Building a business case for user experience

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we are joined by UX guru Jared Spool to talk about building a business case for user experience design.

Skip to the discussion or this week’s links.

This episode of the Boagworld show is sponsored by Media Temple and Harvest. Please support the show by checking them out.

Paul: Hello and welcome to the pod cast for those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag and joining me as always as Marcus and the reason that I am already trying not to giggle is because we’ve got Jared Spool on the show. Now that sounded bad, didn’t it?

Guest: Yes, I’m going to say people often laugh when I walk in the room.

Paul: I said to Jared before the show started, do you have any questions? And he said, I want to know about David Cameron and the pig. Which is not the kind of question that I had in mind. So what are Americans making of this then?

Guest: I think we think of your government folks as being a bit classier than our government folks. Because our government folks just pick up hookers.

Marcus: So now you know.

Paul: Really? So are we now saying that sticking your Johnson in a pig is classier than picking up a hooker?

Guest: It just probably never occurred to any of our politicians to even do that.

Paul: No it wouldn’t. But what is really spooky about this whole thing from my point of view is have you ever watched Black Mirror? I don’t know whether you get that over there.

Guest: No but I keep seeing references to it. Is this a gameshow?

Paul: No. Black Mirror is like a comedy, a very dark comedy. It’s a series of individual episodes, each episode is completely unique. Written by a guy called Charlie Brooker and Charlie Brooker, the closest American equivalent I can think of is like John Stuart but more sarcastic. So a very deeply twisted individual, is Charlie Brooker. A superb comedian, very, very funny but he’s got quite a dark sense of humour. He did one episode where basically somebody kidnapped the Princess. You are supposed to imagine its Diana. He kidnapped the Princess and said that the ransom for it was the Prime Minister had to have sex with a pig live on TV. And the whole episode was about the quandary of working out what’s the best thing to do in that situation. Do you let the beloved Princess die? Or do you have sex with a pig? There you go. And it ended up becoming reality, kind of.

Marcus: Allegedly.

Guest: Life imitates art.

Paul: Indeed. But actually you ought to watch Black Mirror. I know that wasn’t really selling it very well there, because it’s all really about technology. The Black Mirror is your iPhone screen. And it’s all about how technology can be used in dark ways basically. So that one was all about hitting social media and how people responded on social media etc. So Charlie Brooker is now held as a prophet here in the UK for his prophetic abilities.

So how are you Jared? I need to congratulate you actually. Congratulations on getting married, I don’t think we spoken since then.

Guest: Yes, thank you. I did get

Paul: Married?

Guest: Yes. I am trying to think of a good way to explain this. I got married four times to the same person.

Paul: Really? How does that work?

Guest: The short answer is it has to do with family that won’t travel, but lives in an obscure place and the nearest hotel is 45 minutes away and so we couldn’t bring our friends there so we instead brought our wedding to our friends. And so we had it in four different places so that everybody could come.

Paul: Genius. That’s just genius, I like it. Stretch the party out for as long as possible.

Guest: Yes.

Paul: The other thing that you’ve been up to, which to be honest I am really annoyed about, is you keep running awesome conferences that I desperately want to be at.

Guest: I appreciate that you want to be at them.

Paul: Oh it’s just so annoying. That last one, a UX advantage, was it? Oh it looked so good. Has it happened yet?

Guest: It did, it was in August in Baltimore and it was fantastic. Everybody seems to really love it. It was a brand-new format and I put it together with Karen McGrane and for most of the talks we didn’t have formal presentations but instead Karen and I interviewed people. And it was listening to podcasts basically, it was like this long 15 hours of panel where we got to dig really deep about what it takes and it was really a stunningly wonderful event. Karen and I were on stage for 12 hours.

Paul: Blimming heck!

Guest: And you know what, it just flew by.

Paul: Really?

Guest: Yes.

Paul: So talking about it was a bit like listening to a pod cast, I don’t suppose you are going to release them are you?

Guest: Yes we are going to release them. Not all of them because people talked about things that it turns out their company would have preferred that they don’t broadcast, so unfortunately not everything is going to get out. But for the ones that their corporate communications office is more willing, we will be releasing them.

Paul: Oh I am so excited about that. You will let us know when that happens won’t you?

Guest: Yes, if you follow my Twitter it will be endlessly promotional in that regards.

Marcus: Bit like you then Paul?

Paul: Yes, a bit like me. Why would I want to talk to people otherwise? Although Jared I like it on your Twitter feed when you just randomly post bits of micro copy. I just love that, the random things that just pop into your stream. It’s brilliant.

Guest: Yes that’s true, there were a load more comments, which if you think about it’s a dangerous button to press. Why load? Read more comments, see more comments, but why load? It was obviously written by developers.

Paul: That’s about the size of it. So yes, I love that. That and your rants about United. We will put a link in the show notes to Jared’s Twitter channel because it is a thing of mastery. That’s the only way I can put it. It’s an art form, it’s the kind of thing that eventually you will have some guy wearing a polo neck with a little goatee and a cigarette in his hand, will be reading out loud at exclusive nightclubs. That’s what I imagine.

Guest: I want one of my tweets to be picked as my epitaph on my tombstone.

Paul: Oh, genius. But which one though?

Guest: I think load more comments would be a good one. That would be fine with me. That would ring true to my spirit.

Paul: You could have some kind of screen on your gravestone that just loads a random one.

Guest: Yeah.

Paul: And then people can relive your life one the tweet at a time. Oh, that would be horrendous. I was thinking for me, I don’t know about you, but that would be bad.

Guest: I’ve seen video epitaphs, I’ve seen pictures and articles about video epitaphs, I’ve never seen one in person.

Paul: Yes, see it’s the way to go. And another thing, not only am I annoyed that you are holding some awesome conferences

Guest: So this podcast is it just about you listing all the things I piss you off with?

Paul: Yes, pretty much. Is that not how podcasts are supposed work? Just insulting the guests?

Guest: I thought you only did that with Andy Clarke.

Marcus: I would doubly say with Andy.


Paul: No, see, the other thing, you are forgiven for the conference as you are releasing them as podcasts. That’s great, I’ll allow you. You can carry on doing that. You can carry on doing good conferences, that’s fine. The other one mind, is that I booked you to have this conversation and in between, just literally after I sent the email to you I came across a post that’s a little old now, but a post by you which is why I can’t convince executives to invest in UX. And the subject of today’s topic is building a business case for user experience. So I had a little panic for a while until I actually read the article and then it was all right.

Guest: So there you go. My article titles are intended to induce panic.

Paul: Again, a very interesting approach. I like it.

Guest: Yes. It’s a very much of a sky is falling approach.

Paul: Does that count as click bait? If it actively repels you?

Guest: I hope so otherwise I would have to come up with better ways of doing it.

Paul: Yes. I don’t know what people’s problem with click bait is. As long as it delivers, I think that’s the problem isn’t it.

Guest: Yes I think the bait part is the problem. They are very focused on the bait and not the actual substance of the value.

Paul: Very true. I do want to get into the article because that article is very much what we are talking about today but before we do that I need to do a sponsor.

Guest: Can I pick the sponsor?

Paul: No unfortunately doesn’t work like that. Who would you pick?

Guest: I would pick Media Temple.


Marcus: That’s great.

Paul: Just by a coincidence

Guest: Because Media Temple has sponsored our stuff too and I love them.

Paul: Yes they are good actually, it’s true. They sponsor everything. You can’t work in our industry and not have heard of Media Temple. I think it’s physically impossible.

Guest: Exactly.

Marcus: They do good parties, they always have done anyway, the ones I’ve been to.

Paul: They do pretty good swag as well which is another key component in being a good sponsor.

Guest: Yes.

Paul: Not that they are doing any swag for this, because it’s virtual so it would be a bit difficult. I think that’s a start-up idea, you’ll find its VC funded by the end of the week. Virtual swag.

Marcus: Really?

Paul: Yes.

Marcus: I was thinking earlier

Paul: Where you?

Guest: That’s fantastic!

Paul: Well done.

Marcus: Round of applause for me.

Guest: I meant to but I never got around to it.

Marcus: I stopped quickly afterwards, don’t worry. It just occurred to me that we started doing this podcast 10 years ago.

Paul: How do you know that? What, today?

Marcus: I don’t know about today but I think it was around this time of year 10 years ago. And I thought oh we ought to mention that. We are 10 years old.

Paul: That’s awesome.

Guest: That’s pretty awesome.

Marcus: Yeah. But there you go. I’ll pop back to sleep.

Paul: Can we stop now then?

Marcus: Yes we can.

Paul: Not before I’ve done the sponsors, mind. Because they get really upset otherwise. So anyway let’s quickly do this Media Temple sponsor thing. Because I know they are nice, they don’t want us to interrupt the conversation too long. So Media Temple offer a huge range of services, we going to get into quite a lot of them over the coming weeks but this week I want to mention that they do something called a managed service. And they do this for both your virtual private servers and even if you choose to use something like Amazon cloud services they will manage it for you. So you get a one-to-one consultation which just for me, is just perfect. Because luckily I’ve got an Ian that does all this rubbish with me. But if you don’t have an Ian then what you want is this managed service. You get a one-to-one consultation, they’ll set up everything on your site for you including migrating content from any hosts that you want. So they’ll hold your hand through the whole thing and set you up perfectly. There are also then proactively manage the performance and security of your site so there is no longer having to worry about updates or whether you’ve got enough bandwidth or hard drive space or anything like that, it just works. They’ll proactively manage it.

They do automatic daily backups which as I discovered recently is good. And they’ve also got 24/7, 365 days a year priority support hotline for you as a managed person. Which that in itself I think, if you have to work on Christmas Day if the server goes down. Why can’t we just turn the Internet office for one day a year? Would that be so bad? It would be okay wouldn’t it?

Guest: I think the problem is we’re probably afraid that it won’t reboot.


Paul: That is actually a very good point.

Guest: Yes, I mean I would be really afraid to turn it off as I don’t think it would come back.

Paul: No.

Guest: It’s so hacked together.

Paul: It is. It’s really quite terrifying. When you read about it, you don’t want to think, I think my entire livelihood in fact the economy of the entire world is built on this thing that is just a mess under the surface.

Guest: We use Media Temple for our sites and we love them. Their support has been fantastic over the years.

Paul: Yes, and I host with them as well. Yes they are, they are just great. I can’t say enough about them. So anyway, you can get a special discount as a Boagworld listener using the promo code BOAG and you will get 25% of your web hosting. Just go to and enter the promo code upon signup. Thank you Media Temple, you rock!

Guest: Thank you Media Temple.

Paul: Without Media Temple we wouldn’t be able to have such amazing guests as Jared Spool. Actually that’s not true, it makes no difference.

Guest: Well if they weren’t to sponsor I wouldn’t have joined your podcast.

Paul: There we go. From the man himself.

Building a business case for UX with Jared Spool

Paul: Right. So, Jared, just give people listening if you can remember the article, a summary of the point you were trying to make in your article why I can’t convince executives to invest in UX.

Guest: The point I was trying to make was when I wrote it I had just gotten for that week, my fifth or sixth request of could you come in and knock some sense into my management. And it was very much this plea that they were just desiring that I would somehow have some magical phrase or thing that got them excited. Often times it’s because I go around and I speak at conferences, usually a conference has some sort of empty slot they don’t know what to do with after everybody else they invite who’s rejected them they finally decide that they will have to do something and they put me in, and I go up and I entertain and most the people in the audience are people who have understood why user experience and good design is valuable to the organisation. And I go up and I basically cheerlead through that and they think this is just awesome. And then they are like you need to come give this to my manager because they don’t get it, and that’s where we get into trouble. Because I have never ever successfully convinced any executive that they should start investing in user experience. And so I doubt that their company will be the first.

Paul: And I liked the way you described it. It’s like you can’t convince a smoker to quit, they have to come to that conclusion themselves. And I like that. Because you are right. It’s not like executives aren’t exposed to the importance of UX because everything you read these days, any time Apple is ever mentioned for example, it’s so prominent at the moment it’s not like people have never heard of UX.

Guest: Yes, occasionally they don’t know what it is, well actually more than occasionally, often they don’t know what it is but they certainly understand that the outcome that they want, very few executives and say you know, we actually could make this more frustrating for our customers. Why don’t we do that? And nobody says that. Well the airline industry says that.

Paul: I knew you weren’t going to resist it.

Guest: Well nobody else says that. And so you don’t have to stand in front of them and explained to them that it’s a good idea to make customers happy. That ship has sailed. If they’re not making customers happy is because they are mired in a reality that is way more complicated than just going oh, well you are right, we should do that. Wilber, make sure that happens tomorrow. Now what else is on the agenda? And so that’s not the way it plays out. So what you really have to do this you have to talk about all those things that are preventing what they keep telling everybody they want, which is happy customers.

Paul: So do you ever get into actually explaining what UX is to your customers or do you just talk in terms of the problems that you’re solving?

Guest: I never define user experience, it’s if the two words don’t work or customer experience or employee experience or traveller experience whatever you want to call it, if those words don’t work then defining it, nobody gets to be senior management and not understand that much of their basic language. I don’t know how to translate it to German or Japanese so I guess there’s probably an equivalent in each of them. In German it’s probably 70 characters long. In Japanese it probably two, right? But I think this idea is already ingrained in management. You don’t have two explain it to them and frankly you are patronising if you do. You are talking down to them.

Paul: Well it’s interesting mind, because we spent the whole episode, the last episode, quibbling over what user experience means.

Guest: Oh I am so glad I missed that.

Paul: End at the end of it, it was like, does it really matter? We concluded that it was something with very fuzzy edges to it. And it does cross into customer experience, it does cross into user interface design etc.

Guest: I don’t know, the distinction between customer experience and user experience was made up by consultants. There is no real distinction except that you have users that our customers. And the notion of a user is a fuzzy notion anyway because you have people who experience your organisation, brand and things who aren’t users per se. You have second-order effects. When I hire an Uber, part of my experience is the car that the Uber driver has chosen to drive. And so in that instance I guess I am a user of that car but I am not a customer of that car and I am not really doing anything with that car other than sitting there. The choices that probably affects the success of that car as a car being used by an Uber driver had very little to do with me, yet I am experiencing the outcome of those choices. And if it’s a crappy car I have a crappy ride, if it’s a fantastic car I have a fantastic ride. There are all these second-order effects that happen down the road of things and what you call those people? I don’t know what you call those people directly, until you get into a particular application so we can talk about the Uber in terms of driver experience and passenger experience. And so then it makes more sense but passenger experience is not going to be a term of art for anything else outside the personal transportation industry. So the phrase itself is limiting and I can see why people who would rather focus on terminology than actually getting work done would hitch their wagon onto it. But you can’t argue that when you do something there was a series of events that happen over timeline and there is a range of emotions that happen and the designer plays a role in the range of emotions that you have outcome with. That’s really what we’re talking about.

Paul: I am a total believer of not spending hours arguing over semantics but there are occasions where the choice of word can be problematic.

Guest: What you mean by semantics?

Paul: For example, I was talking to a charity Samaritans today. And I was chatting with them and one of the problems that they have within their culture is that they referred to the people that ring up the Samaritans, you have the Samaritans in America do you?

Guest: Yes we do, they are mostly known for their beautiful signage at bridges.

Paul: So what they call the people have dealings with, they call them callers. But actually now, increasingly people are contacting them via SMS, via email, instant messaging, those kind of things but their culture is telephone-based partly because they refer to them as callers. So I guess sometimes the semantics matter.

Guest: Well yes, it matters from a design standpoint, it matters if the outcomes which change if we used different semantics.

Paul: I think culturally, I think it is a cultural thing that is in the minds of people that we have a telephone organisation partly because we call people callers. But I might be wrong. That’s the trouble when you get into culture, is that it’s quite hard to really know where the root causes are the some of the practices that cause issues.

Guest: Will I wonder about that, because these are people who are calling out for help and so is their notion of callers because of the medium or is their notion of callers because of the verb which is only partially medium dominant.

Paul: That’s a fair comment.

Guest: So when you think about the mind of the person who is handling the call, do they think it is a call for help which it is, or do they think of it as a phone call, which it might be?

Paul: Have to find out when I work with them.

Guest: And I think that sometimes we change the language to fit our context more than anything else. I’ve had people say taping a podcast but nobody uses tape for podcasts or taping a video, nobody is using tape video any more. So have we just changed the meaning of the phrase because it was just a useful phrase? Dialling a phone, there is no dial. The dial disappeared in the 80s. Nobody says buttoning a phone. My iPhone has a dial capability, we don’t have dial tones any more but people talk about it and interestingly enough in television shows they still use dial tones because they need some signal that you’ve hung up. So there is this tone that happens that doesn’t really happen in real life any more. And the dial tone had a very specific purpose in its day, it was to tell you that your phone was plugged in. And that was its only real purpose, to give you feedback that the phone was plugged in and that you had established a live connection. And it was actually loud enough that you could hear it when the phone was knocked off the hook so that you would know you were actually preventing incoming calls by having this phone not be live right now. And it had all sorts of purposes in life but none of those things exist anymore.

Paul: It’s weird, because you forget. Hey, going back to the article that you wrote, you’re getting all these calls from these people that say come convince my manager and you’re saying no I can’t do that. So where does that leave people? There will be people listening to this now who work in in-house teams that are frustrated by their management. What should they be doing? How should they be building that business case?

Guest: I think the problem is talking. And really the question is come listen to my management. If they asked me to do that, I would be very excited to do that because I want to hear what their management is talking about. I want to hear what their priorities are. I want to hear what keeps them up at night. And then I want to talk about how the things that I do as a person who focuses primarily on the customer and user experience, I want to find out what I can do to get them to sleep better, to help them with their priorities. And almost always I can do something. But without having that conversation, without listening first and walking in and being presumptuous that I know their business better than they do I am inevitably going to fail.

Paul: That’s advice I’ve given in the past as well to teams that are working internally, this idea of you need to find out what your management’s pain points are and work with those. Because inevitably they are under a lot of pressure in different ways and so you almost need to apply the same user research techniques that we use for their users to their own management team to find out what their problems are, what their tasks are, what they are trying to achieve. It’s all the same stuff that we actually end up doing with end users as well.

Guest: Yes, absolutely. Can I tell you a little secret?

Paul: Of course.

Guest: You’ve got to promise not to tell.

Paul: Yes but nobody listens to this. They really don’t.

Guest: So the secret is there is actually only five things that senior management ever worries about.

Paul: Go on then.

Guest: And if you know what those five things are you can basically just craft an answer for almost any of them.

Paul: Let me have a guess, can I have a guess?

Guest: Yes sure.

Paul: So, shareholder opinion?

Guest: Yes, shareholder opinion, I would state it as increasing shareholder value. Opinions don’t matter but the value does.

Paul: Marcus help me out with this. Costs?

Guest: Yes, decreasing costs.

Paul: What did you say Marcus?

Marcus: What about increasing customers, the number of customers?

Guest: Yes, increasing market share or another way to phrase that would be to increase the number of new customers you are bringing in.

Marcus: Making more money.

Guest: Yes, increasing revenue.

Marcus: And not spending as much money.

Guest: Yes that would be the decreasing costs thing. You’ve got one more.

Paul: You’ve beaten me, go on.

Guest: So increasing revenue, decreasing costs, increasing market share, the one you missed was increasing money from existing customers and increasing shareholder value. So that’s it. Almost always managements worried about one or more those things and if you listen real close you can pick up on that pretty quickly. Now the difference between market share and existing customers is that existing customers are way cheaper. You already know who they are if you are any good at what you do. And you’ve already established your value with them if you produce anything good. So getting them to buy something else from you is often as much is an order of magnitude less expensive than convincing someone who’s never done business with you to do business with you for the first time. So that’s why you have that and revenue overall is important, profits of course that the difference between cost and revenue. And then decreasing costs because if you can push your cost of producing your product or service down including your overhead costs, you have more flexibility in the marketplace. And the way to think of shareholder value is that it’s basically long-term sustainability of the business. Can the business weather whatever things happen in the marketplace. Whether they are competitive things or economic things or whatever it might be, can the business weather that long-term because it’s built up such a base? Because really what shareholders are interested in, most shareholders are interested in is having the value of the company change over a long period of time. And so that’s it. So you focus on one of those five things or more and you can do that and it turns out that we can talk about any user experience project, you can talk about most actually and there are some that we can’t tie to this, but we can talk about most things that involve customers or the users and talk about how it’s going to positively affect one of those five things. And that’s what we have to do.

Paul: Do you find that you get pushed for hard data on your ability to deliver these things or that hard data about which approach is the best approach at delivering these things? And how do you deal with that kind of thing?

Guest: There were some organisations that are very much focused on understanding whether a change is going to do what they expected to do. These are organisations that have almost always had some sort of trauma. All the senior management, at some previous job has suffered a trauma where they went off and tried something and it’s just exploded on them in a negative way and they suddenly found themselves without being able to rationalise why they did what they did when it was so obvious that it wasn’t going to work retrospectively. So they need proof that the ledge they are about to jump off is a safe one. And this is an issue of what we call mitigating risk. Everybody focuses on providing the numbers but that’s not really the thing that you need to do because you can provide numbers and they still won’t do anything, in fact I remember being looked at directly by the CEO of one of the top 10 e-commerce sites after I presented all sorts of numbers and he looked me and said Jared, I’ve been working in this industry for decades and if it’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that if you torture data enough you can get is to confess anything you want.

Marcus: How true.

Guest: Yes, that’s absolutely true. So I learnt a long time ago that when people ask the data that’s just a symptom of a bigger problem. And so they don’t deal with the bigger problem which is how am I mitigating risk, then the data is irrelevant. If I have data, is only to tell the story about risk mitigation.

Paul: Do you know that is so helpful the something that we’ve got to deal with soon. Isn’t it Marcus?

Marcus: Yes writing it down actually.

Guest: Are you talking about launching this podcast?

Paul: Yes, that’s a very risky business.

Guest: I mean it started risky and it has just gone downhill since.

Paul: So how do you go about mitigating risk? Because the next question I had is can you demonstrate the value of UX? Can you demonstrate that the risk isn’t huge? And if so how do you do that? Are we talking a pilot project or what kind of approaches do you use?

Guest: A pilot project is definitely, you can break down the problem into smaller bits and spend some of your time actually researching them. There is no generic answer to mitigating risk because the risks are very unique to the organisation and until you’ve talk specifically to those risks you can’t really talk to mitigating them. Say you have to know what those risks are. Is the risk losing money? Is the risk killing the cash cow? Is the risk public embarrassment? Is the risk shareholder embarrassment? Is the risk a misuse of critical resources? Within an organisation there’s a ton of risks and so you need to know what your data tells you. Do you have a good backup plan, if everything goes sour can you undo it quickly without people noticing?

So an example is Amazon. Amazon will not make any change to their website until they’ve piloted the change, over about 12 weeks and they’ve got this entire risk mitigation process that’s actually fascinating. So the first thing they do is they take a feature, so let’s say they wanted to add a new way for you to press the buy it now button. It could be a new look, it may be a new position on screen maybe it’s a new wording or language. The first thing they do is they pilot that with 5000 users of a particular type. And particular type is users who do not have a cookie on their computer that says that they have shopped at Amazon before. Now means that that particular group of people are either people who aren’t regular shoppers or even previous shoppers, or their people who clean their cookies out of their computer and Amazon doesn’t care about them that much. So to them that’s a low risk. That’s a much different audience than people who are their frequent buyers. So they are just testing with that. And what’s interesting about Amazon is because of the volume that they have, to test it with just 5000 people they only have to turn the feature on for about 45 seconds.

Paul: Cor, dear me!

Guest: And so they’ll turn it on for 45 seconds and they’ll see what happens with those users who saw that feature versus users in the same 45 seconds who didn’t see that feature, and they look for differences. And when they see the differences they make changes and they will continue to iterate for about two weeks making changes on a daily basis or even more than once daily, trying it 45 seconds and then turning it off. And they keep doing that. And after they’ve proven that the feature is not going to break for that group of people they then expand the risk. And what they do they is that they keep the same group of people who don’t have the cookie but in this case they’ll do it for one out of every five, for about 20% of the users. And that now opens it up to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and again they are watching very carefully on a daily basis to see how people who see it versus people who don’t see it, behave over the same period. If they see differences they tweak it and make a judgement.

Now where four weeks in and it’s at this point that they first turn on for cookie users, but again only 5000 at a time. And the cookie to users that they turn it on for are those folks who are still a limited number of their best customers. So they are just turning it on for 45 seconds and then turning it off and seeing what happens. Again looking to see if people who shop, some of them frequently shop, have a negative effect on the sales process because of this change. And then they will do one in five of those users, 20%. And now we are eight weeks into the process. And then they will turn it on very carefully for the rest of the users and watch very closely. And they won’t greenlight it until they are about 12 weeks into the process.

And that’s a process of risk mitigation. And they’ve built an entire platform and they’ve got like 40 to 50 people who do nothing but support these types of tasks that happen simultaneously. And so that’s a lot of expense for risk mitigation. But to them it’s worth it. And it gives them the confidence that they are not breaking something that’s incredibly valuable to them.

Paul: I think that risk mitigation thing is actually probably the most valuable thing that’s come out of this conversation. The idea that if you want to build a business case, it’s less about convincing management that user experience is worth doing and more about convincing them that it’s not going to screw everything up in the process. Is that a fair comment or am I just blowing smoke?

Guest: Well yes, sometimes it’s screwing things up that is what people are concerned about. Sometimes it’s doing something embarrassing. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the US Federal Government and one of the things that drives them is that nobody wants to be the next Nobody wants their web initiative to be at the top of the news cycle for six weeks. So there’s a lot of how can we do this in a way that makes sure that when it hits, it hits really successfully. And again it has to do a lot with what are we most afraid of. And that’s very culturally centred. That’s a cultural conversation.

Paul: Because it could equally be wasting money, would be a really common one with people. Investing in a big project that doesn’t create a return of those kinds of things.

Really interesting, I could go on forever. But we probably ought not to. Might have to get you back again, Jared before this season ends because I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of your immense knowledge.

Guest: Yes, and I like a good surface scratch every so often.


Guest: I don’t know what that means but I wonder if it’s related to David Cameron.

Paul: I like the way that you brought it back full-circle. That’s good, back to where we started.

Marcus: A real pro.

Guest: I have a two track mind but both tracks run in the same direction.

Paul: Well I think that it’s a good segue to go from talking about David Cameron and pigs to talking about one of our sponsors because I am sure that they will love that connection.

Guest: You’ve done that well stop.

Paul: Yes it kind of worked out well that did.


Paul: So the sponsor I want to mention is Harvest. Harvest supported us last week on the show and they are back again this week. This the last time I am going to talk about them on the show for a little while, for a few weeks so make sure you check them out because they really are incredible.

Guest: Is that because you tied them David Cameron?

Paul: Probably.

Marcus: You’re going to have a lot of explaining to do Paul.

Paul: They’re very cool people. Fortunately anyone who is silly enough to sponsor the show knows what they are getting into don’t they basically. And they do have a great product and it’s a product that I use, is a product that even Marcus occasionally uses, which is really simple time tracking. They’ve got powerful reports as well, you can do invoicing with them which is something that a lot of people don’t associate with Harvest but yes you can do all your invoicing and it creates really professional looking invoices as well. You can use it for managing your expenses which is brilliant. And what gets me is that it just works were so many different things, it works with loads of project management platforms, loads of finance platforms, customer service support platforms, and it works with loads of CRM’s, productivity apps, proposal software, analytic tools so the chances are whatever other software you use it works with it. Which is just so useful. I looked through the page on their website which had all the software that they integrate with and it really went on forever for example integrates with proposify which is an app I use for preparing proposals so just check it out. You can find out about it at and take advantage of the mass of integration that they have to make running your business so much easier, so much more seamless. You get a 30 day free trial and then after that if you use the code BOAG again you will receive 50% of your first month. So is a really good chance to give it a proper try and check it out.


Marcus: Yes.

Paul: I used to associate my second sponsor with your joke, I don’t know which is worse, being associated with David Cameron and pigs or your jokes.

Marcus: That’s pretty harsh Paul. I’m hurt and upset now.

Paul: Although last weeks was really funny actually.

Marcus: Will this one is quite funny as well because it’s from a proper comedian, not that I’ve heard of him, a guy called Darren Walsh. This was number one joke at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

Paul: Who judges this?

Marcus: I don’t know.

Guest: I was going to say, what’s the submission form for that?

Marcus: It just comes out in the papers and on the Internet and I go oh, I’ll have those. So here we go.

I just deleted all the German names off my phone is now Hans-free.


Guest: Wow, the Fringe has a very low bar.

Paul: Oh dear. Jared, it’s not the Fringe, it’s something about Marcus’s delivery that kills a joke. I don’t know what it is.

Marcus: Not every time, but most times, yes.

Paul: Most times.

Marcus: Why did this ever start? Why did I start telling jokes? Because the show was so boring probably.

Paul: That’s harsh.

Marcus: You deserved it.

Paul: It’s the only thing you contribute, that’s the truth of it.

Marcus: I thought this week I won’t butt in – we’ve got the great Jared Spool on the show I will just let him talk.

Paul: So you are saying when Leigh was on last week

Marcus: I talked a lot.

Paul: You talked over him all the time. That’s harsh. Poor Leigh.

Marcus: And he listens, sorry Leigh.

Paul: All right, thank you Jared for coming on the show, really appreciated it and it certainly helped me personally with a project I am working on right now so that’s really encouraging and I hope other people found it useful to.

Next week we are talking about UX from mobile devices. We haven’t quite confirmed who the guest is but it is looking like it’s going to be somebody from buffer which should be really cool if that comes off. So we will let you know when that happens but for now thank you Jared.

Guest: Thank you, it was much fun thank you very much for encouraging my behaviour.

Paul: It’s always good and thank you dear listener the tuning in to hear our words of wisdom and will be back again next week, goodbye.