener emails

Just a quick little request before we kick off today’s show. I need to get some more moo cards for the boagworld podcast (I am too tight to get proper business cards). Anyway I am having trouble with what to put on the cards. I was going to put a nice image on the cards but when I thought about it I couldn’t think of anything appropriate. In the end I decided to include tiny snippets from the reviews people have written about the show. However, being typically British with our self deprecating sense of humour. I decided to use the negative reviews rather than the positive ones. I have some great stuff such as “Paul has an ego that doesn’t need boosting” and “truly crappy jokes”. However, I need more. So, if you have 5 minutes this week drop me an email with a short, witty and hopefully not too rude review of the show. Let the venom flow :)

News and events

Internet Explorer 8

So the last time we did the news before Christmas Microsoft were under attack from Opera for its lack of standards support. Well, things have moved on since then and it is looking like Internet Explorer 8 is shaping up to be a very nice browser indeed. For start IE8 has passed the Acid 2 test published by the Web Standards Project. This is a definite commitment from Microsoft to provide comprehensive standards support and should be applauded. Jonathan Snook explains the ramifications of this as well as making some predications of his own as to what IE8 will look like. According to him we can expect straightforward column layouts, grid positioning and improved javascript support. Best of all if Jonathan is right we might see IE8 out in beta by the summer and in final release by next Christmas. Maybe then we can look at dropping support for IE6.

Using CSS to diagnose problems

Although there is still a lot of CSS not supported by browsers such as IE it is incredible what is possible with just what we have at the moment. Eric Meyer recently posted an article suggesting that you might want to consider using CSS to diagnose issues in your HTML that need resolving. In his article he uses CSS to find out where markup might be choking on missing accessibility features, targetless links, and just plain missing content. For example he uses CSS to visually highlight all images that have an empty or missing ALT attribute.

This isn’t an entirely new ideas. In fact Marco Battilana proposed a similar approach to highlight accessibility issues back in July 2006. However, Eric has taken it that much further and offered an excellent way of not only highlighting problems to yourself but also to your clients who maybe editing HTML.

Common accessibility mistakes

Talking about highlighting accessibility mistakes I came across a great article that does exactly that. Basically the article focuses on the fact that website owners can often be over enthusiastic when it comes to accessibility and start overusing HTML attributes designed to help accessibility. The result is that we can often do more harm than good. The article looks at the alt and title attributes which are often verbose or repetitious. It also looks at tabindex and accesskeys that can cause confusion and conflicts with normal browser behaviour. If you are applying any of these attributes to your code then I highly recommend you cast your eye over this article.

Basic design principles

The final story this week is an amazing series of posts by Patrick McNeil over at Design Meltdown. The reason I say they are amazing is because they are immense and I confess I am yet to read all of them. As you probably already know Design Meltdown tracks trends in web design and shows examples of sites that highlight these trends. Using the same example based approach Patrick looks at the fundamental principles of design and deconstructs them expertly. He covers Emphasis, Contrast, Balance, Alignment, Repetition and Flow in a screenshot packed series of posts that are a must read for anybody starting out in design. In the past I have always recommended Jason Beaird’s book “The Principles of Beautiful Web Design” for those starting out in design. In fact we have Jason on the show soon. However, if you don’t like reading books or want to save a bit of money then Patrick’s analysis is a credible alternative. Check it out.

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Feature: Common mistakes of site structure

Just before Christmas I wrote my final blog post for the year on creating the structure for your site. It is a topic that I have been thinking a lot about recently because of various projects I am working on and so it was fresh in my mind. In particular it occurred to me how much harder producing a good site hierarchy is than it first appears. In fact I see the same common mistakes occurring again and again. It is these mistakes I want to look at in today’s show. Read Common mistakes of site structure.

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Expert interview: Rachel Andrews on building a web design career

Paul: OK, so joining me today is Rachel Andrew from EdgeofMySeat.com. Hello Rachel. It’s good to have you on the show at last.

Rachel: Hello, Paul. It’s good to be here.

Paul: I feel like I’ve been trying to bully you to come on the show forever and ever and ever, but it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another, but we finally got you here, so that’s good news. So uhm, Rachel, when I came to kind of putting together what I was going to do, talking to you. I suddenly realized I didn’t know you very well. I’ve heard a lot about you and I’ve heard a lot of other people say good things about you, which has gotta be a good thing, but I didn’t know anything about your background or kind of how you came to be involved in web developement. So, I thought it might be quite interesting, if It’s ok with you, just to spend a few minutes talking about how you came to be a web developer. How did you get into this illustrious career?

Rachel: Uhm, completely by accident, really. It wasn’t something I intended to do. My training is as a dancer. I was going to dance. That’s all I ever wanted to do.

Paul: All right.

Rachel (laughing): So, the part where I ended up doing this surprised everyone, (Paul laughing) especially my programmer father. (Rachel laughs)

Paul: Ahhhhh

Rachel: We didn’t even have computers in school when I was in school. I’m showing my age.

Paul: Yeah, I know the feeling.

Rachel: Yeah, so, and I remember when I was, I don’t know, either 13 or 14 there were two guys that came in and said, “All of you will need to know about computers in your future careers.” And I was like, “No I won’t. I’m going to be a dancer.” and they couldnt tell me why I would need computers and so I felt quite pleased with myself. So, yes, it wasn’t on the radar after all.

Paul: So, how did you go from dance to web developement? It seems a bit of a leap there.

Rachel: Well, I know this is a fairly technical career, and I was working back stage for a quite a while and when I decided to quit dance for various reasons, I was working in the west end and I managed to my way into a back-stage techie job.

Paul: OK.

Rachel: I did work as a choreographer and I knew a reasonable amount about sound and lighting and could my way in. So, I worked back-stage in the west end and for a year and a half on Charlston and on The Mouse Trap.

Paul: Right, I see.

Rachel: So, so that was it. So, it wound up to be a technical kind of job and then I found myself pregnant with my daughter. And you cant go heaving around stage equipment while pregnant.

Paul: No.

Rachel: So (laughing), I found myself with some time on my hands. It was really that I even started using the internet.

Paul: Oh, ok.

Rachel: I was fairly young and didnt know anybody else with a child and pregnant.

Paul: What kind of… how long ago are we talking about here?

Rachel: Well, the said child is now nearly 11.

Paul: Right.

Rachel: So, quiet a while ago. ( laughing)

Paul: OK.(laughing)

Paul: So, in the relatively early days of the Web then to some degree…

Rachel: Yes. Yeah and I mean thats really so very important in that at the time there wasn’t actually that much to learn and I was chatting to people on for the parents on the forums because as I said, I didn’t know anyone with a baby and I didn’t know anything about babies. So, (Paul: Ahhh) I was using the web just to talk to other people in the same situation. And then if you wanted to put anything online there wasn’t Flickr or all of these hings. You really had to build a web site.

Paul: Right. Yeah.

Rachel: So, you know, once my daughter was born, I started putting together various HTML. So I could put together a web site telling people about her and things like that. And that’s what everyone did.

Paul: OK.

Rachel: You chat in the discussion forums and you build web sites. Uhm I don’t know… I quite liked that. That was always good fun. So, it didnt take that long before people would start asking me if I would build them a web site.

Paul: Mmhmm

Rachel: And… and at the time there was so little to know. You know, it was a bit of HTML and you had to do some basic things with images. As time went on, I realized I was actually quite interested in, what at the time fewer people were doing which was writing things with Perl which was about the only thing that anyone used to do things like guestbooks and (Paul: Yeah) posting forums to email. It was very, very limited at the time in terms of what people were doing on the server side. I sat down with the Orilley Camel book and taught myself Perl.

Paul: Oh Right, OK. (Rachel laughing) As you do.

Rachel: As you do. Obviously

Marcus: Or not, in my case.

Rachel: Yeah, well… I was bored. (all laughing) I had a baby. You know? Nothing else to do. So, that’s really how I got into doing the back-end stuff via such a strange route and I didn’t really realize what I was learning or if there was real reason to do so. It was interesting to me.

Paul: Do you think there was any advantages or drawbacks to taking that kind of route. I mean I know that most of us that entered the web in the early days did it through some convoluted route in preference to having some kind of formal training. Do you think the people that are coming along these days are going through a proper… you know, going through some kind of computer training course or whatever? Do you think their at a disadvantage for not learning it themselves and discovering it themselves.

Rachel: Well, yeah, but I think things are so different now. I mean back then, it really was a case of: You learned HTML. You learned a little bit about how to make graphics work online. And maybe, if you’re very pushy, you learned some Perl. (Paul: Yeah) And that was it. There wasn’t a huge amount of decisions. I mean, even just to start learning to do this now, you start having to think, “Well, which language do I want to learn? What is the best thing to be learning? Where should I put my time?” (Paul: Yeah, totally). You know, I was just kind of sitting with a little 486 computer and thinking, “You know… this is quite interesting. Look, I can do this!” But we were all just discovering what we could do at the time. Whereas now, if you’re looking at this as a career and what’s going to be best right from the start, before you’ve even gotten started, you know? (Paul: Yeah) So, It’s very different. And It’s very difficult when people always say, “Well, how did you get started? Have you got any suggestions on how I can get started?” And It’s so different now.

Paul: That’s probably one of the most common emails I get. It’s, how do you get started and what languages do you start with? So, I guess you really didn’t have a lot of choice. (Rachel (laughing): No…) It was Perl or nothing, wasn’t it?

Rachel: Really, I mean, yeah, there were other things around but generally people were writing in C, Javascript, and Perl. And the web host I happened to have, had this server which you were allowed to run your scripts on. (Paul: Oh, ok) (Rachel laughing) They were still slightly nervous of it. You know, it was just one server you could run things on. It was a quite good community around that. People would help each other out on how to do things.

Paul: So what advice do you give people who do write with those kinds of questions as to what languages to start with? What do you say?

Rachel: I think the important thing is to learn something well. At the end of the day, once you’ve learned one launguage, you can usually swap to something else. It’s the concept that’s the hard thing. (Paul: Yeah.) Understanding based design or understanding just the basic constructs of any language. Once you’ve done that, you can usually swap to something else. I usually say that PHP is a pretty good choice. Just because It’s out there, everywhere. (Paul: Yeah) You’re going to be able to easily find somewhere to run it. You can set up your own development environment without having to spend any money, really. You can get that all set up. And there is lots and lots of help and there is a great community around that. And to be honest, PHP is what we tend to develop in now and most of the time.

Paul: I mean, It’s quite interesting that you talk about those early days and how you basically got into it because you became a mother. But the early days in the web, and to be honest, to some extent now, there arent exactly a huge number of female developers around. I mean, it seems to be a very male dominated thing. Did that put you off? Did that create barriers to you?

Rachel: It didnt really at the time when I was learning because I came out of a very male dominated profession anyway, (Paul: Oh, OK.) having been working back stage. So, it didnt, worry me. And also at the time, I was just interested in learning it. I think out there in the work place once I became employed doing this, I encountered all sorts of strange situations where people really couldn’t quite get their head around the fact that I was technical and not like a designer or not something else that cliquey females are doing. I was the head of a technical team and went to help someone with a computer and I was the most senior person on the team. And they said, “Oh, can you not send one of the boys down?” (Paul gasps) I then said, “I can send one of the boys down. They’re not going to fix your computer for you, but I can send them down if that’s what you want.” (all laughing) I mean, so people were a bit taken aback, I think and don’t immediately assume that I do the job that I do (Paul: Yeah.) and are much more comfortable of putting me in a designer area.

Paul: Well, that was the mistake I made, isn’t it? (Rachel laughing) The first time, I suppose. I was the typical male chauvinist pig and presumed you are a designer, which I don’t know why. I think it was the hair color, more than anything.

Rachel (laughing): To be honest, I am not particularly hung up about it. It’s not something I get terribly upset about. I find it sort of intriguing that people just assume that. I’m not… you know… I’ve work in… sort of male dominated jobs for a long, long time now and I think if I got terribly upset about these things I wouldn’t be doing it. It is interesting. But in other ways, it works for me. When I was going for job interviews, for instance, if I’m the only woman who walks in and there are lots and lots of men, they’re going to remember me. (Paul: Yeah) And in the same, you know, if I’m pitching for work it’s a talking point. You know, people are always interested as to why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Paul: Damn, and here I was thinking I was asking original questions!

(Rachel and Paul laugh)

Rachel: I think sometimes, it does work for me because do remember. They would think can’t a woman do something a bit unusual?

Paul: Do you think it’s a problem within the industry or would you just think It’s one of those things and what will be will be kind of attitude?

Rachel: It’s really hard to see where it’s a problem. I think It’s a problem if girls or young women who are looking at career choices are being put off because they don’t see female role models out there. And, there’s lots of reasons why. There are women around doing this and tend not to be so high profile. (Paul: Yeah) I mean the reason that I’m not touring around all the different events and things is because I’m a mom. (Paul: Yeah!) You know, and I think that’s the same for an awful lot of women. I talked about this on my blog once and got loads and loads of women contacting me going, “Yes, exactly!” We’re the one’s doing the majority of childcare. I know there are men in that position too, and I’m not saying there aren’t men who are having to be… going to pick up kids at 3:00 or whatever it is. But it does tend to be women and It’s often the women who make that choice or wants to spend time close to the kids when they’re very little. My daughter is getting older but even so, I still wouldn’t be happy about, say going to a different country and leaving her here to go to an event.

Paul: Yeah. I mean to be honest, even for this interview we kind of have to fit it in around you taking your child somewhere, Marcus has got to do a school run in a minute. You know, so, it’s all part of the kind of… yeah… It’s nice we’re in a position where we can kind of fit our work around our families. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Rachel: Yes, it is. And I think that’s possibly one of the reasons why there aren’t so many high profile women, because it takes time to raise your profile. And without me quite looking, I’ve been able to do that through writing, which I can do at midnight or whatever. If you’re going to get out there and get around to all the conferences and things, you know, and look at what other people who are considered to be my peer group and what they’re doing. I just couldn’t physically do that. (Paul: Yeah, totally) Because, I don’t want to. I don’t want to spend a lot of time away from my daughter right now. Maybe in 6 years time, she will be very disinterested in spending any time with me.

(Rachel and Paul Laughing)

Paul: Once she’s a teen-ager, you won’t want to be with her either.

(Both continue laughing)

Rachel: Exactly, you know, so things change but there are quite a lot of people with quite young children and actually more and more so. It’s quite funny, I feel like I’ve got quite an old child for the group of people that I speak to. There are lots of new developer babies out there.

Paul: Yeah, well Marcus is old and decrepit.

Marcus: Well, just to depress you, Rachel, what happens when they get older and become teenagers, they just rely on you as a taxi service.

Rachel: Well, I get that as well. That was the case today. I was ferrying mine and two others back from the

Marcus: The only thing I would say though is, we went through a period about 6 months the beginning of this year, trying to recruit new developers. And we only interviewed one woman out of probably a dozen candidates

Paul: I think that it’s worth saying that’s because we only have 1 woman apply, rather than we segregated all the women who refused to interview.

Marcus: That’s what I meant. Yes, well put Paul. We literally had only 1 woman apply, so yeah… I don’t really know why. Maybe it just seemed like kind of a boy’s area at the moment. I suppose, from what you were saying about the fact that you’re not inclined to go out there and sort of go out on the circuit like Paul does. I suppose until that happens, and maybe younger women who aren’t thinking about motherhood yet, are the ones who are going to be out there raising the profile of women and hopefully, this sort of “boys’ club” type mentality will sort of just fizzle away.

Paul: I mean, It’s quite interesting that you say, how you talked about how you managed to raise your profiles through writing. Tell us a little about that. How did you get into writing books? Because, you seem quite prolific. I did a quick search on Amazon to see exactly how much you’ve written and it seemed to go on for quite a long while.

Rachel: Yeah, there’s quite a few. That was, again, like most things, I tend to say, “Oh yes, I’ll have a go at that!” and then worry about it later. It was a long time ago, I had written some stuff for the Macromedia Web Site about Dreamweaver.

Paul: OK

Rachel: And it was Glasshouse who contacted me and said, “Oh, would you write a couple of chapters for a book?” A couple of chapters, that would be alright, you know (laughing). (Paul: Yeah, no big deal). So yeah, I wrote a couple of chapter for a book and it kind of went from there, really. I like writing. I enjoy… I’m much more from an arts background really than technical. So, I do enjoy writing and putting things across that way. So, yeah, it just went from there. And then when someone said, “Oh, will you write a few more chapters?” Yeah, ok, that was alright. (laughs) And before I know it, I’ve got this great list of books.

Paul: Yeah. It’s a very time consuming thing to do. I mean, beyond the fact that you obviously sound like you enjoy doing it. Do you find it beneficial from a publicity angle for bringing in work?

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. I think people tend to see you as an expert if you’ve got things in print; if you’ve written things. It does sort of depend that you do know what you’re talking about. And especially with what I do, which is much more… It’s not like I have to show a nice portfolio of pretty things. This is what I can do. What people are doing when they hire me or hire my company is they are hiring us for our expertise. And they have to constant that we actually are experts; that we know what we’re talking about. So the writing does help in that because people assume that if someone let you write a book, you must actually know what you are talking about.

Paul: I mean, I get emails from people asking how do you go about raising your profile. I’m quite interested as to whether you stumbled into this. You know, you talked about you were writing for the Macromedia web site. Did you go out purposefully, intending to write for them or did it just kind of happen? How’s that come about?

Rachel: Again, that really just happened. But because I was writing on my own blog, and I was writing… you know, I was helping people out in forums. (Paul: Right) You know, if you’re out there doing things, people do notice. I mean certainly with things like magazines and books and you know, varies sites that want articles. There are people out there that are looking for people to write all the time, because there’s actually an awful lot of people who know what they’re doing but there are fewer who can express it and express it in a way that someone new to the concept is going to understand. If you are able to do that, if that’s something you can do and you are doing that on your own site or are helping people out in forums and things then it will get noticed. And there are quite a bit of places you can be submitting I suppose, to, you know, Site Point and Vitamin… There’s quite a bit of other sites that accept good content. (Paul: Yeah.) It means that you have to write a few things that you’re not paid for to get going. You can find then, that you can start putting together a body of work and say, “Well, this is the stuff I’ve done.” It’s not in It’self something that you earn a huge amount of money from. I think people who write for a living must have to work incredibly hard.

Paul: (laughing) Or be incredibly good. One or the other.

(Rachel and Paul laughing)

Rachel: Both I think, both. As something that helps raise your profile for the other things you do. If I found it an absolute chore, I don’t think I would do it because you don’t want to be sogging away at things you can’t stand in the hope that it will get you some profile. But it is one way to do it and It’s certainly a way to do it if you are in a position where you can’t get out to lots of events or you’re not someone who wants to do public speaking. I’m not keen at all on public speaking. I much rather hide behind the computer (laughing).

Paul: A proper developer. That’s what I like to hear.

Rachel: So, you know, It’s another way of doing it, because I do sort of think of the public speaking if you’re going to be thinking of conferences as being something that would really get that profile up there. No one has really met me until fairly recently at any events because I didn’t get to anything really. And yet a lot people would have known of me and the stuff I’ve done because of the lighting.

Paul: I mean, you talk about that you use this as a mechanism to you know, to increase your profile for the other work that you do. So, perhaps we ought to talk about the other work that you do. I mean, you run a company, “Edge of My Seat” which is edgeofmyseat.com. How did that start? You obviously from going… from being an enthusiastic amateur, you must have gotten a job in web design, I’m guessing. How did you go about getting that job and from there, how did you end up running your own company?

Rachel: Well, I… When I decided I actually wanted to go back to work… I’ve been doing bIt’s and pieces while my daughter was quite little and I decided I wanted to go back to work and it was really tail-end of this whole dot com era. (Paul: Oh, OK.) And so, I ended up heading up a technical team at Property Finder. (Paul: Oh, OK. Yeah, I know.) Which was very much on the technical side and we managed the servers and things like that rather than even doing any development or very much development. There were other people who were more on the development team, although we still did bIt’s and pieces. I did that for a while and the whole sort of dot com thing was starting to fall apart really, at that point. And I moved to another dot com company who built portal sites for accountants. So I know quite a bit about stage integration (Paul: Wow. What an exciting life you have). Yeah, but that’s the time where things really weren’t looking that stable and I felt, well I can actually do this myself. And at least then I would know where I was in terms of whether I was going to get paid by people. The problem is being employed in an unstable situation is that really, you can work a whole month and get to the end of the month and find out that nobody’s paying you. (Paul: Yeah.) And so I figured that actually, I may be better off setting off on my own. And so people had asked if I would take on bIt’s of freelance work and things. And so, I actually purchased a printer’s trust because at the time I was a young single mom. I’m not so young anymore but I purchased a printer’s trust and this in 2001. And they basically gave me a small grant and loan to get the company started. So, I had about a month’s money when I started. (laughing) I didn’t have the dot coms, so I kind of had to work. (Paul: Wow!) It’s a good way to start a business, you know (Paul: Yeah.) … make or break really. If it doesn’t work, we don’t eat.

(Rachel, Paul and Marcus laughing)

Marcus: I remember that feeling very well.

Rachel: Yeah.

Paul: Yes

Rachel: But it makes you really dive into it. The nice thing was, because I was paying for a child, mind you, at the time, I actually only had to earn half of what I had earned because I could keep her home with me.

Paul: Ahh, ok.

Rachel: So, I must have cut my expenses by being able sort of work around my daughter’s schedule and things. So, that kind of worked out alright and really, it went from there.

Paul: So how did you begin to win the business in that first month of, “Oh crap! What have I done?” (Rachel and Marcus laugh) You know, where did the work come from?

Rachel: Well, at the time, what I realized was that because of how the dot com was collapsing, everyone was getting rid of their developers. But they still had all these applications. And something I’ve always been good at is picking up on other people’s stuff and working on it. So, probably, uhm, September ’01, which was like a terrible time to start a company (Rachel and Paul laugh) and really for the first two or three years was taking stuff that was already built and was falling apart, or the developers had gone or had all sorts of problems with it and just fixing it or adding bits to it. And I did lots and lots of that which, during this time of recession, really, was actually, really good work because there was plenty of it. Everything had to have been built while they had lots of developers and they had money and things. And so I sort helped things limp along a lot. And what this sort of lead to really was this idea of doing development for design agencies. (Paul: OK.) And focusing on doing really good development to support really nice design. That really is what we’ve moved on to do now. Most of our clients are designers or design agencies. And they do a really good design, and then they hand it over to us and we look after it and we make sure it will work. (laughing) That’s actually a really nice way to work because it means we get to work with some really nice stuff, anyway, well designed stuff and we have people who care about what they do. (Paul: Yeah.) And we get to do the development side of things that we enjoy. Sort of working with people rather just sort of chucking things over the fence and throwing it back.

Marcus: The point your picking about picking up what other people have done and fixing it and that kind of thing… did that not kind of cause you problems with development platforms and having to deal with lots of different types of languages and that kind of thing?

Rachel: Yeah. I had learned ASP by that point and a bit of Java. And I tend to not have too much problems swapping from one thing to the other. Certainly, I mean then, it was a lot of Perl and my class PSP. Because that was, at this sort of time, they were really the two things that you were seeing things built in. So, I used to do either and then I started doing PHP as well around the same time. So, I’ve always been quite happy swapping between languages, swapping between databases. (Marcus begins to speak: I think the reason why…) It gets a bit much if you do too many in one day, you know, because you start putting semi-colons in the wrong place and stuff. It doesn’t really bother me too much. I mean, its nice to be able to concentrate one thing. As I said, we tend to build new stuff in PHP. But, I’m generally quite happy switching around.

Marcus: I suppose, the reason why I was asking is we’ve come across a few briefs that we’ve been sent in the past where it seemed like the perfect job for us but the development platform in particular has been something that we just don’t work on. Do we want to invest on that kind of platform just so we can go after this job and quite often, we’ve thought to ourselves, “No, we don’t.” So, I guess that’s where the question is coming from.

Rachel: Yeah, I think in terms of new stuff, you kind of do have to focus unless you’ve got an awful lot of people able to create your own libraries and things in different languages. So for new stuff, we do tend to choose PHP but at the time, what I was doing was just picking up on stuff. It was less of a problem really because I was just fixing stuff that already existed.

Paul: You seem to have done very well over the last few years and Drew has come and joined you now and you seem to be branching out a bit into the area of training. That seems to be something that’s come up.

Rachel: Yup.

Paul: I’m quite interested, you know… it’s great you’re there and you’re able to offer training courses. You do have a basic CSS training course, I think (R: Mmmhmm) and you’re talking about doing an advanced one, is that right?

Rachel: Possibly going to do that. We’ve had a few people ask. (Paul: OK) So, that’s what we’re thinking of doing.

Paul: So, I mean, the question now is who trains the trainer? How do you guys stay on top of the latest things that are emerging and how do you keep up with what’s going on?

Rachel: Well, basically, because we are doing it all the time, I think. The difference between us and a training company that just does training is that actually what we’re doing is, we’re using this stuff all the time. It’s the same as when I buy a book. I’m writing a book from the point of view of someone who has to do this. You know, who practically is doing it. And it’s the same with the training. Obviously, we’re constantly reading up on new things and trying things out in browsers and trying to get around problems and just by the day to day work that we do. So, that’s really what we’re bringing to a training course. For two or three years, people have asked me if I would do training. But until Drew joined, we just didn’t have the capacity. It comes down to one of those things that have to be arranged. So, it wasn’t saying that I really felt that I couldn’t do, but Drew was making to do it as well. Its great fun. Its an enjoyable… its actually enjoyable to be face-to-face with people. Especially writing a book and then the feedback you get as the occasional email that people say, “Oh, I really enjoyed that!” or, “Why did you say this? Its rubbish!” (Rachel and Paul laughing) Actually being face-to-face with people and seeing how they work through the course is really, really interesting and great fun.

Paul: Cool!

Rachel: So, yes. It’s been good.

Paul: Excellent! Well, thank you so much, Rachel, for coming on the show. It was really good to hear how you got into things and how your career has progressed. Even if it’s somewhat chaotic along the way. Although I can associate with that (Rachel laughing) kind of bouncing from one thing… We’d set up Headscape in January, 2002. So we were only 3 months behind you, so we understand your pain there.

Rachel: Yes, well it wasn’t the best time, really.

Marcus: We were both made redundant from a dot com in December, 2001, so it was necessity that got Headscape, I think.

Paul: Yeah. Always the best way. OK, thank you very much, Rachel, uhm and I’m sure that we will get you back on the show again if you’re willing at some point (Rachel laughing) in the future. Alright, thank you.

Rachel: OK.

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So just before we wrap up the show I wanted to share with you an idea sent in recently by a listener (sorry I can’t find your name)! A number of you have written in since we said we were going to change the format of the show with ideas about how things could be improved. One idea that particularly appealed to me was a new short section at the end of the show where we read out some listeners emails. These emails could be a question, comment, recommendation or indeed anything else you think others maybe interested in. So whether you have a tip for improving your sites search engine rankings or just want to tell me how ignorant we are then drop us an email. Write in soon as we need content for next weeks show!