Stuff & Nonsense. Website designers in North Wales

Blog archives

Since 2004, our blog’s been a popular destination for thousands of designers and developers.

Ten years ago today, A List Apart published my Invasion of the Body Switchers

2014 has been a year of web design anniversaries. In May 2004 I wrote the first entry on this blog. This coming December my CSS Zen Garden submission was accepted and exactly ten years ago today my Invasion of the Body Switchers was published on A List Apart.

Ten years is a very long time in technology and so much has changed for me and for the web since then.

Unfinished Business episode 95: ‘Hysterically sticky children’ with Relly Annett-Baker

A complete change of subject for this week’s Unfinished Business, Relly Annett-Baker and I talk about parenting and education and specifically how she’s homeschooling her two young children.

Three conferences in three weeks

For someone who hasn’t travelled or done much conference speaking for the last two years, this past three weeks have been pretty busy with both. I’ve spoken at three conferences and hosted two workshops and I enjoyed every one.

Unfinished Business episode 94: ‘Shall I fetch the memory worm?’ with Paul Boag and Jon Hicks

This week on Unfinished Business, Paul Boag, Jon Hicks and I dispense with any pretence that this is a show about business and spend 90 minutes talking about something much more interesting. Peter Capaldi’s first series as Doctor Who. We talk about our thoughts on Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and the best (and worst) episodes of the season. Then we finish up by discussing the series finale, Clara and Danny Pink and of course Missy. If you haven’t seen the final episode of this season, there are spoilers galore.

Joli Originals laptop sleeve

When I arrived at Beyond Tellerrand in Berlin this week, conference organiser Marc had a nice surprise waiting for me, a new Joli Originals laptop sleeve for my Macbook Pro with Retina Display.

Unfinished Business episode 93: ‘Live from The Web Is… as part of Geek Mental Help’

The week’s Unfinished Business was recorded live at The Web Is… conference in Cardiff, as part of Geek Mental Help week. I was joined on-stage by Christopher Murphy, Cole Henley, Relly Annett-Baker and Dr. Clare Symons to talk about a wide range of mental heath and mental illness issues.

I put the lower audio quality this week down to everyone wearing lapel, not using condenser microphones, (sorry about that,) but recording live in front of an audience was fun, and I’ll definitely do it again. Thanks to Craig and Amie Lockwood for recording this episode from the mixing desk for me.

There are no sponsors this week, as it didn’t seem appropriate.

CSS3 For Responsive Web Design workshop in Oslo on December 3rd

I really like Norway and the Norwegian people are among the friendliest I’ve met, so I never need convincing to visit them. While I was in Oslo in October, speaking at the Making Web conference I met the wonderful people at IGM and when they asked me to take my CSS3 For Responsive Web Design workshop back to Oslo on December 3rd, I jumped at the chance.

Unfinished Business episode 92: ‘You can blow off a kebab’ with Liz Elcoate

This week is Geek Mental Help week and on Unfinished Business I’m joined by Liz Elcoate, one of the people who helped to spark the idea. We ask if our industry attracts people with issues or cause them, does our working environment add our problems and what we hope the outcomes from this week will be? But not before we talk sport, Liz’s obsession with wrestling and my Uncle Haystacks.

Next week is Geek Mental Help Week

Next week, starting October 27th, is Geek Mental Help Week:

A week-long series of articles, blog posts, conversations, podcasts and events across the web about mental health issues, how to help people who suffer, and those who care for us.

New branding for Code Enigma

Our friends at Code Enigma relaunched their website at DrupalCon in Amsterdam. The launch included the branding we designed for them.

Come to ‘CSS3 for Responsive Web Design’ workshop and get a free Hardboiled Web Design paperback

What the hell. We still have plenty of places available for mine and Brads workshops at The Web Is… next week. Come and join me for ‘CSS3 for Responsive Web Design’ and you’ll get a free copy of my Hardboiled Web Design paperback.

Hardboiled Web Design anniversary, £7.99 paperback and ebook offer

A few days ago was the fourth anniversary of our publishing Hardboiled Web Design. Four years since some friends and I wrote, illustrated and published a book.

Unfinished Business episode 91: ‘A brioche and a frothy coffee’ with Benjamin Hollway

Brighton-based developer Benjamin Hollway loves a burger in a brioche bun and joins me on Unfinished Business this week to talk about how young people feel excluded from some industry events and how conferences and meet-ups should cater for people who don’t want to or are too young to drink. Benjamin was shortlisted for ‘emerging talent of the year’ at the Net Awards and oh, did I mention that he’s only sixteen?

PG Tips: How The Chimps kept PG Tips brand leader through 35 Years of Intense competition (video)

I’m researching advertising successes for a new talk that I’m writing and of course that means PG Tips and their famous chimpanzees campaign that ran for 32 years from 1956 and within two years made PG the number one tea brand in Britain and kept them there for decades.

Debug podcast episode 47

Speaking of podcasts, the latest episode of Guy English and Rene Ritchie’s Debug is well worth your time as Don Melton—former Director of Internet Technologies at Apple—and Nitin Ganatra—former Director of iOS Apps at Apple—talk about presenting to Steve Jobs and offer a wonderful insight into working at Apple.

Unfinished Business episode 90: ‘Makes Transformers look like Citizen Kane’ with Brendan Dawes

Designer and artist Brendan Dawes is back on episode 90 of Unfinished Business this week to talk about his recent commission by Mailchimp, Six Monkeys, which explores interactions with email through physical objects named after six famous chimpanzees. Before that though, we talk more about what’s happening with Geek Mental Help Week, including whether the word ‘geek’ takes something away from the project and is somehow derogatory.

MK Geek Night Mental Help Night - Part of Geek Mental Help Week

I couldn’t be happier that the brilliant Richard Wiggins and David Hughes, the pair behind Milton Keynes Geek Night, are hosting a special Mental Health evening event as part of Geek Mental Help Week.

Banksy’s letter on advertising

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

Something tells me that Jeremy will approve of this.

Geek or no geek, tell me what you think

I’ve been over the moon with messages of support and offers of help for Geek Mental Help Week. I’m going to write personally to everyone who offered to design and build the website

Jerry Seinfeld’s Clio Acceptance Speech - YouTube

Jeremy pointed me to this. I supppose he likes it because it fits his dislike of advertising. I like it because it fit my dislike of awards.

Announcing Geek Mental Help Week

After talking with Laura on Unfinished Business this week, about burgers in donuts, we moved on to discuss the Geek Mental Help Week that I’ve been thinking about and planning for the last few months. Something that I sincerely hope will help those of us who suffer from mental health issues and the others who support us.

Unfinished Business episode 89: ‘Burger in a donut’ with Laura Kalbag

This week’s an emotional episode of Unfinished Business. After talking about why a burger in a donut should never, ever have become a thing, Laura Kalbag and I discuss mental health issues in our industry. We talk about my own struggles with depression and depersonalisation disorder, issues that stem from my father’s own mental health issues and suicide.

Unfinished Business episode 88: ‘A cage full of hungry dogs’ with Harry Roberts

This week on Unfinished Business, Harry Roberts and I have some pretty big, Boag-shaped, boots to fill after last week’s episode. Harry takes the opposite view to Paul about sharing personal struggles in a work context and worries about the impression that sharing give to prospective clients. Then we talk about how clients’ commissioning process for creative services is largely broken, the differences between an open conversation starter, an RFP and a brief and how we, as designers and developers, can help clients to commission what we do better.

David Ogilvy on how clients should choose an agency

In the 1960s, advertising legend David Ogilvy offered advice on how clients should choose an agency in his book Ogilvy On Advertising. In it, he wrote:

Unfinished Business episode 87: ‘I thought you were Kid Jensen’ with Paul Boag

This week on Unfinished Business, I had planned to talk with Paul Boag about client briefs and managing expectations. But when we sat down to talk, we were both in the mood to talk about something much, more personal. We discussed how we feel about how Twitter has changed, Erin Kissane’s ‘Ditching Twitter,’ Dan Edwards’ ‘Treading through treacle’ and our general sense of melancholy about our industry. Then we talk about how, contrary to what we often hear, our industry is filled with acts of kindness.

We discuss how we maintain our optimism and the steps we take to protect ourselves emotionally. If you think you know Paul and I from our public personas, I think that you’ll be very surprised by this episode. If you haven’t listened to Unfinished Business for a while (or at all) I urge you to listen this week.

Join me at The Web Is… for a new ‘CSS3 For Responsive Web Design’ workshop

Last years’ Handheld Conference in Cardiff was an incredible event. A bearded me even got to push a dalek with my friend Jon, as well as deliver a talk and host a sell-out workshop. This November I’ll be back in Cardiff for Handheld’s successor, The Web Is… I’m a last minute addition to the speaker line-up (again) and back workshopping with a new ‘CSS3 For Responsive Web Design’ workshop.

I joined Troy Dean on his WP Elevation podcast

We don’t develop with Wordpress, I’ve never used Wordpress and I can’t see myself starting this late in the game. So I was surprised when Troy Dean asked me to talk with him on his WP Elevation podcast. I was sure that he’d confused me with someone else, but he convinced me that he hadn’t and we spent a fun hour talking about designing content/mobile first, why we write content for our clients and ultimately why I don’t use Wordpress.

Troy normally hosts video podcasts, but my internet connection is so poor at home that we had to switch to audio only. We recorded at 8:30am so that was probably a blessing. If you’re not already sick of the sound of my voice on Unfinished Business, I think you might enjoy this one.

Unfinished Business episode 86: ‘Night of the long shadows’ with Jory Raphael

In the second part of our icon designer double bill, this week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by designer, illustrator the and iconographer behind Symbolicons, Jory Raphael. We talk about how we feel about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus announcement, the design of the Apple Watch software and whether it looks at home on the watch’s hardware. We discuss Jory’s illustration work including his artwork for the 5by5 podcast network and of course, those long shadows. Finally we talk about making a business from making and selling icons.

Unfinished Business episode 85: ‘An energy drink for Time Lords’ with Jon Hicks

Icon designer Jon Hicks joins me this week on Unfinished Business to discuss our experiences of recent conferences including dConstruct (me) and An Event Apart (him.) We narrowly avoid talking about our predictions for the upcoming Apple event and instead discuss how to keep work and home life separate, whether it‘s right to be connected to work outside work hours and how having an office can help with work/life balance.

Of course, all of this is just a thinly disguised ruse for what we really want to talk about, Doctor Who. In the after-show section, we look back at Matt Smith’s final episode, talk about Peter Capaldi’s new Doctor so far and if Doctor Who needs longer than one hour per episode to tell a good story. Oh. And Clara bloody Oswald.

Scripts and slides at dConstruct 2014

I spent last Friday in Brighton attending the tenth, but my first dConstruct. It was a fabulous conference, in an elegant venue, thoughtfully organised by Clearleft and masterfully presented by Jeremy Keith. Every talk was excellent in different ways and all of them had been brilliantly curated by Jeremy, following, loosely in some cases, the theme of ‘Living With The Network.’ I’m writing a new talk and dConstruct was exactly the inspiration I needed.

Unfinished Business episode 84: ‘Basketball with jetpacks,’ with Cole Henley

This week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by Cole Henley, technical director at Mud. We discuss his latest Freelance rates survey, how the results have changed over the last three years and what he’s learned from making the survey. I admire Cole’s Mud very much, so we talk about how to grow a business, when to hire new people and the importance of regular advice from someone on the outside. If you like the business side of Unfinished Business, you’ll love this episode.

What’s an episode of Unfinished Business without some talk of comics or films? In an after-show special, starting at 1:11:30, Cole and I talk about vintage 2000AD comics, Harlem Heroes, Flesh and of course, Judge Dredd. I want to know if Stallone’s Judge Dredd film a guilty pleasure and why, oh why, doesn’t Hollywood make films from classic 2000AD stories?

Give and Tell Challenge

Like, I guess, everyone else, I now know more about ALS than I did before the Ice Bucket Challenge. The campaign has been hugely successful, has raised awareness and ten times more money than was raised last year to help combat the disease. Of course charity didn’t start and doesn’t end with the Ice Bucket Challenge and so my friend Paul Boag challenged me, Rachel Andrew and Carl Smith to:

Creating a colour palette inspired by Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with a client on the design of a mobile analytics ‘web app.’ I’ll show more of it when we add it to our portfolio, but because lately one or two people have asked me about how we choose colour palettes, I thought I’d share how we came up with the colours for the Elemez app.

Five Simple Steps now has a physical book store

I knew from the moment I heard the news that Craig and Amie Lockwood taking over at the helm of Five Simple Steps was a good idea. They have exciting plans for the brand, the first of which is a physical book store at their Foundershub in Cardiff City Centre.

Next time you’re in Cardiff, pop in. The book to buy is second from the right on the bottom row. And as of now, you can get the fabulous paperback and ebook for only £12.80.

Unfinished Business episode 82: Love a good pep talk

Last year, when we took a month-long holiday away from work, Anna Debenham was still a regular on Unfinished Business and she and guests took over the podcast. Since Anna left I’ve steadily built up a small group of regular, rotating co-hosts including Ashley Baxter and Laura Kalbag. So it made perfect sense to leave Unfinished Business in their capable hands for the three weeks I wasn’t around to record because of this year’s holiday.

Join me in Berlin for a new ‘CSS3 For Responsive Web Design’ workshop

In all my travels I’ve not yet been to Berlin. That’s changing in November when I’ll be appearing at the fabulous beyond tellerrand.

Unfinished Business episode 81: Do you have a dinosaur onesie?

While I’m away in France, Ashley Baxter and Laura Kalbag are back again for this week’s episode of Unfinished Business. They talk about the common myths around working for yourself and working from home. Then they answer listener questions including what they both want to achieve before they retire, which, considering they’re both only 27, is a very, very long time away.

Unfinished Business episode 80: I wonder why he trusts us?

As much as I love being en vacance en France, I also miss making Unfinished Business, but this year I thought I’d leave the show in two very capable pairs of hands. (When they weren’t available) I asked two of my regular co-hosts, Ashley Baxter and Laura Kalbag to taking over the running of the Unfinished Business for the next three weeks.) What could possibly go wrong?

This week is a really good episode. It’s more business focussed than my normal episodes and a refreshing change for that. They talk about business insurance, including public liability, professional indemnity, business contents and copyright infringement. “C’est un bon épisode” as we say in France.

Some early thoughts on Sketch 3

I’m a Fireworks man.

Unfinished Business special: Rumpus On The Planet Of The Apes with Brendan Dawes and Jeremy Keith

Before we go any further, I need to let people know that there is absolutely zero business content in the show this week. (Thousands of people are thinking now, “when is there ever?”) That‘s because this is a spoiler filled ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ cinema special episode with my guests and film buff friends Brendan Dawes and Jeremy Keith.

It’s a wild show. We ask whether there should be a new Oscar category for performance capture and if Andy Serkis should win everything? We talk about the other seven Planet Of The Apes films, starting with the original five and if Tim Burton’s 2001 reimagining is a guilty pleasure. Then we get in deep with the new ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ before asking ourselves the important questions; When will apes wear clothes? When and how will humans become mute, and why should you avoid watching an apes film in Rhyl?

Even if you’re not an Apes aficionado, I think you’ll enjoy listening to this episode of Unfinished Business as much as we enjoyed making it, which was a lot.

The Business Of Web Design podcast #8

While we’re on the subject of podcasts, a couple of weeks ago Joel Hughes invited me to talk with him on his The Business Of Web Design podcast—you know, because we need a podcast that actually does talk about business.

Unfinished Business episode 78: Beirut by Bus

I’ve been looking forward to speaking with Sara Soueidan on this week’s episode of Unfinished Business for a long while, not least because I’m a huge, huge, fan of her work. She’s been writing what I consider to be the best articles about CSS and SVG. We talk about those, yes, but we also talk about what it’s like for her, living and working as a web developer in her home country of Lebanon. We discuss the preconceptions and misconceptions that people in the West have about Lebanon, its people and its customs. I think you’ll find what she has to say fascinating. I know I did.

Unfinished Business episode 77: Dirty, filthy, paid ads

Ashley Baxter’s back on Unfinished Business this week. We talk about the reasons why she’s speaking in public more and how it may help her to promote her new business. Speaking of promotion, we discuss her $99 tweet sponsoring experiment, how buying tweets works and whether it worked for her. We also talk about how to move on when you feel like you’ve reached a plateau, in business as well as in the gym.

Unfinished Business episode 76: Two old farts Googling

This week on Unfinished Business, impresario, organiser of Flash On The Beach and more recently Reasons To Be Creative, John Davey offers me some fatherly advice on how to handle a personal dilemma and what not to wear at Alex’s upcoming graduation. We talk about the Reasons To Be Creative conference, how he finds and why he chooses so many new speakers and his unusual elevator pitch approach.

Swearing: I mostly bleep out swearing on Unfinished Business, but I think that this week’s episode is funnier with our cussing intact. I hope you won’t be offended by a couple of ‘f’ words, one ‘b’ word and a dozen jokes about Brighton.

Trying and failing

We’re half-way through a project, designing a web ‘application’ for a client. This means writing lots of HTML and making plenty of template pages.

Unfinished Business episode 75: Bourne, but your Dad

Designer and artist Brendan Dawes joins me again for the 75th episode of my “one-sided, biased, poor quality personal soapbox.” We talk about the people who have inspired us the most in our working lives and Bren tells me all about how the famous designer and filmmaker Hillman Curtis helped him to get started. It’s an inspiring story.

I’ve also reinstated the after hours film talk spot that Anna and I started in the early episodes of Unfinished Business. This week Bren and I talk about briefly about Her, the fabulous Stalingrad (2013) and Luc Besson’s totally terrible 3 Days to Kill starring Kevin Costner. It’s a funny segment although I’m clearly no Mark Kermode and this show is obviously nowhere near as good as something on the BBC.

I talked with Jen Simmons on The Web Ahead #75 about advertising and creativity

I really enjoyed recording episode 73 of Unfinished Business, when I talked with Jeremy about advertising and creative work. But listening back, I didn’t articulate my thoughts anywhere near as well as Jeremy did.

Unfinished Business episode 74: Cheating at cross country

This week on Unfinished Business, Sean Johnson and I talk not only about Laura Nevo’s “Dear Visual Design” letter but also how wrong the people who thought I’d criticise Laura are. While I disagree completely with Laura’s message, I appreciate her writing it, not least because it helps sum up everything that I think is wrong about how we talk about web design today. Sean’s not just along for the ride, he has plenty to say about user experience, the Net Awards and why he hates football. The berk.

Unfinished Business episode 73: We’ve reached peak burrito

Jeremy Keith joins me on this, episode 73 of Unfinished Business. Although I try to steer clean of provoking him by not talking about moon landings, we disagree about just about everything else. Fish tacos, things that scientists haven’t done yet and I think they should’ve and what makes advertising fascinating to me and hateful to him. It’s a lively show. There are sparks. I think you’ll like it.

Shades of purple

When Sue and I were a young couple with a four year old boy, we didn’t get the chance to go out very much. An evening meal while a babysitter watched our son Alex was a rare treat.

Hide sharp objects

Regular Unfinished Business co-host Laura Kalbag’s started to work with her partner Aral Balkan on their Indie Phone project. She wanted to hear about Sue and mine experiences of working together for sixteen years, so she emailed her some questions. I hadn’t heard her answers until Laura read them on the show, but I think that made for interesting listening.

We didn’t get through all the questions and answers on the show, so here are her complete answers. I think they offer some insight into what it’s like working together at Stuff and Nonsense for as long as we have.

Unfinished Business episode 72: Big Bad Boy Breakfast Bap

A slight change of format for this week’s Unfinished Business. Laura Kalbag wanted to know our experiences of working with our partners—she’s just started working with hers—so she emailed Sue some questions. I hadn’t heard her answers until Laura read them on the show, but I think that makes for interesting listening. I’ll publish Sue’s full answers on Stuff and Nonsense later on in the week.

What man, laid on his back counting stars, ever thought about a number?

Spoiler alert: I’m discussing a theme from the first half of the latest series of Mad Men, season 7, but I don’t mention what happens to major characters.

Towards the end of the 1960s, technology had begun to creep into advertising and in ’68, Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper and Partners agency (SC&P) install their first computer, a room-filling, low-humming IBM System/360.

Ten years ago on Stuff and Nonsense: What’s in a name?

I wrote a lot more a decade ago than I do now and with the ten year anniversary of this blog just past, it’s fascinating to see what I was interested in and sharing back then.

Unfinished Business episode 71: President Cheese

Ashley Baxter is back on Unfinished Business this week and we start the show by talking about why she started a podcast with some other fella. We discuss how businesses should be authentic on Twitter and if a brand can justifiably spend 45 days planning a tweet about cheese. (Mmmm, cheese.) We round off this week by talking about how working with other people can affect your fitness and diet and why working from from home might be the best thing for some people. And let’s not forget Ashley Baxter’s Scottish Slang Word of the Week. “Heffer.”

Unfinished Business episode 70: Cycling is just sitting down

Illustrator Josh Cleland joins me for episode 70 of Unfinished Business this week. We discuss about how I’m struggling with an idea for the next version of the Stuff and Nonsense header and I baffle Josh by talking about vintage British adverts, including the PG Tips chimps and Cadbury Smash’s famous Martians.

Unfinished Business episode 69: King Arthur didn’t like machines

On Unfinished Business this week, I’m joined by designer and artist, the one and only Brendan Dawes. Bren and I talk about data inspired art and his Cinema Redux pieces. As we can never get together and not discuss films, so we talk about the greatest westerns of all time, the True Grit remake and Django Unchained. Plus, being ‘men of a certain age’ we reminisce about childrens’ TV from the seventies and why the writers of The Banana Splits must have taken a lot of drugs.

Ten years of blogging on All That Malarkey

My blog is ten years old today.

Of course Stuff and Nonsense as a company is older than that by a few years, but today, ten years ago, on May 13th *, I rolled out the welcome mat on the new site.

Unfinished Business episode 68: Rubbish at podcasting

On Unfinished Business this week, and with us both fresh from the Net Awards, Laura Kalbag and I talk about our experiences there. I explain why I don’t feel at home in the web design industry as it is today and how its conversations no longer reflect my interests in design.

After last week’s ‘giant’ misunderstanding about speaker fees, we also talk about the responsibilities that speakers have to themselves, to an audience and to an event and the people who’ve organised it. It’s a lively discussion. We talk about swearing, why private agreements between speakers and conferences should remain confidential and why speakers should play their part in supporting an event, before, during and after it.

Laura, I and everyone who makes Unfinished Business, wants to say an enormous “thank you” to everyone who voted for our show and put it in the final five top podcasts of 2014 at the Net Awards.

Hardboiled Web Design on the new Five Simple Steps

I couldn’t be happier than my friends Craig Lockwood and Amie Duggan, those wonderful people behind events like Handheld Conf, Besquare, FoundersHub and, later this year, The Web Is… have taken over at Five Simple Steps.

Unfinished Business episode 67: The Great Train Robbers got less

On this week’s (early) episode of Unfinished Business, Ashley Baxter’s back to talk about her brand new business, Insurance By Jack. We talk about why she started the business and some of the challenges she’s already faced. No ‘Ashley’ episode would be complete without her “Baxter’s Scottish Slang Word of the Week.” What is it? You’ll just have to listen to the show to find oot.

Unfinished Business episode 66: Replaced by a fibreglass rhino

Dan Davies is back on Unfinished Business this week to talk about what he’s learned in the five months since he switched from front-end development to user-experience design. We discuss how his agency is improving communication between designers and developers, his interview series about workflow and more and how he was once replaced by a fibreglass rhino.

I wrote ‘A different letter to a junior designer’

Last week, Cennydd Bowles wrote his Letter to a Junior Designer. It was widely shared and commented on, but while I enjoyed Cennydd sharing his experience—he is, after-all, an experienced product designer—I felt that his message and tone were profoundly negative.

Unfinished Business episode 65: This swimmer is reversing

This week on Unfinished Business I’m joined again by Elliott Kember to talk about Speedos, fitness tackers and—one day before Nike announced they’ve stopped making hardware—my Nike Fuelband. We discuss Cennydd Bowles’ Letter to a Junior Designer and if there are differences between designing a website and designing a digital product. I ask if designing with data is just an excuse for not having enough confidence in an idea and suggest that banging on about ‘empathy’ deserves a punch in the face.

Unfinished Business episode 64: A great big dollop of hindsight

Everyone involved in making Unfinished Business wants to say an enormous thank-you to all of you out there in podcast land who voted for us for Podcast Of The Year at The Net Awards. You helped us make the shortlist of the final five that’s full of brilliant podcasts and put a very broad smile on all our faces.

On this week’s Unfinished Business I’m joined by not one, but two guests to keep me out of trouble, Laura Kalbag and marathon runner Rachel Andrew. We talk about the fallout from last week’s news that publisher Five Simple Steps has closed, what this means for other niche publishers and for the authors who write for them.

We talk about how the abrupt announcement of the closure could’ve been handled better and the lessons we might learn to help us in the future. Finally, we break down how advances and royalties work differently between small and large publishers and the reasons why authors might choose a publisher over self-publishing their books.

Hardboiled Web Design has a new home at Smashing Magazine

The sudden closure of Five Simple Steps came as a shock to a lot of people, not least authors like me who are forced to decide on new homes for their books with no notice.

Looking back at Five Simple Steps

I’d been in Nottingham for the day, catching up with friends including Owen Gregory. Driving home, an idea started to develop. Owen and I worked together on client projects at the time and I trust him to give me an honest opinion, so I pulled the car over, called him and explained the idea. A book called ‘Hardboiled Web Design.’

Sharing our sales prospects spreadsheet

Although there seems to be plenty of choice, I haven’t found any CRM software that tickles my fancy yet. I need to get better at keeping on top of prospective business though, so the first step was to make a spreadsheet. If it’s useful to anyone, I’m happy to share it. There are Apple Numbers and Microsoft Excel versions in a ZIP file. I’m keen to hear your suggestions for improving it, as well as your recommendations for CRM software/services.

Download the ZIP file

Creative Bloq interviews Stuff and Nonsense for Net Awards’ Agency Of The Year

Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Awards 2014 and so Creative Bloq wanted to know a little more about us, what we do and what sets us apart from other agencies. Here’s what I told them.

Unfinished Business episode 63: From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor

Special guest Jeffrey Zeldman joins me on Unfinished Business this week to talk about how important is it today for designers to be able to tell stories and sell ideas to clients. We talk about whether designers need empathy or strength of character and conviction in their ideas, whether the web needs ‘account’ menpeople and what it feels like when people you’ve mentored go their own way.

It’s a packed show and as we both love advertising and Mad Men, we end by talking about my Don Draper depersonalisation disorder theory and what we expect and hope from the final season which starts next week. Even if you’ve not seen Mad Men, I think you’re going to like this episode.

A belated update to Transcending CSS (not an April Fools’ joke)

I always vowed that I wouldn’t update Transcending CSS, but there’s always been something about that old book that disappointed me and now I have the chance to fix it.

Shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Magazine awards 2014

What can I say? Thank-you. So very much. From all of us.

You voted and Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted, in the top five, for Agency Of The Year at the Net Magazine awards 2014. I can’t tell you how much that means to us. Whatever happens during the next phase, the judges’ voting stage, you made us feel special and we’re starting the week with the biggest smiles on our faces.

Unfinished Business episode 62: Scotland went mad for donuts

New regular Ashley Baxter joins me on this week’s packed Unfinished Business to talk about eating well and staying fit, my goal to lose 14lbs and why my competition with Paul Boag is spurring me on.

We also talk about how happy I am that Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Awards. Last, but not least, there’s Ashley’s Scottish slang word of the week. I’m also over the moon to learn that Unfinished Business has been shortlisted for Podcast Of The Year. When you listen to the show, you’ll hear I obviously wasn’t expecting that.

Look at the lips on that lectern

Jeremy posted links to all the videos from dConstruct 2013. I wasn’t there but I’ve listened to the audio before now. Even so, it’s good to see video of my favourite talk, ‘Don’t Feed The Trolls’ by Nicole Sullivan.

A transcript of my Modern Designer’s Canvas talk

Smashing Magazine have published an (edited for print) transcript of the ‘A Modern Designer’s Canvas’ talk that I gave at both An Event Apart in Atlanta and Smashing Conference last week in Oxford.

Minor moans about lecterns

After some welcome time away, I’ve spoken at several conferences recently, notably An Event Apart in Austin, Milton Keynes Geek Night in, err and last week’s Smashing Conference in Oxford. With those events still fresh in mind, I have a few minor moans about lecterns.

Unfinished Business episode 61: Adonis kebab

On this week’s Unfinished Business, Laura Kalbag and I talk about the business of speaking at conferences, why it’s essential to be paid to speak and the importance of contracts that cover the paying of expenses, who owns the content of a talk and what conferences can do with that content after the event.

Zoe Gillenwater on Leveling Up With Flexbox

I’ve wanted to meet Zoe Gillenwater for years and have just watched her at Smashing Conference in Oxford give the best presentation of the conference on flexbox progressive enhancement.

Her message was, you may not use Flexbox for whole page layout due to legacy browser issues, but there’s no reason not to use it for enhancing interface elements. She’s followed that up with links and resources. I’m going to have a hard time following that at my workshop tomorrow.

Unfinished Business episode 60: Where’s the Strepsils? I need to hallucinate

Illustrator Josh Cleland is back for this, the sixtieth episode of Unfinished Business. We talk about Milton Keynes, losing my voice and what can go wrong if you suck too many Strepsils. (Spoiler: diarrhea.) We discuss how we’re both trying to achieve a better work/life balance and what’s been driving us to work all the time.

On preparing a conference talk without slides

Last week I came back from a lovely, if too short, trip to the American South that included me giving a talk in Atlanta. It felt fabulous to be back on An Event Apart’s stage and I’m humbled by every invitation. I gave a new talk, ‘A Modern Designer’s Canvas’ about finding your medium, not becoming intoxicated by your tools or a process and following your own, not someone else’s path. I gave it without a supporting Keynote slide deck.

It’s not new enough

Mark Boulton on defining responsive web design:

We’ve heard this line time and time again over the past couple of years. You see, responsive design is a useful term and one that will stick around for a while whilst we’re going through this change. How else do we describe it, otherwise? Web design? I don’t think so. No board member is going to get behind that; it’s not new enough.

Video of my talk, “How to call your client an idiot without getting fired”

The final Handheld conference in Cardiff last November was one of the best, and most memorable, that I’ve ever spoken at and attended. Standing on the largest stage in Europe in-front of 1200 people, pushing a dalek onto the stage with my friend Jon, the Welsh male voice choir, it was a wonderful day.

What we’re left with is just called web design

Jeffrey Zeldman on Evolving Responsive Web Design:

Some commenters want to use initial-capped Responsive Web Design to mean responsive design as Ethan first defined it, and lowercase responsive design to mean an amorphous matrix of exciting and evolving design thinking. Lyza says soon we’ll stop saying Responsive altogether, a conclusion Andy Clarke reached three years ago.

Unfinished Business episode 59: Use it to call your doggy friends

Despite possibly the worst Skype connection in history, I chatted with Ashley Baxter on Unfinished Business this week about her semi-professional photography business. We talked about the photo walk and workshop that she recently organised in her home city of Glasgow and why conference organisers should host more photography workshops at their events. Aye. And let’s not forget Oor Wullie!

Milton Glaser’s Mad Men season seven poster

The first half of the final series of Mad Men is just over a month away and today AMC released a new poster, designed by none other than Milton Glaser.

My iWatch prediction

I’m putting my stake in the ground. If and when Apple releases what all the pundits keep calling an ‘iWatch,’ the tagline on their invitation to the press event will read:

It’s about time.

That there’s a dame to kill for

Some of the most treasured comics in my collection—alongside first prints of Watchmen signed by Alan Moore—are early Dark Horse Presents including the first Sin City stories.

Five Simple Steps years old is (almost) five years old

Well, not quite yet, but later this month. They’ve been going from strength to strength and while there hasn’t been a blockbuster book since Hicks’ Icon Handbook, their Pocket Guides series contains some real gems.

They’ve updated their site ready for the birthday celebrations and a little bird tells me they’ll soon be celebrating with a sale, starting next week. That will be a great time to pick up that copy of Hardboiled Web Design you haven’t got around to buying.

River

Jeremy Keith got a little hardboiled yesterday. I particularly like this paragraph that echoes everything I’ve been saying for years about setting wrong expectations:

Unfinished Business episode 58: Cowabunga!

Laura Kalback, Kalbang, Kalbung, Cowabunga! Kalbag is back on Unfinished Business this week and we talk about her troubles at her bank and how changing your name once you’ve built an online persona might be a challenge. We follow up on our previous conversation about business ethics, then discuss how much time is reasonable to spend on researching requirements to provide a client estimate.

Unfinished Business episode 57: Michael Parkinson on the adverts

This week on Unfinished Business, Elliott Kember and I talk about how Director Lottie Dexter introduced the Year Of Code initiative and most importantly the message we think it sends about our industry and what we do.

The Big Web Show 111 with yours truly and Jeffrey ‘Thundercloud’ Zeldman

If you haven’t got sick of the sound of my voice on Unfinished Business yet, last night I spent a very enjoyable hour in the company of Jeffrey ‘Thundercloud’ Zeldman on The Big Web Show.

The last time I spoke with Jeffrey ‘on the air’ was back when The Big Web Show was on the 5by5 network, episode 27, when he and Dan Benjamin still hosted video interviews. That time I had a book, Hardboiled Web Design, to promote. This week it was just two old friends talking about what matters to us; business, design and people. There’s some personal stuff in there too, about my therapy and being called Andrew again.

I rarely listen back to my own podcasts once they’re edited, but I listened to our chat this morning and it made me smile just as much as I did while we were recording it.

Listen on Mule Radio

Unfinished Business episode 56: A hair stylist’s 4x4

This week, Josh Cleland is back on Unfinished Business. We talk about updates on our various piracy issues and whether it’s necessary to add copyright notices or watermarks to our work. We also discuss why people at large put a low value on creative work.

And this, Lottie, is the Internet

Year Of Code Director Lottie Dexter, talking on Newsnight. (Skip to 5:30. I was going to add my own commentary, but to be honest what Lottie said is funnier without it.)

The Day We Fight Back (Against Mass Surveillance)

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Typekit: Kerning on the Web

A nice run-down of typography kerning and the font-feature-settings property in CSS.

Ignore the irony of the poorly kerned ‘Web’ in Typekit’s title.

All’s Farrah In Love

A fascinating story in Texas Monthly—not a publication that I often read— about the court battle between the University of Texas and actor Ryan O’Neal over an Andy Warhol painting of Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah and O’Neal were the Brangelina of their day—the glamorous Hollywood king and queen whose every move was captured by the tabloids. One of their fans was Andy Warhol, who became obsessed with the couple. He gave them a drawing on a tablecloth of two hearts coming together, and in 1980 he painted two nearly identical silk-screen portraits of Farrah, in which she stares intently, her red lips pressed together, her eyes bright green, and her hair brushed behind one shoulder. One painting went to O’Neal’s Malibu beach house, the other to Farrah’s home in the hills above Bel-Air.

Along the same lines

Loz Gray reflects on his eighteen-months working with the Guardian on their responsive site. There is so much experience here to learn from.

Ashley Nolan: Controlling heavy weight websites

A balanced view on performance versus beauty by proud Welshman Ashley Nolan:

Pro-bono days for good causes

One of the things I was talking to Liz about this week on Unfinished Business—you know, the ‘Net Awards Podcast Of The Year’ nominated podcast— was how at Stuff and Nonsense, we devote twelve days every year to supporting good causes pro-bono.

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