I’m a Fireworks man.
I’m a Fireworks man.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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’
men 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kalbung, Cowabunga! 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.
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.
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.
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.)
Loz Gray reflects on his eighteen-months working with the Guardian on their responsive site. There is so much experience here to learn from.
This week on ‘Net Awards Podcast Of The Year’ nominated Unfinished Business, Liz Elcoate, from some other podcast, joins me to talk about why it’s acceptable to admit when we’ve availability and to ask people for work. We talk more about having flexibility in our rates and why it’s reasonable to quote different rates to different people. We also touch on whether web designers should charge ‘rush rates’ and why working for free can be good for the soul.
Speaking of the Net Awards, did I mention that Unfinished Business has been nominated for Podcast Of The Year at the Net Awards? No? If you’ve liked what you’ve heard over the last 55 episodes, please vote for us. After-all, this is the only podcast where you hear about the things that are really important. Apes (obviously,) soap, weeing in kettles and of course Purple Rain.
Eclipsed by most of the nonsense going on at the Grammys—Honestly, people actually like Daft Punk?—were two good country music wins.
Last November I switched from a 13" MacBook Air to the equivalent MacBook Pro with a retina display. How does that feel?
It’s once again that time of year when almost every web designer, developer, podcaster and bottle washer that you follow on Twitter is asking you to vote for them in the annual Net Awards. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
I’m not sure how I forgot to link to this last week, but our phone rang and I spoke to BBC technology reporter Dave Lee about Easter Eggs. Not the chocolate kind, but the much less tasty and much less interesting hidden delights in websites.
Laura Kalbag is back on Unfinished Business this week to talk about how far in advance we book client projects and what we you do if a client wants more work done, but we’ve other work booked for the next few months? We discuss upping our day rates and how Laura’s client suggested she charge more.
No Unfinished Business would be complete without talk of pirates and smugglers and the Milton Keynes Geek Night All Dayer conference which took place last week.
It’s a really good, funny episode of this week. I’m joined again by Elliott Kember to talk about whether being acquired is just a poncy way of saying that you’re taking a job at a big company. We discuss Google buying
a nest thermostat for $3.2billion when they could’ve got one for a hundred quid at B&Q and why some people have reacted very negatively to the deal.
Best of all, we start and end this episode with a song that sounds absolutely nothing at all like Purple Rain. You don’t get singing like that on The Freelance Web or The Big Web Show, I can tell you.
I won’t blame you if you didn’t read it, but a couple of Septembers ago I wrote something personal about my name, how it made me feel, why I changed it and then regretted it ever since. You can read it now if you like, but the general gist is that being called Andrew when I was young reminded me of something I was missing and that made me terribly sad. So I asked everyone to call me Andy instead, and they did that for the next thirty-five years.
Never fear, web design generalists: many companies and organizations require your services and always will — from universities still seeking webmasters, to startups seeking seasoned folks with multiple areas of understanding to direct and coordinate the activities of younger specialists. But if jack-of-all web work is feeling stale, now may be the time to up your game as a graphic designer, or experience designer, or front end developer. “Diversify or die” is overstating things when the world needs generalists, too. But “follow the path you love” will always be good advice.
Two weeks before Christmas I took a train to Birmingham to meet a new client. After our meeting I wandered to the Bull Ring and went into the Dr. Martens shop there to buy a new pair of boots.
Related to my This Englishman’s top five country music albums of 2013, Alex sent me a link to this, on YouTube, Grady Smith’s ‘Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013.’
For this, the fiftieth episode of Unfinished Business, I’m joined by regular guest Laura Kalbag. We talk about ethical statements and whether we, and the companies that people work for, should set out what they will and won’t work on our websites.
I would like to say an enormous thank-you to Anna Debenham for helping me get started with this podcast. To all our guests and sponsors for making the show possible and to you, our listeners for being lovely people. I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas holiday.
This year’s been a really good year for British web industry podcasts and I’ve loved making Unfinished Business. It’s become a great way for me to wind down from work on a Friday afternoon and has been my main outlet for the things I’ve had on my mind, largely replacing me writing on this blog.
Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. If you haven’t been keeping up with this week’s Christmas crossover podcasts, we’ve just wrapped up the week with yours truly and Sarah Parmenter guesting on Boagworld with Paul And Marcus.
We talked about what we all want for Christmas, whether we can switch off from work during the break, how we deal with clients who insist their site be live by some arbitrary point and what our web design new years resolutions are? (All made up questions, obviously.)
The Official Movie site for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has launched and, chattering chimpanzees, is it a piece of work! As if I weren’t excited enough about the film. It’s not released until July 2014 but the site gives fans a taste of what’s happened since the end of Rise.
This time last year I didn’t feel much like sharing, so went without a run down of top country music albums of 2012. Looking back now, that was probably a wise choice as the musical year seemed epitomised by Lionel Ritchie, yes ‘that’ Lionel Ritchie’s truly, truly terrible Tuskegee. No link because, ‘Sail On!’
We thought that getting together with friends to record a series of Christmas crossover podcast episodes might help us, and you, get in the mood for Christmas.
The Net Awards returns for 2014, but unlike previous years, this time I’d actually appreciate your vote.
Illustrator Josh Cleland is back on Unfinished Business this week to talk about his work on the new Stuff and Nonsense go, go, go, rillas header, the difficulties of designing our own branding and how we can make visits to our sites more memorable by improving the design of pages we often forget.
One way you can say thanks for the time we take making our podcast every week is to nominate Unfinished Business for Podcast Of The Year at the Net Awards 2014. We’d love, love, love you if you did that.
The Guardian’s Kaelig Deloumeau-Prigent recently wrote about their struggles and strategy for dealing with Internet Explorer 8. People visiting my site using Internet Explorer 8 are few and far between these days, but those that do could be good customers, so with our redesign I wanted to make a real effort to give them a good experience.
Apple doesn’t have what many of us would consider to be a fully responsive website, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes use two of Ethan’s ingredients; flexible media and CSS3 media queries, to improve the placement of some elements on an otherwise fixed page.
One of the most important elements in our recent redesign is our new portfolio. We ran out of time during the redesign week and couldn’t include all of the portfolio pieces we’d planned. This week we’re adding more and while we were doing that I discovered something I hadn’t known before about large images and iOS.
I’m not a one man QA department so I sometimes miss minor implementation issues, even on my own sites. Just this week, despite having looked at the Stuff and Nonsense redesign for countless hours, I still kept finding small alignment and padding problems, especially on my iPhone and iPad where those issues are magnified.
In this week’s extra length special episode of Unfinished Business, Jon Hicks and I talk exclusively about Doctor Who, so there isn’t a single piece of business advice anywhere in the show — not that there’s usually much.
In particular we talk about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode, so if you haven’t seen that yet — spoilers! Before that we talk about ‘An Adventure In Space And Time,’ the story of the First Doctor William Hartnell and ‘The Night Of The Doctor’ mini episode that set the scene for the 50th Anniversary last week.
If you’re reading this in RSS, switch over to a browser, as we just launched ‘Go, go, go, rillas!’ It’s our late 2013 version of Stuff and Nonsense.
This week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by James Young to talk about his recent, first conference presentations and why confidence in front of people is as important as a designer’s skills with Photoshop. We discuss his knives business and how a side business can improve the work we do on the web and give us more varied content to talk and write about.
While we’re on the subject of unexpected conference talks, I’m stepping in to fill Sarah Parmenter’s high heeled shoes at Handheld Conference this month as Sarah’s had to unfortunately cancel.
I can’t quite believe I just wrote that, I’m pinching myself to make sure it’s still true. And it is. Next February, we’ll be heading out to Georgia again where I’m speaking once again at An Event Apart in Atlanta.