Is your design as successful as you think?

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we have talks on the many layers of design and the product design playbook.

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This weeks show is sponsored by Fullstory and Freshbooks.

Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this show is Marcus Lillington.

Marcus: My full name… Well it’s not my full name…

Paul: What’s your middle name, go on!

Marcus: I have two middle names.

Paul: Ooo, show off. That’s almost as bad as the double barrelled name isn’t it.

Marcus: Yeah, but they’re really boring. They are Brian after my dad and John after one of my grandad’s. It’s like…

Paul: There you go.

Marcus: Marcus Brian John Lillington.

Paul: Yeah, as a whole it sounds okay but individually.

Marcus: And you Paul?

Paul: My middle name Alexander.

Marcus: You see that’s quite posh.

Paul: Well, my great, great grandad was Alexander. Alexander Boag, Then my grandad was Robert Alexander Boag, my dad was David Alexander Boag I’m Paul Alexander Boag and my son is James Alexander Boag.

Marcus: Not that, kind of, not very creative there!

Paul: No, we’re not an imaginative family when it comes to names.

Marcus: I quite like the fact that your great, great grandad was Alexander which makes him Alexander the great.

Paul: Oh, yes! I see what you did there! Thats good, I like that. I don’t know what was so great about him that we feel a need to name four generations after him. He must have been amazing!

Marcus: Yes, the one thing I thought you would know is that.

Paul: No, no idea. I don’t know anything about him at all.

Marcus: (Laughter) Well, my mum always says to me that I am like her dad. He died, I don’t, 10 or 15 years before I was born. And I always say “So what was he like then?” And nobody says anything.

Paul: (Laughter)

Marcus: It’s like, “Come on, tell me!” And then they change the subject!

Paul: So he must have been pretty bad then mustn’t he?

Marcus: I don’t know. I’m probably adding to the, you know, I’m making it sound worse than it actually was I suspect but I really don’t know anything about him. I think I looked like him I think that’s all it was.

Paul: Ah, so yes, there you go. So thank you for moving the podcast back a day.

Marcus: That’s okay Paul. You have been away haven’t you?

Paul: Hmmm, I had to go to, where did I go? I can’t even remember. Freiburg, in Germany.

Marcus: Oh what, for smashing Magazine?

Paul: Yeah.

Marcus: … Headquarters.

Paul: I had a day with them. I’ve taken on… It’s very exciting actually. This is the first place I am announcing it. I have become a director, well, they don’t… It’s a little bit different in the way it works in Germany but basically I am a director of Smashing which is very cool.

Marcus: Do they have kind of boards and things like that.

Paul: Yeah, they do. They have different types of… They have two levels of board. And I’m on one of the levels. I don’t really understand it. Also, as is very German, they have a lot of kind of protocol about how you do things. One part of that protocol is that you have to read out a load of stuff at the beginning of the meeting and it has to be read out in German. So I’ve no idea what I have agreed to.

Marcus: And you agreed to it?

Paul: Yes.

Marcus: Yes, fine I’m okay with that.

Paul: Yeah. No, they did explain it to me.

Marcus: That is exciting Paul.

Paul: It is exciting. They’ve got some really good stuff coming up as well so we are going to be launching a membership service which is very cool. We are very close to launching the redesign of the site as well which is also exciting. And I’m doing more and more stuff for them so I am writing a lot for them as well, I’ve got quite a lot of… Well, one article has just gone out and I’ve got… I’m writing for the regularly now really. Then I am also going to Barcelona. As are you.

Marcus: I’m going to Barcelona as well. I have been booking flights and hotels just these last few days.

Paul: Glad you have, I ought to do that, ought’nt I really?!

Marcus: Yeah, course I got it wrong though. Because Chris has to leave because he’s got to be back for… his wife’s doing some… She’s speaking at a conference on the Thursday so he has to leave on the Wednesday evening and I booked him a hotel room, Wednesday.

Paul: Tut, Ohh.

Marcus: Mind you, because I’ve made my life complicated, in a good way, in the fact that I have decided that following the conference I am going to drive from Barcelona down to, sort of, nearly Almeria and stay at a friends villa down there that we stayed in earlier this year, and have a long weekend. So it’s quite scary, and I’ll have Caroline with me also who is not good passenger. I’ve got to pick up a hire car from Barcelona train station and then drive about 700 miles.

Paul: Ooo, dear.

Marcus: But it’s an adventure!

Paul: No, no, no. Good for you.

Marcus: I want to stop at Valencia because I have never been to Valencia and Valencia is sort of about, it’s nearly halfway, it’s a bit nearer Barcelona than where we are going so I thought “Well let’s stop there and go and have a look about and then carry on adventure.” So yes, I’m already a little bit worried about it. (Laughter)

Paul: Oh dear. Oh well, have fun!

Marcus: Yes, so if we don’t come back you’ll know we have got lost on a motorway in Spain somewhere.

Paul: Oh, you can’t get lost these days it’s pretty much impossible isn’t it?

Marcus: Well that’s true, yes.

Paul: Also, especially now. For one wonderful moment in time yesterday, going to Freiburg I could use all my mobile data and my phone call just like in the UK because of the EU legislation. Of course it won’t happen for long will it? Because we are leaving the EU!

Marcus: Well, I use… Well, that is true Paul. Maybe we should ring up Andy Clarke and get his opinion on that!

Paul: (Laughter) Let’s not. He doesn’t care now, he’s gone native.

Marcus: Exactly, who cares about Europe, I suspect would be his response. But my phone provider does a thing where I think you pay 3 pound a day when you are in Europe and it’s basically the same as being at home for your extra three quid a day which I am fine with.

Paul: Yeah. Well, you don’t have to pay your three quid any more.

Marcus: Don’t you?

Paul: No. No, wherever you are in Europe they have to respect… It’s just like using at home.

Marcus: I think I’m being charged for that.

Paul: Well, it’s only as from the beginning of June so unless you’ve been over to Europe in the beginning of June, since the beginning of June, you will have been charged. But when you go over in October you won’t be.

Marcus: I was in Spain in June and I don’t know if I got charged out there will not. Hmmm.

Paul: Well, yeah I can’t remember the exact date so it might have been mid June or end of June. It was somewhere in June.

Marcus: Okay.

Paul: So there you go. Yeah, very cool. And then we will lose it. Thanks. Thanks all those Exit-er’s people. I don’t, you know, other than that I don’t care but you know, I like my data.

Marcus: Well yeah, and not having to kind of queue up for hours at airports and decent, you know, exchange rates and things like that would be nice.

Paul: Well, you see Brexit, you know, I’m very much a remainer but Brexit has worked in my favour so far because I get paid a lot in other non-sterling money. Of course, the exchange… because the pound is really weak my payments have been higher.

Marcus: The same has applied for us with our American clients. This is true.

Paul: Yeah, so it’s good isn’t it? So there we go. Brexit’s great!

Marcus: Yay, Brexit!

Paul: Yeah.

Marcus: Not!

Paul: No. (Laughter) So yes, I’m very excited about being involved with smashing magazine because they are like, you know, they are famous. An important and shit.

Marcus: Famous… That’s all you ever wanted Paul isn’t it?

Paul: Yeah, I am just so desperate for the limelight! I am worried that they are going to work out that, like…

Marcus: What, you’re a fake?

Paul: Yeah.

Marcus: There is impostor syndrome striking again.

Paul: Shhh, don’t tell them! Don’t tell them I don’t know anything. I was giving them all this advice yesterday, and my opinion on stuff and sitting there thinking “He he he, they’re listening!” How dumb are they! But there you go. No, we need to get Vitali on the show.

Marcus: Yeah, definitely. Well, he’s been on before. I’m sure.

Paul: I don’t think he has.

Marcus: Years and years ago.

Paul: Maybe, maybe. It was so funny sitting there, mind, thinking "You guys are all having to do your board meeting in english because of me. Hah!

Marcus: That is a bit poor really isn’t it? Not that I expect you to understand fluent German but it’s not great is it?

Paul: It was a embarrassing, yes. It was embarrassing. And when I mentioned the fact they are just so blasé about it. “Oh, it’s not a problem! Of course we can just switch between any one of 20 different languages you fancy, let’s do the next bit in Japanese!”

Marcus: Yeah, Cornish.

Paul: (Laughter) Cornish!

Marcus: That would be good though wouldn’t it.

Paul: That would be awesome!

Marcus: Do you reckon that they could do the accent? We’ll have to ask Vitali, Vitali however you pronounce his name, when he comes on the show. On that subject Paul I’m going to put you on the spot now. And say, so, next season then…

Paul: Yeah?

Marcus: What are we going to do?

Paul: You see now, that’s really funny because at the bottom of my notes I’ve got to talk about next season.

Marcus: Ah, okay.

Paul: So, do you want me to do it now or shall I a bit for the end?

Marcus: Well seeing as I have asked you about it you probably should respond now.

Paul: You see, you are not very good at this whole, kind of, marketing thing. You know, like presenting, you are supposed to say “Later in the show” and then it kinda keeps people listening. If I say now they are all going to just go “Well, there we go. I am done now.” Because they obviously listen for that piece of information not the really good talks we’ve got coming up! No, what we are going to do, we are going to… We have never done a season on content.

Marcus: Ahh, okay.

Paul: So we are going to look at content and in particular probably it’s going to be looking a little bit more specifically… I don’t know, at content marketing side of stuff. Well, we are going to get into a bit of everything. We are going to do a show on podcasting. We have never done a show on podcasting. So we are going to do that. We are going to do blogging, SEO, video, the use of video, the use of imagery in your content, social media, headlines, writing processes, tone of voice, email marketing and having an editorial calendar.

Marcus: Okay, I’ve got loads to say on all of that. I’m glad you didn’t do it on coding or something.

Paul: Well, yeah.

Marcus: That’s never going to happen is it?

Paul: That’s never going to happen, not with us two presenting! People are listening to the wrong show if they want in-depth code advice. Was it shoptalk, the CSS tricks people do? They must talk about coding and who else? Jen Simmons in hers. What’s hers called? I can’t remember. Webahead? They must do as well. But I… It’s quite hard to be honest to talk about development on a podcast because, like, there is no pictures. You can’t show anything.

Marcus: Yeah, true.

Paul: So there’s only so much you can do. Right, shall we kick things off. He says 12 minutes in!

Marcus: Yes, who’s up first Paul?

Paul: Well, no. We’ve got to do a sponsor first. It’s not that easy.

Marcus: Tut ugh, it’s really complicated this podcasting lark. We need to do a show on its next season.

Paul: Or we need to be better organised ourselves. Like if I had sent you through the notes you would know that a sponsor is next!

Marcus: This is true. You stopped doing that about five episodes ago.

Paul: I got bored.

Marcus: Yeah, well.

Paul: Because I was pretty sure you didn’t read them anyway. The honest truth is because you are now more organised than I am. I didn’t put this together until yesterday evening. While you had already listened to the shows, to the talks by then hadn’t you?

Marcus: Yes I had. But it’s going to bite me today.

Paul: Because you won’t be able to remember them.

Marcus: Because I did it on Friday which feels like years ago. And I’ve read my notes and I’ve gone “Nope, I don’t know what that means, I don’t what that means…”

Paul: Yes, absolutely. So anyway, Fullstory. Because I’ve got to keep people up with this ongoing saga that I am having.

Marcus: What, with your intro text?

Paul: With my intro text. Right? Because obviously people want to know how the story is going to turn out. It’s like Game of thrones but…

Marcus: It’s just like Game of Thrones. Although, you know, I don’t… I tried to watch Game of Thrones on… What series is it on now?

Paul: Oh, 28?

Marcus: Six? Something like that.

Paul: Six? Seven? Something like that. Six, maybe. Yeah.

Marcus: I tried… Because obviously I didn’t watch it and there was a sort of whooha happening about it at the start of series 4 and I thought “You know what, I’m going to try, I’m going to go for it.” I watched… Somebody did a programme, a famous person, I can’t remember who it was, about what had happened in the first three series

Paul: Oh no! You got to watch it from the beginning.

Marcus: Anyway, I didn’t. So I watched the first two episodes of series 4 and thought “Ner”

Paul: Yeah. You’re not invested in the characters by that point if you just jump in part way through. Yeah, you know the synopsis but, you know, you don’t hate Ramsay or love Sansa or whatever.

Marcus: Anyway, I gave up.

Paul: Yes, well fair enough. Not everything is for everybody.

Marcus: True.

Paul: but the last episode, episode four have just watched. Was amazing. It was incredible. What was really impressive about it is that it was… You know, it made Lord of the Rings look crappy in terms… And you know, this is a TV show, in terms of visual quality.

Marcus: Wow!

Paul: Incredible, incredible explosions and CGI and it really was quite outstanding for a TV show. Never seen anything like it on the TV.

Marcus: They do make a lot of money so I guess that is why they can do it.

Paul: Yeah, anyway…

Marcus: Yes, moving on.

Paul: My intro text.

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: So we eventually… So I discovered this problem by looking Fullstory that people were clicking on the intro text for some reason, we didn’t know why did we?

Marcus: Nope.

Paul: So I mentioned this on the show when I was talking about Fullstory and how great it is for being able to see what people are clicking on and what people are doing and that kind of stuff. Somebody came back in the slack channel and said “I wonder whether people are selecting it so that they can share it on social media.” “Aha” I thought. It didn’t look like they were sharing it because you can actually, sorry, that they were selecting it, because you can obviously see that on Fullstory. And so… but I thought “well it was a hypothesis, let’s give it a go.” So I added this kind of medium type functionality that’s when you select text now on my website you get this little pop-up that allows you to share the text on Twitter, Facebook or whatever. So I have left that running for a little while and I have now looked at the results of that. Right? So there’s been 143 people who have clicked on the copy in the headline in the last week and of those four then used the sharing facility.

Marcus: Because people probably just want to grab it like they normally would with text. They don’t want to use some fancy tool.

Paul: Now, you see I dug into a little bit further and narrowed down my search results and I think I’ve got to the bottom of it. It’s people that are on mobile devices. So it’s where they click to start scrolling or tap to start scrolling. So after all of that it turned out to be nothing.

Marcus: So it is literally the point where people put their finger to scroll down the page.

Paul: Yes, yes.

Marcus: Well at least you know.

Paul: I know, but you do think so what that says, Fullstory has just wasted a load of my time!

Marcus: (Laughter)

Paul: (Laughter) That’s not how you are supposed to promote. But it did reveal the answer to the problem and to be honest you wouldn’t have even, you know, just that whole journey I found really interesting in terms of using Fullstory. You know, that I could spot something in the analytics, I could go in watch videos of people actually doing it, I could then look at a kind of heat map to see if lots of people were doing it. I could form a hypothesis, I could test the hypothesis, find out I was wrong, go back to the drawing board!

Marcus: La de dar dee da!

Paul: Yeah, all within Fullstory so it’s a really good way of diagnosing problems and improving your site. So, you can try it yourself because it is absolutely free to give it a go. In fact you can use it free for ever if you want to. It will record a thousand sessions per month absolutely free but you can record more sessions than that for a month for free to really see what it does when it digs into absolutely everything on your site. You can get that month for free by going to B O A G. So yes, that is Fullstory.

Okay, let’s move on to our first speaker who is Matthew. Matthew is a product designer, he introduces himself properly as part of his talk, in Brooklyn. He works primarily on large enterprise mobile and desktop app-ey type things. You can find out more about him at Matthew, I’m going to spell this so it’s M A T T H E W, you know how to spell Matthew! Then his surname is V O S H E L L and So check out his talk because I think you’ll really enjoy it. Very interesting indeed and he is writing a book at the moment and I’m really excited to see it because it looks like a really good one. Anyway, this is Matthew’s talk.

Product Design Playbook: Concepts and Methodologies to Live By

Play talk at: 19:29 – Covering concepts I think every product designer should understand if they want to be better prepared to be a design generalist. I only cover 2 of the 12 topics, design thinking and Ethnographic user interviews.

Matthew Voshell: Product Design Playbook: Concepts and Methodologies to Live By
My name is Matthew Voshell. I’m a product designer based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve worked primarily on products for large enterprises for both mobile and desktop. People can visit my website at or check me out on twitter @matty652.

Hi, my name is Matthew Voshell and I’m a product designer in New York City. Today my lightning talk will be based on an article I recently wrote called “Product design playbook: concepts and methodologies to live by.” Now, I’m only going to cover a few parts today so feel free to go to my medium page, to read the whole article. So let’s get started.

Now being a product designer is a complex orchestration of processes and exploration. We are often wearing many hats juggling a diverse skill set of research, analysis, information architecture, visual design and interaction design. I often see articles that claim to tell you what steps to take to be a successful designer but I feel that they out an important aspect. What does it really take to effectively and efficiently deploy modern agile user experience design processes on a day-to-day basis? So to me our main challenge is really knowing which design methodology to use and when. So we are all on the same page let’s just take a step back for a second and try to understand what product design really is. To me product design is a human centred approach to designing products that draw inspiration from the needs of users, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success. So what does that even mean? It means that instead of focusing on getting the user to conform to the way a system works product design needs to form the system to operate in the way that the user works. Technology is often very easy to manipulate. It just takes a little bit of effort but trying to manipulate a user’s behaviour is incredibly hard to do. Now, I mentioned the facets of product design at the beginning of this but let’s spend the minute understanding what I believe are the five main facets of product design. There’s user research, which allows you to understand user behaviours, needs and motivations. There’s interaction design which you create products that enable the user to achieve their objective or objectives in a best possible way. There’s business strategy which involves understanding the overall vision and identifying the business eyes behind every decision. There is visual design where you strategically implement images, colours, fonts and other elements and content strategy which involves planning, writing, delivery and governance of all the content. Currently I have 12 plays. These are methodologies and concepts I believe you should understand if you really want to get past that impostor syndrome and finally be comfortable calling yourself a product designer. These are also great reference points to give to workmates or managers that just want to learn more about what you are doing that you are really tired of repeating over and over again. Just send them my medium article and pray that they read it!

Let’s start with a major play to call. Design thinking. This is a very hot topic being taught all over enterprises and college campuses today. To me design thinking just means tackling complex problems in a non-linear way by building empathy with users, prototyping and more importantly, and most importantly tolerance for failure. Now there are five stages to design thinking. There is empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test. Now in the beginning there is empathy. To me empathy is about truly understanding the problem you are trying to solve. It sounds like a really simple concept but many companies who are very efficient at solving problems often do so without really taking the time to understand if they are solving the right problem in the first place. So take the time to really understand the problem that needs to be solved. This means performing user interviews, root cause analysis, asking the five whys, taking the user out for coffee, whatever you need to do to make sure that you are trying to understand and identify the right problem to solve. Next is defined. Here is where you will write the problem statement based on synthesised research analysis. I believe it is an important step to do before you rush to a solution. It is also good to share the research findings with your team or pod and to create a shared consensus in defining the playfield in front of you. Following define is ideate. Where you identify new solutions to the problem statement. This is pretty much the fun part. I consider this a yes end step that the crazy the idea the better. There is no such thing as thinking too big, only thinking to small. Focus on what the product should look like assuming there were no limitations or any other issues that you may have to run into. You will deal with refining feasibility, scope and time after this. After ideation comes prototyping where you investigate the generated solutions by simply experimenting just to see what works. Getting something in front of users is definitely better than nothing. It is important to understand that it takes courage for a designer to put something that isn’t perfect in front of someone just to watch them tear it apart. That is what it takes sometimes. Too often I’ve seen people over design something, fighting over personal preferences instead of just putting something in front of somebody, and gaining user insights. Prototyping is an essential part of product design. As you may have seen from Google ventures designs sprints. I often use the analogy of buying a car. When you purchase a car you sit in it, you take in the new car smell, drive it around and see how it handles and so on. They show you the door and the wheel and say yeah, these are the parts of it, you want to buy it now? So why should designers simply show wireframe to and expect users to understand the vision. Finally comes testing. Here you will rollout problem solutions through refinement and alterations. Part of the empathise phase is you should gain empathy and understanding for the users environment. That includes device types, and resolution sizes. Being thorough and testing on devices that you expect the users to use will save you anguish and embarrassment but also test on devices that you think they wouldn’t use. I still see designers that have portfolios that look great on desktops but as soon as I open it on a mover device there are serious issues and errors and if they just tested it they would have found these things.

So, I’m going to switch to another topic I would like to cover which is around ethnographic user research. It’s the observation and analysis of human groups, considered as individual entities in order to learn about users goals and needs. Yet, the bigger challenge is despite the insights gained from field studies few organisations take advantage of this technique. Even spending two weeks on user research will pay off in your solutions coming a lot closer to solving the problem instead of constantly redesigning and iterating your way to something that is kind of close. I have a few strategic points that I always follow when conducting user research sessions. First and foremost the user interview should be one on one. This creates an intimate environment where the interviewee can trust you. If you do it in a group session the loudest person who tends to flap their gums will waste your time on things that probably won’t matter and you won’t get to hear the important things that the quiet person has to say. They tend to also not be as honest in a group setting as they may be in a private one-on-one session so find a quiet private office or space that you can use to conduct the interview. Next, make sure to ask open ended questions. Doing this will help you avoid biased biasing or leading the interviewee to an answer you want to hear versus the one that you should get. If the question can be answered by a simple yes or no, change it. If the interviewee says an acronym or mentions something they think you should know don’t be afraid to ask the five whys. Listen for these moments and try to drill down to really understand the motivation behind the answer. Understanding motivations will help you design a better product when you understand why someone does a specific task instead of just what that task is. Each time you ask why you get someone to re-evaluate their position and dig a little deeper into their own reasoning. Another aspect of user interviews is improvisation. If you have the questions in a specific order, don’t be afraid to change them around to fit the flow of the conversation. Often I will ask a question and the interviewee will mention an answer to a question I plan on asking later. Just go with it, explore it, let the interview unfold naturally. And last, scribble. Especially if the interviewee is explaining a particular process or task, don’t be afraid to draw on paper or on a whiteboard to help them visualise the steps. This will also help you verify that what they describe is accurate and really get them to walk through the entire process.

So that is it for now, I hope you found this talk informative and again for more go to my page on medium. to read more. Thanks a lot and good luck.

Paul: So there you go, that is Matthew. It is very much worth checking out the article that he mentioned. I went and had a look at it, I would say I’d read it but I haven’t.

Marcus: Can I say the same!

Paul: Yeah, well, it’s not surprising, it’s massive! It is incredibly thorough and kind of goes into all kinds of details about product design. No wonder he only touched on a part of it in his talk. Now this is what is writing his book around. It really is, it is an absolutely excellent article that I highly recommend you check out and give a read. But yes, it was a good talk wasn’t it?

Marcus: Yeah, as I say I slightly bitten myself on the arse and not doing my usual notes when I look back and go “What does that mean?” But the things I took away from that were his three points, three research related points. Obviously we all, we’ve gone on for years about the importance of user requirements and business objectives but technology limitations was the third one and I thought “Do we just assume that?” I don’t think about it as much as maybe I should. The other one, obviously is budget. Because a small budget will change the way you approach research or just the design of the product in full. So I just kind of thought rather than the two user requirements business objectives things there’s also technology limitations and budget as well.

Paul: Hmmm, I can, I think… Hang on, what’s that? I think I can hear Ian and Chris crying.

Marcus: (Laughter)

Paul: At the thought that you just ignore technological constraints.

Marcus: No I don’t ignore them I just think we assume them. We just go “Yeah, that’s it, that’s the technology.” We are, obviously we discuss technology, we are talking to a potential new client at the moment where it’s kind of a bit of a tossup between which technology we use. It was just the point of view of when you are considering designing a product that there’s an awful lot of stress on the first two and maybe just less, not enough thought goes into the technology limitations thing. That’s all.

Paul: Yeah, I think maybe that’s your own mindset because if you were talking to Chris or Ian they would strongly disagree with that statement because in truth they put a lot of thought into what it integrates with and, you know, what payment gateway it is going to use and all of that kind of stuff. But even in terms of what might come along in the future, whether it needs an API, et cetera, et cetera. But yeah, I see where you are coming from. You’ve got a point, I’ll allow it.

Marcus: Thanks Paul!

Paul: That’s all right. There was a lot in there that I got out of it. I thought it was really good. I really liked his idea of, it’s a silly thing to say but “It’s easier to manipulate technology into doing what you want than trying to manipulate users into working the way that the technology wants” I liked that.

Marcus: Hmmm, very good.

Paul: So that was a nice one. Another one that I use all the time, although I never found it articulated it. He just made it is a very throwaway comment but if you go into his article that has a bit more on it, which is you remember him mentioning the five whys?

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: I bet you thought “What does he mean the five whys? What are the five whys?” Right?

Marcus: I did. And I didn’t look it up!

Paul: No. The five whys… Well I did because you know, I actually give a shit about this show! The five whys are basically why, why, why, why and why? So they are not like… I was thinking it would be why this, why that, while the other? But what it is to get to the root of a problem or a cause you need to keep asking why.

Marcus: A minimum of five times.

Paul: A minimum of five times, yes.

Marcus: Very good.

Paul: Which I totally do all the time. I never knew it was a thing. But apparently it is. The five whys. I loved that, that really made me smile when I… Because I was expecting some really quite complicated, you know, why have you taken this design approach, why are we adopting this technology, why… But no, it’s just why? Just keep asking why until you get to the problem.

Marcus: In an annoying toddler kind of way.

Paul: Yeah, exactly! It should be the toddler technique.

Marcus: (Laughter) Why? I’ve got one of those at the moment.

Paul: Yeah.

Marcus: Yeah, a couple of things… This thing about allowing failure, which I don’t disagree with at all but it is a lot easier said than done especially if you are in an agency, employed to do a job within a certain time. It’s… That’s the end of my comment really. It’s just kind of like I’m not sure how allowed to fail we are for example. Maybe that’s wrong? But I think it’s just the way it is.

Paul: Yeah, I don’t think we necessarily are very good… People that talk about failure and failing fast. We are not very good at explaining what that actually means. I think what that is really referring to is this process of iteration. Rather than necessarily failure. You’ve got to accept that the first version you produce of something is not going to be the right version. And that when you test it, you know, you are going to get feedback about how to improve it and how to make it. It will have failed in some regards and you will need to tweak it and improve it and then test again, and then test it again and so on. It is that principle rather than “Oh, you can just cock it up, that’s okay?” You know?

Marcus: Yeah, and I agree with that. I think that there is an implication particularly with agile development that you might fail, you might not finish what you are trying to do and that is okay. I think if you got a budget holder, it’s not okay.

Paul: Yeah, I don’t know whether… If that is the implication then I’m uncomfortable with that. You know,… Unless you talk… It depends what part of the process you are talking about because he would suggest you go through the process of discovery, alpha, beta et cetera. If you are talking about a prototype failing then fine, a prototype can be disposable, you can build something very quickly and dirtily, go “No, that was entirely the wrong direction, let’s scrap it.” You know, so I guess it depends where you are in the project as to whether or not that is relevant.

Marcus: Yeah, true. This isn’t a black and white thing, it’s just something I thought I would comment on.

Paul: Yeah, and I do think, I do think there is a lot of vagueness around that as a concept and it would be easy to abuse because it’s vague. I quite like the government Digital services approach to it which is “Always be making new mistakes.” And it’s that word new, you know, you can’t just be making this, screwing up the same thing time and time again.

Marcus: Learn from your mistakes I guess.

Paul: Yeah, that’s another way of putting it, isn’t it? So yes, that was really good. What was the other thing? There was something else…

Marcus: He had a couple of, well, I had a couple of points. He talked about stakeholder interviews and he mentioned that they should be one on one which I do agree with, but not always.

Paul: Ahh?!

Marcus: We’ve found that if you are interviewing somebody who is uncomfortable with it being one-on-one then you are better off getting a group. Students is a perfect example of that. Young students. We have found that we get more from a group of two or three then we do on one-on-ones.

Paul: Thats interesting. Yeah, I can imagine that actually.

Marcus: The other point which I agree with entirely this idea of you need to be able to improvise. You need to let the interview… Of course you’re going to have a script and there’s things that you want to ask them and you want to get a response to but you’ve just got to go with it. You’ve got to go with where they want to go and be prepared to kind of ask new questions relating to what they are telling you. So, yeah.

Paul: The one I liked, he talked about spending some time working free from constraints. And he was talking about, you know, just exploring lots of different ideas without worrying too much about the constraints. And I think that is so important because so often I see… Especially in-house teams, self censoring themselves. “Oh, We can’t do that because will never get it past so’n’so.” Or “No, we can’t do that because of the technological constraints.” Or “Compliance won’t like that.” Or… Do you see what I mean? So the result is you never…

Marcus: You don’t do anything.

Paul: You end up compromising before you need to. So that I thought was really good. The other thing that he said, he mentioned field studies and going out and seeing people. I don’t do that very often but when I’ve done it it’s just been the best thing ever. Were you with me that day we did it with Wiltshire farm foods?

Marcus: I was not.

Paul: Oh, that was so good. It’s just a brilliant thing to do. You get to know the user in a way that you just do not do in any other situation. If you sit and do an interview with them, if you do usability testing… Nothing is as good as going into their home or their place of work and sitting with them in that kind of environment. It is just brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Even if you only do it for a day it is worth doing, just to try. Not even on every project, just to try it out once, you’ll get hooked, I promise.

Marcus: Wasn’t that the testing when you were asking somebody to click on something and they couldn’t see it because they had a Post-it note over the corner of the screen?

Paul: Yeah, that was the one.

Marcus: Classic.

Paul: That was great! And you know, you would never get that in testing in a usability lab. Yes, okay you can’t design for that but you know, what was really interesting going into that woman’s home was that you realise how cluttered and distracted her user experience is. You know, she had cats and she had knickknacks and she had things on the screen and, you know, so her experience was a very distracted experience and that you can design for. So yes, it was good, it was really good. Okay, so that was Matthew’s talk. Again, check out the article we’ll put a link in the show notes for that one.

Now, let’s talk about Freshbooks. Freshbooks are our second sponsor. So it is a super intuitive tool to make sending and creating invoices really, really simple. So using Freshbooks you can really, it only takes about 30 seconds really to create an invoice and send it. You can obviously customise the invoices in any way that you want, with your logos and colour and all the rest of it. Your clients can pay online which is really useful because you get paid a lot quicker that way. And they will also provide you with loads of information about whether or not your clients have looked at the invoice, whether they have paid the invoice? Whether they have looked at your email, all of that kind of stuff. And it can deal with late reminders of emails going out. You know, yeah, if there needs to be a reminder sent out it will send it out automatically. But it will also do more than that, it will also help you track your expenses so no more boxes full of receipts which makes life really easy and it’s got a great mobile app as well so you can even take pictures of your receipts and just save them and create expense reports and all that kind of stuff which is really, really straightforward. Freshbooks is offering a month of unrestricted use to anybody who is listening to this. You can just go and get it totally free from right now and you don’t need to enter a credit card in order to do that. So to claim your free month of unrestricted access just go to But when you fill it in there will be a “How did you hear about us” box. If you could put into that the Boagworld show or the Boagworld UX show or something like that that would be very much appreciated because it’s just let them know that sponsoring the show works!

Marcus: That their investments was worthwhile.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. You know, they might do it again then. And that would be lovely.

All right, so next up we have got six layers of design. It sounds like a cake.

Marcus: Hmmm, cake.

Paul: Hmmm, cake. This is Ross Johnston who we know from right back in the day, okay? He used to present one of the very first web design podcasts called Webacts. So when there weren’t very many of us around he was one of them. Which was a web accessibility podcast, so it’s lovely to hear from him again and he has kind of kept in touch on and off eversince. So he now runs a design studio called 3.7 designs.

Marcus: Okay?

Paul: Yeah, I’m trying to work out where that name comes from. It looks… It looks very much like Headscape, I think, works with all kinds of different organisations on design and transformative stuff and that kind of thing. He also teaches at Michigan State University, so does all kinds of interesting things. So anyway, he’s going to talk about this idea of six layers of design. So over to Ross.

Six Layers of Design

Play talk at: 42:53 – Steve Jobs once said “Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” but is that all there is to successful design? If it’s beautiful and usable is a website destined for success? In this talk I cover the six core needs a design must meed in order to maximize success.

Ross Johnson – Six Layers of Design
For over ten years I’ve run 3.7 Designs where I’ve had the opportunity to work with organizations of all types — helping teams better use design and the web for transformative change. I currently teach at Michigan State University in the United States and was a former co-host of WebAxe, the web accessibility podcast. Visit Ross’s agency at

I decided to become a web designer in high school. It was the late 1990s and all the gaming websites had these really cool, seasonally appropriate banners, all crafted by the same designer Walter Costinak.[??] I was hooked, I wanted to be Walter, the thought that I could create some cool graphic that people from around the world would see and appreciate just really excited me. So the next three or four years I freelanced with one goal in mind, make websites that look awesome. I was pretty successful, I think. I spent hours scouring the Internet for photoshop tutorials, learning new techniques of how to create interesting new things and look for any opportunity to use that technique in a website not really thinking about whether it was appropriate or not. And by the mid–2000’s I was a little wiser, little more educated. I learned that design is not just about aesthetic appeal. Design is a form of communication and to me, at least at the time, that meant don’t just make it look awesome, make it look the right kind of awesome. The awesome had to align with the brand tone. Not too long later I heard the all too famous Steve Jobs design quote and it shook my perspective on design. If you haven’t heard it goes something like this. “Design is not just how it looks and feels like, design is how it works.” I had stumbled across usability and it became one of my primary concerns. I kind of went over the top, I became a walking soapbox touting and preaching the importance of search, site maps, sticking to convention and simplicity. I would shame people for trying to make things complex or clever when they should use something easy to understand instead. Shortly thereafter I learnt a whole host of new things. Key performance indicators, conversions, calls to action. It turns out design isn’t just about looking awesome it is not communication, it’s not just usability. Design needs to serve a purpose. These things are being created for a reason and they should try and fulfil that reason. So it’s about this point I got to thinking “Are these the only criteria for successful design? If a website serves a purpose is usable and communicates the right things is it destined for success?” Or was I still missing out on different things? Things I didn’t know about. Let’s consider these examples of design. Have you ever wanted to have a picnic but didn’t have a blanket? Or maybe you wanted to have a picnic but didn’t want to carry a blanket. Well, you might want “The picnic pants.” These are pants that have this special flap in the front that creates an eating surface in your lap any time you sit down. So you don’t have to worry about carrying a blanket or even finding a table. You can just sit down and put your sandwich on your lap. They make it easy to have a picnic, they are easy-to-use, you just sit down and they look stylish, at least for the time. But for some reason they weren’t successful. Or maybe you find yourself panicked during the day because you are not sure how many fresh eggs you have at home. You should buy a “smart egg carton.” This Internet connected egg carton is sleek, it is easy-to-use and has an app that informs you how many eggs you have left and whether they are spoilt or not. Sound useful? Hmmm, so neither of these two products were successful even though they seemed to meet the criteria that I had come across earlier in my career. So yes, maybe there’s more to it than just “Does it serve a purpose, is it easy to use and is it aesthetically pleasing?” It was time to do some more research. As I scoured the Internet looking for different information and articles and research on successful design I came across a concept called the design hierarchy of needs. So this concept is modelled off of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is a framework of human needs that need to be met in order for someone to become a high achiever. So it starts with these very basic needs like water, food, shelter, and then moves into more advanced needs like love and sense of purpose. The higher up you move in these needs the, in theory, the more higher achieving you become. So the design hierarchy of needs is very similar in concept. There are these low level needs that need to be met and as those are met you can address the higher level needs and the design becomes more and more successful as you address said needs. This concept really shifted the way that I thought about design. Not only did they cover three needs that I had previously identified, it had two more. So starting from the most important it detailed that high performing design needed to have the following. Needed to be functional. Could it actually accomplish what it was supposed to accomplish. Was it reliable? Was it designed in such a way that it was stable and consistent in this performance? Was it usable? Okay, I had got this one but yeah, is it easy to understand and forgiving. Was it proficient? Hmmm, did it actually make the user better at doing something. Then finally creativity. Did it have aesthetic beauty. Well, this is a good start. The more that I thought about it I soon realised that maybe creativity was too broad a category and needed to become two more specific categories. Communication and emotion. And finally proficiency felt a little bit too focused on industrial design and I realised that valuable was a better way to describe it. So the result was a way to approach and think about design that I called the six layers of design rather than a pyramid like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or the original design hierarchy of needs I think of these as layers, kind of like a cake that build on top of each other. It’s not necessarily that the top layer is the smallest most pointy-ist, it’s just that they build on top of each other in kind of a more equal way.

So the most successful designs address all six layers starting by focusing at the bottom of the hierarchy and moving up. As this applies to the web, I take the following away from each layer. The first layer is functionality. And when I say functionality I don’t mean what sort of features are being developed, rather what is the actual function or intended function of the site, what are you trying to get out of it? So this really boils down to have you agreed upon and established what are the objectives of the site? What are you trying to get out of it? While this seems very simple there’s a lot of projects that I have seen where these sort of things haven’t really been concretely established. You know people will say “Well, you know, we have to have a web presence these days,” or “Our website is looking shabby and we want it to reflect us better.” They haven’t gone so far as to really drill down and understand what it is that means. Are you trying to get more sales, are you trying to generate leads, are you trying to reduce overhead? Maybe you get a lot of customer support issues that could be better addressed online. So really these things need to be established so that throughout the entire design process you can reflect back and see are we building and designing this in such a way that it meets or accomplishes its intended function? Now once the site function has been determined you really need to think about reliability. While this doesn’t sound super sexy it’s actually really important in the context of the web. If you think about it people access websites in a variety of different situations, contexts, technologies, et cetera. It is important that the site reliably performing across all those different situations. So what happens when somebody, you know, visits the site say via a mobile device or a tablet. Or what if they are using some sort of assistive technology like a screen reader? Or maybe, they are in someplace where they have a slow Internet connection, you know, not everybody has access to 4G, even today. Do the sites still function as intended? So it’s really important that whatever you are doing doesn’t impact the reliability of the site. Now, it’s not just about responsive design and accessibility. You might design something that maybe has a dependency on a JavaScript library like jQuery. And that’s a fail point. If that is not absolutely necessary well then you are unnecessarily reducing the potential success of the site. Even if you are just doing kind of more of the design and less of the building you really should think about what implications your design decisions might have before you add that huge hero image that might take a really long time to download on a slow Internet connection. The next layer is usability. I won’t belabour the point because I think we are all to a place where we can agree that usability is really important. Now, I will say that a lot of people will agree that usability is really important but there are still a lot of situations where websites end up with usability problems. It is not because anybody necessarily thought “Well, this doesn’t need to be usable.” Rather it doesn’t get the focus that it needs or maybe the attention that it needs. Is the site designed using the mental model of the audience? Rather than the mental model of the organisation. So if you are not familiar with mental models it’s kind of the way in which somebody perceives the world and we all perceive the world slightly differently. So these first three layers are what I would call difficiency needs. So if these things don’t exist then the site is deficient to the point where it really had a hard time being successful. If it can’t fulfil its desired function, maybe it doesn’t have the necessary functionality, like, say a contact form when you are trying to generate leads. Or it doesn’t perform reliably where for most people when they access the site they have trouble actually getting it to function in the way that it should or it is so difficult to use people leave before they spend the time and energy to figure it out. Well, it’s going to be really, really hard for that to be successful. But once these things are addressed you can move on to the more value add needs where they kind of build on each other and take the site from the place where it can be successful and accelerate it and make it even more successful. The first layer after the deficiency layers is value. Does the site actually generate value for users? Now, people don’t visit your site for no reason they expect to get something out of trading their valuable time. And that’s really what the value layer is all about because ultimately you can have a website that is intuitive and easy to understand but doesn’t offer the user what they are looking for. So, if your site doesn’t consider what the user wants and what the user is trying to get out of their efforts then it’s not going to be very successful. Even if it is usable. I like to think of this in terms of industrial design. So if you consider a wooden park bench it’s perfectly usable as a sitting surface, it’s usually reliable and it serves its function but in terms of having a comfortable place to sit and rest for a long time, well it’s not all that valuable, especially if you consider an alternative like a ergonomically designed office chair by Herman Miller. So it’s not enough to think about what do you want to get out of the site or what do your clients want to get out of the site. You need to really understand and think about your users and understand their situation. What are they trying to accomplish and what can you do to make them more successful at it? Because the more successful you make them the more likely they are to do whatever it is that you they want you to do. Be it become a customer, a lead, donate to your cause or become a brand advocate, et cetera. Next, we have communication this is kind of more of the visual layer of the site. So our brains are wired to quickly try and make sense of complex environments or situations around us as a way of assessing is this situation safe or dangerous? This even happens on the web. So way back there used to be danger at every curve. We had to quickly try and figure out, you know, as soon as you go into a new area am I likely to be eaten by a tiger or is this a place where I can be safe and maybe find some food? Now how this applies to the web is that when people first see your site they are going to make dozens if maybe not a hundred of near instant assumptions as a way of trying to figure out what is this website all about? If the tone doesn’t communicate the right message people are going to get the wrong impression. The colours, the images, the typography, the whitespace, the layout. They all tell the user something and it’s important that they tell the user the right things otherwise they will get the wrong idea, they will get confused and they are much less likely to convert in to lead, a customer et cetera. So ultimately you can have an aesthetically pleasing site that is completely off message. A luxury brand for example with an aesthetically pleasing but maybe rustic look and feel could confuse users once they saw prices or maybe what the actual products look like that didn’t align with the design of the site. Also, a friendly family lawyer could have a cold corporate look and feel, maybe they picked out a generic lawyer template, when in reality a warm inviting design better aligns with the type of lawyer they are and the customers that they are looking for. Finally we have the emotion layer. In my opinion emotion is an under discussed aspects of design, you know, a portion of the emotional response to a site is how beautiful is it? Does it create a feeling that this is something that we are attracted to? Which is not a logical feeling it is more of an emotion. To get into more detail if you do some research into human psychology you will quickly find that many our decisions are actually heavily influenced by our subconscious. Now we might ultimately justify those decisions with logic the truth is that the original kernel that causes us to make that final decision happened without us even really thinking about it. Your brains are made up of three different systems. The reptilian, the limbic and the neocortex. The reptilian is the oldest and fastest acting part of our brain. It is responsible for automatic responses such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature and balance. The limbic system, also very fast acting portion of our brain, controls emotions. And then finally the neocortex which is the youngest portion of our brain and the slowest is conscious thought. Now, the reptilian and limbic system are the fastest acting portions of our brain because conscious thought is slow. When faced with potential danger, maybe a car rushing at you at 60 miles an hour or 60 km an hour depending on where you are in the world, you won’t have time to think about? “Ooo, how do I get out of the way?” You just have two act. If you took the time to try and assess all the different situations would get hit by the car and that would be unfortunate. So how does this relate to web design? Well think back to the last time you made a really big decision. Maybe it was buying a house, taking a new job or deciding who to date or maybe marry. Well, while you probably rated the pros and cons what ultimately would sway your decision would be which option felt right. This feeling right was a subconscious influence based on emotion. Now there’s this very famous and interesting study where they took a whole bunch of subjects they had a very specific kind of brain damage and the only way, the only effect that that brain damage had was that they had no ability to feel emotion. other than that they could think and behave perfectly fine. Now, what they found is that those people had the hardest time or couldn’t really make even simple decisions like what you want for breakfast. Because while you might logically try and think do I want cereal or do I want bananas. Ultimately you make that decision based on what feels right. So if we make decisions based on emotion and our website exists to serve a purpose, a purpose that is accomplished when a user completes an action such as sign up for a newsletter or purchase a product et cetera, well then we need to trigger an emotional response in order to be successful. Now, there are three types of emotional responses, visceral which occurs in our server central nervous system, this is vital flight. Behavioural, this is emotions felt from actually doing or using something, think about playing a sport and feeling like you did really good. And reflective, which is conscious thought, a good example would be nostalgia. Now I don’t have enough time to go through each and everyone. You can do some research to learn more about each approach and how you might use it in your design. So those are the six layers of design. If you are like me you might intuitively understand the needs of all six layers but maybe don’t intentionally consider each concept when you are actually designing. What this framework has helped me do is be more strategic throughout the design process. It has also helped me be… Have an easier time convincing my clients of my recommendations. So what I do is when I am completing a design I will actually write out how my concept addresses each need to ensure that I have arrived at the strongest possible concept and then I can review those things with my clients and they get a really strong idea of my thought process and see where I’ve maybe intentionally made some compromises. I’ve chosen may be a less big and impactful hero image because I am thinking about the reliability of the site or I’m thinking about usability. Or maybe I prioritised a user task over a conversion point because I am considering what is the value to the user. So I hope this is helpful, and in the future when you are thinking about design you are thinking about all six layers that need to be addressed for the strongest possible concepts.

Paul: Okay, so that was good. I liked him very much. I have to say I associated with him quite heavily when he was talking about that whole thing of becoming a little bit fanatical and evangelical about things and maybe kind of shaming people. I’ve never done that! Ever.

Marcus: No, not ever! I loved the starter of that talk. Kind of like “This is what captured me and then I learnt a bit more and then I got evangelical about that and then I realised that it was wrong.” It was great.

Paul: It was very honest wasn’t it?

Marcus: Yeah.

Paul: It was just great.

Marcus: I loved the bit about cool graphics at the start. Because I was exactly the same, I wasn’t producing them but that’s what hooked me into… All the design work that you and Leigh and all the guys at Townpages did was kind of very graphic heavy, wasn’t it?

Paul: Hmmm, yes.

Marcus: I was just wowed by that from the start. And to a certain extent I still am. I still love things that…

Paul: That make you go “Ooo.”

Marcus: Yeah, or to use the cliché “Things that pop.”

Paul: Oh no! (Laughter)

Marcus: I know, when a client says that that’s what they mean though isn’t it? They mean something that has a bit of a wow about it. And design that I still get wow-ed by, wow-ey design.

Paul: You ought to check out the new, upcoming, the Beta of the smashing magazine website.

Marcus: Okay.

Paul: Because it’s, I’m just trying to remember what URL is. Because it’s got some beautiful little kind of details in it. You know, of like animations, really subtle little animations when you rollover stuff and it’s just, you know. That kind of stuff is gorgeous isn’t it?

Marcus: Yeah. I mean, to go onto a little bit of a tangent here, we are currently umm-ing and aah-ing about whether we want to pitch for a piece of work that we’ve been invited to pitch for. And it’s for a famous chef.

Paul: Ah!

Marcus: But basically if you ask questions along the lines of so who are the audiences for the website? And all this kind of thing it’s basically him. And you’re like, really? Yes, because in his hotel he has designed every aspect of every room down to, you know, how the light shines in from the windows and the different fabrics et cetera, et cetera. And he wants to have the same kind of control over his website. And he would basically be the lead designer. Umm, it’s just like… It could be amazing, could be a nightmare. So we’re just having this kind of, “Don’t know what to do, don’t know whether to respond or not.” Because the pitch would have to be a kind of full on ad agency style pitch of many, many ideas, lots of upfront work otherwise you not going to win it.

Paul: Yeah.

Marcus: But it could be a relationship that lasted 10 years.

Paul: I… Yeah, I don’t think it’s Headscape personally.

Marcus: I don’t either but it’s an interesting point.

Paul: Yeah, you’d lose it to some, like you say, some ad agency that knows how to pitch like that and knows how to operate like that but you know, whatever.

Marcus: Just an interesting point anyway.

Paul: It is, it is.

Marcus: There is still a requirement, somewhere out there for kinds of…

Paul: Egotistical…

Marcus: Fancy, over-the-top design. Yeah.

Paul: Oh yeah, absolutely. And there are people that, yes, there are a lot of people that do that kind of work. It’s just my fault, Marcus. It I’m the one that took us away from the popping direction into the boring arse world of UX and accessibility and all that kind of crap.

Marcus: No no, not at all. Oh, yeah, yawn!

Paul: Yawn.

Marcus: Not at all. Because I was talking about, just relating to that particular pitch, you know, Ed in particular is a very minimalist designer. So it wouldn’t suit him at all. So…

Paul: No. I mean it’s interesting isn’t it because in actual fact they are not mutually exclusive, you know, that’s what Ross was talking about. He said dragging it back to the subject at hand!

Marcus: Sorry Ross.

Paul: You know, the one layer of design builds upon another and so yes, it does need to be usable, et cetera, et cetera but you do want it to pop a bit. You do want it to excite and persuade and you know, all of the rest of it. So, is not at all mutually exclusive. I mean this is where Mr Clarke would get very opinionated on that. I think that he would say, and I agree with him, that we often stop at too low a level. It’s interesting because I did exactly the same thing as Ross with the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and, you know, he talked about the design hierarchy and I have created a site hierarchy. So at the bottom you start with well, your site has to be accessible, you know to people with disabilities, with different devices, using different bandwidth et cetera. Then it has to be relevant, does it actually tell the user what they want to know? You know, because if it doesn’t actually answer their questions then what’s the point. Then it has to be usable. Can the user actually find the information that they need on the website? Then it has to be personal, does the website cater for individuals specific needs or is it very generic? And then finally, you know, is it persuasive? You know, that’s when you get into the does it excite you? Does it engage with you emotionally et cetera. So yes, it’s a very good way of thinking about how these things build on top of one another.

Marcus: I think I mention some time ago on this show about Dieter Rams 10 principles of good design? Something Ed me on to.

Paul: Hmmm.

Marcus: I’ll read them out. I won’t go into the long descriptions but good design is innovative, good design makes a product useful, good design is aesthetic. Good design makes a product understandable, good design is unobtrusive. Good design is honest, good design is long lasting, good design is thorough down to the last detail, good design is environmentally friendly, good design is as little design as possible. There is a lot more detail on that but yes, Deiter Rams 10 principles of good design.

Paul: Yeah, definitely worth checking out. I’ve got to say I find these kind of things really quite useful. These touch points that just kind of bring you back and say “Okay, am I doing the basics, am I covering everything that I need to cover.” Like a checklist almost, to look at your design. And that is one thing I loved. I loved his idea of reflecting back that hierarchy to clients as a way of justifying your design approach. I thought that was brilliant.

Marcus: Even more fundamentally I think he said “Design is creating something for a reason.” And it’s like well, that’s the fundamental isn’t it. You might be asked to do a job where there’s no point to it. So that resonated.

Paul: Yeah, the trouble is that people often like to jump to the higher levels of these. You know, the “Pop” bit, without getting the underlying stuff right and that’s where your problems start coming in. But yes, it was a great talk. Absolutely brilliant. Right, so you’ve ruined my wrap-up because we’ve already talked about was going to be in next season. So…

Marcus: You could say it again Paul, if you want.

Paul: No, not really. I don’t care, you just ruined the show. Because that was going to be my big kinds of cliffhanger at the end.

Marcus: It’s not really a big cliffhanger though is it?

Paul: No, not at all. So we will have to use your joke instead. This has got to be the big ending to you know…

Marcus: Well it is a Bruce Lawson joke. Well, it’s not a Bruce Lawson joke. I’ve seen it before but I noticed it on Twitter, on his Twitter feed.

Paul: Oh, yeah, I saw this.

Marcus: To quickly tell the sex of an ant? Put it in water and see if it sinks. Sinks? Girl ant. Floats? Boy ant.

Paul: Oh, no! That wasn’t the joke that I saw. I saw a different one. Boy ant!

Marcus: Boy-ant.

Paul: That is just…

Marcus: Wonderful is what it is.

Paul: I wonder if we could persuade Bruce next season just to do a joke a show, just to record a whole load of them. Oh no, I’m taking your thing are’nt I?!

Marcus: I feel hurt.

Paul: Sorry Marcus. I love you really.

Marcus: Maybe we could get him to do a few?

Paul: Ah. No, I don’t want to take it away from you Marcus. I didn’t even think, I was insensitive.

Marcus: Exactly, you didn’t think. Paul.

Paul: No. my wife tells me that all the time! (Laughter) Right, so there we go. So that is this week’s show. Join us again next week. We are getting there now, we’ve got, what, only three more shows to do this season. And I think next week we might have three talks. So we really will have to cut the waffle down because we run over this week and my wife will be cross.

Marcus: Hmmm.

Paul: As she transcribes the show.

Marcus: And we keep on talking now. What shall we talk about now?

Paul: Yeah. So we just… We could use really long complicated words just to annoy her. supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. {Transcribers note: That was too easy. Bring on the next one!} (Laughter) I am in so much trouble. {Transcribers note: Yes, yes he is!}

Marcus: What’s the longest word in the English language?

Paul: Floccinaucinihilipilification. {Transcribers note: Nope, still too easy. Try harder!}

Marcus: No it’s not.

Paul: yes it is! That is a real word.

Marcus: Disestablishmentarianism. {Transcribers note: Marcus, It should have been Anti…. i.e. Antidisestablishmentarianism. But still, no luck.}

Paul: No, Floccinaucinihilipilification. It was on countdown.

Marcus: What! Okay, I’m going to have to go and have a look that up.

Paul: Seriously. How in the hell are you going to spell it? It’s a medical word.

Marcus: Oh right.

Paul: So, there we go. So let me get this straight. We have said so far Floccinaucinihilipilification, Disestablishmentarianism and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. And now I’ve just said all three of those all over again.

Marcus: A-hmm.

Paul: I love you Cath!

Marcus: Do think you need to kind of bullet it out and do it one at a time so one)…

Paul: 1)…. {Transcribers note: Here they just repeat them a lot. Ok, you two are very annoying and I refuse to give in to your foolishness!}

Marcus: I might have faded out by this point Paul.

Paul: I love you Cath, you are a wonderful human being. Okay, yeah, I think will just fade out at the end because this is really terrible. Oh, all right. So, thank you for listening to this show (laughter) and goodbye.

Marcus: Goodbye.