The conference conversation

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we talk about prototyping with a flat CMS, convincing clients and image optimisation.

This weeks show is sponsored by Proposify and Awwwards.

Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast about all aspects of digital design, …Digital design? Yes, that’s the thing! … development and strategy. I had to think about that for a minute! My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this week’s show is Andy Clark, Sam Barnes, Leigh Howells and Ryan Taylor. Hello all.

Leigh: Hello

Sam: Hello

Ryan: Hello

Andy: I’m really glad that you’re in such a foul mood this morning because I’ve just remembered that I forgot to take my happy pills this morning.

Paul: Oh, aren’t happy pills the best thing ever. I haven’t taken my happy pills either. Is anyone else on happy pills?

Leigh: Are these actual real happy pills or…

Paul: Yeah, antidepressants.

Sam: By the sounds of it I might need some after this.

Ryan: I don’t know, it sounds like you might drag us down with you.

Paul: Well they’re not bloody working are they! No, to be fair to me, you know, I’ve had an intense week, I’ve been away at conferences. I come back to find there’s no Internet. Which when you’ve got a 14 year old boy in the house that is serious. You know, that’s a real big deal.

Ryan: At least you can reason with a 14 year old boy though. When you’ve got a four-year-old and an eight-year-old who lose their shit when you’ve lost the Internet and you can’t explain to them why it’s not working. They just know there’s no Internet. That’s really bad! (Laughter)

Paul: But of course just just to make things slightly more complicated, of course everything is bloody connected to the Internet now. So guess what, our heating has gone down as well. (Laughter)

Leigh: The Internet of things. What a great idea that is.

Paul: Yeah, what a stupid bloody idea.

Sam: Yeah but Paul, did you get a notification that it had gone down?

Paul: No, obviously not. Because it couldn’t connect to the Internet to tell me. (Laughter)

Sam: Oh dear.

Paul: Oh, just… (Grumble, grumble)

Ryan: Oh well that’s a great way of testing that your Internet has come backup. So if you’re out and about you can try and turn the heating on and if it works you know your internet is working.

Leigh: It’s warm here.

Paul: Oh dear, I just don’t care anymore. I done all the things you’re supposed to do with it. It looks like there’s something wrong with the line which means they’ve got to send an engineer out so I won’t have Internet until 2018 now.

Leigh: Didn’t you have this problem before? With the exchange near your house or something?

Paul: Oh, yeah. I used to have loads and loads of problems but it was all fixed and it’s been great for like two years. And I’ve been used to the Internet just being stable and normal and that’s what everybody else experiences and so this is traumatic. When it used to happen every five minutes you are kind of just used to it but you know. Anyway…

Ryan: It’s funny how reliant we have become on stuff because you get used to the heating working. When we had Matilda, the night that we had Matilda our boiler packed in and we were having a homebirth.

Paul: Nice!

Ryan: So Michelle was sat in on a birthing ball in our living room, like, in labour and I’m like fighting with British Gas to send out an engineer to come and fix my boiler in an hour.

Sam: That’s the most twisted sort of support I’ve ever heard of for that process.

Ryan: The poor lad showed up, it was just a normal callout for him and there was this woman kind of frantic trying to help me out. I was saying “You know I need to fill the pool up” (laughter) This woman is really frantic trying to get on the phone to this guy and she rang me back saying “he’s on his way, he’s just on Bradford Road.” I went “yeah yeah, that’s not far from me,”
“he has asked me to tell you though that they can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to fix it.” I went “don’t worry I won’t hold them at gunpoint but anything you can do even if it’s filling up kettles that would be good!”

Andy: Imagine when you can’t make a cup of tea because you kettles doing a firmware update! (Laughter)

Paul: It is going to happen. It’s just we live in a ridiculous world I’ve decided. Now I’m done with the entire world. There is nothing redeeming about this planet at this exact moment in time as far as I’m concerned so there we go. So yeah, this is twice this season I’ve been super miserable but I have just got back from a lovely trip to Iceland. I like Iceland.

Leigh: Well you should be really happy then!

Andy: Too cold.

Paul: Well I should be, yeah. Because it was really… It wasn’t actually that much colder than here. In fact it wasn’t colder than here but they had snow and it was pretty. See, it makes such a difference doesn’t it. Which reminds me, actually Sam, how was your conference in Manchester?

Sam: It was really good, really good. I think you’ve been to 1 or two now? So it was just the same, it was really good quality. Particularly quality lightning speakers this year which was quite exciting for the sort of, digital project management, product owner type community. So some really good people coming through there. But yes, saw some good old friends, made lots of new. It was really good, really good.

Paul: So, it’s Deliver that one isn’t it?

Sam: Yeah, DeliverConf, its the old DPM UK. They’ve kind of expanded it slightly now to just anyone involved in the action of delivering stuff.

Paul: Okay, that’s cool. And Holly actually did a panel which I think thought was remarkable.

Sam: She did, she did. And you know what she reminded me of me before I go on stage and she was excellent. She was great. I think it was recorded so if it comes out you’ll all be able to see just how good she was.

Paul: That sounds awesome. I’m looking forward to that because it’s a great conference. I always used to love going to it but it clashed. They invited me and well, Manchester or Iceland? It was close! It was close, it was very close.

Sam: Oh, well. That’s the last ever invite so thanks!

Paul: Is it? Is that the way it works? Oh well, fair enough. It’s interesting isn’t it how some conferences just seem to work. I’ve always kind of… What makes a good conference? Do you know what I mean?

Sam: I think, I’ve not really been around on loads of conferences. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference and not spoken at one. So I’m not even sure what it’s like to be at one as an attendee. Which I would really like to do one day. But I think from what I’ve see it’s really the same as anything. It’s kind of that attention to detail and it’s the thought of seeing it as a production rather than just a meet up, I think, is the best way I could put it.

Paul: Yeah, Andy, you do shit tons of these, which conferences do you think work in your opinion?

Andy: Well, I don’t do as many as I used to. What did I do… I think I do about five or six a year now.

Paul: Well, that’s more than I do.

Andy: But the best ones for me are the ones that kind of, and I don’t like this word community, but I like conferences that foster this sense of… I don’t know what it is, it’s kind of like a common purpose or common direction. For example we were at a brilliant first-time event in Perth last year called the Mixing Conference. And this was a group of very young people who wanted to… they set out with a mission which was “We want to come and put Perth on the map in terms of digital design. We want to bring people in, we want to make a big deal of Perth in itself and the industry that is going on there” and that’s what they did. And I’ve never been to a conference, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the big names, the Eventaparts of the Smashings or whatever. I have never been to an event that was so beautifully designed. They had considered every single aspect of the speakers experience, the attendees experience. There wasn’t a single minute that went by that somebody hadn’t thought of in advance. And they had really editorialised the flow of the day, you know, the speaker talks kinda connected up with each other. There were echoes, there were conflicts, there were people that agreed and disagreed, which I think is fine. And it was just a really kind of enlightening experience and I went away from it thinking “Gosh, this is a really good way of actually putting on an event.” They may not even do another one. It doesn’t have to turn into an annual thing. It was just that moment in time, in Perth, I think, that people are going to remember. You know, not just a bunch of us that went over there to speak but people in the area are going to remember, I think, of it as a bit of a turning point for people realising that you know, Perth is actually a place where really good stuff happens.

Leigh: Hang on, this is Perth Australia not Perth near Dundee?

Andy: Yes, in Australia.

Leigh: Right!

Paul: I don’t imagine Andy would have been as animated if it was Perth Dundee.

Leigh: No, because what I think is most important thing about a conference is where it is! Australia sounds fantastic.

Andy: Yes, rather than the frozen North.

Paul: Yes, it it instantly sounds better if it’s in Australia doesn’t it.

Andy: I have had to, very, very sadly I have had to withdraw from a conference. I very, very rarely do this but sadly I’ve had to withdraw from one in Cape Town.

Paul: Oh no, I’ll do it!

Leigh: Oh no.

Paul: Tell them I will do it.

Andy: Well no actually I have lined up somebody else, sorry Paul.

Paul: Well thanks a lot Andy.

Leigh: See Paul, you know nothing about that conference do you apart from that it’s in Cape Town. And you’re excited. See, it’s all that matters.

Paul: I don’t even… Exactly. And did you know what I don’t even need to know what Andy is talking on. I’m sure I could ball shit it. (Laughter)

Leigh: It’s in Cape Town!

Paul: It will be something about comic books.

Andy: I’m very sad about it but obviously I want to get to Australia and put hundred percent of my attention towards doing a job. And you know, I don’t want to then be saying “Oh by the way I’m going to be going to South Africa in a few weeks.” So, you know, very, very sad for me not being able to go and for people who may have booked tickets.

Paul: So basically if you ever want me to go to a conference just to make sure it’s a nice place. Beyond that I don’t really care.

Andy: Well, where would be… Here we go, let’s put some feelers out there because you’ve got listeners all around the north of Scotland haven’t you? You where in the world where would Paul Boag like to speak in conferences.

Leigh: What you need is a little map with like spaces on it that you haven’t been yet. Avalable in these countries.

Paul: Yeah, Australia definitely appeals. Definitely, really want to go there. New Zealand, up for that too. I’d like to go to South Africa, that’s another good one. Where else… I quite like the idea of doing some more of Asia, I really enjoyed Asia. So basically anywhere but Europe and America. Canada, again, I’d like to go back to Canada I’ve been there before. But it’s really lovely there and they are lovely people. And actually I don’t really mind America either, and Europe’s all right. So anywhere really!

Leigh: You just want to get out, get out of the house!

Paul: Well know. You say except for the UK Sam but actually I quite like doing the UK because then I don’t have to be away from the family for long.

Sam: I’m thinking about the jetlag. You’re saying about New Zealand and stuff but I would like getting there a couple of days before.

Paul: Oh, oh no, if it were New Zealand or Australia I’m there for six weeks!

Sam: Yes, that’s the…

Paul: There is no… And obviously the conference organiser would cover first class flights both ways, yeah!

Sam: Of course, absolutely!

Paul: I mean you’re used to that Sam, flying first class aren’t you?

Sam: Yeah, it’s only first-class for me now!

Paul: Is the new way it’s going to go. It is nice mind though isn’t it?

Sam: Yeah, really nice. Too nice. You know. I’m not posh enough to appreciate it is the truth.

Paul: Yeah, also there is that slight feeling of I shouldn’t be here.

Sam: The thing was we were in the cabin on the first class flight recently to New York and we must’ve made it, me and my friend we must have made it about maybe five minutes in before we just broke down giggling and told the attendant we don’t know what we’re doing. (Laughter) And just help us out here and you know what? We got great, possibly better service, or the service that we would prefer, I guess you could say, because she was saying “I could never afford this either, you enjoy yourselves”

Leigh: I wonder how many people are there all in the same boat, kind of all pretending.

Sam: Exactly, we were sort of looking around the cabin and I just had this overwhelming urge, I’m basically 40 years old yet I wanted to walk around, in my first-class pyjamas of course, talking to these… Asking people how are you here? How did you do this? Because this is like, I never thought I would be able to do this. And I’d never be up to do it again it’s too expensive. Yet we were sitting in front of someone and when she… When the attendant asked him if he knew what he was doing he said “Oh yes, I do this every week.” Every week! I know! I mean obviously work related, I assume but even still. Crazy, crazy!

Ryan: What do you mean you know what you’re doing? Surely you just sit down? I mean… (Laughter)

Sam: No, no! You

Paul: It’s not that simple! You

Sam: No, you see this is why we are in economy or premium at best. (Laughter)

Leigh: Because you can’t move

Sam: Exactly. Honestly, you sit down and there’s like first of all a million buttons to work out.

Paul: And not only that, first thing they hand you a set of pyjamas!

Sam: Yeah, it’s fantastic (laughter)

Paul: And you stand there thinking do I strip off right here!?

Sam: When I went to the little toilet. And I’m quite little as it is so god knows how other people survive, but I went to the toilet trying to be all sort of sophisticated and I’m pretty sure all they heard from outside was me banging every part of my body against the door and the walls trying to get into these pajamas. Very undignified but I enjoyed it a lot.

Leigh: So is there a changing room specifically for pajama changing? You are meant to do it in the toilet?

Sam: Yeah.

Paul: Well I thought you were meant… I just started stripping off. Apparently that was wrong.

Ryan: So is like a big slumber party then?

Sam: Yes, it really is. It’s great!

Paul: It’s the slumber party with champagne. Hmmm. I hasten to add that I didn’t pay when I did it. I got upgraded with Avios points.

Sam: Amazing

Paul: I know. Anyway, back to conferences. The other thing I’ve discovered about conferences is that, I like doing workshop more than talks. Andy, what about you? You do a lot of both.

Andy: Well, you see I will now say often to a conference organiser that I would want to do a workshop in order to make it financially justifiable to make a big trip. So yeah, generally speaking I’ll aim to get about 25 to 30 people hopefully in a design workshop and yeah, I absolutely love it because it tends to be a day-long rant, basically.

Paul: Exactly, that’s why I love it.

Andy: And you know, we can digress and we can spend half the morning talking about Planet of the Apes and, you know it’s really good. You I absolutely love doing workshops and people get to learn something as well which is great.

Ryan: About planet of the apes?!

Andy: Well, not just about planet of the apes.

Paul: But mainly.

Andy: Sometimes about Star Trek. Occasionally Supergirl.

Paul: I don’t understand your obsession with Supergirl.

Andy: How can you not understand my obsession with Supergirl?

Paul: Well, is it, you know, basically a dirty old man thing? Is that what were talking here?

Andy: Please don’t say that I’m old!

Paul: (Snickers) Be happy to be dirty.

Andy: Its Supergirl, come on.

Paul: See, the outfit doesn’t do it. Anyway, were not having this conversation. It goes into territories that I’m not comfortable discussing on the show. So let’s move on to talk about our sponsors, right.

Andy: Ooo, whose our sponsors this week Paul?

Paul: Well I don’t think they want to be associated with you that’s for sure. So this is Awwwards again. We are still doing Awwwards. A great organisation. I am actually, one of the things I’m doing this week is I’m going to host and speak at the conference but by the time this comes out I will have have already done so. I was looking through the list of speakers, oh no, so many awkward names, so many names I can’t pronounce so I’ve arranged with the organisers to just call everybody Bob. Apparently that’s okay, I don’t think they actually meant it mind, when they said it. Anyway, so Awwwards do conferences and stuff like that but one of the things I wanted to focus on today is that they have a professional directory where they list agencies or freelancers. Which is great if you are, I know a lot of people who listen to this show hire agencies and freelances all the time and this is quite a good place to go and start looking for people. I mean, obviously, let’s be honest, word-of-mouth recommendation is always the best way to go when it comes to this kind of thing but this is certainly a better approach than just starting to Google on the subject because all you find out when you Google is who’s best at search engine optimisation and that’s hardly the only criteria by which you should be selecting an agency. So this directory is kind of much better way of looking for people. You can filter by location, obviously, you can filter by price range which is quite nice as well when you have a finite budget. But most importantly you can filter by category so that the type of work that you want to do. So interactive, SEO, social, UX, graphic design, whatever else. And what’s really nice is that you can click through to a more detailed profile where all of the work, their design work that they have been doing is actually listed and shown on the website and what’s really nice is other designers and developers and people like that have been able to vote on their work that’s on the portfolio. Which means that you get a kind of, I mean obviously you need to take it with a pinch of salt, but you get like a professional take on some of the work that they have been doing. Obviously I don’t suppose people stop to do a thorough and detailed review of this work but you know, is another reference point if you don’t have a frame of reference yourself. They’ve got about 2700 people listed so it’s quite a big group, but not a massive group. Which brings me onto the flip side of this coin which is that if you are an agency or freelancer this is definitely worth something worth checking out because 2700 isn’t that massive a list yet Awwwards gets a huge amount of traffic to it so it’s great exposure if you’re an agency or freelancer, a great way of attracting new clients but also of recruiting top talent and making kind of business connections and all that kind of stuff. The cost of being listed starts at about €150 per year which isn’t really that much at all. And you can find out more about that and everything else that is Awwwards by going to Boag.world/awwwards. A,W, W, W, A, R, D, S.

Paul: Cool, so that’s that. Let’s then move on to our discussion. As only, only you Sam, you are the only good person out of everybody, let me know what you talk going to talk about before the show started, you get to go first.

Sam: Excellent, okay. So you mentioned that I was at DeliverConf, a conference in Manchester last week and I was on a panel and one question I got… I’ve kind of had it quite a few times, especially in the last few years. And so I thought it was worth giving my thoughts on it here. So, the question I was given was “How do you go about convincing a client to move towards a more product based strategy versus a project one.” And apparently I committed a bit of a faux pas here. I answered a question with a question initially, from the panel.

Paul: Is that a faux pas? I quite like that. It’s the politicians approach.

Sam: Well I’ve never done it before but this one I’m quite passionate about because really my question back was “Should you? Should you be convincing as client to move from this way of working to that way of working?” And the reason I kinda always come back with that originally, initially sorry, was because it seems that a lot of people are determined to make people work a certain way because it’s best for them. And because they genuinely believe that it’s a better way to work. But I think they sometimes skip over the fact is it right for everybody involved. So it always reminds me of the Jurassic park quote from Geoff Goldblum or whoever it was “Your scientists were preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”. So it was really just to say that when I’ve… Even if you think that the right move for your clients or for whoever you’re working with is to, say, go to a more product based way of working, I think you should really not take that assumption to begin with. You should go in there and work collaboratively with the client and really sort of analyse the problem with them. It could turn out that you may find out that working in a product way is better and more beneficial for you but you may not, you may not. It could be… Often I’ve done this and I’ve gone in there almost with a, I guess you could say, a strategy to get an end result that I want. But if you take that journey approach you often find that it’s not quite right and your idea of a solution was kind of okay but there are definitely things to consider and therefore you end up with a kind of either a hybrid, in some cases it might not be right to change. But if you go through the process to find that out then you’re both going to… There is no loser in that situation. And another reason to do it that way is simply because when you go into a client whether it’s pre-sales or an existing relationship and you’re trying to sell, I find a lot of people hard selling and they’ll sell the clichéd benefits of working a certain way which of course exist but they are often a lot harder to achieve and they are very specific to not only a project or a piece of work but a relationship or the size of company. There are so many different variables to take into account so if you just work through the problem, thats really my piece of advice for this is just find out as a journey. And do you know what? Whichever way you come through it that client is going to be an awful lot more bought in to both you as a person, who you work for and the solution that you end up with.

Paul: That is very wise words, wise words there Sam!

Sam: Thank you.

Paul: But also so applicable not just in that context but almost every context. From design to what CMS you’re going to use, to approaches to creating content, everything. Listen to people and have a discussion rather than going with a fixed agenda.

Sam: Yeah, be willing to have your views, I guess, amended or just be willing to be wrong I think. It’s not easy, I know i’m not good at it myself but I understand the benefit and when I see others achieving that all myself occasionally doing the same it feels good after everything. You know, you feel like you’ve actually negotiated and come to some compromises and you end up with a good place. It might not be perfect to where you wanted it but I think overall it’s gonna be much more beneficial. I mean the funny thing is I think a lot of people ask about moving from a product, sorry, from a project to a product way of working because the solution benefits aside, there’s also the commercial benefits for an agency. They want that long-standing relationship but I think in a counter-intuitive way by going through that process with a client and not trying to hard sell them what you want you actually in a weird way, you are building that relationship a lot more. So, these are the only things I can say after a loss of pain. This isn’t obvious to everyone, it’s just because I am old I think! But it’s something I hear a lot these days and, yeah, I just think people… slight twist on it and you get a lot better results.

Paul: Yeah, well, were you actually.. was the whole of that project/product thing actually code for “Don’t be shit on social media.” Because you can apply it in that context as well, where we like to argue rather than listen.

Sam: Hadn’t really thought about it but yeah. You could I suppose.

Paul: Or politics or… Yeah, it applies in all of life.

Sam: Possibly, maybe.

Paul: You are so profound and you don’t even realise it.

Sam: Thanks.

Paul: Okay, let’s have the newbie on the show, well not newbie, he’s been on here more times than anyone else combined but, the not-regular on this season. Which is Leigh.

Leigh: Oh, hello.

Paul: You are the Marcus standing aren’t you?

Leigh: I am, yeah.

Andy: It caught you by surprise their Leigh didn’t it? (Laughter)

Leigh: I’m always surprised.

Paul: Yeah, but the trouble is I started speaking and realised that what I was saying… what I was saying wasn’t actually true in anyway. But by that stage, you know, I had committed. So I couldn’t actually say, you know, I’m talking bollocks…

Leigh: About being a newbie because I’ve been on this thing for decades, but only randomly.

Paul: Exactly, yeah. Next time we do a season with people on every week you can be on every week. Aren’t you excited by that!

Leigh: If I were to be allowed to, you know, having work to do and stuff. You know, who knows.

Paul: Yeah, it depends whether you’ve got a good choice this week. Consider this your interview, right. If you do well with this choice we might have you on regularly.

Leigh: I have two options, a very quick one or a longer intense one.

Paul: You pick whatever one you want now.

Leigh: As we are at half an hour now I should probably go for the shorter one. I’m using this little thing right now and it’s probably my most used app on my Mac. Because I’m fairly new to the Mac, only sort of a few years now and I do conference calls so often, they seem to be all day every day at the moment and… This all started… conference calls came about as I had a young family and so the fear of sounding unprofessional with children and dogs in the background, has always been a kind of real fear for me, and it’s really off putting as well when you’re trying to talk and your conscious that people can hear you and hear what’s going on in the background and it’s always kind of thrown what I’ve been thinking about and has…

Paul: Hang on a minute, hang on a minute. Are you saying… Is your recommendation for this week some kind of tranquiliser gun to use on your kids and dog?

Leigh: It is, it’s a hut down the bottom of the garden with a big padlock on! That’s what it is. (Laughter)

Ryan: For you or them?

Leigh: For them obviously! No, this is just a little app which I rely on a hundred percent because it mutes mic. And I always use this. I set it up to basically press to talk so as soon as I release this button which I’m holding down now it will mute me. So I’ve become quite adept at using this because it’s been the same button for years and I have had various other mutes on headphones, headsets and microphones but I’ve never really trusted them and they’ve kind of let me down. But this one, it’s a little app called Shush and it just sits top right and you can assign it a hotkey and you can set it up to either press to talk or press to mute so you can toggle between the two. Sometimes I do get that a bit mixed up but as long as I leave it in the right state it gives you an indication of the tool on the toolbar of what state it is in. So there’s a little cross when the microphone is off. So it’s just a very simple little recommendation but this app Shush, which I think is a couple of quid in the App Store is just,… It’s just never let me down. It must be tied at a really low level into the mic input.

Paul: I like that. That’s a really good idea. Because the number of times I have, you know, wanted to… Even like the old-fashioned cough button. Where you just want to hack up your lungs and you don’t want to do it down the mic, all that kind of thing.

Leigh: Absolutely, so I only press it when I’ve got something to say.

Sam: Leigh, that sounds like a missed opportunity there. You could easily hook a little mic up through your sleeve and suddenly your’e secret service.

Paul: Ah, yeah. That’s awesome. Hey, I’ll tell you, I’ve got a side recommendation off of the back of that. Because the instant thing that went through my mind is "Oh great, another app sitting in my menubar, right? Because I’ve got more apps in my menubar now than I have in my doc. It’s just ridiculous, you’ve got hundreds of these frigging icons. Does everybody know about bartender?

Sam: Ahh, yes, I use that myself.

Andy: Yeah

Leigh: Yes

Ryan: I don’t Paul.

Paul: You don’t, well bartender is a great little app that you can get that essentially allows you to organise all the stuff that sits in your menu bar. So you can hide stuff completely or you can say only show it when it’s active or show it in a separate bartender extra bar. So in other words there is a bartender icon in the menu bar and then everything else is hidden in the bartender bar. So you click on the little bartender icon, gore, this is turning into a tongue twister! And it expands down a kind of second menu bar with all your icons hidden away so you can tidy everything away. It’s great.

Leigh: I seem to have lost bartender. I did have it going, I think I’ve tidied it away! Somehow.

Paul: You’ve tidied it away, that’s very meta.

Sam: Yeah, I’ve got the bartender menu icon hidden as well.

Paul: Yeah, so do I.

Sam: Oh, okay. So you barely need to worry about it but just occasionally I think I need an app and dammit I’ve got to find it somehow, find bartender and get it back!

Paul: I’ve got a key bar, key bar!?… I’ve got a keyboard shortcut that brings up the bartender bar. So, yeah it’s a good little tool.

Sam: Did Leigh pass his interview? That’s all we need to know really.

Paul: Well, he was a bit shit, wasn’t even to do with web design was it?

Sam: Something to do with sound and family, I don’t know.

Leigh: It’s to do with everything we do. Every job has to have a conference call. I thought I was covering all bases.

Paul: Give me what the other subject was.

Leigh: The other one is a little CMS that I used to build what I would like to call “cardboard websites.” It’s a flat file CMS called Grav. And I’ve been through quite a few flat file CMS’s from Jenkins and Statamic. And this one called Grav just does everything that I possibly want so there’s no database to worry about because I don’t want to get tied up in knots with my SQL which I have done in the past with WordPress but it means I can build a complete wireframe prototype and it is open source as well so I don’t have to pay. Because I quite often have two or three little projects set up so I might have a whole new instance for when I move onto the design step. I’ll basically have the wireframe built again in another copy of the CMS. But what I really like is the fact that it’s flat text files using markdown, it uses Twig for all the templating, I’ve got it hooked into our grid system and I just like to be able to show clients the thinking behind the design and the navigation so they can, soon as possible, navigate around the site. Because they want to know how it works. And I’ve used so many wire framing tools like Axure and Balsamiq, which still have their place for kind of doing things quickly in meetings. But by using this CMS it just means I can build the whole thing much more quickly and when navigation gets changed and titles get changed it all ripples through rather than going through something like Axure manually and changing everything, because inevitably everything gets renamed and restructured as we move along and that ends up sapping a lot of time whereas CMS will just take care of all of that. So its getting that kind of power without the… Without messing with the database which for me is just such a timesaver. So…

Paul: Such as shame, such a shame you didn’t use that as your subject. That would have been loads better. (Laughter) I mean that’s relevant to us, we could have had a whole conversation about how I tried to Grav and Grav was quite good but I came across Pulse and Pulse suited me better, we could have got into our… We could have had a great… A great conversation about when I was Iceland somebody gave a great talk about prototyping where they went through lots of different tools and we could have discussed those tools. But no!

Leigh: Oh well.

Andy: You’re having this conversation with yourself Paul, it’s okay.

Ryan: You don’t need the rest of us do you?

Paul: I’ve never needed you. Never, sorry to break it to you it’s just the way it is. Anyway, well on that basis let’s do my pick next. Because then I can carry on without you even more! Which is wonderful. Have any of you come across a tool called fullstory?

Leigh: No

Sam: Nope

Paul: Ah, this is a great tool. So they were a sponsor on the show a couple of seasons back, right? It was one of those products that I could absolutely a hundred percent get behind because it was awesome. But it had this horrendous price point. At least for the majority of people. You know, if you work in a large enterprise thing it was fine, if you worked in the large agency it was fine, it was priced around those kinds of things. But for anybody else it was kind of a little bit over the top. Essentially what it is is it’s an analytics package but with a bit of a difference. So what it’s doing is its recording the DOM as it goes along. Just trying to remember what the URL is, let me just have a look. I’m pretty sure it’s just fullstory.com. I might be wrong… Let’s have a look… (Pause)

Andy: What a fascinating podcast this is.

Paul: That’s all right, it’s okay to pause for a moment. It doesn’t have to be live airtime the whole time Andy! Is this what your workshops are like, do you take breath, do you? Do you? Yes, it’s fullstory.com. So essentially it is recording the DOM as it happens and its recording cursor movements so what you do is you get a video recording of individual sessions but not just a video recording of individual sessions the entire DOM of it. So can you imagine, you know, somebody gets an error message for example, something goes wrong you can watch back that including the error message, right? You can see where people are clicking and how they are clicking all this kind of stuff. So there are other products out there that do similar things that record user sessions but it’s the fact that they actually record the whole of the DOM that makes it really, really interesting. Also another thing, say if you… Let’s say you wanted to… you had a feeling that something was going wrong with say clicking… People clicking on the newsletter signup form, all right? Why weren’t more people subscribing to the newsletter, okay? Now, if that was Google analytics you would have to add an event tracker to the button wouldn’t you, that you wanted to then track. And of course that means that if you only realise… You’ve been running Google analytics for six months and then today you decide that you want to start tracking that, so you’ve now only got data from now onwards. You haven’t got data for the last six months because you’ve only got data from the point where you add that event tracker. But because fullstory is recording the whole DOM it means it’s recorded every click on that button for the last six months as well. So it means that you have got historical data on anything. You can do this mixture of stuff of looking at normal analytics but then drilling down and actually watching the videos of the individual things. So it’s an incredibly powerful tool and I’m not surprised therefore, that they were charging a big whack for it. And they still are if you want a lot of traffic. But they just started offering a free version for like recording a thousand user sessions per month or something like that. So it’s really worth checking out now because it’s something that I refer to all the time just to check how people are navigating around my site, what they are doing, answer questions or thoughts I’m having on the site. So definitely check out that. Fullstory.com.

Andy Cool.

Paul: Right, that’s obviously really resonated with people!

Sam: No, it sounds great.

Ryan: I was just looking at how much it is for six months data retention. If you’ve got a site that… If you’ve got a site that is really going to benefit from this kind of data then, you know, you should be a making enough money from the site to justify the cost of using a tool like this. You’re not going to invest into this unless there is a good monetary reason for doing so.

Paul: Oh, absolutely. And that’s why… You know, if you just want to try it… I tell you the thing, the used case that I’m really glad they’re offering the free version for I think, is a good move on their part, is because there’s people like us, all of us, well maybe not Sam because Sam works in-house. But the rest of us, you know, we are either freelancers or work for agencies. We want to try out this product so we can then recommend it to our clients. And now you can do that, you can try it out you can play with it, you can try it on your own website for a bit and see what it is like and then you can actually pay for it later. If that makes sense… You know, with an individual client.

Sam: I quite like one of the features it’s got a rage clicks. Automatically find customers who click rapidly and in frustration. (Laughter) that’s quite interesting.

Paul: I use that one quite a lot. It’s quite a revealing one.

Sam: I’m sure!

Paul: Yes, so that is fullstory. We’ve done Leigh so we’ve got Ryan and Andy next. Let’s do, who do I love more? Ryan.

Ryan: Hello

Paul: Ryan, what have you got for us?

Ryan: So, today I want to talk about a service called ImgIX. Have you come across this?

Andy: No.

Paul: No.

Ryan: No. So this is a really cool service. So it does post processing on images on the fly.

Paul: Ooo, I know these things, yeah they’re amazing aren’t they?

Ryan: So it acts as a CDN you can link it up. So say you’ve got… Say you’re saving your images just to your web hosting or your images get saved to Amazon S3 or whatever, you tell it where your images for the website are and it turns them… It kinda takes a copy of them and then you can add parameters onto the end of the URL to manipulate the image. So you can just store a whole load of high quality images and then you can say, just put a parameter on them say W=800 and it will return you an image that is 800 pixels wide. But it does so much more, so you can adjust the exposure, you can do image masking, you can do face detection, you can tell it that you want the width to be say 800 pixels but you want the DPI to be 2 so it brings it… It actually turns an image at 1600 pixels so that you’ve got your kind of high density resolution images. You can do all sorts with it. And you can also get it to compress, so if you put Q=30 it will bring 30% compression on a JPEG image, things like that. So you can actually… It does all this on-the-fly, every time you request the image it just brings back a different, you know, it just processes it and sends it back and it’s really quick as well. So we’ve been using this a lot because we’ve been working with some clients that have got very, very image intensive sites and it just lets you… It just lets you manipulate images for different scenarios and you can work from the same image rather than having to crop your images and get them to the right ratios that you need for a particular element on your site or something like that. You can just do it all through imgIX, and just request it at certain dimensions and certain qualities and different effects and you know, things like that. It’s a really, really cool service so yes, I wanted to mention that.

Leigh: So how does that work with a CMS then if you’ve got a client adding in image to their CMS, does the server do an upload to imgIX in the background?

Ryan: So say for example, it’s like on any CMS like with WordPress or Craft or something like that. You… kind of the default setting is it just gets saved to a folder on your hosting. What you do with imgIX is that you tell it where the publicly accessible folder is and it indexes that folder and all the images that are in that folder they are master images and then you can request one of those images to be preprocessed by just having the parameters onto the end. So it’s just… you replace whatever the URL you for your host… Whatever your image was, so say on my website nodividesutios.com/images/ and then header .jpeg you would replace the domain with whatever URL imgIX gives you and the rest of the URL would be exactly the same and then you just add your parameters onto the end. And then it’s post processes… Post processes those different things based on your parameters. So the nice thing is it’s automatically syncing all the time so as you are adding new images through your CMS they are instantly available because when you request them through imgIX it is indexing it and keeping it in sync. But the nice thing is that it acts as a CDN then as well so your images are actually being served up quicker because it is acting as your CDM.

Leigh: Cool.

Paul: That looks very cool to you.

Leigh: Particularly I like the face detection.

Ryan: Face detection is really cool because it even does if there are multiple faces as well. So if the data detects multiple faces and then you can say I want you to bring me face three or something like that, you know. It does auto-cropping, you can do masking, you can overlay images, you can blend images it is really powerful when you actually start getting into it.

Paul: Does it do anything like… I mean you can obviously do this yourself but does it do anything like progressively loading images as you scroll down the page.

Leigh: Lazy loading.

Paul: Lazy loading that’s the word I was looking for, thank you.

Ryan: Well lazy loading would be controlled through the front end. You wouldn’t request the image until you got to that point in the screen, so no it doesn’t do that but you could still… You could set your site to load the images in on, you know, through your site and it is requesting them from imgIX. So yes that would still work but it doesn’t control that, no.

Paul: And then the one other thing, because there’s another service calls are you S, I, R, V. Which does a similar thing. One of the things that they seem to do which I quite like the look of… I mean they’ve got things like zooming. You can zoom in on images and they also support kind of 360 viewer for imagery and a responsive image thing so it actually provides the correct size per available space. Now I have to say it is considerably more expensive but I was just trying to compare and contrast.

Ryan: Yeah, sure. I’m not actually seen the Sirv one but yeah very similar. They are obviously working in the same space. The responsive imagery stuff I know imgIX does but I don’t know if it rotates. I don’t think it rotates images.

Paul: What about zooming?

Ryan: … I can’t see from the API. It might do.

Paul: I mean the pricing is quite different between the two because your one is… What is it… Three dollars per thousand master images +8 cents per GB of bandwidth. Whilst sieve, serve or whatever it is, is for an equivalent package is $19 per month for 5 GB of storage. So it is more expensive.

Ryan: ImgIX does do zoom. It’s “focal point to zoom”

Paul: well, you go then.

Ryan: FP – Z = then whatever your number is, and then it’ll zoom in.

Paul: I like that.

Ryan: So yes, it does do zoom.

Paul: I really ought to set something up like this on Boagworld. Because…

Ryan: Oh, it does rotation as well.

Paul: Ah, there you go.

Ryan: So it does do everything. The really nice thing is if you’ve… So for example Boagworld all your images URLs are set to the way they are currently set to just be using imgIX all you’ve got to do is change the domain to point to imgIX and then all your images will just work exactly as they are. And then you just figure out some way of adding the parameters onto the end to optimise them. But you don’t need to change anything in your templates or anything you just need to figure out a way to change the URL.

Paul: Yes, yes it’s very nice. Yes, we should all be doing stuff like this because I mean, image performance, that’s the big thing. I spent all this time on Boagworld, well I didn’t Ed did, and Dan, spent all this time kind of optimising it to be good performance and I do compress the crap out of my images and try and make them good but the truth is that they are the biggest bottleneck on my site because I have a lot of images. So yeah. That would be good. Right, that leaves Andy doesn’t it.

Andy: Yeah.

Paul: So what book have you got for us this week?

Andy: I’ve actually got two books. But before I mention which books they are I just want to ask you a question. Who out of our esteemed group has heard of Sir John Hegarty? Hands up.

Paul: No

Leigh: I’ve heard that surname. Whether it’s the same person I don’t know!

Andy: I don’t know. There’s no way for me to tell is there! Because I don’t know who you’re thinking of.

Paul: Also, I do feel… I hate it when speakers do this. Have you heard of so-and-so, the only reason people ask that question is that you are hoping that we haven’t because then you’ve got that smug sense of you being a know it all. I’m calling ballshit on you.

Andy: I don’t need to ask the question to feel like that! Not at all. (Laughter) I know that I know more than you. Anyway, not just John Hegarty but Sir John Hegarty. He is an advertising executive and he was the founder of the advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. And he was a founding shareholder of Saatchi & Saatchi. And various other advertising agencies and you might know John Hegarty from ad campaigns like for example “when the world zags then zig.” The way it was. For Levi black jeans. And back in the 90s and for the Levi 501 campaign. You know the ad with the guy takes his kit off in the laundrette.

Paul: Yes

Sam: Mmm, Hmm

Andy: Basically that was John Hegarty’s work and he came back to me… I mean I’ve known about Hegarty for years and then I was actually doing some googling after buying one of the books I’m going to tell you about, last year, and he actually wrote this interesting quick article in the Guardian last year which was about whether or not technology is adding to or taking away from creativity. And there’s a particular quote, which I shall read you from this article, which I think just kind of aligns very much with my view on where we are right now with design on the web et cetera. He said in this article “There’s only one certainty that I am prepared to state my reputation on, tomorrow will be more creative than today. Not that everyone in the world of communication will agree with that, there are those who believe rich data,” or big data as some call it, “will be the answer to all their problems. The idea that reducing us all to a set of algorithms will provide the answers. Commerce needs and of course is laughable but there will always be fools that somehow believe this nonsense. It’s important to understand that technology creates opportunity but it’s creativity that creates the value” Which I thought was incredibly kind of, intuitive… Anyway, great thing to say. My two books for today are both by Sir John Hegarty and one is a little book, it’s actually called Hegarty on creativity: There are no rules. Published by Thames and Hudson and the link is in the show notes. And it’s a little book with 50 provocations, little tips on creativity and on nurturing it and sustaining it and harnessing creativity. And lots and lots of little tips including this one which I find interesting, I’m going to see how this goes when I go to Australia and work in a large kind of open-plan office which is “Take your headphones off, remove your headphones” is the title of this section. And he says “Do you know what really upsets me? Apart from peanut butter. When I see one of my creatives wondering through their day with headphones on. Why are they cutting themselves off from the world. Inspiration is all around us, all that we see hear, touch, taste and smell helps us form new ideas even if we don’t realise it so why reduce the amount of inspiration reaching you. Why wear headphones?” Good point.

Leigh: Hmmmm! There’s inspiration and then there is really annoying chat about stuff that’s got nothing to do with anything that’s annoying. But you just need to shut out. So I can understand…

Ryan: As a developer headphones are a code for Shut the F**k up I’m working.

Leigh: But yes, you might miss a nugget of creativity or something but then again you might just have your brain turned to mush so you can’t think of anything and can’t work so… Yeah.

Paul: So that worked out well Andy! (Laughter)

Andy: Well, it’s this one particular bit which I think is interesting but I do recommend this book it’s very kind of… It’s the sort of thing you’d read on the tube, you know, little pep talks about creativity. The other one is the one that I think is way, way, way, way, way, worth buying and that is “Hegarty on advertising.” Now, you know, there are gonna be some really boring people out there that think “Oh bloody hell advertising what are we… I don’t read about some kind of evil beast industry,” like Jeremy Keith. But this is an incredibly good book. Hegarty on advertising: Turning intelligence into magic. Which I think is fabulous. It is basically Hegarty’s kind of, not his autobiography, but his sort of story about his journey through the advertising industry. And he talks about the role of agencies and he talks about brand and audiences and he goes into how we can actually make our pitches more successful, and about storytelling in this kind of thing. And it’s a really, really good read. And I want to just pick out one section that I think, again is kind of interesting. From the chapter on ideas. I think this is really, again, quite relevant to the kind of stuff that we talk about on the web. And here he says “Why does Hollywood produce so many predictable boring movies? Because they are following a formula. There is nothing a formula led mindset likes more than a nice comfortable process.” Does this ring any bells to you? Atomic web design? “You can take refuge in a process. Those in business who are formula led are always trying to find a way of processing your creative thought. They want to streamline it, they wanted to make it more predictable” so,…

Paul: Yeah, No, that one I do agree with.

Andy: So, I think that this is a couple of really interesting books. I think it’s not only important to get inspiration visually from looking at Art Directors like Neville Brody and Alexey Brodovitch, and people like that that I’ve been talking about this season but just actually challenging this approach we seem to have solidifying around us which says that everything has to be a, about big data you or we have to learn from our users and all this kind of nonsense or about people trying to establish a process on creativity. And these two books are brilliant for challenging that so I heartily recommend Hegarty on advertising and Hegarty on creativity. Links in the show note.

Leigh: I really like the pricing on Amazon because so it’s kind of in the same sort of thought process. The Kindle is like £12.50 and then the hardback book is £13.50. So he really wants you to buy the hardback book doesn’t he! Which is much more tactile, visceral kind of experience.

Andy: Hmmm, and it is a lovely little book.

Leigh: Yeah, and nice covers.

Paul: If I get a hardback book I never read them. That’s the trouble. It’s really interesting I was… Somebody offered me a copy of their book while I was at this conference and they offered me a hardback version of it. And I said “Do you mind if you send me the Kindle version because I won’t because I won’t read the hard back. ” Because I never do. Sad. But that’s just me.

Anyway, let’s do our final sponsor of the day which is Proposify which is all about getting sign off of your proposals. It’s got lots of great features to make it easier and faster to impress your clients and get them, hopefully, to say yes to your proposals. So, for example, you can add your own logo, you can set up your own branded domain, you can create custom email designs so that you are creating this kind of consistent branded experience. Because that’s the trouble with a lot of these kind of web apps is that it ends up looking like the web app rather than your brand. And we want things to be consistent with our own identity. You can add these nice interactive v tables to make it easier for your clients to choose which parts of your products and services that they want, which is really nice. You can make some items optional and that kind of thing which is a really useful tool. Because often times people look at the price and then they gulp and that can put them off. But if they can go and manipulate the price to some degree then that often helps. They’ve got a great online signature tool which lets clients sign your proposal straight away right there in the browser. You can add as many signature lines as you like for the client and for your team if you want. It also makes it legally binding which can lead… It means that the whole process of getting sign off, getting up and running with the work can be about 60% faster because you’re not having to create statements of work and terms and conditions. It can all be bundled together into one big document. You can email your client, obviously a customised link to the proposal which is mobile friendly. It can be viewed on any device so there’s no need for emails with big attachments or print and ship proposals or get faxed back signatures or any of that kind of stuff. It’s all done very easily from anywhere and at any time. You can make PDFs of them as well so if a client prefers a high quality PDF version you can create those really simply. The feature that I probably like most of all about Proposify is the fact that you know what the client is doing. So they will notify you as soon the client opens your email, as soon as they click on the proposal link, if they comment on anything, and most importantly obviously if they accept the proposal. So you are not kind of going “Why haven’t they come back to me yet?” Because you will know because they haven’t even opened the email yet. So that is really good. They also will schedule friendly reminder emails to your clients if they haven’t viewed the proposal after a certain amount of time, if you want them to. The clients can make, as I said, comments on any section of the proposal so that you can answer their questions or address any concerns in mind. Or even make revisions which is really good. All of this kind of stuff, if you’re outside of America or the UK or English isn’t your first language, the whole of this is available in 15 different languages allowing you to do everything from customising the date format to choosing your currency et cetera. You can find out more about this Proposify.biz/Boagworld.

So that about wraps it up for this week’s show. I do want to quickly do a plug, I try not to do these too often but when I was out in Iceland I was doing a workshop on persuasive design. How to create designs that can actually converts and get people to buy. I have decided that I’m going to run that same workshop online, right? So running an all day workshop online sounds like hell on earth doesn’t it? But what I’m going to do is I’m going to split it down into four sessions, all right? So at the same time every week for four weeks we are going to do an hour and 1/2 session where I am going to talk about some aspect of persuasive design. Then between sessions there will be an open chat room. I’m using a great tool called crowdcast.io to run the whole thing and there’s an open discussion area between sessions so we can talk through what is going on and what you’re learning and what your thought processes have been and then you do the next week’s session and then the next one and then the next one and so on. So if that’s something that sounds interesting to you then I would encourage you to find out more about it at Boag.world/workshop. That’s going to be happening from the beginning of March. So how do people find out about each of you? Lee let’s start off with you. Where can people find out about you?

Leigh: Well, hang on. We need to do the Marcus terrible joke first.

Andy: I know, we have to have a joke.

Leigh: I have found a joke…

Paul: We going to do the joke…

Leigh: … Equally as bad as Marcus may have found you.

Andy: Yeah, I’ve got one too.

Leigh: Ah, we all came prepared.

Paul: All right, Leigh you you go first.

Leigh: Here we go. What’s the difference between a well-dressed man on a bike and a poorly dressed man on a unicycle?

Paul: What is the difference between them?

Leigh: Attire!

Paul: That is… I quite like that.

Leigh: Did I get the right response, Dugh.

Paul: Yes, you did well, well done. Andy, if you got something equally bad?

Andy: Yes, why doesn’t Donald Trump take Viagra?

Paul: Why doesn’t Donald Trump take Viagra?

Andy: Because that would have been a rigged election, (rigged erection)

Paul: A rigged erection, oh, I see! Now that’s a bit too good.

Andy: Is it? Do you think so? Oh, sorry I wanted a way in high in Marcus’ stead.

Leigh: Too high! You blew it.

Paul: All right, Leigh, go on. Give us… Where’d you come from? Who are you and where’d you come from?

Leigh: I am a designer at Headscape and you can find Headscape at headscape.co.uk.

Paul: What about you on Twitter? Are you you are you twitter…

Leigh: I am @Leigh L,E,I,G,H. Where I sometimes tweet.

Paul: Which is really annoying. Most of the time because people get their wrong…

Leigh: Which is annoying because I get every single tweet where they have misspelt a hyphenated Leigh Hyphen Alexander or something like that. I get so many tweets that aren’t for me.

Paul: Ah, there you go. So tweet Leigh and actually mean it for him. It would make him happy.

Leigh: That would be nice I haven’t had one of those for a long time.

Paul: Okay, Andy what about you, where can people find out about you?

Andy: At stuffandnonsense.co.uk is my studio. And you can catch me on Twitter @Malarkey.

Paul: Cool, Ryan?

Ryan: I’m on nodividestudio.com and you can find me on Twitter @Ryanhavoc.

Paul: And, Sam?

Sam: My site is thesambarnes.com and Twitter the same, @thesambarnes.

Paul: Wonderful, thank you very much guys and thank you to for listening to the show. We will be returning again next week for more advice, tips and reviews of apps and such like. Until then goodbye.

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