Show 76: Clients and Agency

Marcus talks about setting up a web design company while Paul talks about the role of the client and Derek Featherstone talks about making your web application accessible.

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News and events

Eric Meyer’s reset style

I have talked before about the idea of having a CSS file that removes all of the browsers styling in order to allow you to work from a clean slate across multiple browsers. Well, over this last week Eric Meyer has picked up on the idea and has been collaboratively developing a reset CSS file via his blog. If you do a lot of CSS work, this is definitely worth getting your hands on.

Microsoft Silverlight

Microsoft are gunning after Adobe on all fronts at the moment including a flash competitor called Silverlight. Like flash, Silverlight offers animation, interactivity and cross browser compatibility (although I don’t seem to be able to get it working on a mac). However, their real focus is on video where they trump Flash by offering high definition quality. It also appears to offer more “standards friendly” methods of inserting and manipulating movies, however as I said I have been unable to test this so far.

The biggest hurdle Microsoft faces will be take up. At the moment Flash dominates partly because in many cases it is installed almost invisibly in the background. In contrast, at the moment, Silverlight is a separate installation that takes place outside of the browser. No doubt this will change in the future.

35 Designers, 5 questions

Smashing magazine are certainly on a role at the moment, publishing a range of superb web design articles. One of the most recent is a post where they asked 35 designers (of which I was one) 5 questions about their approach to web design. The resulting article is a fascinating read and gives you a real insight into how other web designers work. The questions included:

  • 1 aspect of design you give the highest priority to.
  • 1 most useful CSS-technique you use very often.
  • 1 font you use in your projects very often.
  • 1 design-related book you highly recommend to read.
  • 1 design magazine you read on a daily/weekly basis (online or offline).

CSS tools

Another Smashing magazine post. This one lists some very useful CSS tools including form builders, list makers, CSS layout templates and much more. If you are starting out in standards based coding some of the tools here will produce you some brilliant examples of clean code.

Client corner: The role of the client

Myself and Marcus swap roles this week and I take a look at our client corner issue; the role of the client. There is a lot written about the role of web designers but very little written about what part website owners play in the evolution of their sites. It is an area I have been thinking a lot about recently and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. It is a subject that I have recently blogged on so if you want more information on what I consider the role of the client to be then I suggest you check that out.

Ask the expert: Derek Featherstone on ARIA

We are lucky enough to have accessibility expert Derek Featherstone on this week’s show talking about making web applications accessible. He talks about how HTML is not designed to support web applications and that the methods used to make it work are often little more than hacks. He then introduces a new standard from the W3C called ARIA and explains how this will assist in making web applications more accessible. If you want to know more about what ARIA is and how it can make your applications more accessible then Derek recommends a recent article on the List Apart website.

Agony Uncle: Setting up a web design company

Marcus takes on the lofty role of Agony Uncle this week responding to a question on the forum about setting up a web design company. The question, from Stanton, starts with him setting the scene of someone wanting to break out on their own but worrying about how they will cope without that guaranteed income.

Marcus gets all nostalgic about the early days of Headscape and then provides advice about starting up. He covers all the boring bits about incorporation, insurance, funding and documentation. He then talks about getting business in and not forgetting that someone has to be the salesman!

  • A huge thanks to Marcus and Paul for answering my question :) we both just listened to it and certainly wasn’t expecting a 20 minute answer! there was a load of useful tips in there that we will take on board should we decide to take the plunge, i particularly appreciated your views on partnerships vs limited companies.
    Thanks again! (shame about the yacht though)

  • Another good show – great question by Stanton – thanks for asking it. Sure there are many of us who would love to leave the ‘rat race’ and work doing what we love but all those commitments make us too nervous to do so.

  • Martijn v.d. Ven

    Loved this one, of course Marcus’ jokes (in this case quote) section was the best part.
    I think Derek raised some good things there, and the client corner was done well by you Paul.
    Looking forward to next week’s show.

  • I’ve been using a technique I found on Digg to reset CSS, and it seems to solve lots of our problems. The link is I have to say that it is more comprehensive than the one you linked to, and from memory there was very good reason for that which was explained on Digg.

  • I was very interested about the part of the show that talked about clients taking ages to populate a CMS and hence the target launch day slips drastically.
    Anybody got an idea on how to make the client see for themselves. I have just done one site that i was far too optimistic about and the client took foreever to populate the CMS and continually moaned to us that the site was taking ages and failed to register that they hadn’t finished their content even though the site was finished otherwise – arh!

  • vb

    Paul and Marcus,
    First. As always a great post and I have to say the more I hear your podcasts the more I love to hear them.
    Second. I’m sorry to hear on this podcast you’re still no millionairs – a pitty indeed! You are both worth it, don’t you? !
    Third. Great Paul, that you moved the older podcasts to another space. The old one really was that terrible slow.
    Best wishes from Germany