The Andromeda Episode

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we talk building a user centric culture, what happens when we mess up and learning to code in 12 weeks.

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. My name is Paul Boag. On this week’s show we have Ryan Taylor, Andy Clark, Marcus Lillington and Sam Barnes. You see that was much more professional second time round.

Marcus: Have you turned your voice thingy off?

Paul: Yes, yes! (Laughter) I accidentally screwed up our first attempt at recording this but there we go. You are lucky I’m doing this weeks show because I had to… I’m in physical pain because I had to drag myself away from Mass Effect Andromeda.

Sam: Ahh!

Paul: And before you start mocking me please note that Ryan has been playing it all weekend as well because he made the mistake of adding me as a friend so now I can see how much, all this kind of “I’ve been looking after my children”. What a load of bollocks that is. He’s been playing Andromeda.

Ryan: They are in bed when I play.

Paul: Yeah.

Ryan: You’ll notice my time on it is only ever in the evenings.

Paul: I’ve just… I’ve been playing it consistently and constantly all bloody weekend. It’s been wonderful.

Marcus: Surely it was a good week end to go and fly your thinking Paul?

Paul: I know. And I felt a sense of enormous guilt. I was torn between these two worlds but ultimately Mass Effect Andromeda has got prettier graphics than outside.

Marcus: Than the world!

Paul: Than the world.

Ryan: Your games have now got better than the real world.

Paul: Yeah, the resolution is not quite as high but the interesting-ness factor is much better.

Marcus: I had a very special treat on Saturday afternoon, and the weather being how it was was a real bonus. Basically friends of our that live in London said “You’ve got to come to London for your joint 50th birthdays,” I’ve been going on about that for months now and I! Anyway, the treat was to go to the bar on top of the Park Lane Hilton, 28 floors up which has got windows all the way round and it was a perfect gin clear day. Talking of Gin I drank quite a lot of it! But yes, fabulous, I should share the photographs somewhere.

Paul: There is something quite special about… This time of year I absolutely love, you get out of the misery of winter and you are like “It’s the sun! I remember that.” You know.

Marcus: Indeed.

Andy: Talking about…

Paul: Andy, shut up! (Laughter) I knew, I knew it! You can’t help yourself?

Andy: Ah, but there is one thing that you have to try really hard to find down here Marcus. Fevertree tonic.

Marcus: I don’t like it. Ner

Andy: What! I knew… What… You’re not a Schweppes man are you?

Marcus: I don’t mind Schweppes. But Fevertree tastes a bit odd. I can’t put my finger on what it is. I’ll drink it but is like, I don’t get the, “It has to be Fevertree tonic” I prefer no tonic! (Laughter) If I’m honest. A dash of vermouth and an olive.

Andy: Oh, okay, very smooth. You’re a very smooth man.

Marcus: Well, I try.

Andy: One of those things that is very hard to find, we have discovered, down here in Australia.

Marcus: You could become an importer.

Andy: Actually, well,…

Marcus: Or not.

Andy: Funnily enough we did joke about this because if we were going to do it it wouldn’t be Fevertree though because we discovered before we left this thing called BTW, Bermondsey tonic company. If you google it you will find it and you can either buy made up on Amazon or they actually sell a bottle of, which is like a syrup and you mix it just with carbonated water, mineral water and make your own tonic. And it’s fab. It’s absolutely fab. So if we were going to import anything down here into Australia gin related it would be BTW. So Google it people it’s brilliant.

Paul: Oh, well there you go. I don’t know where to go from that.

Marcus: Other than its the first tip Andy has given me the series that I might actually use. (Laughs)

Andy: We could talk about booze all day if you want to have a podcast about… But of course Ryan doesn’t drink does he so he would be left out in the cold.

Paul: Do you not Ryan?

Ryan: No, not really.

Paul: I’m sure you said that before…

Ryan: It’s not that I’m like “I cannot touch it.” It’s just not bothered.

Paul: I know what you mean actually.

Andy: Sam starts at about 8.30 in the morning from what I gather.

Marcus: Vzodka on his cornflakes.

Sam: I’m the same as Ryan actually.

Paul: Are you really? That doesn’t surprise me.

Sam: It’s like I can have it, not have it, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Ryan: Yeah.

Paul: With you that doesn’t surprise me because you are such a all round nice guy. But with Ryan, I mean, he’s Northern. I just mentally picture him with a pint in front of him at all times. I don’t know why.

Sam: Probably because you’re prejudiced against him. (Laughter)

Paul: Could be.

Ryan: Yeah.

Paul: Could be. I’m not going to deny that so…

Ryan: My mum doesn’t drink either, at all. So it’s kind of, I don’t know, it’s just I can take it or leave it.

Paul: Yeah, I know what you mean. I don’t… Yeah,

Ryan: I’m not one of these people like craves it “Can’t wait until I finish work and I can have a pint” I’m more…

Sam: I think I would be in trouble if that was me.

Paul: Yes, I do as well. That feels like a line, when you crave it. I have moments, you know, when I’m really stressed just a glass of wine or a pint of cider or whatever will just calm me. But that’s about it.

Andy: A pint of cider living where you live, that’s a bit of a stereotype.

Paul: Yes, well I am a walking stereotype. Except not in a… Except, yes and no, you see. This is the trouble, if I was a proper West Country lad I would drink cider which you could stand a stick up in and not fizzy. Actually I’m a bit of girl, I like fizzy cider.

Andy: No, I like a fizzy cider. In fact one of my favourite things that I have discovered down here is Tasmanian cider.

Paul: Ooo.

Andy: I know, and it’s like a mixture of apple and pear, that they obviously grow in Tasmania and it is called, forgot what they call it! Oh, shit. I’ve forgotten the name of it.

Paul: Oh, there you go…

Marcus: I don’t like cider.

Andy: anyway, this Tasmanian cider you not going to get it back there anyway so who the hell cares.

Paul: It’s funny, it is funny mind that everybody that I know that’s ever gone to Australia has to send me a photo graph of James the, James Boag beer. And you were no exception.

Andy: I don’t think I have ever sent you a picture of James Boag beer.

Paul: Yes, you did.

Andy: Did I?

Paul: Was it not you? Perhaps I imagined it.

Andy: No.

Paul: Oh, will there you go. Good for you.

Ryan: If I look through my catalogue of photos over the years, Paul, every now and again there is a random one of the back of some bloke’s head because he looks like you from a certain angle.

Paul: Oh yes, that’s another one.

Ryan: You’re everywhere. You know, London Underground, sat in restaurants. That guy looks like Paul, click.

Paul: Have you ever seen the TV show Orphan Black? I’m just saying, that’s me.

Ryan: Yes.

Paul: I’m part of some secret government programme. In fact I’ve never watched it, so I don’t know whether it’s part of the secret government programme but I imagine it is.

Andy: Thank you to all the people that go to Brighton and photograph the shopfront of the shop that is called malarkey. Seen that a few times now. Thank you!

Paul: It’s not that we are all… as human race, it’s not as if we are all predictable. But we are. So there we go. So moving on from that, I’m bored now. (Laughter)

Marcus: You’re probably tired Paul. I’m really tired Paul. Is anybody else tired? This morning?

Sam: Yes

Paul: The problem is is it it’s Andy. He’s ruined this podcast.

Sam: Yes, absolutely.

Marcus: It’s also because we’ve got mini jet-lag because the clocks went forward.

Sam: No, no. It’s all Andy.

Marcus: Oh, all right. It’s all Andy!

Andy: We’ll it’s partly… Well here’s the thing, because we were, I think we were 11 hours different and now that your clocks have sprung forward so that means that we are now 10 hours different and then I think next week our clocks go back so we will be only be nine hours different. So if you would like to adjust the timing of this podcast then that would be fine with me.

Paul: Okay. That’s useful to know. That’s very kind of you.

Andy: It’s all right.

Marcus: Thanks Andy!

Paul: The irony is, “Oh, we need to do it in the morning.” We are on episode 12 and you have only just got to Australia so that’s like 12 episodes where we have got up at 10 in the morning to record a frigging podcast for no good reason.

Andy: I’ve been here nearly a month now.

Paul: Yeah well, whatever.

Andy: Anyway,

Paul: But you weren’t on the first couple of weeks were you because you were moving. (Laughter)

Andy: Gore, I’m sorry if I inconvenienced you!

Marcus: You’re not sorry.

Andy: I don’t think I’m going to invite you to the next series of my podcast.

Paul: (Laughter) do you have one any more?

Andy: I’m talking about this one.

Paul: Oh, I see. This is now your podcast is it? Okay, fair enough.

Andy: Yes.

Paul: Talking of next season of the podcast, just to remind everybody to submit talks, please! I’m getting really desperate at this point. So send me some talks, I’ll even create it for you. I’ll write it for you, I’ll present it for you. Just…

Andy: Anybody that submits a lightening talk for next series of my podcast on this URL will get a free copy of hard-boiled web design in PDF format. How about that? There’s a thing, I’m going to throw that out there. Just bloody submit something! You wimps. (Laughter)

Marcus: When is the deadline, when we recording the first one?

Paul: I don’t know. Let me have a look.

Marcus: I have a note, an ongoing note in my notebook that says, lightening talk at the bottom of the page and then I turn over the page and I write it again. And then I turn the page and I write it again.

Marcus: Yes, but you doing one isn’t really quite what I was looking to achieve from this process.

Marcus: Yes, but you want some kind of content don’t you Paul?

Paul: Yes, I’ll take anything at this stage. I mean to be fair the first one isn’t released until the 1st June but we will be recording it, so we will need them in by 24th May.

Marcus: You do know about away for about a month in May and June?

Paul: Oh, are you really.

Sam: Just for you Paul.

Paul: Oh, for Pete’s sake..

Marcus: (Laughter) Maybe we should have that conversation off-line.

Paul: Does that mean I have to have Andy on the show? Oh no, please no. I’ll have to get up at 5 AM or something ridiculous.

Marcus: We will sort it.

Andy: Look, anybody that submits can have a free copy of my book. There you go, there’s no bloody excuse. I’ll even give you a free copy of Paul’s book as well.

Paul: To be quite honest I don’t think either of those things would be an incentive Andy.

Andy: I haven’t got anything else to give though have I? What else have I got?

Paul: I think if anything it will put people off.

Andy: I haven’t got anything else to give!

Paul: You’ve got all your possessions in storage in the UK. Just kind of randomly give away something you’ve got in storage.

Andy: Here’s an old lamp.

Paul: Yeah.

Andy: Bring your own bold.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a great idea.

Andy: And your own plug.

Paul: So, yes. Yeah, obviously you can have a copy of digital adaptation as well. The other one, maybe not. We’ll see. Oh, I have got something I can give you but we will come onto that in a minute.

Andy: It’s got to a stage where we are having to bribe the listeners though, good grief.

Paul: I know! It’s really quite pitiful isn’t it. The love of all that is good. Last time I’m ever trying to do something right and good. That’s all I can say.

Andy: Yes because that was your motivation all along wasn’t it.

Paul: No, It honestly it was.

Andy: Yes, I know it was.

Paul: Honestly. Everybody thinks so badly of me. Let’s talk about a sponsor.

Andy: Oo, who is the sponsor this week Paul?

Paul: This is why I need content for next season because otherwise I can’t get sponsors. I’ve got people that are paying to be a sponsor on next seasons show and I’ve got no content for it! It’s fine! Anyway, let’s talk about this seasons sponsor which is Teacup Analytics. This is the product that I use all the time that I keep telling you about. It is essentially an application that sits on top of Google analytics, takes all the complexity of Google analytics and helps simplify it into a set of easy to digest reports because let’s be honest Google analytics is incredibly powerful and incredibly good but is very overwhelming especially when you put it in front of clients. So as a result a lot of us who work on the agency side or who work with people who don’t understand necessarily all this kind of stuff, what we end up doing is spending hours creating reports for clients every month to update them on what’s going on on their site and try and take what’s in Google analytics and simplify it so that they can understand it. But even with our reports we tend to overstuffed them, we answer too many questions in one go and people just don’t want all of that kind of complexity. They get paralysed by it, they don’t know what to do with it. So what Teacup Analytics does is it provides a large number of smaller focused reports. So a report on a specific question like “Is my bounce rate too high?” Or, “Are users completing my call to action?” That kind of thing. So very, very specific questions that a client can go in and see very clearly whether or not those questions have been answered. Each report answers one question and it provides you just the relevant information for answering that question. Which of course helps clients and yourselves make better decisions about your products and services and where to take the next. You can find out more about that at{analytics}. And I realise that when I talked about submitting content I didn’t actually give out the URL to submit content which is probably why we haven’t had any yet. And that URL is by

Round Table Discussion

Paul: Right, okay. Let’s… Marcus, I think it’s about time you got to kick off. You very rarely get to kick off, I treat you like a second-class citizen sometimes and I think that’s wrong.

Marcus: Thanks Paul, thanks!

Paul: That’s all right, you’re a special in your own way.

Marcus: Aww, I’m not sure… No, I know exactly how to take that! (Laughter) Okay, this week I am going to, well I’m basically going to ask, I’m going to reply to a listener’s question. Which is as follows, this is a guy called Martin Fawes and he sent an email which said “I am a freelance web/UX developer since ’08 and still love getting up every morning.” That’s nice isn’t it.

Paul: Well that’s a good start.

Marcus: “The only thing that troubles my mind these days is the risk of working for a ”sensitive“ in air quotes, client, screwing something up and getting sued. I don’t think you have talked in depth about your experience of this, what have you gone through, what could have happened and how have you dealt with it? I bet the other two listeners would be interested in this as well! Keep up the good work, keep ranting and don’t stop doing the jokes” Okay? I didn’t say that.

Paul: I’m sure you just added that, I don’t remember that being at the end of the email.

Marcus: Anyway, I guess the place to start is in the 15 years that we’ve been running Headscape I can only think of a couple of occasions when I have been worried about this sort of thing. Which is pretty good over 15 years. The place to start on this, because I guess if you’re a sort of freelance designer or developer or whatever, I guess that you kind of maybe think… If you’re not a law person, and the only reason I know this is because we have been working with lawyers for quite a long time, is that the law is very much not a black and white thing. To be very cynical it comes down to how much money you’ve got, and how good your lawyer is. And secondly it comes down to interpretation of that law. So I guess that’s the kind of starting place that I wanted to start talking about this. So really the chances of being sued if you do something wrong are probably fairly slim or they could be massively high. I know that’s probably not what somebody wants to hear in this situation but if somebody wants… But if somebody in a powerful position wants to sue you then they will. There’s nothing you can do about it. I have said many times that pretty much any one of our clients could crush us. We are only a small company, contract or not. But they almost certainly wouldn’t. Anyway, I’m kind of rambling as ever. I’m just going to go through my bullet points now… The one thing that is really, really important is to have insurance in place, professional indemnity in particular because if you are screwing up suggests that you have done something that you shouldn’t have done, as a professional person or a professional agency. So your professional indemnity insurance covers you for that. Whether it would cover you for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of legal fees I am not sure, but anyway you need to have that in place. But the real bottom line here is that if somebody does come to you who is saying “You’ve screwed up and I am going to sue you.” or if you just screwed up really. You need to sit down and talk to them and have a grown-up discussion about it because as I started this particular piece, nothing is black-and-white here and even when you’ve got two lawyers speaking to each other it’s not black and white, this kind of their interpretation or whoever is better at arguing the point will end up… They will end up convincing a judge more that their argument is right. It’s not necessarily a case of “The contract says this, therefore that”. Do you see where I’m coming from? It basically comes down to a conversation between both parties and reaching an agreement that everybody is happy, again air quotes, with. I can remember two occasions with two different clients, I kind of mentioned that at the start. One, they didn’t threaten us with legal but they threatened to not pay us for something we hadn’t done. And it was perfectly reasonable for them to suggest that that was the case! (Laughter) In that particular case. I kind of argued the point that we had done an awful lot more work in another area so we were there to… And they accepted that and we kind of balanced things out based on the fact that we hadn’t delivered one thing but we did deliver loads more of another thing. Another client we were… We got a letter from a large London law firm or a large, worldwide law firm and you basically take the opinion of we will do whatever we can to make this go away, because if you end up getting into a courtroom, a little business like us wouldn’t be able to survive that. Because it would take up so much of our time. Sorry Paul…

Paul: No, not at all. I think the other thing with that particular instance that you’re talking about that really impressed me was the amount of quality, free advice we got from the insurance company. Which, it’s not free advice because we are paying an insurance premium and it’s in their interests for it not to get to the point where they have to pay out. But actually that was really useful, I remember Chris saying how much he appreciated them and they said how to… Gave us advice on how to deal with that particular situation. So that’s another reason for having quality insurance in place. But yes, you are right, at the end of the day it’s like… Because even the costs, even if you win a case like that, the costs of fighting it is going to be devastating so you really, if it does, push come to shove, you just have to give the client what they want because it’s cheaper to do that than it is to actually, you know, fight the case. The only problem is where the client turns round and tries to charge you for damages associated with not just the project, because you can swallow the not getting paid for an individual project but you can’t swallow the price if they lost £2.5 million in revenue because their e-commerce site was down.

Marcus: I guess that’s what the insurance is for.

Paul: It is what insurance is for but it’s also, I think the other thing is that that is something that does need to be in the terms and conditions of your contracts. That specifically says you are not liable for costs associated with… You know, whatever. You know what I’m getting at.

Marcus: Yes, exactly. Yes, and I think the other… I guess i’m going to make one final point is that of the two examples I gave you one person, one client was somebody that we couldn’t reason with. The other one was. It worked out that everybody came out of that relatively happy. So have that conversation if you can see that things aren’t working out then be upfront about it, talk about it and see if you can come to an agreeable solution.

Paul: But even the one that we couldn’t reason with and couldn’t come to a compromise over it didn’t go to court did it?

Marcus: Nope.

Paul: You know, we just basically had to swallow the cost and walk away from it which was a hell of a lot cheaper than going to court.

Marcus: Definitely.

Paul: Ryan and Andy, have you guys ever faced any of this? I mean Ryan, you haven’t obviously been doing it for as long but I just wondered.

Ryan: I had one instance where I had been hired by an agency to do some development work on some designs that they had produced and I had built all these templates and everything and then their client pulled out so they didn’t want to pay me.

Paul: Right, okay.

Ryan: Even though they are the ones that hired me not their client. I had to get a solicitor involved just to claim the invoice back. It wasn’t that much to be honest but they had deliberately dragged it out where they just paid a little bit each month for about six months. It was just a pain in the arse. One of the things that occurred to me as well when Marcus was talking was when they said something about you had not done a certain thing and they didn’t want to pay for that because you hadn’t done it but you had done a load of other things in other areas. I think it can happen a lot on a project where you end up doing more than you ever planned on doing and you need to be really transparent with the client that you are actually spending more time on certain areas, or you are doing such extra things and they are getting extra value out of you because we can so often end up spending an extra day or two making something really good and spending extra time and extra effort and then not making that apparent to the client, so they are not aware of it. Then when a problem does arise later down the line and they say “Well you haven’t done this,” “But yes, we’ve done all this for you”, “but I didn’t know you had done that.” I mean, you need to kinda communicate all of the way along so that they are aware of the value because that adds to the relationship that you have got with them and then when there are problems it is easier to discuss with them and say “We’ve run out of time to do this” or “We haven’t done this area or whatever but we did all that other stuff remember?” And you kind of got it documented somewhere, it’s got a paper trail and you had those discussions as it’s been happening. That is something I have learnt a lot over the years. Just always communicate if you are doing extra things and why you are doing them.

Marcus: Wise words.

Paul: Hmm, absolutely. So Andy, have you ever come across this kind of situation. Because you’ve been doing this a looong time.

Andy: Yes, longer than the time itself. No, we had a couple of situations early on where I think, this is when we didn’t charge very much, and one particular person basically threatened after the end of a couple of weeks that he wasn’t happy with how things had gone and he wanted his money back, kind of thing. And to be perfectly honest when you get into a situation like that it’s often best just saying “You know what? My energy and my money and my time is best spent not dealing with this person.” If the guy wants a thousand quid back, which I think it was back in like 2004 then here is a thousand quid and I never want to speak to you again. So what we’ve done on occasions like that is we’ve got people to sign termination of contract agreements.

Paul: Ahh, that’s a good idea.

Andy: Because, at least then there’s a document there that has said “Okay, you know, we signed a contract at the beginning, that contract is now terminated.” You don’t even really need to state the reasons “This money is being paid back.” and at least you got something that they can’t come back on. That was really… But that was donkey’s years ago. The one thing that I would say, and this isn’t client related but I had a situation which impacted the business about four years ago where I had to go legal with some other (cough) arseholes, people, in the industry. I very successfully employed a very, very good lawyer to basically deal with that situation but what I should have done, and this is something that I suggest that people do as they is they should talk to thier insurance company before you engage a lawyer. Because quite often an insurance company will have somebody that they want you to use and in my particular case I actually had somebody that had worked with Ryan Giggs and other people that you might’ve heard of on the news. And it cost me a lot of money. It was well worth it, it was worth every single penny but obviously I would have preferred the insurance company to pay for that. So just check with your insurance before you hire the high court judge.

Paul: I like that. Although you don’t hire the judge Andy! (Laughter)

Andy: Oh, don’t you?

Marcus: Sometimes you do!

Paul: Only if you’re very very rich.

Andy: How to pay the judge?

Paul: You don’t pay the judge. You shouldn’t pay the judge! That is considered a bad thing to do. Just for next time round.

Andy: I’ve got £50.

Paul: No wonder it went very well for you! (Laughter)

Andy: Pay the judge. I’m embarrassed, I didn’t mean the judge I meant the barrister!

Paul: Let’s move on from that. Yes, I know you meant! Let’s move on. I want to do me next if that’s all right? Just very, very quickly. I don’t think mine will take that long. So, really one of the things that… I’ve just released a book recently, have I…

Marcus: Have you?

Paul: … I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that. It’s actually out and available. I know, right! It’s actually out and available. People can go and download and buy it by the time this has come out. So, very exciting. But alongside that what I have decided to do is to produce a set of cards, like playing cards really. There’s 52 of them and each card has got a tip or technique on it. One of the things that I find is the biggest challenge that a lot of teams face, in-house teams, and even agencies face, is getting people in authority and power to take user experience seriously. We are really good as an industry at doing user experience. But were not so good at selling, promoting, cajoling, encouraging others to value it and take it seriously. That is essentially the theme of the book aimed at internal teams of how they can effectively transform their organisation to be more user centric. I kind of wanted to produce a set of very tangible little things that you can do on a daily basis that will begin to shift people’s attitudes towards user experience and that kind of stuff. So that’s why I produced the set of cards. Now, the cards come free if you get the book but also I’ve put them online so that you can view them online absolutely free but you can download them as a PDF if you’ve got the book. Because that way you can refer to them, the idea is that you can kind of refer to them every time you’re feeling a bit stuck and overwhelmed. You can also, if you don’t get the book, you can buy the PDFs but hundred percent of anything you spend, you pay as much as you want on the PDFs and a hundred percent of what you decide to pay for the PDF download goes to the charity that I support in India for the education of girls, right. Ideally I want you to spend 20, 30, a hundred pounds on downloading a PDF! If that’s okay. But, set that aside you can look at them for free online and read them all. You can get to them by going to–culture–cards. They are all available and each one… So let me kind of tell you one or two so you just get a kind of sense of the kind of thing that they’ve got. So one, for example, card is called Introduce competition. And it reads “Often parts of the organisation are unofficially competing with one another. Use that to your advantage by creating a game, score the teams on their user experience and offer a prize to the team who scores the highest. This will bring out a competitive spirit amongst departments.” All right? A bit of a silly one that one. But then another one might be something like “Target the selfish gene. Don’t try and convince management and colleagues to care about the user. Instead focus on the things they already care about, show them how a better user experience will help them achieve their goals and benefit them personally.” All right? So it’s lots of little kinds of titbits like that and there’s 52 of them and I just think, you know, it’s just a useful little thing to have to help people encourage others to take user experience properly. So yes, that’s my little tip of the day. So there you go.

Andy: Nice.

Marcus: Lots of tips of the day., Paul.

Sam: Yeah,

Marcus: Many, many, many tips.

Paul: Many, many.

Andy: 52.

Paul: 52, I’ve got to say I’m almost more pleased with the thing that I’m giving away free than I am with the book which is a bit embarrassing really isn’t it.

Marcus: The hardcopy book hasn’t landed on my desk yet Paul.

Paul: No, the hardcopy isn’t coming out until 18th April. The e-book version is going to come out on 30th March. So it will already be out by the time this show goes out. You can order your copy, Marcus, any time you want.

Marcus: So if I want to buy another one?

Paul: No, no, no. If you want one.

Marcus: Another one. (Laughter)

Paul: Yes.

Marcus: Thanks Paul.

Paul: I don’t know, whatever.

Marcus: Download the PDF.

Paul: Of course you can have a book. Oh, it’s not just PDF as well, you can get it in Kindle format.

Marcus: Kindle, actually that will be the best for me.

Paul: Yeah, you like… I’ll send you the Kindle format, of course it will.

Marcus: Thanks mate.

Paul: I haven’t got it myself at the moment so, you know.

Ryan: Do you need it though? Don’t you know what’s in it?

Paul: Well, yes, no.

Sam: Is a ghostwritten Paul?

Paul: But don’t you find this, perhaps it’s just me but I forget what I’ve written. I honestly do!

Sam: Does that mean you have that sometimes awkward thing where you read something and you think “Oh, that sounds clever” (laughter)

Marcus: Very rarely! It must be really rare that.

Paul: Oh, shut up! (Laughter) The funniest thing is where you get stuck on something and you google it to get the answer and it’s your own website that comes back number one. I’ve had that happen to me a few times, that really amuses me. But there you go. All right, let’s move on from that. Sam, you wanted to talk about the Makers Academy. Now this confused me because you are a project manager so what’s this about?

Sam: Indeed. So Makers Academy is something that I was introduced to back in 2013. I think they started then. Essentially, at the time, I believe the claim is exactly the same now, but when I heard of them there was sort of no evidence, the claim was that they would take anybody from pretty much knowing nothing about development and turn them into a junior level engineer, ready to be hired in 12 weeks.

Paul: Yeah, they still say that on their website.

Sam: They do indeed. So when I first heard that I was pretty sceptical to say the least. But let me tell you the story and maybe I will change your mind. So yes, back in 2013 I was at a stand in Silicon milk roundabout which is a tech fair in London and we met four of these people there that had graduated from Makers Academy and they were really, really lovely people and everything. The really interesting thing about these people is the background that they have. So when you typically think of juniors, I think it would be fair to say most people would think that most would be in the younger age range. But with Makers Academy because… It is essentially a chance for people to get into the industry or/and change their career. So what we actually had out of those four, so we had one person who was a production assistant at the time in the West End theatre for things like Matilda. We had another one in senior banking that knew nothing about development whatsoever. So it was incredibly interesting people, to say the least. What I would say is that one benefit of using someone like this is that taking people into your organisation who have already had fully established careers is actually really amazing. So you imagine junior engineers but with the commercial awareness that supersedes yours in many cases. It’s a very strange dynamic. So, where was I? So they were really lovely but I was still sceptical.

Paul: Yeah, I still can’t help just thinking “That’s really useful but, you know, are they actually going to be able to code.”

Sam: So we sent them our technical test at the time and they came back and I tell you what, all of them blew us away. We could not believe the quality we were getting. Now we… Our main code was Ruby then and that happens to be the main one off Makers Academy or it was at the time. But even still it was above some of the levelsc of some of our mid-level engineers. It was almost suspicious, I guess you could say. But we went through all the due diligence and actually ended up hiring two of the four and you know what? They worked out great. I’ve actually since hired another one and have worked with a few others at other companies and they seem to be essentially churning out bloody good engineers. So I just thought I’d talk a little bit about them, really, a little bit of free publicity because I think they deserve it. They are really nice bunch of people and the quality level seems up there. So I just thought I’d give a few little bits about it really.

Paul: That’s really good because I got to be honest, I just presumed it was a load of bollocks.

Sam: Yes, there’s a video of me online, I think they took it about a year after I first hired some and there’s me saying that, exactly that. Just flat out wrong. I mean, to be fair, I’ll come onto this at the end but the only reason I didn’t hire all of them was purely because of a fit issue. I mean, I think that something to talk about but it was nothing to do with the technical quality, they were all amazing. So in terms of the model, essentially students will sign up to the course and Makers Academy have hiring partners so in this example I was the hiring partner but it isn’t just a case where I am on a list and I can ask for some people at the right time, they literally do partner with you. So they were encouraging me to go in and meet all of the students, if I wanted to they would let me do talks, they really, sort of really full access to all of the students so you can work out who you have a rapport with, who looks good, who you think would be a fit for your company. Also once they get to know who you are, very much like a recruitment agency but slightly better because they really understand, more so, I think, because they are in the world, they will also suggest candidates to you. So if they see a candidate that has got, say, attributes in this area or that area, that they know a certain hiring partner will really value or really need then they will introduce someone and so on. In terms of the tech, they teach at the moment Ruby on rails, Ruby, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery node, everything. Git, TDD, databases and interestingly they’ve just partnered with Amazon to introduce students to Alexa programming in Ruby. So that’s quite a cool little partnership they got going there. And it sort of shows that they are established now. When I started they were about five or six people. And then the final thing is that they don’t just teach the technology, they also teach a sort of an agile but more the mindset of an engineer. They really, really are passionate about teaching development or engineering as a craft and a philosophy rather than just a job to make money. Which is absolutely the right way to teach and I think the only thing that I would say is that if you are a hiring partner you have to make sure that the attitude, the culture, the character of the person fits your company because everyone who goes in there is kind of indoctrinated into this actually very great world where, as I say, code is craft. But really, it was just to put a bit of word out for them really because they are still going now, they are partnering, they are growing, I am still… So where I’m working now there was a couple of people that had come through and again, the quality was just really up there. But also for people who are listening who might want to do the course, so, it is quite intense I believe. It is not just you go there in the morning and leave in the afternoon. I think it’s quite intense, they have socials, they really have to live the life for 12 weeks but the rate that they are turning out people of quality is just with little mention on here I thought. So if people either want to hire or were looking to get into it or even maybe was a designer and wants to get into development, that’s one way to do it. That’s

Paul: So, they are suspiciously lacking on information regarding price. So as an employer do you pay essentially like a recruitment fee?

Sam: Exactly, yes. So yeah, the good thing about these people is they are still, I believe, privately owned. So you can sort of negotiate so I think us personally, I think we had a bulk thing going on. If we hired 10 in the year or whatever. But yes, there is a fee but it is like, there is no… I don’t remember it being particularly more than typical recruitment fees but this time you are getting all of these people aren’t just recruiters who happen to work in that space. They are actually people who used to do exactly what we do and have just decided to go off and do this other stuff. So they really know their stuff and when you are talking to them they just get everything that you say.

Paul: Yeah, yes. Which is… I haven’t got a problem, you know, you’re paying a fee is an understandable thing and also it keeps cost more reasonable for the individual, you know, the people that are going on the course as well. Talking of which I’ve just found their page on that. So if you go for the 12 weeks in person it is £8000 or you can do it online for £4000. And then it’s got… Ah, they’ve got a women’s discount. That’s interesting.

Sam: They’ve got that, they’ve even, I think if you look at… There’s one page that shows a typical day and I think at 2 PM we have half an hour of meditation…! As part of the course.

Paul: They got a certified yoga instructor.

Sam: Yeah, they really, they really go for it.

Paul: Yeah, interesting.

Sam: So it was just fascinating, I genuinely went into the whole process thinking it was absolutely rubbish. There was no way… They’re gonna put people in front of me, sure, but the quality is just not going to be there. And for the platform that my company was working on at the time it wasn’t just a churning out websites type thing it was a very complex, hard-core software development-esque platform. They came in and they picked it up and they are all over London now working for big companies. You know, you’ve got Sky, Thought work, Financial Times, Marks & Spencer’s all big companies are taking these on now and they are working out great.

Paul: Okay, let’s move on to Ryan because I wanted to get onto Ryan, Sam, I’m sorry to cut you a little bit short on that. It is just that Ryan has got the best named app in the world. It’s a kids app I’m sure.

Ryan: I’m presuming this is how you pronounce it. Whack a time.

Paul: Wacka time!

Marcus: With Timmy Mallet.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. (Laughter)

Ryan: So, W, A, K, A It’s a little tool I’ve been using, it’s a dead simple little thing it plugs into your coder litter and it gives you analytics and metrics on how much you are coding and how long you are coding for what languages you are coding in and it gives you… It’s got a nice dashboard with it. Just the free membership will send you like a weekly summary, it keeps your data for a week and then it deletes it but it will send you the weekly salary via email. And I just found it quite useful for just getting an idea of how much time I’m actually… This is obviously how much time you are physically coding. Actually typing keys into your editor. Which is a bit scary when you actually look at the time, when you get the time back and you go “Actually I’ve been sat typing into the code editor on that project for that many hours. That’s quite scary!” But it’s quite good for just getting an idea of how much time you have spent on a project, particularly when you are, rather than having to track your time by the minute you can kind of get more of an overview of, “You spent 18 hours coding on this project this week and three hours coding on that project this week.” It just gives you… I’ve just found it really useful to just get an overview of what progress I am making on different projects.

Paul: It’s interesting because it’s not even just coding apps, it’s got sketch in here as well.

Ryan: Oh, I have not noticed that. I’ve only used it for coding so yes, it would be interesting… It tracks usage of an app so you install the plug-in. So I suppose anything that supports plug-ins could potentially use this service. I’ve not used it for… I’ve obviously not used it for design because I’m not a designer but yeah, I find it really useful.

Paul: Yeah, it’s a good little tool. I like that idea. Especially for things like when you are on… To see the profitability of your projects or to make sure that what you are charging to a client is at least vaguely accurate, et cetera, et cetera.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly, yeah. It’s one of those things that you kind of install it and then… I mean I installed it and thought “This is great.” Then I forgot about it but it was still sending me emails each week saying “Oh, here’s a report” and now I can look and just search for Wakatime in my email and just see week after week how much, where I spent my time on my projects so it’s quite cool. But their dashboard is really nice as well if you only do the paid one, it will retain your information for longer periods of time and you can actually… It’s got all nice graphs and everything but it still, yes, a nice.

Paul: Good, good, good. That’s a nice one. And then let’s finish off with Andy who has got probably the bizarrest pick I think I have ever seen. Why do we care about CBC?

Andy: This is weird one. This is not CBebbies, I know that that’s your favourite TV programme.

Paul: It is!

Andy: This is CBC which apparently is Canada’s public broadcaster and this is a reproduction book of the CBC graphics standards manual. Now, stay awake…

Paul: You are such a nerd, you really are!

Andy: Stay awake, now, graphic manuals, reproductions of graphic manuals have just become really popular over the last year or so particularly with people that like to work or talk about design systems and I have already talked about the New York transit authorities manual and the NASA style guide, brand guideline graphic design book on the podcast a few weeks ago. Today’s book is another really good reproductions project on kick starter. It is a limited edition faithful reproduction of this 1974, Marcus will remember, CBC graphic standards manual. The aim of this project is to create this limited edition reproduction of the book and it is going to be reproduced in its entirety, the original size, really high quality. There’s going to be 200 high resolution scans of all these kind of design artefacts, just like they appeared in the original document. Then they are going to wrap it all up in this really nice, five colour, foil stamped, cloth cover. Which sounds great. Anyway, you can pledge to buy a copy for C$94 which is, to save anybody looking it up, is about 56 quid. Which is not cheap…

Paul: Why!?

Andy: … But books of this quality are not, they’re usually not. Anyway, listen, ignore Paul. This book is currently 50% funded. It’s got about 15 days to go as we record this on 27th March and, I don’t care, I really want this book in my collection so go find the link in the show notes and pledge.

Paul: They’ve raised 34,000 US, sorry, Canadian dollars towards this. That’s incredible.

Ryan: They are loonies in Canada.

Marcus: Loonies everywhere.

Paul: I think it is very much, I think it is very much a beloved Canadian brand. If this was like the BBC, actually I would be tempted.

Sam: Yeah.

Paul: But, you know, I don’t think I would be if it wasn’t my country. But Andy, Andy is a bit peculiar, so there you go.

Andy: Well, it’s not that it’s just that I like to see design thinking and workings out and this sort of brings me onto my sort of actual topic really which is, graphic design books like this are really popular but if they just show the end result well that is only kind of like 20% of the story. If you think about the work that goes into a piece of graphic design the other 80% is really fascinating and then, if you magnify that by, let’s say, an entire web project. Let’s take a great big juicy project that I have done or Headscape has done or No Divide have done or whatever, think about all of the stuff that has gone into it from getting the brief right to the sketches and the original concepts and all the way through the design details and all the sketch ccockups and the front end code and the HTML and CSS and all that kind of stuff, that could be, not only just a fascinating book, could be a real eye-opener but it would be really useful to learn as like a project case study. But, nobody is making those books any more. Nobody is actually writing a book about a project and I would love to see somebody make, like, a book-apart size 80 to 100 pages book or more on a particular project. It would be brilliant.

Paul: Hmm.

Andy: It would be like a bit of web history and a bit of learning all wrapped up together, you know, preserving things for your posterior!

Marcus: I found, because obviously we write case studies to go on our site, we not quick enough about producing them but when we finally get round to doing it I found in the past when I’ve really wanted to show a bit of the story that I’ve had to persuade the client, with a bit of arm-twisting, to let us show the early design work and that kind of thing. Some are up for it as long as you, as long as they get sign-off of the final case study but it is an interesting process because you just think everybody is interested in this but some people aren’t. They just want to show you the final thing.

Sam: I think you’re doing it all wrong. What you do is you finish the project, as we all know, you deliver it then maybe six months later you make up some Post Its, put it on, take a picture,… Yeah (Laughter)

Marcus: Oh, we never do that!

Paul: That’s what they used to do at Art College, or I used to do at Art College, I always used to come up with the idea, produce it then work some bullshit justification of why I did it the way I did.

Andy: Or, you could be really sensible and you could actually write the fact that you wanted to be publishing all of the workings out and the early design, et cetera, into your contract which is what I do.

Paul: Ahh. That’s a good idea, I like that.

Marcus: Coming back to what I was talking about earlier though, I’ve had that, we’ve have, not a detailed clause but basically saying we have the right to produce case studies, et cetera, referring to your work. Now I’ve had clients sign contracts that say that and then have then said later “Ah, actually no we can’t do that, were not allowed to.” And it just underlines what I was saying earlier on about really, if they are a big corporation and they say “No,” you have to agree to it. So…

Andy: Bastards.

Paul: Well on that cheerful note…

Marcus: Sorry about that.

Paul: Gore, let’s do the last sponsor and then wrap this show up because I’ve got other things to do in my life!

Marcus: There are more important things…

Paul: There are more important things.

So our second sponsor is Proposify which helps you improve the success rate of your proposals through good data. It provides lots of data that you can make use of. So it is easy to see the status of all of your deals, all of your proposals that are currently out. You are able to also see the entire team if there are multiple of you and contribute to each other’s proposals and to the process so you can easily work with documents together which is a really key thing. You can also… It gives you data about when people have opened the email you sent to them with the proposal, when they’ve actually opened the proposal itself, how long they have read it for, all of those kinds of things which is incredibly useful as you sit there wondering whether anybody has actually bothered to look at thing that you spent bloody ages working on. Not that I’m bitter! You can see which team members have made edits to proposals, you can comment on each others proposals and see that kind of stuff. You can also monitor everybody’s success rates by either team, individuals or clients. There’s loads of data. Obviously it also snapshots about what’s happening right now in your sales pipeline. So it almost helps you manage your sales pipeline as well because it includes information like what is due, what is waiting for sign off, what has been signed off, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s definitely worth, something worth checking out if you are involved in creating proposals and especially so if there is a team of you that do it. Although, I’ve used it for just me so it kind of helps in any situation really. You can find out more and

I suppose we have to do Marcus’ joke, it was quite nice last week not having to have the joke.

Marcus: I’ve got a proposal story I’ve got to tell you first.

Paul: You see, I’ve got a call in a few minutes Marcus. Spit it out.

Marcus: I was kind of invited to reply to a public invitation to tender. “Oh, I think you ought to, we would like it if you responded to this.” Anyway, long story short I sent the proposal in within the time that I was meant to, et cetera, et cetera followed up a couple of days later because I said “Could you please confirm that you have received it.” and they said “oh, we’ve had to disqualify your proposal because you didn’t send us a paper copy.”

Paul: Oh, for Pete’s sake.

Sam: What!

Marcus: I just got to share that one.

Ryan: Is that the joke this week? (Laughter)

Marcus: It was pretty good.

Andy: What a load of bollocks.

Marcus: A pretty sad joke.

Paul: And nobody communicated that to you, nobody came back and… To be honest you’re well away from the project.

Marcus: It is just staggering isn’t it. We didn’t send a paper proposal for a digital project.

Sam: Tell you what, that’s a dodged a bullet right there.

Marcus: To a company, no, not a company to a public sector organisation that is a conservationist (laughter) that certainly has conservation aspects to what it does.

Paul: Oh, that is just joyous.

Sam: That’s amazing.

Marcus: Isn’t it?!

Paul: Oh, Marcus, that is the funniest joke you have ever told.

Andy: Comedy gold.

Paul: Can we actually not do a joke now because I really feel that that ticked all the boxes.

Marcus: There you go. I’m fine with that for Paul.

Paul: That is unbelievable! Oh, it makes you feel angry doesn’t it. The amount of work that you put into that.

Marcus: Yeah, that it was easily a day of work. Just thrown in the bin. Not even read

Ryan: (muttering)

Paul: So on that cheerful note, we are doing really well this season. Oh, episode, whatever! Who cares. Right, end of show, bye!