The Boagworld Show is back with tips, tricks and recommendations from our panel of experts.
Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this week’s show is Andy Clarke,
Paul: Marcus Lillington
Marcus: Good morning
Paul: Ian May
Paul: and Ryan Taylor.
Ryan: ’ey up!
Paul: Could you be any more of a walking stereotype Ryan?
Ryan: I’m not wearing my flat cap.
Marcus: That’s because you’re indoors.
Ryan: That’s hardly an excuse really.
Paul: Just don’t get distracted if the whippet runs up your trouser leg.
Andy: That’s a ferret!
Paul: Oh, ferret.
Marcus: Yeah, you’re mixing things up there Paul.
Paul: Who has whippets then?
Marcus: Northerners, but they don’t go up trouser legs, that’s ferrets.
Paul: Oh is it, oh okay. I don’t know! I’m southern born and bred. How do I know these things. Nobody gives you a manual to understand northerners.
Ian: It’s a good job though really.
Paul: I think I’d quite like a manual. I need a manual for life generally. Don’t you think that would be useful?
Marcus: Isn’t that GTD? Paul?
Paul: Getting Things Done. Yes yes, that’s very true. That certainly helps. You could have done with a manual this last week Marcus. Looking after a baby again after so long.
Marcus: I know, I said for years, because now I’m a grandad and I’m an old person. “Oh, I could never go back to babies again, God no, not permanently.” But Mum and Dad have gone off on their honeymoon. I have a cold as well like everyone else in the country as you can hear. It has been great, so I was wrong. As you said Paul before this started I knew that even though it was five days of having it, there was still an endpoint.
Paul: Unlike poor old Ryan. Where it will never end.
Ryan: Congratulations Marcus didn’t know you were a grandfather now, congratulations.
Marcus: She’s 18 months old now mate. I’ve been a grandad for a long time.
Ryan: That’s how behind the gossip I am.
Marcus: It’s wonderful being a grandparent. Isn’t there an old joke… “What do grand children and grandparents have in common, a common enemy”
Paul: Yeah, I like it. You should have kept that for the end.
Marcus: I’ve got another joke for the end which I think I’ve done before. So that’s my new joke.
Paul: So Ryan, how old is yours now?
Ryan: She’s 14 weeks on Friday.
Marcus: See, you’re still in the new phase.
Paul: The agonisingly painful stage.
Ryan: She still smells like fresh bread. (Laughter) She’s lovely she’s the most chilled out baby I have ever known. We went to the pictures all three of us…
Paul: I know, I saw the picture. How incredible was that.
Ryan: She had a feed while we were in there but then she just sat on our knee and watch the film. She didn’t cry once, she didn’t murmur once. Nobody even knew we had her there.
Paul: That is freaky.
Ryan: She is awesome, she really is. She is such a chilled out baby.
Paul: Yes, but when you are number 28 like you…
Marcus: That’s your 19th child doesn’t it Ryan?
Ryan: Well you know, you if you’re obscenely fertile like me then you might as well! (Laughter) (general derision)
Andy: My Instagram feed at the moment his all John Hicks’s dog and Owen Gregory’s baby. It’s about as interesting as this podcast at the moment.
Paul: Ah, are we boring you? All right then, all right. Andy, we will change the subject. What did you get…
Andy: My son is 25 so what am I gonna do.
Ryan: So you might be a grandad soon
Andy: Oh don’t!
Marcus: My daughter is 25 so there you go.
Paul: So yes, you really could be Andy.
Andy: So, what did I get for Christmas, was going to be your question!
Paul: Yes, that’s what I was gonna ask you. Go on.
Andy: You know what I got? I got a gorilla experience.
Paul: Oh, when is that going to happen then?
Andy: It is going to happen in October when we come back from Australia and it’s at Bristol zoo and I get to go behind-the-scenes with the keepers and the gorillas.
Paul: Oh, you’re going to love that aren’t you.
Andy: So thank you to my dearest, darling wife for basically reading my mind. Which she always does anyway. But yes, I get to go and hang out with a great big bunch of muscly, hairy… it’s a bit like being in Rill really. Gorillas. Yeah.
Marcus: You might get an arm torn off but…
Paul: You say that your wife read your mind but you’re not exactly subtle about your obsession with gorillas. The number of times you’ve posted on Twitter “if you love me you would buy me this.” And it’s some gorilla related paraphernalia.
Andy: But do you know what she’s never bought me anything off eBay. Neither has anybody else. So if you’re out there in listener land and you see one of my tweets, you know, you might just think… What!?
Paul: Andy, Andy. You say this but every time you post something like that it’s original from planet of the apes props and things like £3000 a pop.
Andy: Well that’s because I’m hoping that one of my Internet benefactors is going to be generous enough to buy it for me because I can’t buy it for myself because she would kill me! I mean I am under no illusion…
Marcus: You have multiple benefactors
Andy: Well, exactly. And so you know, I buy an action figure and a box will arrive and his first comment is “this is not more plastic crap?”
Paul: That’s what wives are supposed to do isn’t it? It’s taken me two years to persuade… drip feeding that’s how you do it. It’s taken me two years of drip feeding my wife with how great it would be to have a drone before I finally got my drone.
Andy: Mmm, I’ve been asked… thinking about your drone because I’ve seen your pictures. We might be jumping the gun here but are you actually allowed to fly it over a populated area?
Paul: Now, that is an interesting question. You are talking about when I flew it around the parish church?
Paul: Yes, I got permission basically, so I’m flying it over the parish church property. But obviously you’re not 100% accurate. The parish church is in the middle of the town. The rules… It’s really interesting, the legislation is, as always, behind the reality, if that makes sense. So the guidelines are that you’ve got to be over a certain height, which I was. But then it does say “oh you shouldn’t fly them over densely populated areas.” But it doesn’t really say what that is and it’s not actually legislation its guidelines… So, maybe. I wouldn’t make a habit of doing that one.
Andy: The footage looked great though I mean.
Marcus: It did.
Andy: From a little HD camera. I’m presuming that’s like 1080p video that…
Paul: No, it’s 4K video!
Andy: Marcus: Whow!
Paul: I mean obviously when you saw it it had the shit compressed out of it on Facebook or wherever it was, Instagram. But you look at the original footage, it is stunning.
Andy: Have you got a 4K telly?
Paul: Yeah, so it’s like if you… on Apple TV, I don’t know if you’ve got Apple TV. You’ve got those aerial shots that they have on Apple TV that are just absolutely stunning. It looks that kind of quality. I mean obviously the location isn’t as nice as their kind of Hawaii and things but… I am absolutely gobsmacked at just the whole thing. It really feels like living in the future. You let go of the thing and it just sits in midair, it will follow you around automatically, it will circle, you know it circled around the church spire, well actually I did a version of that where that was me doing it manually. There’s another one where it just does it automatically for you. It will fly itself home. Right, so if you suddenly lose sight, you press a button and it comes back to you. So it is just, it is witchcraft. It really is.
Andy: So any idiot can use it then basically.
Paul: Absolutely, my son… Now I’m implying that my son is an idiot! (Laughter) You know, my son had a go. Well actually he’s better at it than I am because it flies like a using a games console basically. My Dad had a go on it. I haven’t persuaded my mum or my wife to yet. But you can’t mess it up basically. But that said because it is so easy, you know, these things are being bought for kids or teenagers. These things… you get a bit blasé about it and the truth is things can go wrong. So this is where it is a bit concerning in my opinion because you can just fly these things around.
Marcus: Absolutely! If I had one of those when I was a teenager goodness knows what I would have used it for.
Paul: In my opinion, as somebody that is benefiting from none of this legislation being in place, I think I should be sent on a little course. You know, 1/2 day thing it doesn’t need to be a lot and then at the end of it I get registered in some system somewhere and my drone gets registered and I am registered like you would be for a vehicle. Basically. Because in my opinion it is a bit lax at the moment.
Marcus: Basically someone could fly one into something high. It dies and then falls from a thousand feet onto somebody’s head. And they are dead. So, yeah. Not good.
Paul: So setting aside the fact that there are a lot of areas in the UK where you are not allowed to fly them. Where it is… and places where you really want to for example just up the road from us is this beautiful scenic lovely view that you would really want to fly your drone at. Now it wasn’t unless I bothered to do the research and read up on it that I discovered that there is an airfield just down the road. And you don’t want to be flying a drone around an airfield! But I had to go and do that research to find that stuff out. Which is just crazy biscuits. But there you go. That is the way things work isn’t it. That the world has to catch up. I mean, this Christmas has just been the scariest Christmas for me ever because I’ve got a drone, that was my Christmas present. My wife got a 3D printer, and my son got virtual reality headsets. Now if that isn’t living in the future then I don’t know what is. That is just insane!
Marcus: I got a really nice pair of slippers!
Paul: There you go, that’s much more sensible.
Ryan: I got pair of slippers as well and some socks!
Marcus: Ooo, you’ve gone all funny sounding Ryan.
Paul: Ryan has gone echoey. He has turned into God! God’s northern! Oh no.
Marcus: I got a very nice pair of slippers though.
Paul: Did you? That’s good. Do they hover?
Marcus: UGG slippers.
Paul: UGG slippers?
Marcus: Yeah, very nice.
Paul: I’ve never heard of them.
Andy: What did you get Ian?
Ian: Well. I didn’t get anything.
Paul: Marcus: Ahh!
Paul: Why, there’s a reason for this.
Ian: Yes, it’s a bit of a long complicated story. I won’t go into it now but let’s just say I found myself under-employed as of 1st December therefore Christmas was cancelled some what. So yes.
Paul: So are you currently looking for a job? At the minute?
Ian: I am funnily enough
Paul: Okay then…
Marcus: Paul, sorry to butt in, could you introduce me to Ian?
Marcus: We haven’t met before.
Paul: No, I couldn’t. If you don’t know Ian May then you don’t deserve to know him. Basically Ian is an unemployed waster.
Marcus: Oh okay, I’ve got a picture in my head now.
Paul: Yeah, that kind of… Think of a bottle of wine in a paper bag kind of… Yeah, that’s basically it.
Ian: I’ve been watching repeats of judgement on ITV three.
Paul: Oh no! Oh, mate.
Ian: For the past five weeks basically.
Paul: Oh no, that’s bad.
Andy: You have a platform now Ian of about five listeners where you can pitch your potential opportunities to. So let’s have your pitch.
Paul: What are you looking for? Ian?
Ian: Well, I was head of product management in an agency just outside Reading and I have, since this happened, I have set up my own little company.
Paul: Oh cool.
Ian: For people who want help with their agency or their project management team who would be interested to talk to me. So I am kind of like looking for some consultancy or things I can help people with. So I have talked to a number of people who are sort of in the market for that kind of thing. I also had a chat, you know Brett Harned over in the states.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. He’s doing a similar sort of thing isn’t he.
Ian: So I suppose, if you like, I’m probably two years behind where he was. But I had a really good chat with him and he basically said go for it. You know,…
Paul: I totally agree mate you know, working for an agency sucks compared to just chilling out by yourself. I mean 13 years of putting up with other people’s shit is just, you know, you’re better off moving on mate.
Marcus: You need to go and play with your helicopter as well.
Paul: Can you stop calling it a helicopter! Marcus!
Marcus: If you don’t mind me asking Ian which agency was that because I’m near Reading. That’s the only reason I’m asking.
Ian: It was called creative jar.
Paul: Oh, I know Creative Jar. Although I know creative Jar because of you! That’s why I know Creative Jar! Well they are better off… No… You’re better off without them…! I nearly got that the wrong way round didn’t I. Oh dear. That’s really interesting actually Ian, because I think there’s a real need… Because agencies or indeed even internal organisations always under resource on project management because they feel like it’s a luxury and then they discovered that “oh crap we really need extra help.” So I think that there is certainly a value from that point of view. Of bringing in a project manager as you need to as work expands and contracts but also I think a lot of organisations just really need a lot of help being more structured and organised in the way that they operate. So I’m sure things will fly with you. At the end we will ask you where they can find out more about you so… That’s cool. Right, let’s quickly move on to our first sponsor and then we will get into what we will actually be doing on this season of the show.
Andy: Ooo, who is our first sponsor Paul!
Paul: Every time you do that in this sarcastic tone of voice -like sponsors aren’t the bit of the show that people care most about which they…
Andy: The sponsors are the most interesting bit of this podcast.
Paul: Well actually, I have to say we have got some damn good sponsors on this season of the show. And one of them is Proposify. Proposify has sponsored the show before actually. I think.
Marcus: They have.
Paul: Yes, they have. I get confused because it is a product that I have used and so I can’t remember whether we have done it on the show or not.
Marcus: Like my jokes.
Paul: Yeah exactly. So Proposify are sponsoring the whole season so you are going to find out lots about them. It is great. It is great if you write proposals, which we all have to, if we run our own businesses or even if we work for agencies and stuff like that. So Proposify is a simple way of delivering proposals to your clients basically. It streamlines your sales process which of course helps you close those deals faster and they reckon on average it saves users about two hours on each proposal compared to using something like word or InDesign or Google Docs or whatever you use. So managing proposals is a kind of a bit of a tedious painful chore isn’t it? And Proposify kind of helps with that by helping recreate the process. Everything from the creation of the proposals through to actually closing the deal and all the stuff in between it kind of streamlines the whole process. So it is online proposal software if you hadn’t gathered that. It allows your whole sales team to kind of get a bit of competitive edge when it comes to creating proposals. So it is all about saving time, it makes sure that leads never go cold, that you can get those proposals into your clients hands a lot faster. And that you have got a content in a reusable library that basically lets you reuse proposal contents time and time again which, let’s be honest, we all do. And it makes it really easy to do that. It also helps you to organise your team a little bit better. When you have got multiple people working on proposals together because you can get quick access to everybody’s proposals. You can get quick access to little kind of templated chunks that you are all using things in a consistent way. It has got things like roles and permissions built into it and comments. You can comment on each other’s stuff and keep track of version history on proposals. Obviously which is really useful if like at Headscape I know that if Marcus, say, rights a proposal Chris always checks it so as a result you can manage all the kind of back-and-forth in there as well. So according to Proposify it will close your deals generally about 60% faster. I don’t know how they calculate these things but because the clients can view the proposal any time, anywhere and also it’s got online signatures. So you can actually sign the proposal there and then. There is no need to kind of send documents backwards and forwards. Ah, that’s what they say makes it so much faster. So if you want to find out more about Proposify you can do so by going to proposify.biz/boagworld. proposify.biz/boagworld. All right.
Round Table Discussion
Paul: So that brings us on to our discussion portion of the show. Where we are going to do something slightly different this season to last season. So we did a roundtable format last season but a lot of it was questions and discussion-based stuff. This time were going to go a lot kind of faster and we are going to… The focus of this season is very much on tangible takeaways. So it’s going to be like recommendations, tips, tricks. All of that kind of stuff. All right? So hopefully you will go away from each show going “I can do that.”, “That is something tangible I can take away.” That is the aim anyway. I don’t suppose it will take long before Marcus starts talking about cricket or Andy starts talking about apes. But we will try and keep it vaguely tangible. Right, so I thought I would kick off, if that’s all right, just to show the others my expectations. You know, show how a pro does it. (Sniggers).
Andy: You are a pro.
Paul: I am a pro at something I’m sure. It’s certainly not podcasting. So yeah, I thought you I wanted to share with you an app. That’s my thing. It’s really embarrassing the story behind this is because, as people know, I do mentorship so I mentor a lot of different people and I’m supposed to be the expert with all the answers. I was working with one client recently and we were talking about usability testing and how it’s never quite happens and I was giving him this long lecture about “Oh, you need to be doing more usability testing,” and “get yourself something like silverback” which is an app which you can download to run usability testing sessions really well. And I got to the end of this long diatribe and he said to me “Well we’ve been doing this, this, this and this.” Which was like 10 times as much as I was suggesting and then he said “Are you sure silverback is the right tool. Isn’t it not supported anymore these days.” Which is true. And he said "We’ve been using this tool called loopback, which I had never heard of. So basically I then went and checked out loopback.io and it is absolutely amazing. It is the best tool ever. So I was left like looking completely stupid in front of my mentor. Check out this tool. It is so good. Loop back.io. Now they are not paying us or anything yet, I’m working on it! But you’ve got to check out the tool it’s really good. So what it is, it’s like an online app, although it’s got a chrome kind of… You know you can get those chrome apps things which work locally so you can run it locally if you want to. Essentially what it does is allows you to create user… Do usability sessions. You can do them face-to-face, right, in the same room where essentially you just pop out the Chrome browser, you launch the loopback.io app, you do your usability testing by going to whatever website it is that you’re going through and all the time it is recording what is on the screen. It is recording what is on your WebCam on your end and obviously what is on your mic as well. So you can run these whole usability sessions like that. You can also do remote sessions where you set someone a task and they can go away and do it and just talk as they do the task. So un-facilitated usability testing. Which means that you can do a lot more people that way. And then the third one is that you can do facilitated remote testing. Like you would do through something like GoToMeeting or something like that where essentially you can be talking to the other person via VOIP, talking them through the process and they can then do the task or whatever and you can ask questions at the same time. And then it keeps all off that together in one library of usability testing and you can go through, and this is the bit that I absolutely love, you can go through the videos and identify the cool little clips and save them out. Right? And those clips you can then embed in a webpage or you can download and put in a keynote presentation. You can do whatever you want with them so you can essentially take out the key points. You can also annotate video and do all kinds of really cool stuff but it is the ability to save out clips and edit… and save them and embed them in webpages that I particularly like. There are a kind of different packages but the entry-level starts, and I just think this is a ridiculously embarrassing price. And that they should probably double it. It is $29 for, per month, to be able to interview as many people as you want. Which I think is really good. If you want more collaborator and more people watching and that kind of stuff then the price goes up but that is the basic entry price. So I think it’s a really good tool. Really means that you’ve got no excuse not to do usability testing really.
Ryan: What’s the URL for that Paul?
Paul: It’s called loopback.io
Ryan: It’s called lookback.io
Paul: Oh, lookback! Tut, I’m an idiot.
Ryan: loopback.io is an API frame work for node.JS
Paul: Oh, okay no you don’t want that!
Ryan: I was looking at the API framework going…
Andy: I have no idea what you just said.
Marcus: lookback is what…
Marcus: That’s very useful Paul.
Paul: If I got the URL right!
Marcus: No, well you obviously do this stuff a fair bit. Well Chris does more of this than I do so I pass that onto him. He will appreciate it.
Paul: It is by far the best tool out there in my opinion. There you go. Okay, Ian are you happy to share something with us?
Ian: Okay. So obviously I’ve had an interesting few weeks setting up a company and stuff like that so I’ve had loads of things to do that I wouldn’t normally do. And one of them is trying to pick an accounting package.
Paul: Oh, yes the pain.
Ian: Yeah, so I’ve been through quite an interesting process. I did a bit of asking the community on the DPM slack channel what they thought because I’d never worked freelance before so it was kind of like I didn’t know quite who to ask what to ask. I listened to season 12 of this podcast where the whole series of things about setting up your company and so I got a recommendation about freeagent from that. So on Saturday night whilst my missus was watching the voice and whatever else was on telly, I was sat there trying to pick an accounting package for my business. I got down to a shortlist of Xero, Freeagent and Kashflow.
Paul: Oh, I hadn’t heard of Kashflow.
Ian: Because that one I think is my cousin who works freelance had recommended that to me. So I was going “which one of these three things that all have free trials and all cost a similar amount of money should I go for?” So I did a bit of Internet searching, as you do, and I found this site called getapp.com. Which basically compares business apps for all different types of niches. So it’s not… It just so happened that they have accounting solutions on there. It’s almost like, you know when you buy a car if you’re a bloke you will compare all the stats about the cars? It will do that for you. So, and really easily. So I basically put the three things I wanted into this website got a comparison table that I could just run my eye down and it’s got reviews in it. So I was able to make a decision based on what it told me rather than having to trawl through each of the three websites. So…
Paul: This is brilliant, I love it.
Ian: It’s quite cool, I mean I had never seen it before and it was like “Why haven’t I seen this before?” It is actually really rather useful. Particularly if you are like me and you like making the right decision and not spending your money on something that you’d have to go back and go and buy it again because you picked the wrong thing. So yeah…
Paul: I’ve got to ask, which which accounting software did you go for?
Ian: I’ve gone for Freeagent.
Paul: Yes!!! I don’t know why I feel like that’s a personal triumph on my part, you’ve just joined my gang, I guess. It’s like you’re joining my team at football or something.
Ian: It was partly about hearing about it on the podcast but the other reason I picked it is because I.. my second favourite was going to be kashflow and then it said it didn’t do multicurrency.
Ian: And I was just like, if I want to invoice in dollars or euros in the future, which is not inconceivable, it would be silly to have to switch packages to do that. So I just thought, yeah. So it was a combination of things. So I recommend checking that out because I found it really useful. I haven’t tried it for anything else but I dare say… Because it does things like look at what industry you are in, so if you are in a charity sector thing it will probably have recommendations for that.
Paul: Oh, well that’s good.
Marcus: What was it called again?
Paul: I’m looking at, just those three that you compared right now. And actually you are right. Really good. What a great way of doing it. Ahh, and I’ve just spotted… I spotted the comments at the end. Yes, “lacking multicurrency feature” who wrote that rubbish? Wow, brilliant. I absolutely love it that’s really good. Headscape just moved to Xero haven’t you?
Paul: You don’t know, like you know! (Laughter)
Marcus: Yes, I know. That is happening Paul. That is all I can comment on.
Paul: I bet you’ve never even looked at it have you?
Marcus: Yes… No!
Paul: Andy what do you use?
Andy: Well, you see, there’s a story in this.
Paul: Oh, here we go.
Andy: I don’t use anything because it’s my lovely wife who does all of the finance stuff and she is not an acccount-y person. Although she’s been doing account-y stuff for stuff for 18 years or so. So she does what she does very well and she knows what she knows very well and she knows.…
Paul: In other words she does it in Excel doesn’t she?
Andy: No, well no. She does it in a 12 year old copy of Sage that runs on Windows XP on a virtual machine on her MacBook air.
Marcus: Well Headscape has been running on excel, different Excel spreadsheets for 15 years. I can’t believe it, this email came through from Chris saying, it was more to Brian our finance guy, I was just copied in, basically saying “I think I need to do this properly now.” And I nearly fainted!
Andy: Well our accountants know Sage because a lot of accountants know Sage and she’s got a work flow setup that works for her and every time I suggest using something like free-agent or Xero or some kind of modern approach to an accounting she says “I won’t tell you what design software to use.” And I have no argument to that, at all.
Paul: No, you’ve got nowhere to go have you.
Andy: No, no. There’s zero place to go. So, yeah…
Paul: Ryan, what does NoDivide use?
Ryan: We use Freeagent. I’ve used Freeagent since Rowan gave me a 3 month free code back when it was just the three of them building it in the garage. So I’ve been using it since then. But I do feel a little bit bad for freeagent because I’ve got a “get satisfaction” thread on for a feature that I have requested. That and they have never come back to me and is probably been about eight years. Periodically people post on it saying “when is this feature going to come in, this is crap” I feel really bad that it’s there but there are so many people that have kind of up-liked it and want the same feature, I feel like if I delete it I will be doing them a disservice.
Paul: What is the feature? Is it something really obscure.
Ryan: No, it’s like handling deposit payments, you know when you take a deposit and that’s put towards the project before you invoice for anything else… They don’t really handle that very well.
Paul: No they don’t.
Ryan: There are ways around it but it’s a little bit kind of obscure how you’ve got to do it. They keep posting periodically every time someone comments they will comment saying “Yes we do discuss it internally but we’ve got to restructure” and they’ve been saying the same thing for about eight years. But I don’t think I’d use anything else because I really like free-agent.
Paul: The trouble is with anything like this, with selecting an app it is always trade-offs, there’s never something that is perfect, unless it’s built custom specifically for your needs it’s always going to be a trade-off. That’s why something like GetApp is so good because at least it… you can quickly see the bits that you want. “Oh, this one doesn’t have a Windows phone app. Well I don’t care, I don’t use Windows phone” et cetera. You know, that kind of thing. It’s very good. Okay, moving on. Andy, what have you got for us?
Andy: Well, I’ve got a book but before we get into which book it is I just want to tell you it’s going to be only a few weeks not even months it’s going to be a few weeks before CSS grid is available in all modern versions of our browsers so I think it is going to be a bit of a game changer and I really, really hope that people just won’t swap from using the same tired old, kind of layout old patterns and reimplement them using CSS grid because it does offer so much more creative control and so many more opportunities for really interesting layouts and I just think people should not only be starting to learn CSS grid now but they should also be looking for new places to get inspiration for layout otherwise we’re just going to end up again with the same Squarespace-ified web that we’ve had for the last few years.
Paul: So can I ask a question about that? Because these days most of my stuff is strategic I haven’t really been following CSS grid. I know it’s a thing and I know it is coming. Can you kind of give me the sales pitch for it. Why should I care, what does it do?
Andy: Well, first of all it allows you to break out of the normal kind of layout patterns that we have had. You don’t have to lay everything out in blocks of rows and columns in the way that we do now. Although obviously it does that. It makes the mark up that we put into… You know, the HTML markup, a lot cleaner and a lot more layout independent so we will finally get to that stage which we have been promising ourselves for 10 or more years where markup is kind of separate from presentation. But also it actually makes the process of laying out a page so much easier, particularly when it comes to responsiveness, because you can basically define grid columns and rows and just assign blocks of content either to automatically lay themselves out across these kind of grid lines or you can specify which grid line to attach content to. So so it is fabulous. You need to get your head around it.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. I mean it is… Because I don’t do a lot of coding these days I kind of don’t feel the need as much but I should at least know how it works and stuff and what it’s capable of doing. And again it’s on my list of one of the things that I’ve got to do. Rachel Andrew, isn’t she produced a whole load of really good tutorials on this stuff?
Andy: Yes she’s done a heck of a lot… She did a little book for for A Book Apart, a little mini thing. And, I can’t remember whether her little pocket guide had some stuff in it. Yes, also she’s recently been doing a whole sort of video tutorial. I think she did 12 videos up until Christmas which is pretty much where I learnt stuff from. So I think you should check it out. Listener land. Anyway, back to my book.
Paul: Yes, sorry.
Andy: It’s what I think is that we need more inspiration in what we are doing. We can’t be led by bloody UX people that want everything to look the same. We need to start spreading our wings a little bit and what better place to look for layout inspiration than magazine layouts and stuff that people have done in the past that have been really, really distinctive. And I have picked up this book, and there’s a link to it in the show notes. There’s an Amazon link in the show notes if you can get a copy and it’s called The graphic language of Neville Brody.
Paul: Oh, Neville Brody. That takes me back.
Andy: Now, you see yeah, if you were a graphic design student which I wasn’t, back in the day, then you will have heard of Neville Brody. I mean he is currently the head of communication art and design at the Royal College of Art.
Paul: Oh, is he?
Andy: he’s obviously you know, grown up. Yes. Exactly. And he’s done all kind of stuff. He founded the FontFont typeface library with Erik Spiekermann. He was famous for creating the “fuse interactive magazine”, back in the day. But I remember his work back in the 1980s when he was art director at “The Face” magazine. Famously he was art director at the face and Arena magazine back in the kind of late 80s. This book “The graphic language of Neville Brody” basically it’s pretty much the first half of his career where it goes through all of the stuff that he did for record covers. So there is a lot of very striking design when it comes to record covers and things like that for bands like Cabaret and Voltaire. But the stuff that really interests me is the magazine layouts particularly what he did for The Face back in the early 80s. And I’m looking here at the book and I’m looking at some layouts and actually I went onto eBay and I bought a whole stack of original Face magazines from the 80s. You know, I spent a few quid on eBay actually getting some good copies of these old magazines and this book’s got some really good examples. And his style particularly the way that he kind of challenged the layout and the way that he did some really beautiful graphic typography work that kind of deconstructive type thing that he was so well-known for is all in this book. It’s brilliant, and I love to look at some of these examples and go “I wonder how we could do that with CSS” or I look at a particular element and I’ll go “That’s a really interesting distinctive little visual element, what could we use that for on the web” you know, could we make that into a link or some kind of interactive element or whatever. So my book choice, I’m going to do a different book every week.
Paul: Oh, okay.
Andy: ..and my book choice for this week is “The graphic language of Neville Brody” and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Paul: I’ve got to say I’ve got to back you up on that as well because when I was at art college which is when he was at his height, and it was part of… There was a huge, I think it was called the new wave movement, of kind of typographic and graphic design that was going on at that point and I had a book called, oh it’s the same book! No, it can’t be. It wouldn’t have been around then the graphic language of Neville Brody. I don’t know, anyway, I had some book that just was packed with these kinds of rich typographic designs that was using typography as a design element in its own right. As an illustrative element. And it just so influenced all my stuff. You know what you’re like when you are a young student, you blatantly rip stuff off in this kind… Not because you’re trying to plagiarise but just because you get so excited by something, don’t you?. Neville Brody was the guy for me so yeah, that’s awesome. And the fact that we can do this kind of stuff in CSS is just going to be brilliant.
Marcus: While were on the subject… Sorry… To butt in but talking about album covers I’ve got another very cool Christmas present which is “The Raging Storm.” It is a book about the album graphics developed by Storm Thorgerson and storm studios that did “The Dark side of the moon,” which is probably the most famous one. But yes, fabulous coffee table book, of all the of the designs that they have done for album covers over the years. I’d highly recommend that, a gorgeous book.
Paul: So it’s interesting isn’t it how we really need to be looking so much further for our inspiration. And it’s also, another thing that’s really interesting, Andy, over this one is that it creates a huge dichotomy in me because you’ve now just stirred up all of those feelings and inspiration that I had when I was a young designer and now I’m that boring UX person that you just talked about earlier that is saying that it all needs to be sensible and usable and I refuse to accept that those two things are mutually exclusive.
Andy: Yes, so do I. So do I, and I think nobody is talking about going back to kind of mystery meat websites that nobody can use but whenever you start talking about this kind of level of creativity you always get the boring people, who come back and say as long as it works then that’s okay. I mean to give you an example I wrote an article for 24 ways back in December about making our style guides much more inspired. It’s a topic of mine at the moment because I think that style guides should be inspiring. They should not just be a catalogue of design elements, you know? They should actually be inspirational and demonstrate a design not just catalogue the parts of it. And Anna Debenham, bless her, tweeted something along the lines of “Style guides don’t have to be pretty as long as they are functional and work for your team that’s okay.” Well, you know, it must be very boring to live in that world mustn’t it. So I think that creativity is not exclusive to functionality and in fact quite the opposite. But when you design something so thoughtfully it actually helps the communication and it helps the functionality and it makes people understand things better. And that’s what these people have got to remember.
Paul: I have to say I think the other thing in that particular example that you’ve just gave with Anna’s comment and yours, the other thing is that you need to encourage adoption. People… With something like a style guide if you want people to adopt it, if you want the organisation to embrace those kinds of standards you’ve got to show that the design can look cool and you’ve got to interact with people on an emotional level to encourage their adoption otherwise they are going to just ignore it. And that’s where I think it is really important to make something engaging. UX, I’ve always said creating a usable site should be the base standard. Right, it’s the lowest, the minimum we should be doing. Then we should be inspiring them and exciting them and doing all the other stuff and that is where you come back to stuff like the work of Neville Brody, that’s where you can start exciting people about design as well. So anyway, we could carry on on that subject for ever but yes check out the graphic language of Neville Brody. Excellent book.
Andy: And there’ll be a new book each week.
Paul: Woo hoo. Right, Marcus. You’re going to talk about boring contracts.
Marcus: Kind of.
Ryan: That’s not a nice way to introduce his topic!
Paul: I know, that’s not nice of me as it.
Marcus: It’s okay, it is kind of boring but it was very…
Paul: It is a very good point, I have to say Marcus.
Marcus: Thank you, thank you Paul. Um, the best thing I saw on the telly over Christmas when I was lazing on the sofa for most of the time…
Marcus: All right, the second best thing I saw on the telly over Christmas. It was a documentary film called, rubbish title, called “Dinosaur 13.” I don’t if anybody has seen that. And it was basically the story of a couple of brothers called Larson, if I remember rightly, who were basically fossil hunters out in South Dakota. Fabulous story, I won’t go into it in detail but they found in, I think 1990, they started off in the 60s and 70s but in 1990 they found the largest and the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil in South Dakota, or Wyoming or something like that. Knowing where it was actually relevant because they would kind of drive around this huge wilderness and stomp through forests and across plains and find this stuff and anyway, they found this, as I say, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found. Which was known as Sue, or named Sue. After the woman in the team that actually found in the first place. It’s worth looking up the story it’s fabulous. Anyway, long story short, the owner of the land that they found it on they knew, sort of a bit of a friend. And they basically agreed to pay the guy, I think it was $5000, to take the fossil away where they would obviously spend years getting it out of the rock and cleaning it up and do all the things you do to fossils. And they tried to basically get the guy to sign a contract saying you know, just a simple contract along the lines of “We are going to pay you $5000 in return for taking this fossil off your land” and the guy said “Oh, we don’t need to do that we’re friends, just a handshake.” And then anyway their lives then went massively downhill. They were investigated by the FBI, the main guy ended up going to prison over the fact that they had stolen this stuff off the land. It is much more complicated then I am making it out. But it made me think of what can I talk about on this episode? And it popped into my mind that you really ought to have a contract. Really the benefits of the contract is just so that everybody knows where they stand and it legitimises what you are doing. It makes something official. Whereas if it’s just a “Yeah we’ll be fine” even if things don’t go wrong, it kind of, having a contract in place just makes everybody understand that this is an official thing that we are all working on and that there is a contract over there that we have all signed and we have all agreed to. I have never actually… We have contracts for pretty much every project that we do. But I have never referenced one but it’s kind of really helps all the parties, us, and whoever we are working for, knowing that it is there.
Paul: Yeah, I totally agree Marcus. I’ve been a bit slack at it if I am honest, for a while. More recently not because, not from a legal point of view but as much just to clarify to people in black-and-white exactly what it is they are going to get. So podcast sponsors is an example of that. Until probably last season had never really bothered putting any kind of agreement together for it but I started to do it not because I had a bad experience or not because I was worried about legal ramifications but simply because I wanted them to know exactly what it was that they were going to get. And what I expected from them in return. In terms of delivering stuff on time. So yes, I couldn’t agree more.
Marcus: I guess my few tips that I have on basically getting a contract in the first place is that if you’re brand-new to this which I guess applies maybe to Ian to a certain extent here… There are many kinds of template contracts on the Internet that you can just go and search and find them. Find something like that or ask a friend who runs a business “Do you mind if I used your terms and conditions, the contract that you currently use?” Take that as a starting point and get a little bit of legal advice so that you can kind of fit it to your business. So basically what I’m saying is that you don’t have to write a contract or terms and conditions from scratch. Also you don’t have to pay somebody thousands of pounds to do that. You can find them on the Internet. Another thing that I have found out over the years is that certain clients aren’t happy to work with our terms and conditions. That is fine because they will probably have their own and they are probably fine. You know, you don’t have to be rigidly stick to “These are our terms and conditions, you must sign them”. You can… usually there is a way to work with your client. And the other kind of final tips that I’ve got here is that be prepared to accept that some people won’t accept all of your terms and conditions and that it is a bit of a back-and-forth process and I suppose the final point on that is because that’s likely to happen that maybe you want to bias things slightly towards you because there is likely to be a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing on the process. And so your initial set of terms and conditions might be slightly biased towards you. So yes, that’s it on contracts. As I say I’ve never referenced one in 15 years of business but it’s just kind of nice to know that they are there.
Ian: Can I ask a question Marcus on contracts? Have you got any clauses in yours about IP and who owns what?
Andy: Well I was about to say that it would be remiss of me at this stage not to mention my contract killer.
Paul: Oh yes of course.
Andy: And I don’t know whether Ian has seen this but back in 2008 it was I basically open sourced the contract that I had written because we were in a similar situation where, you know, we had been in business for 10 years pretty much and we had never really done anything with contracts. Whenever we had signed contracts that clients had given us they were all these kinds of massive legal tomes that we didn’t really know what the heck we were signing or not. So I set about writing my own contract in very plain language that set out really clearly what we were going to do and what was expected of us and of the clients. And it did cover things like IP and I decided after about a year or more of using this thing and having clients actually really like it and say “Gosh it’s the best contract that we’ve seen and we can really understand it” et cetera, I decided I would open source it and I took it on 24 ways and put it the thing out there. And if you google contract killer you will find it. We have updated it several times and on the IP side of things it basically says that as designers we own the IP of all the work that we produce and that we license it to the client for this one particular job and essentially that’s it. And quite often people will come back and they will kind of query that clause and you know, often we will give the IP away or sometimes we will negotiate more money but that is one of the things that is in there. So, shameless plug but do a Google search for a contract killer.
Paul: Okay, that’s really good. The contract killer, yes, that’s where I started when I had to do this kind of thing because you panic then you go “Where do I begin” and that’s a really good starting point. Ryan, what have you got for us to wrap up the discussion this week.
Ryan: Sorry, I just started talking over the top of you. I was just going to say I think we are still using a variant of Andy’s contract. I got really excited when we started talking and then sharing stuff and then my brain started going, you know, tell them about this, tell them about that. Pick me, pick me! And then I realised we’ve got 15 weeks of this so I’m going to have to spread this out a little bit.
Paul: Just pick one!
Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I think I’m going to pick the one that is probably the most interesting for you guys, as well as the listeners. But one thing I wanted to mention was I got a book for myself at Christmas and it is “1001 quotations to inspire you before you die” which is a really cheery title! I thought I would share a quotation and then tell you about an app. This one I really like, this is by Isaac Newton and the quote is “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” And I really like that one.
Paul: I like that.
Ryan: Because I’m not often very tactful (laughter) and make lots of enemies. But the app that I discovered, or we discovered, a while ago now. It’s been around a while now and we’ve been using it for about six months, is “Front” so, front app.com
Paul: Oh yes, this is a good one.
Ryan: And it is a email client on steroids. It just does so much. We were using it, we downsized quite a bit in the last six months but at one point there were like six of us and it was great because you can share an email that someone has sent to you without having to forward it to somebody else on the team. And you can have a conversation about that email in like a chat, like threaded emails get listed in and your conversation can get slotted in between the email so that you can… So someone can email Dan for example, my business partner, so someone can email Dan and he can share the email with me without having to forward it to me. We can have a conversation about the email and he can reply and it is just one email that comes in and then get sent back to the client. Which is really good, you can hook it up to various things, it doesn’t have to just be an email account you can hook it up to your Twitter, so if someone tweets you that comes into your Front app. Facebook and various other social networks and it, on the more expensive plans, it can be integrated into lots of services so you can turn an email into like a Trello ticket or you can turn an email into a Github issue or various other bits and pieces. So we have become a little bit dependent on this it has become really useful for just managing everything because we get so many emails through and you can assign emails to people to deal with various bits and pieces. They only qualm with it, as much as i love it, is that it is bloody expensive.
Paul: Yes, because it’s, it’s $24 per user?
Ryan: It’s $24 per user with the integrations. We’ve actually just stopped the integrations and have done that bit manually. They were really useful but we were just trying to keep costs down a little bit. But once you’ve got six users at $24 a user we were paying more for front than we were for Adobe. So it is a little bit expensive in my opinion but it does do loads and it’s one of those apps that so useful you pay for it anyway because you want to use it. It’s one of those things.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. Is it worth using for someone like me or Ian that work by ourselves? You know, I’m just looking… I quite like the idea of being able to manage Facebook and Twitter and all of that together and being able to push things to my CRM and that kind of stuff.
Ryan: I think there are benefits for you working for yourself. It’s certainly geared more towards teams.
Paul: Yeah, yeah.
Ryan: And the minute for us there is only really me and Dan which, you know, we both get a high volume of emails in so that makes it easy for us to be able to communicate back by email, certainly very useful. They are the features that we use the most. The team features for being able to chat and share and assign emails to people. But on your own, yes, I think it could still be useful particularly if you wanted to use all the integrations into third-party services. I think it’s got integrations into things like Pipedrive and that.
Paul: Well that was the one I was thinking about because that’s what I use, which I will talk about on another…
Ryan: I’m pretty sure it does, you’ll have to look at the integration listings but it’s quite extensive what it does integrate into. Yes, it does it integrates into Pipedrive just looked at it there. So you know, it’s one of those that can help streamline your process and manage things. And also you can set up like an inbox that clients email so like you can set up your client name @ whatever your company name is in the email that one address and it comes in is like a shared inbox. And you can use it for like signing that. It’s almost like a ticket manager in that way. And so it’s really useful I don’t know if it’s been talked about before but I…
Paul: No, no I don’t think we have. I’ve seen it and I’ve had a bit of a look at it but because it was the teams I didn’t spend that long on it. But yes it looks brilliant. It looks really good.
Paul: Okay, so let’s move on to our final sponsor of the day before we wrap up the show. That’s a really good set of stuff, I really like it. Okay, our second sponsor for the show is Awwwards. I don’t know whether you’ve come across Awwwards before so that awards with 3W’s in it. Because it’s www, you see, see what they did there. That’s clever isn’t it. So basically, so yes, basically the reason that they are sponsoring the show and the reason that I am talking about them is that I am posting and speaking at an upcoming Awwwards conference that they are running. So it is a kind of, there is a workshop day which is going to happen on 1st February and then there are a whole load of talks that are going to happen on the second and third of February. All of this is happening in London so if you are UK based or if you fancy a trip to London then you really might want to check this out. It’s got some great speakers that are going to be there, not just myself, obviously! I’m going to be hosting it so that in my mind makes me the most important person. And not just the guy on the door that lets people in. Yes, so I will be giving a bit of a talk. I think I’m talking about my upcoming book “User experience revolution” but there is Mike Kus who is going to be speaking who is talking about creative design solutions and stuff like that. This is the guy for that. Incredible designer, has done some really brilliant work over the years. A graphic designer, web designer, illustrator, a photographer. He is annoyingly talented! And then there is Andrew Herzog who is a designer and thinker at Google creative lab. I haven’t met him before. And then this one is a curious one. Somebody called Mr Bingo. Has anybody heard of Mr bingo?
Andy: I love Mr Bingo. Yes.
Paul: Oh really, it’s obviously just me. Who is Mr bingo Andy?
Andy: I don’t know what Mr bingos real name is. I actually had him on unfinished business when I was still doing unfinished business. He is an illustrator and an artist and speaker. He is an incredibly funny speaker and he does illustration work which some might feel is in poor taste. He will draw willy’s and people shagging and things like that. But he is an incredibly funny and engaging and nice and talented illustrator.
Paul: Is he the guy who did an advent calendar?
Andy: Yes he did. Where you basically scratch off the nude pieces.
Andy: And also he is most famous for doing this thing called hate mail. And there’s a couple of books that he’s produced with these postcards where you can pay him money and he will send you a unique abusive postcard that will say you know, “Paul you are a Twat”. Or whatever. Or worse. He is a lovely man. If you get a chance to speak to him you should do because he is absolutely, he is brilliant.
Paul: I’m looking forward to meeting him, that sounds fun. Now it’s funny that you use the word Twat with me. My son gave me a mug at Christmas and it was a completely plain white mug and then when you lift it up on the bottom it’s got written “I am a Twat.” That’s love isn’t it from your own son! Anyway if you’re interested in coming and joining me and Mr bingo, whoever he is, then you can get your tickets at a discounted price actually if you use the code Boagworld. And you can get those tickets by going to boag.world/joinme.Because you’re going to join me! Do you see what I did there? That’s clever isn’t it? Better than making you spell awards with 3W’s. That’s just confusing. So that is our last sponsor of the day let’s wrap this baby up. Right, let’s do where we can find out about each person. I think we need to begin with you Ian, as you’re currently… If people want to hire you Ian where can they find out about you?
Ian: The best place is probably Twitter actually @thatIanMay. Because my website is not finished yet!
Paul: Oh no! (Laughter)
Ian: If I get a shuffle on today I should get it launched. I had a holding page up for a few weeks which was a total minimum viable product job. Then I had some help with building it and I’ve been writing it. So hopefully that’ll go up to day or tomorrow at ThatIanMay.com
Paul: Oh, you’ll be all right because this isn’t going to come out for another week.
Ian: Oh well there you go then. It should be up by then. I’ll set a deadline for myself.
Paul: Yes, you’ve got until a week tomorrow. There you go.
Paul: Sorry, I missed what that URL was, I got distracted by chat.
Paul: ThatIanMay.com thank you very much. Andy?
Andy: People can find me at stuffandnonsense.co.uk and I’m on Twitter @Malarkey.
Paul: Malarkey. Ryan, what about you?
Ryan: We are on NoDividestudio.com and you can find me on Twitter @RyanHavoc.
Paul: But whether you contact him via his website, email or Twitter it will all end up in front app. And Marcus what about you?
Marcus: Headscape.co.uk and on Twitter @Marcus67.
Paul: I’ve realised I’ve never done myself on this. So you can follow me on Twitter @Boagworld. And if you want to know about the work that I do you can go to Boagworks.com Because I do occasionally work, who knew. All right, also feel free to contact any of the people on this week’s show but not Ian because Ian is just a stand in! Oh, that’s so hurtful. I can’t believe that came out of my mouth, I am sorry Ian. You are a lovely human being but he is kind of standing in for Sam this week. But if you want to contact Ryan or Andy or Marcus or myself with ideas of what we might want to cover on the show feel free to reach out to us on Twitter because we have all shared our Twitter IDs. Marcus have you got a joke to finish us off with?
Marcus: I have. I also like the sound of that conference but I’m not going to be around. Ooo.
Andy: No, me neither.
Marcus: I want to go to some more conferences this year and that looks… and I thought “That looks good” and it’s like “oh the dates don’t fit.” Never mind. Yes I have a joke, pretty sure I’ve said this one before but I found it and liked it again. So here we go “What have Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist got in common?”
Paul: That’s a very peculiar mix mix.
Andy: Hmmm, I don’t know, what have Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist got in common?
Marcus: The same middle name. (Silence)
Ian: That is such a Dad joke.
Marcus: That’s good come on!
Paul: It’s awful
Andy: That’s such a crushing disappointment.
Paul: I thought it was going to be some really clever link between them and then that’s what we get. That’s just appalling.
Marcus: Well, you know. Start low that’s what I say.
Andy: Well it can only go up from here.
Paul: It had been such a good show up until then.
Andy: We’re finishing on a downer now. Thanks to that un-hilarity.
Marcus: Let me give you another one.
Paul: No no, let’s just stop. I’m pressing the stop button
Links mentioned in the show
- Getting Things Done
- Brett Harned
- Rachel Andrew
- A Book Apart
- The graphic language of Neville Brody
- FontFont typeface library
- Erik Spiekermann
- The Face Magazine
- “The Raging Storm.”
- 24 ways
- Andy Clarkes contract killer
- “1001 quotations to inspire you before you die”
- Awwwards conference discounted tickets
- Ian May – ThatIanMay.com
- Andy Clarke – stuffandnonsense.co.uk
- Ryan Taylor – NoDividestudio.com
- Marcus Lillington – Headscape.co.uk
- Paul Boag – Boagworks.com