Show 79: Despise the listener

Paul Boag

A great line up this week with Paul, Marcus and Andy Clarke.

We have a great lineup this week: Paul talks about getting things done in web design and an alternative approach to your reading list. Marcus explains the exciting area of insurance for web designers and we have Andy Clarke on the show to give us an update on CSS 3.

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News and events

Google Analytics gets interface upgrade

Like so many who join Google, Jeff Veen has been forced to be somewhat tight lipped about what he has been working on. However in the last week we have finally been able to see the fruits of his labors with the relaunch of a new and improved Google Analytics. You would be forgiven for thinking that a load of new functionality has been added to the service. In fact that is not the case. The only changes have been to the user interface. The difference is that you can now find everything quickly and easily.

If like me you found the old Analytics service confusing and difficult to use then you might want to take a look at the new revised version. It is a definite improvement.

Great new articles on A List Apart

For a while I have been a little disappointed with the articles coming out of A List Apart. Perhaps they were simply too “high brow” for the likes of me but they lacked any practical application. However this issue is different. It has two great articles about handling clients.

The first entitled “Stand and Deliver” provides some superb advice on presenting your designs to a client. The second called “Educate Your Stakeholders!” talks (unsurprisingly) about educating the decision makers in a web project so they make more informed choices.

Both are really superb articles and I would definitely recommend you check them out.

Teaching the traditional web

We are all acutely aware that the web is changing at a rapid rate. At the moment the focus is very much on web applications however we cannot afford to ignore the massive number of page based sites that still need to adapt to the changing way people are interacting online. In a post called Teaching the traditional web, Keith Robinson discusses how we need to alter our approach to page based websites based on deep linking, RSS feeds and mobile access. A very enlightening read.

Baselines and vertical rhythm

Having Richard Rutter on the show a few weeks back made me acutely aware of my shortcomings when it came to web typography. Although I promised myself I would look into the subject in more depth I was a bit vague as to where I should start. Fortunately Richard has given me a starting point with a list of resources on his site that look at the subject of baselines.

I know that many people find web typography an uninspiring subject but good typography can have such a profound impact on how people perceive design that it really is worth your attention.

Client corner: Getting things done in web design

I have just finished reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Not only has it seriously helped me to get control of my workload but its also made me rethink how I approach web design projects with clients. In this week’s client corner I suggest some techniques that designers and clients should use when a new project is starting.

As seems to be the default approach these days I blogged on this earlier in the week so if you want more information on what I said in the show then be sure to check out that post.

Ask the expert: Andy Clarke on CSS 3

Following Andy Budd’s recent criticism of the W3C CSS Working group it seemed appropriate to have Andy Clarke on the show to talk about the progress of CSS 3. Andy is an invited expert on the CSS working group so has the inside track on what is really happening. In the show Andy talks about…

  • Some of the cool layout features available in CSS 3.
  • The modular nature of CSS3.
  • The slow progress made by the group.
  • And the need for the web design community to contribute in the process.

Agony uncle: Insurance for web designers

We received the following question from Brian last week:

As an avid listener to your podcast – and having spent the day catching up on them while travelling! – I was very interested in a particular segment where your good self and that Lillington chap mentioned your Terms and Conditions and having, ‘…all the right insurances in place…’, with regard to setting up a business.

I’ve recently done some work with a mate – a few hopefully not-too-shabby websites – and although we think we are getting the hang of sorting out contracts now, we have never been able to settle on what to put in our Terms and Conditions. Every time I start to do it I either glaze over or start putting stupid things in due basically to boredom!

As for insurance we never assumed that we would need any for web design. Its not like we’re making nitroglycerine or heart bypass machines… so we assumed the basic rules of common sense prevailed.

To this end, if you have any advice on what insurances might apply or what sort of thing should be covering in T&C’s?

Firstly I’ll cover the terms and conditions issue, much as I don’t want to appear protective over our ts & cs, we have reached the conclusion that by providing them we are in effect providing legal advice.

This is not what we do and it’s not a path we wish to tread!

We suggest speaking to your lawyer or maybe a local chamber of commerce who could provide a standard terms and conditions contract template. I also droned on about the different aspects of terms and conditions in episode 65.

Insurance, however, is another matter. Though, again, I am concerned about making stuff up here (as is often the case!) so the majority of the following content is from Business Link. This is what we currently pay good money for:

Professional Indemnity

If you are in the business of selling your knowledge or skills, you may want to consider taking out professional indemnity insurance.

This protects your business against compensation sought by a client if you have made mistakes or are found to have been negligent in some or all of the services that you provide for them. Professional indemnity insurance will also cover any legal costs.

Public Liability

If members of the public or customers come to your premises or you go to theirs, you should think about taking out public liability insurance. This type of insurance covers any awards of damages given to a member of the public because of an injury or damage to their property caused by you or your business.

Product Liability

In product liability insurance (PLI) terms, a product is any physical item that is sold or given away.

Products must be “fit for purpose”. Under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, you’re legally responsible for any damage or injury that a product you supply may cause. PLI covers you against compensation awarded as a result of damage to property or personal injury caused by your product.

Employers Liability

Employers’ liability compulsory insurance (ELCI) enables businesses to meet the costs of compensation and legal fees for employees who are injured or made ill at work through the fault of the employer.

Key Man Insurance

Key man insurance is designed to cover you for the financial costs of losing key personnel. We still have this for Paul….goodness knows why! ;-)

Review: Looking beyond web design books

This weeks review section isn’t so much a review as a recommendation. At SXSW you are really spoilt for choice as to what to attend. In fact there is so much choice it is overwhelming. After much consideration I decided to take an interesting approach. I decided to mainly attend panels on subjects I knew nothing, or little about. Instead of going to panels on CSS or design I went to sessions on marketing and strategy. The result was an incredibly enjoyable and enlightening week.

On my return to the UK I decided to take a similar approach in my reading. Prior to this the majority of books I read where either on CSS or Javascript. However I am now trying to broaden out the range of books I read to encompass other subjects like productivity, business process, and even some sociology. As with SXSW it has been an incredibly rewarding experience and something I would encourage others to do. I have been amazed at just how much of what I have read has related in someway to my job and I believe it has genuinely improved the quality of my work.

I would really encourage others to try the same thing and would like to suggest three books to break you in gradually. Although none of these books are directly to do with web design they all include valuable lessons that you can apply to your work on a daily basis…