140. Launch

Paul Boag

In this week’s show GetSignOff has finally launched, we talk about how to use web stats to improve your site and we answer your questions about roles with web design and should you help clients with hosting.

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News and events

Acid3 receptions and misconceptions and do we have a winner?

The team that develop WebKit, the open source web browser engine that Safari and the new Google Chrome are built on, have just announced that the engine passes the Acid3 test developed by The Web Standard Project (Wasp).

So what is Acid3?

Acid3 runs a series of tests against a given browser and produces a score, the goal being 100/100. This score is generated from how "standards compliant" the browser is. For example whether it supports CSS2.1 styles such as "inline-block" and "pre-wrap", if it supports SVG-Fonts, what DOM features is supports and a whole range of other criteria.

So WebKit passes!

Does this mean we should ditch Firefox, IE and all the other browsers in favour of Safari or Chrome, well no, and that’s what Lars Gunther is talking about in his article over at WaSP.

It’s great that tests like Acid3 exist and that browser developers endeavour to build better browsers because of them. All in all it results in a much better experience for the average user and makes our lives as Web Designers much more hassle free.

6 Things To Like About Dreamweaver CS4

So Dreamweaver CS4 became available this week, 15th October to be exact and Alex Walker over at Site Point has been having a play and has shared with us 6 thinks he likes about the new release. Check out his article for details of each, but a summarised list is:

  • UI/Workflow Improvements
  • The Related Files Toolbar
  • Code Navigator
  • Live View
  • Advanced JavaScript Interpretation
  • Making JavaScript Unobtrusive

From reading the article these improvements over the previous version look really promising. One feature that really caught my eye is "intelligent code completion" for JavaScript and the most popular libraries such as jQuery, MooTools, Prototype etc, the same way it does for HTML!

It would also appear that Adobe are making big improvements to the "Display View" of Dreamweaver, which has historically been the stigma plaguing most "professional" designers who use it. The "Display View" now has integrated code navigation, so you can use it to jump to specific elements within the page and Adobe have also built WebKit into Dreamweavers core so you can run your site through the software to test JavaScript, rendered CSS, server-side code etc.

So will these new features encourage more people to use Dreamweaver?

7 Ingredients of Good Corporate Design

Smashing Magazine has published a great article that discusses 7 ingredients to good corporate design. They break the discussion into two elements:

  • Design as artistic representation, which consists of:
    • Logo
    • Typography
    • Colours
  • Design strategy, consisting of:
    • Brand
    • Quality
    • Community
    • Culture

It’s important to understand that corporate design isn’t simply of a graphical nature but is intrinsically linked with your strategy, the goals that you set and how you implement them and this article is well worth the read.

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Launch: GetSignOff Goes Public

Monday GetSignOff finally opened to the public. It has been an interesting journey read more here.

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Feature: Using Web Stats for More

We all use web stat tools like Google Analytics for tracking marketing campaigns. However, they can also be used to improve your site. We discuss this in this weeks feature.

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Listeners feedback:

Salesman seeks designer/developer

Got this audio question from Andrew:

Hi Paul, hello Marcus and hi to all the people who work at the show. I live in Canada so hearing your nice English voices through my headphones is great. My name is Steve and I’ve done some freelance web design for clients in the past, but the part I enjoyed the most was the selling cycle; being able to explain to the client what a standards based website could do for them and then persuade them that investing in such a site would be wise for their business. I bet there’s a lot of designers and developers out there who are absolute Jedis when it comes to coding CSS and HTML but really hate the selling part. And then there are people like me who can really sell well but I wish I could work with people who are amazing at building websites.

My two-pronged question is as follows:

Is there a website or another resource that would allow people like me, who love web design, but are more business/marketing oriented to touch base with people who are in the opposite situation? And I’m thinking more than just a job board here, I guess the best analogy would be something that Marcus might be familiar with – adverts in the back of music magazines that would say something like ‘band seeks drummer’ or ‘talented singer needs people to play instruments’.

My other question: how did you guys do it at Headscape, were you all great at coding and someone had to get pushed out the door and start selling or were there very separate roles from the beginning?

Ok, part one first (I’m original aren’t I)… the ‘band seeks drummer’ analogy is good but I much prefer a dating agency analogy! Cuddly, financially sound salesman WGSOH seeks quiet, intense, practical developer for fulfilling relationship. :-)

As far as I am aware, sadly, this service does not exist. Forums, like the Boagworld forum, have got to be your best bet.

Right, part two. Much as I would love to claim that I used to be great at coding before they kicked me out of the door to do the selling, it would be a blatant lie. When Headscape started, the three of us came from different disciplines – Paul was designer/tech (it’s true!), Chris was project manager and I was salesman. We soon didn’t have enough design/tech resource and started to recruit but the fact that a) Chris was organising and pushing projects along and b) that I was concentrating on bringing in new work meant that we were running things like a larger agency (more efficiently and with less risk) very early on.

I have banged on about how important effective selling is in the past many times so won’t repeat myself here. The only thing I will say is that having totally separate roles is not necessarily a good thing. Even now, we don’t have very separate roles. Chris and Paul are both heavily involved in the sales process and always have been. In my view, it is the responsibility of the company directors to se

But, added to that, Chris and I also do a lot of consultancy work (requirements analysis, IA work etc), and Paul still does design work. This is important because it keeps our ‘hand’ in. Getting too involved in one role can often lead to a lot of potentially out-of-date talking, and very little ‘doing’.

Do/should you help clients’ with hosting?

Hi all

I’m just about to do a ‘simple’ website for a friend (aka my 1st client) which will try to market something he is looking to rent out. Whilst I’m confident I can do the website, I’m not sure how far I should go with helping/organising his hosting. The client doesn’t know anything about hosting and doesn’t have any hosting space with his broadband provider.

Now I don’t really want to get into organising hosting unless I have to, so I’d just like to know what the ‘norm’ is in this regard? As a web developer/firm do you automatically sort out hosting, do you get the client to do it and then give you the hosting password so you can upload the site? Is it even a good/lucrative idea to get involved in sorting this out as part of the ‘service’? Can people suggest what they do please?

Thanks, Alex

This question came from the Forum and there are already some interesting posts in response. The biggest issue here is:

Can you support this website?

Can you provide support if the site goes down in the middle of the night, on Christmas Day, or even when you’re on your two week break to Spain?

If you decide to sell hosting then you become a middle man between your client and the hosting company. Your client is contracted to you to provide and support hosting, not the hosting company. Of course, you have a relationship with the hosting company where they will provide an agreed level of support but… you are still the person that has to deal with your clients’ issues as and when they arise.

At Headscape we are completely open about this with our clients. We tell them that we only provide support (of any kind) on working days between 9am and 5.30pm. We’re not set up to do anything more than that.

However, we do offer hosting for those clients that feel that the level of support that we offer is enough. We have our own managed platform and we also act as a reseller for a large hosting company.

The solution for those clients that require a superior level of service is simple. The client buys the hosting directly thereby taking you – the agency/freelancer – out of the loop. We specify technologies, discuss the level of support required, amount of bandwidth etc with client – we will also set up the site on the web server – but the client orders and pays for the hosting.

This has worked really well particularly for the larger, busier sites that we have developed.

All that said, if you act as a reseller, and you have enough clients, you can make a decent profit via hosting. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that it doesn’t involve any work keeping all those clients happy and up to date. If you have enough clients to make money out of hosting then it’s very likely that you will have regular hosting issues to deal with and constant renewals to deal with.

My friend and colleague, the long suffering Mr Scott, has many times said that he wished we had never touched hosting simply because it often ends being a constant irritation that gets in the way of project work and rarely pays for itself.

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