The Absentee Episode

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we talk sales people, kickstarting transformation and managing your icons.

Skip to the discussion or this week’s links.

This weeks show is sponsored by Proposify and Teacup Analytics.

Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. Joining me on this week’s show is Dan Edwards, Marcus Lillington and Ryan Taylor. Hello all.

Ryan: Hello.

Marcus: Hello Paul.

Dan: Hello

Paul: So we’ve got… So Sam’s not joining us today he’s sick.

Marcus: Ah, you think he caught something of a cat?

Paul: Probably. (laughter)

Dan: Because he has an allergy or just because he spends too much time with cats?

Marcus: The latter.

Dan: Oh!

Paul: Why did my mind go to sexually transmitted diseases?

Dan: Paul, I wasn’t going to bring that up!

Marcus: I didn’t think that Paul I was just thinking that, you know, some sort of a horrible scabby cat thing or I don’t know.

Paul: It wouldn’t surprise me, he does spend an enormous amount of time with cats. I just don’t get it, I don’t understand people liking cats.

Dan: What, at all? You’re just not a cat person?

Ryan: I grew up with cats, we had six cats. We had three generations of cats in my house.

Paul: Wow, six!

Dan: That’s a lot of cats!

Ryan: I think my mum was collecting them. They’ve all died now which is really sad. One of them lived to was like nearly 24. Which is very long lived for a cat. We were constantly checking and then he went for a walk one day and never came back.

Marcus: They get really, really manky when they are that old. We had one that was 20, he couldn’t clean himself any more. Which is not nice. Cats are good fun but they nowhere near as good as dogs.

Paul: What you mean fun, I mean they… I don’t get it, right, because essentially they’ve got no loyalty like a dog has, they’re just basically, they…

Marcus: That’s not true Paul. Some are more loyal than others. We had one cat called bubble who basically thought he was a dog because he grew up with other dogs and acted like a dog so, yeah. They are hilarious to watch, the way they behave and their weird habits they have. The quite fun but I’d still go for dogs. They get squashed on the road. I live next to a big road so we had to stop having them because they got killed, Ahh.

Paul: You see, I just want to snigger now but then I know people would judge me if I do that.

Dan: Yeah, you’re on the Internet talking about cats you can’t be happy that they get killed. That’s just not a…

Paul: Is that not acceptable Internet behaviour?

Dan: I don’t think that’s an acceptable thing no.

Paul: I must admit, you see my dislike of cats basically comes from the fact that they crap on our gravel all the time.

Marcus: Get a dog, then they will stop!

Ryan: Then you got to pick the crap up for them.

Marcus: True, you take the dog out but yeah.

Paul: Well, we have to pick up the crap of other people’s cats.

Ryan: Have you noticed though that those cats aren’t doing it in their own gardens?

Paul: No, you see, and again, yeah. This is the thing people say “Well get a cat and then you won’t have to…” No, I’m not getting a bloody cat just for that. And it just drives me round the twist so I throw things at them.

Ryan: No!

Paul: And I must admit once I did actually hit one. And I felt very bad.

Marcus: You’re going to go to prison now Paul.

Dan: I got this on record.

Ryan: That cat lady who pushed that cat into that wheelie bin.

Marcus: Yeah, that’s it! The end of your career Paul.

Paul: I didn’t understand the problem with her doing that to be honest. (Laughter) I would have done the same thing. I just think that… Because there are certain things, you know, it’s like… People, I don’t understand it right. I don’t understand people’s double standards over stuff like this.

Marcus: Oh, here we go, right.

Paul: Well, for example there are all kinds of things. Tell you what, right, I went up to… there is something about being British and animals okay, that we are ridiculous. I went up to a big open park area that we have just up the road from us to fly my drone when I first got my drone and there were some people walking their dogs and the dogs you know, barked at the drone or whatever. A couple of people walked behind me with their dogs, a couple of ladies. And it was one of these very kind of passive-aggressive British ways of talking where she whispered very loudly so that I could hear but… “What they don’t understand is that they upset the dogs” right! (Laughter) flying these roads. And I was thinking “My wife is terrified of bloody dogs” { Transcribers note: I am the wife and no I’m not! I like dogs. Honestly you’d think he was lying to make a point or something!!} but nobody worries about her being upset by the dogs. And it’s just like it with cats as well. It’s like you can’t, you get in trouble if you play loud music with your neighbours can report you to the police but if their cat comes in regularly craps on your lawn that perfectly acceptable. (Laughter) Do you see what I mean?

Marcus: Ahh, it must be so hard living in Paul world. Ahh.

Paul: Just…

Dan: It must be so hard being your wife. (Laughter) {transcribers notes: you have no idea!}

Paul: Yeah, she really… From what points of view? (Laughter)

Dan: Just because she’s got to listen to this sort of thing all day long! (Laughter)

Paul: She has to transcribe the podcast as well.

Dan: “The thing with cats is, double standards!”

Paul: I’ve turned into a grumpy old man time? That’s what it is.

Dan: Years ago on radio five, you can call in.

Marcus: Try and make sense out of human’s relationship with animals is a massive, massive double standard bearing in mind we eat half of them. (Laughter)

Paul: I know!

Marcus: So, you know, yeah. It’s not even worth going there.

Paul: And the fact that, you know, some countries actually eat the animals that we keep as pets. Yeah, it screws with your head doesn’t it.

Marcus: That does. Let’s move on.

Paul: Well, so Sam’s ill. That was all… So Sam is ill. And Andy is, well supposedly he’s in Australia but he is not there yet. I don’t know. Why he’s not doing this show, if he still in the UK.

Dan: Doesn’t he live in Wales?

Paul: Yeah?

Dan: I’m pretty sure they’ve only got like one Internet line and with this weather is probably…

Paul: Ahh, yes. Could be. He’s just shouting down a tin can on the end of a bit of string.

Marcus: I’m sure he said he was going to be out there this week but…

Paul: I think he is out there this week just not today. I think is going out later in the week.

Dan: Maybe he’s travelling, or preparing to travel today or something.

Paul: My son is convinced that in order to get into Australia, right, you know you have to go through customs. He thinks that before you’re allowed in you have to be able to wrestle a crocodile. And the reason he’s decided this is because he’s decided Australia is just so dangerous that they have to see whether you are strong enough in order to survive in Australia. And he started listing ways you could die in Australia, it was quite a long list I have to say.

Dan: Yes, because everything wants to kill you in Australia. That’s the thing.

Marcus: Have you mentioned to him that you are thinking of moving out there or something Paul?

Paul: No, no. I was just talking about… We talk about places to go on holiday, he’s not very keen on Australia. For the above-mentioned reasons.

Marcus: Yes, there are lots of very poisonous things out there. But millions of people manage to live their normal everyday life out there so I don’t think it’s that big a deal.

Paul: Yeah, but they are a hardy sort. They’re all convicts for a start arn’t they so… {Transcriber’s note: wow, my husband’s on a Roll today! He’s really not that bad, honest.} Thants got to give them an advantage.

Ryan: Here we go!

Marcus: I am not associated with Boagworld in any way.
{Transcriber’s note: no nor am I, his wife!}

Paul: The views expressed on this show… Actually, we have a lot of Australian listeners.

Ryan: Not any more!

Marcus: We did! (Laughter)

Paul: I’d love to go, I have to say. I’m quite envious of Andy over that one.

Marcus: Yeah, I’ve never been. I’ve been all over the place but never been to Australia.

Ryan: We went on our honeymoon for a couple of weeks.

Paul: Was it good?

Ryan: Yeah, it was beautiful. There was this absolutely gorgeous beach that we ended up stopping at like this viewing point and there was this beautiful beach and there was nobody on it. It was just the longest beach I have ever seen and it was beautiful. Nobody was on it. Nobody was sunbathing, nothing. I said “Why is nobody on the beach.” And they said “because it’s box jellyfish”

Paul: Yeah, you see, something could kill you! (Laughter)

Ryan: One touch and you are dead, you know, there wasn’t even a signup or anything! (Laughter)

Paul: That’s because if they started putting signs up for dangerous things they would have to have signs up everywhere wouldn’t they.

Marcus: Yeah.

Dan: Yes.

Ryan: I had a really nice time though. Lovely.

Paul: Where were you in Australia?

Ryan: We went to Cairns because I wanted to go diving. Which was quite sad because all the inner reef has all been completely destroyed now through human activity. So we ended up getting a boat that went out to the outer reef and that was more colourful and everything. And then we went down to Sydney. Went to Blue Mountains and while we were up in Cairns we went to Cape tribulation or something. It’s where this kind of like this rainforest meets the beach to come out of all this green trees and onto the beach. It’s really beautiful.

Paul: Oh, wow. I would love to do that. So there we go. Right, so we put on then. We might as well actually do this show.

Let’s talk quickly about our sponsor which is Teacup Analytics. So Teacup, as I have said before on previous shows, is a product I use myself and I find very useful for kind of giving me an understanding of… really an understanding of Google analytics because I am not someone who is good with statistics and numbers and stuff like that. So I have really missed, one of the things I have missed since leaving Headscape is having Chris. I haven’t missed Marcus at all obviously! But Chris I have really missed him because he is just really good at being able to dive into analytics and pull out useful information from it, which I have never been very good at. I can’t wrap my head around that. So what Teacup Analytics does is it’s essentially is built on top of Google analytics and you can go through like a big library of questions that Teacup has got in its like what is my bounce rate, or more useful questions than that. My brain has just gone blank about all the questions they’ve got! But their whole library of different kinds of questions that you might want to know. Which pages are converting best, that kind of stuff. And then essentially it provides you with a report around that particular question that you have got. So it is so useful. So instead of having to go through all the numbers it boils it down into really nice rating score. So something is rated from A to D or whatever. With A being good and D being not so good. So essentially it’s a really great way of kind of summarising all the complexity of Google analytics down into a really set of simple reports. Which are obviously reports that you can show to your clients and this is where it gets really interesting because one of the big things that you get when you are working with clients is that clients want to know whether what you are doing is working or not. The great thing about these reports is that you can actively show the return on investment that your work is generating. Whether it be a new design, new marketing strategy or even a small tweak to a landing page button. It’s all there and you can see exactly what works and what doesn’t. So it’s got simple, understandable reports that are easy for a client to grasp. It also has this kind of achievable’s feature where you can connect to specific actions to a report. So you can prove it’s a good idea to do a certain thing or not. So it’s really great for demonstrating that your work is working to a client and is also great for suggesting what a clients should do next. So you can check out more at Boag.world/teacup.

Round Table Discussion

Okey dokey. Right, so, now Marcus.

Paul: You were telling me before the show that you had an epiphany.

Marcus: Yeah, or something…

Paul: I’m really building this up now.

Marcus: Something occurred to me would be closer to the mark.

Paul: You’ve had a random thought.

Marcus: Yeah, basically over the last, well pretty much all the time we’ve been doing the round table which is obviously this series and the last one, from time to time we’ve been talking about “How are things going for a sales point of view et cetera et cetera?” and I think particularly Andy was sort of own “Oh, doom and gloom.” It’s not going great and I hear that or I read that and from looking at other agencies. And I’ve been Mr. chirpy chirpy, may be a bit show-ey off-ey “Oh, we’re doing great, everything is fantastic” and I think it came up again last week and I thought I must… I’m just stating how things are but you kind of feel like you were showing off a bit. So it kinda made me think so “why is it, why are we doing well?” I mean there might be a whole bunch of reasons but it occurred to me that myself and Chris are both focused on sales and we both got quite a different approach to it. Chris tends to kind of respond to more technical proposals and I will respond to more design related proposals and we’ve got a kind of two-pronged attack. Not just that, we have two people whose first job it is is to do business development. To do sales. And I’ve always… My epiphany is that I’ve always said, “Oh salespeople are a waste of time,” and then it’s kind of like but then, I am one and so is Chris and that could be the reason why we’ve been doing all right is the fact that we really focus on it, just naturally because that’s what we do. Obviously Chris and I do a lot more than sales but it is our… it is the first part of our role. And I think that in many agencies it is not. Even if you don’t have someone who is dedicated to the role of sales or business development whoever tends to deal with that it isn’t their first job. It isn’t the first, you know, on the job description it isn’t the first thing that comes up. I think that that is important. And as I said earlier I’ve been saying “Well, I wouldn’t waste your money on salespeople.” Obviously you don’t want somebody who is going to mess you around and not do the job properly but I actually think now you just need to have somebody whose main focus is. Maybe if they had a project management role as well then they wouldn’t be this separate entity that is just out to try and make as much money for themselves as they can. I’m not suggesting for a minute that you have a kind of product style salespeople in agencies because I don’t think that would work. It wouldn’t work for the salesperson either, or the agency. But it was a quick thought that I had that made me think “Yeah, maybe that is the reason why we are doing okay” and the fact that we can focus on this area of work and continue to bring things in. I think it also means that we can allow the rest of the people in the team to get on with their jobs. We take the pressure off, if you like. Which I think is also a really positive thing. I suppose my final point on that is I have always really liked doing this part of the job. And I think often people start agencies, and it would be very interesting to hear Ryan and Dan’s viewpoint on this, they don’t, it’s the last thing they want to do. What they want to do is design great things, build great things but the, it’s a bit of a drag getting… I imagine that people think that it’s a bit of a drag getting that business in. But it has always been an interesting part of the job for me.

Paul: So I’ve got to, well, how do you cope with it at No Divide? How do you feel about sales?

Dan: Err, well. I mean, what Marcus said at the end there, we kind are those people that it’s not the thing that we want to do. You know, we, especially as we’ve gotten smaller we’ve kind of had to do more of that stuff, we’ve had to do more of the sales stuff ourselves because, you kind of have to wear multiple hats. I think I totally agree with Marcus. In an ideal world what we would have would be somebody in business development or a salesperson who does project management, something like that. I think the struggle is for a lot of small agencies, is that when they want to expand or feel like they need to expand it’s usually because of a few things. Like in our case it was when we wanted to expand it was because we had a project that required a developer, you know, that we would need for a longer time. So it made sense that we would hire them. The next step was a project manager because we could tell that me, Ryan and trying to manage projects and also trying to do our own thing was becoming impractical so it made sense to hire a project manager. But the work was always there and I think the thing with, when people think about “We need somebody in sales because we are not getting work in,” is because you haven’t got work in. So it kind of feels like, it’s kind of like chicken and egg. Well, we know we need somebody in business development, or to help us with sales because we are not winning work, or we not getting enquiries through but at the same time we haven’t got the money to hire them so it’s kind of like this weird position that we’ve kind of been in for a little while where we’ve always managed to keep ourselves going, we’ve done very well at parts and then we’ve shrunk down. As is the ebb and flow of having an agency but we’ve never been in a position, that I feel anyway, that we thought “You know what, now is the right time financially and everything that we can get ourselves a person in.” So, one thing we have looked into is a business development mentor. Which obviously means that we still have to commit to doing a certain amount ourselves. We still have to be the people that are doing the business development but we have somebody there who is experienced in helping agencies with business development that can come in, meet us once a month, give us tasks and things to do ongoing that will help us with business development. Because I think the hard hardest thing is for people who who aren’t salespeople is doing sales and understanding where should I be putting my effort? You know, who’s my target market? What is my positioning like? All these sort of questions that salespeople or business development people ask you, we just don’t really know what the answers are. So figuring all that stuff out is a really hard task. And I think for us definitely a business development mentor is probably going to be the way that we are going to be handling it in the short-term. Obviously longer term I think getting somebody that would be more focused in business development sales would be great. Salesmen/saleswomen are normally the, one of the biggest assets to any business. But like I say it’s one of those chicken and eggs situations where you feel like you need the most when you don’t have any work. Which is also when you don’t have the money to hire that person. So yes, it’s tricky.

Paul: Yeah, it’s a really difficult one with sales because I’ve got mixed… I totally agree with what Marcus is saying that you need people that are focused on that and driving it forward and making it happen and it being the primary part of their job and all those kind of things. But on the other hand it’s incredibly hard to hire salespeople in our sector, in our industry. And the reason is is because we are not selling a product, were selling a service, a consultative service at that, which means you need an incredible depth of knowledge. So you’re not going to get someone who is just a bog standard salesperson. You are going to have to get someone who’s got some knowledge and background in the industry. So chances are it’s gonna be somebody who has been a designer, developer or a project manager or something like that who has then moved across into sales. And I think those are quite rare beasts in our industry because I think there is a certain stigma associated with sales in our industry. It is seen as dirty and you know, manipulative…

Marcus: Unclean.

Paul: Unclean. Well it is kind of isn’t it?

Marcus: No, not at all.

Paul: No, I disagree with you Marcus.

Dan: I think that people’s perception of salespeople, right. Is that with sales people nobody likes having a sales… When you go to buy a car and the really pushy salesman is there. “Oh hi I can help you?” It’s like get out of my face. You feel like every time you have to deal with a salesperson whether they are selling you a house or just selling you a T-shirt. If somebody is super pushy in a shop for certain people that can really be off-putting. I think that’s our experience with salespeople right, that it feels like a yucky thing.

Marcus: Have you recently been to car dealer?

Dan: Yes, last year.

Marcus: Oh right, because my experience of this lately is that they, because obviously selling cars are huge luxury items, so the car dealerships put a lot of money and effort into training their sales guys. And now, when it was five years ago you’d walk in and everybody would swoop on you. Then you’d feel all like “Oh my, go away and leave me alone.” No, they’ve obviously been trained to just ignore you, even to the point of actually ignoring you. (Laughter) The idea being that if you go to them, if you bring your little question like how much is that one or whatever, if you are initiating a conversation then that’s much more powerful from their point of view. So yeah, I found with car dealerships now you can just wander around and no one speaks to you.

Dan: Yeah, I think it depends on the dealership. I bought a new car from Volkswagen and the process was very much like you say. However going into a second-hand car dealer with my girlfriend a couple of years ago was kind of more of the old school approach because I guess they are hungrier for the sale right? Because normally there an independent and their like, “Maybe I can get sale here.” Maybe that’s a factor as well. But yeah, typically salespeople I think for a lot of people feels like it means cold calling and sales emails and its hassling. You know, the good salesperson won’t do all those horrible things and you won’t feel like you’re being sold to but that is the problem. They are really hard to come by I think.

Paul: And that brings me on to the second problem I think I have in this scenario which is how do you motivate the sales person in this kind of environment? So for example, typically a salesperson would sell on commission and again that’s straightforward. If you’re selling something like a car because it’s got a set value and there’s not a lot of flexibility in the product itself but with what we do it is very easy for a salesperson who’s on commission just to overpromise in order to close the deal. And so then you look at “Well, okay. If they’re not on commission based on the value of the products, projects, because they’ll just overpromise to make as much money as possible. If it is instead based on a commission for the profits that are being made will then suddenly that’s quite unfair to the salesperson because the profit can be totally dependent on things entirely out of their hands.” So there’s… Does that mean you can’t use a commission model? And if you don’t use a commission model how are you going to keep the salesperson motivated?

Marcus: Yeah,

Paul: That’s why in some ways I think it has to, to a large degree, fall to the founders to be the people that are driving sales. I mean I’m not talking about big agencies but agencies of our kind of size. You know, I don’t know how it can be anyone other than the founder that does that, simply because of the knowledge involved and the founders are the motivated people because they own a stake in the company.

Marcus: If we’re talking about responding to a request for a proposal or a pitch, that kind of thing. How to please somebody is if they win. If you keep winning you’re going to be happy. But I think the agency, how salespeople will work in an agency, particularly smaller agencies, is that they have to have more than one role. But I equally, since having thinking about this, I think their main role needs to be sales but they need to be doing something else as well. But then it kind of then suggests that maybe there are people within the team, you might have a designer or a developer, who seems to have an aptitude for this so why not make their role wider and they can start may be looking at responding to certain proposals and that kind of thing. Getting more involved in dealing with repeat business from existing clients. Because that’s a huge area of sales and it’s a lot simpler than trying to win a new client as well.

Paul: The problem with that, Marcus, I see from a business owners perspective that makes absolute sense and I completely see where you’re coming from but the trouble is that the majority of people as soon as you say you’re taking on a sales role they run away a mile from it. And they run away a mile because they see it as an enormous responsibility of you know, bringing in the work is scary arse proposition. Two, they don’t want to do it, it’s not their area of passion or excitement or anything like that. I mean, I’ll give you an example, do you remember right at the end of the Town pages days?

Marcus: Yes, well I was going to refer to me back in town pages but you start.

Paul: Oh, I was going to refer to me!

Marcus: Oh right.

Paul: Because in that situation I remember very vividly when things were really shit at the end and we were really struggling where Pete Boston turned round to me and said “You’re better off investing your time in sales rather than doing design work because you are naturally very good at that.” And I think I am naturally very good sales. But that filled me with absolute dread and disgust. I couldn’t imagine. These days I actually quite enjoy sales and I think we will come on in a minute to how you begin to enjoy sales but at the time it was a horrible proposition.

Marcus: I was the exact opposite at the time. I was hired as a project manager and project management isn’t really my favourite. And I ended up spending most of my time trying to get more business out of existing clients.

Paul: But then you had come from a sales background.

Marcus: Yes, that’s true.

Paul: I think it’s a very… Sales, I think, is very much a mentality type thing. You either are… Well, here’s a question for you Marcus. Why do you enjoy sales?

Marcus: There’s a lot of reasons, one is that it is kind of a new… The challenge aspect of it, so the challenge/competition you are in, you are competing with other agencies to try and win something, that’s quite exciting. There is a lot of responsibility but I guess that’s more from a business… Why I like that responsibility is more from a business owner point of view rather than from a sales point of view. Yeah, there’s obviously… there’s the kind of winning the competition aspect but there’s also the next project is always gonna be the best one, and they’re going to be the nicest client and all that kind of thing so it’s kind of meeting new people, that’s an aspect to it.

Paul: Because I do think that one of the things you are going to need to do… Because I mean obviously were talking about agencies but if you are a freelancer for example, it’s just you so you’ve got to do the sales people, you’ve got to do the sales role, there is the question here of how do you motivate yourself to do that kind of thing and for me I actually quite enjoy the sales side of things now and that’s because I’ve learnt to treat it as a game. So the challenge aspect that you were talking about a minute ago Marcus, I think now I see… I have a target I want to meet every month for the business and it’s a game as to whether I can meet it or not. And a part of making it a game is to distance yourself from it a little bit and to feel “okay, it’s not the end of the world whether I win or lose this game”

Marcus: Absolutely, 100%, massively important. Because you’ve got to, sorry to cut across to there Paul, but you’ve got to… If you worry about making target, you won’t make target. You’ve just got to kind of do your job and try and enjoy it. If you just carry on doing a good job, yes, obviously sometimes even if you do a good job you won’t win things but I’ve been doing this for years and years and years now and if you fret about things then you are going to be probably… That will come through in everything you do. Whereas what you’re trying to do is kind of exude confidence because people that are hiring you expect you to be confident in your abilities and what your, you know, what you can do for them. So yeah, it’s hugely important.

Paul: But there is one lasting that has helped me a lot. I’m just trying to think of practical things, you know, there are people out there who have to do sales so I’m trying to think of practical advice of things to make them feel better doing it. One is to game-ify it and not to fret over it and to treat it like a game. The other thing that has really helped me is to realise how much overlap there is on the job of being a salesperson and the job of being a user experience designer. Which might seem a bit strange but in the end both is about pleasing people, right? A good salesperson should be about creating an outstanding experience for the people that, you know, the clients. It requires you to empathise and understand the client’s needs. Their pain points, their goals, all the kind of thing we talk about as a user experience designer. And I think once I had started thinking in those terms rather than how do I bully, convince, cajole this person into doing what I want them to do and signing up. Once I talk about putting their needs first it suddenly stops being dirty, in my mind, and it becomes a user experience exercise of creating a great experience. So that helped me quite a lot as well. When I set up Boagworks and I was doing my plan and calculating, you know, business plan is very grandiose but something along those lines, when I was calculating my rate I was working it out on the basis that I would only be doing chargeable work 50% of my time. And that the other 50%, you know, good chunk of that would be admin and that kind of stuff but the rest is sales and marketing. And I think it is the big mistake that people make when they create their business model. When they set themselves up as a freelancer or as a small agency they don’t take into account how much effort you need to put into building your profile and that kind of stuff. But anyway, I think it’s time to move on.

Dan: Yes, so I found this little app, I don’t know when I found it actually. Not long ago, a week or so ago. It’s called zoommy. It is spelt funny because we are in 2017 and nobody can get a domain name these days. So it is spelt Z, O, O, M, M, Y. It’s by a company called Kontentapps but the thing is I love stock photography and I use it a lot either for just mocking up prototypes or for wallpapers, cover photos or just to give to clients for blog posts and stuff like that. The problem is is that obviously… I use Unsplash a lot, because I really like its search and I think the images are really good and they are all just free to use. But there are so many now, there’s so many different stock photo sites that it’s kind of hard to, you know, you have to just have all the tabs open, search in each one of them, some of the searches are crap, some of them don’t have tagging on so stuff just isn’t tagged properly and it’s really kind of hard to manage that. You’ve got like 15 different tabs open trying to search for a nice laptop photo or something or a nice cityscape. So anyway, what zoommy does is it basically it’s a desktop app. I know it’s on Mac, I think it’s on Windows, yep, it’s on Windows and Linux. But basically what it does is it kind of, it’s a really nice collated single place to get… That brings in all photos from all the sources. So you search for say laptop, for example, and it would search across I think they’ve got 50 stock photo kind of sites listed on there. And then you can just click an instant download button. And it would just save it or you can favourite it and it will keep like a favourites thing in your sidebar as well so you can find them again. Which is another thing that is really hard to do. You go and find a photo, and you think “Oh, that’s great, I’ll use that,” from you know, Magdalen stock photo sites for whatever and then you need the original and it’s like “Where was that photo?” If you decide to use one it is really handy for that because you can then tab it in your favourites and you can just easily see whether it’s creative Commons or what the licence is and everything like that. So I found it really useful. It’s only like five dollars or something and the other thing is, like I say, because you haven’t got to have multiple tabs open, it’s just a single space you could collect… You can create like a collection. So say you are working on a client project and you need loads of photos for different pages or for blog posts or whatever, create a collection and then you can just start adding them to that collection. So yes, I’ve been playing with it and just using it for finding cool photos, stock free photos. So yeah, I thought it was cool, I can’t remember how I found out about it, probably through oozled actually because obviously we get lots of stuff submitted to oozled. So yes, it’s really cool. I thought…

Paul: It was something I had heard about ages ago but it was a bit rubbish when I first saw it. I think I saw it on a prerelease version. But it’s really come on loads, it’s lovely.

Dan: Yeah, that’s the thing, I think it was December, some point in December they completely revamped the UI which was probably when I found out about it, thinking about it. It probably seems like a couple of weeks ago but probably it wasn’t, it was probably a month or so ago. And yes, I think the UI is great it is really easy-to-use and like I say it’s just… Particularly… I always used to get comments from clients because I would find like a really nice photo to use on their site and they would be like “Oh, where do you find these photos?” And I’m like “Oh, maybe from Unsplash or it could have been from Splitshire, I’m not sure”. So it’s really handy for that as well. You know, keeping a… You know, if you decide to use it that way, keeping a track of where you’ve found images and also what the usage is on them as well which can always be, you know, a tricky thing. You just assume sometimes that because it’s on a stock photo site you can just use it for everything but it’s not always the case. So, it’s really handy for that.

Paul: Its search is a little bit dodge.

Dan: (laughter) Why do you say that?

Paul: Well, I’m just sitting here because I downloaded it when you mentioned it again I thought, “Oh screw it, I’ll download it again” because I do the same. I spend… Because I write so many blog posts it was… flipping imagery! And it is really good, really good and it is dirt cheap as well, I can’t remember how much it was?

Dan: Five dollars, I think.

Paul: Five dollars, yes. So it’s kind of a no-brainer really for the convenience. But you search on something like clocks and you will get an ocean liner. I’ve got no idea why that has been returned with clocks so I suspect the tagging is a bit kind of dubious.

Dan: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing I guess is that they are probably limited a little bit because their problem, like I say, the problem with a lot of these sites is that they put together these stock photo sites and they fill them full of ads and they get loads of revenue I’m assuming by people just coming and just downloading photos and getting ad revenue and stuff that they don’t really care if the user experience on their own site is that good. Unsplash is one of the only ones that I use regularly, or did use regularly that has a really good tag and search. Most of them are really bad sites that are, like I say, full of adverts and the search is crap. So I’m guessing that if they don’t put the effort in on thier site, I’m guessing that if they got a feed from that site that is probably the tagging is still going to suck a little bit. But I’m interested to see if it gets better. If they start actually going in and tagging the photos themselves that would be pretty good.

Paul: Or even open it up to the user.

Dan: Yeah, yeah. That’s what Unsplash did.

Paul: Oh, is that what they did?

Dan: Yeah, yeah. They just said, you know, start tagging photos and you know, that helps… Basically when they released tagging they said right, it’s all well and good but now we’ve got a back catalogue of like 10,000 photos that we need tagged. Can you help us? So people just started tagging them.

Paul: Excellent. I think that’s brilliant. Because I mean this stuff is so invaluable. Especially when you are doing like just comp. work.

Dan: Yeah, oh yeah.

Paul: You know, you need decent imagery and this just makes it so easy.

Dan: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I thought it was cool.

Paul: Yes, it is cool, very cool.

Marcus: I’m downloading it.

Paul: You’re downloading it now.

Marcus: I mean we are always having to search for… Like you mentioned cityscapes, we’ve been looking for some great cityscapes lately and it would be very handy to have something that can search everywhere.

Dan: Yeah, and there’s also lots of, I think they said they’ve got over 50 different sources which is more than I have in my bookmark list of stock photo sites. I’m sure there’s ones on there that I’ve never heard of as well which is obviously always a good thing.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan: And you can search by emoji if you want to!

Paul: Well, then what more do you want?

Dan: Exactly.

Paul: What I do like, the more useful tool that you’ve just skipped over there to jump to emoji’s which is obviously the primary way you want to search, is that you can search by colour. Now that is useful.

Marcus: Oh, okay.

Dan: That’s useful, yeah. How did I not know that? Oh, yeah, yeah. There’s a colours bit.

Paul: So that’s very useful when you are doing a design.

Dan: Yes, absolutely.

Paul: I love it, love it. Good, good recommendation. Top points for you, well done! Ryan, what are you going to talk about?

Ryan: I’m going to talk about a service called Icomoon.

Paul: Right, I know Icomoon.

Ryan: Yes, so I realise that completely automatically I use this service on pretty much every single project and it’s one of those that has become my “go to” and I’ve never… It never popped into my head, “Oh, I’ll talk about that”. But basically what Icomoon lets you do is that it lets you generate icon fonts. And it’s massively useful. You upload your SVG’s and it has got a really nice interface once you actually get into the system. It’s free to use as well, the only issue if you use it free is that it is only saving what you do in local storage so as soon as you clear your browser cache or something you lose your icon set. So you do need to go onto the paid one to retain that for, you know, for however along you’re paying for the subscription. But it’s got a load of fonts, has got a load of icons readily available so if you want to just quickly get an icon set together you can actually pick some of the ones that are in the library that they have. But also you can… we have icon fonts in every thing we build and I think a lot of people… we have icons in every thing we build as a lot of people do. One of the advantages of putting it in an icon font is that you instantly have control over its size, its colour, anything that you can apply textile, you can apply to the icon font. So it’s really useful in that regard and because this is so easy to just add fonts to and then re-download the icon font, you can just keep adding fonts to your project quite easily and manage it through the system. It’s got some nice features that just let you rescale the SVG’s once you’ve uploaded them so you can make sure they’re on the same grid, all your icons are on the same grid and you can crop them and reposition them. If they are colour you can then make them just black so that you have a consistent set of black icons in your font ready to download. It’s just really, really useful. It’s just a simple little tool really but I thought I would mention it in case anybody hasn’t heard of it before. But it’s really good. I like it a lot.

Paul: Just showing my ignorance here, because I’m a little bit out of the loop these days when it comes to the development side of things. Icon fonts, they are falling out of fashion a little bit aren’t they these days? Aren’t people… I thought I heard some accessibility problems and that now everybody’s using SVG. Or am I imagining that?

Ryan: There are ways of applying… I mean it depends on what approach you are going to take. I mean I personally like using the icon fonts still but there are ways you can actually create SVG’s sprites and things. And there are ways of referencing which sprite to use by ID in your markup and various approaches. But I think it’s just a simple approach to work. The thing is everything falls out of favour doesn’t it.

Paul: Yeah, I know.

Ryan: You get a really good approach and you work it into your work flow and you go “This works really well, I’ve got all this flexibility. Oh, it’s not cool anymore. oh, all right just spend the next you know, and figure out another way of doing it. Oh, all right, that’s not cool any more. Right, I’ll just find another way of doing it.” But I think there are ways to put on accessibility tags onto your icon declorations. There will be people arguing with me and saying “Oh, if you do it that way then you know that it’s not as accessible and whatnot” it’s…

Paul: Boo sucks to them. Is what you want to say!

Ryan: Yeah, I just thought… But yeah, I still think that there is still a place for them. I still think they are useful. I think some of the other implementations I’ve seen for handling icons can be a little bit convoluted. Obviously once you’ve worked them into your workflow and it’s just… You’ve got a set way of applying icons into your projects it’s less of a hassle. But we tried it both ways and this way has always been the most straightforward so yeah, it’s a judgement call on every project isn’t it. It’s up to you…

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s absolutely… It’s just something I’ve heard at the moment. I got to say I agree with you. I mean all the time you’ve got to balance the technically best way of doing something with the realities of doing business and what’s fast and what’s cost-effective and those kinds of things. So those kind of trade-offs happen all the time and it is very much dependent on a per project basis. You know, what’s the right thing to do on one project isn’t necessarily the right thing to do on another. All right, well I just want to quickly wrap up our discussion for today by mentioning a book. As Andy isn’t here to hog all the books. I want to mention a book called Transform by Gerry McGovern that I am reading, or that I have just read. Really, really interesting book. Very inspiring book. So it’s about really how organisations need to adapt and change to the new digital reality and about how the world has changed and businesses and organisations are not changing fast enough to be able to update that. So in many ways very similar to my digital adaptation book. But Gerry is a great writer. He’s got a way of putting things which is always very controversial and forthright which I love. And he also backs up what he writes with loads of great quotes and statistics. So I would recommend this either as a book that you give to your clients or possibly a book to give to your manager if you work in house. But also a book that you should check out yourself, mainly because it is full of, like I say, quotes and stats and references that you can then use when telling people that they need to make business changes. Because the thing that I’m becoming really obsessed with lately is how the role of user experience designer is changing. You know, that it was a stage where being a user experience designer was all about designing user interfaces, then it became about designing products and services and now increasingly it is about transforming, changing organisations to be able to better support the customer experience. So we really need to be kind of broadening our view of these kinds of things. And looking at some of the fundamental changes that things like design brings to an organisation and how it’s better… it’s good for a lot more than just pushing a few pretty pixels around. So anyway, that’s all I wanted to drop in. We won’t spend long on it because we are running out of time.

All right, let’s talk about our second sponsor of the day which is Proposify. Managing proposals and creating proposals is quite a tedious, painful chore in a lot of ways and Proposify is doing some great stuff at changing that and improving the entire process from the creation of your proposals to closing the deal and really everything in between. So it is basically online business proposal software that gives your entire sales team an advantage because it makes producing proposals so much easier. So whether you are one guy, like we were talking about earlier, whether you’re a freelancer trying to create proposals in your spare time, amongst your paid work then Proposify will speed you up no end and let you get those proposals out of the door quicker and let you get back to proper… Your actual normal day to day work. If you’ve got a sales team it will allow all kinds of collaboration between your salespeople and checking each other’s work and that kinda stuff. So it’s great for maximising your time so you can get your proposals into the hands of your clients a lot faster, it’s got a great editor, you can reuse content from previous proposals and create a content library. It’s also really good for getting you to collaborate if you’ve got multiple sales people. Getting them to check each other’s work and it’s got things like roles and permissions, adding comments, version history all that kind of stuff that you would expect. And it just lets you close those deals faster really because the clients can view the proposal any time from anywhere on any device, they can also sign off the proposal there and then online, it’s got electronic signatures and all that kind of stuff. So it’s definitely worth checking out at Proposify.biz/Boagworld.

Okay, before we do Marcus’s joke I just want to do one other little thing which is to plug what we are doing next season. If you listened to last week’s show you will already know. But essentially next season we are going to do a series of lightning talks so anybody can submit a talk for 10 to 15 minutes and we will include it on the show on a first come first served basis. All right? So I’m not going to… You know, the idea is to encourage new people to start speaking so you could be… Jeffery Zeldman could submit a lightning talk, not that I suppose he will but he could do, and he wouldn’t get featured any faster or any sooner than somebody who’s never spoken before. I want to encourage people and give them a platform to try speaking for the first time. Essentially it’s really straightforward. You don’t have to have any nerves or worry about it because you pre-record the talk that you want to give. So you can run through it as many times as you want, you can get it perfect. You could edit it you could do all of that kind of stuff and then send it in and we will feature it on the show. You can find out all the details about doing this at Boag.world/season18. And i tell you what, I reckon I’ll be able to feature everybody who submits one because I am quite worried that I’m not going to get enough talks through! So expect… Dan, Ryan, I will be coming and hassling you going “Please give me a talk, I need talks!” And Marcus obviously. Are you going to do when Marcus?

Marcus: I will do one yes, of course I will. But what you just said I’m going to do two.

Paul: Yeah, I think you probably might have to.

Marcus: Guys, I’ve been meaning to say this for weeks, this is about this week’s, not this week’s, this series about having tips and helpful stuff. I’ve been thinking, I’ve written on my list of things to include that I might want to include in the podcast, podcasting or editing podcasts. And I don’t know what to say on that. And it’s… Have you got any ideas? Because I think over the years a lot of people have asked us about equipment and stuff like that. I suppose I could talk about that. But it’s less of a thing these days than it used to be because there are so many services.

Paul: But even talking about those services like the one that we are using right now. I definitely think there’s something to cover in that.

Marcus: All right, I might talk about that next week then.

Paul: Think it’s worth talking about as well, if people are going to be submiting lightning talks, you know, about how to from an audio point of view how to make them reasonable quality. That’s something worth talking about. We also ought to talk about giving a good talk. I might talk about that.

Marcus: That’s your thing Paul.

Paul: Yeah, cool. All right, Marcus what’s your joke?

Marcus: I can’t remember who gave me this one but I like it a lot. “I had to close my chicken dating dating agency. I wasn’t able to make hens meet.” (Laughter)

Dan: It’s been a while since I’ve been on this show and that was just, you know…

Marcus: Come on, it’s good!

Dan: If anything is consistent it is the jokes isn’t it?

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. So Dan, where can people find out more about you?

Dan: They can follow me on Twitter @DE or check out what myself and Ryan do nodividedstudio.com.

Paul: Cool, Marcus?

Marcus: Headscape.co.uk.

Paul: Because you don’t tweet.

Marcus: Well I do sometimes but I’ll add that in… @Marcus67.

Paul: There you go, but don’t… Yeah, he’s not going to kind of be down your stream.

Marcus: Marcus 67 because 67 was the year that I was born. And I was born on 28 February 1967 so I am 50 tomorrow.

Dan: Ah, happy birthday!

Ryan: Happy birthday for tomorrow.

Paul: I forgot that! I completely forgot.

Marcus: That’s okay, because when this goes out that’ll be two weeks ago so…

Paul: And Ryan, and so obviously you can find out about you at nodivide but what are you on Twitter?

Ryan: I am @Ryanhavoc.

Paul: Yeah, there we go. All right, well happy birthday for tomorrow Marcus

Marcus: Thank you Paul.

Paul: And Dan, thank you for standing in for Andy and Sam I hope you’re feeling better soon and Ryan… Thanks. (Laughter)

Ryan: Oh, you made me feel so welcome.

Paul: Well I ran out of steam. I had something for everybody else and then realised it didn’t have anything for you.

Marcus: I thought he was going to say something rude Ryan. Maybe should be glad you got thanks!

Paul: Ryan, I love you deeply. And on that warm and fuzzy note let’s finish this week’s show. Thank you for listening and goodbye.

Boagworks

Boagworld