• 1:01:22

Episode number: 94

Do You Really Need a CMS?

with Ben Furfie


How well do you know your clients’ needs and business? That’s where Ben Furfie suggests you invest time before forcing clients into a CMS they may not need. We discuss the pros and cons of CMSs, why a client may not need one, and the importance of business goals over tech. Ben shares the questions he asks clients to determine site needs, examples of the types of client that don’t need a CMS, as well as pricing alternatives to keep smaller projects profitable.


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Episode Transcript

CTRL+CLICK CAST is proud to provide transcripts for our audience members who prefer text-based content. However, our episodes are designed for an audio experience, which includes emotion and emphasis that don't always translate to our transcripts. Additionally, our transcripts are generated by human transcribers and may contain errors. If you require clarification, please listen to the audio.

Preview: Whether or not a CMS is required from the perspective of you’re spending a lot of time hooking these systems into your static designs. Well, if they’re never being used and the client isn’t anymore the wiser, you’re effectively leaving money on the table by spending that time hooking it in.


Lea Alcantara: From Bright Umbrella, this is CTRL+CLICK CAST! We inspect the web for you! Today, Ben Furfie is on the show to discuss whether a site even needs a CMS. I’m your host, Lea Alcantara, and I’m joined by my fab co-host:

Emily Lewis: Emily Lewis!

Lea Alcantara: This episode is brought to you by mithra62’s BackupPro, a complete backup solution for WordPress, ExpressionEngine 2 and 3, Craft, PrestaShop and concrete5. We use this one ourselves for some of our client sites. It’s insanely customizable and includes automated backup integrity, eight built-in storage locations, console routing. Basically, Backup Pro was built to make disaster recovery as painless as possible. Just visit backup-pro.com to get started.

[Music ends]

Emily Lewis: This month marks our sixth year of podcasting and whether you’re a new listener or have been around since the EE Podcast days, you know we love content management systems. CMS is a cornerstone of the show and even our business. But one topic we haven’t addressed is when a CMS isn’t needed or isn’t a good fit, and I’m not talking about specific software, I’m talking about a CMS, period. So joining us in this discussion today is Ben Furfie. Ben is a front-end developer who has worked for agencies for himself and now works for Bikmo, an insurance company that specializes in protecting sports equipment like bicycles. Welcome to the show, Ben.

Ben Furfie: Hey, thanks for having me on.

Lea Alcantara: So Ben, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Ben Furfie: Yeah, so as you said, I’m a front-end developer. I’ve worked for a number of agencies with myself, and as you said, I now work for a startup. I’m pretty much handling forms and stuff for them. Before that, I worked as a journalist, so it was a bit of a leap.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And yeah, a lot of my experience with CMSs came before I was necessarily building websites for them, so whether that has jaded my opinion, I don’t know. [Laughs]

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And so yeah, so boom, and like you said, I’m working for a startup that specializes in extreme sports. Obviously, I really enjoy going out there, cycling. I haven’t done a lot of kayaking since I moved back from the Middle East, but yeah, it’s one of the things I’ve sort of always enjoyed doing, being outdoors and getting away from the computer.

Emily Lewis: Nice. So you mentioned you were a journalist and it was a bit of a leap. How did that leap come about to get into the web?

Ben Furfie: So I’ve been doing a little bit of web development before like a work experience back in 2000 at a local council and waltzing around various departments, but the department I ended up was the IT department. Who probably fortuitously told me if there’s one thing that I could recommend is to learn HTML and CSS.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: So I dove into that a little bit as much as I enjoyed it. You see, I was at the tail end of the browser walls, so there wasn’t a great amount of documentation around and it was frustrating to try and get to them when we don’t have a community of people pulling out amazing tutorials and just having great podcasts that there are these days.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: So it got to a point where I was a bit frustrated, but then I decided that I want to indulge in my ultimate passion at the time, which was video games, and thought, “How can I make a living playing video games?” So I spoke to a couple of people and pretty much I was pointed towards video games gently, so I luckily I can write and I wasn’t just sort of trying to blog it as I went along.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: But yeah, I ended up doing that for about four years before going into more to IT sort of business publications, and yeah, I did that for a couple of years. I moved all around the world for that stuff working in at least three years with a couple of magazines, and it pretty much got to a point where there were a couple of personal things that happened. My dad passed away and that sort of made me reevaluate how and where I was living and the fact that I’ve been away from home for so long, and I decided to start to look at alternatives of what I could do. So back in late 2012 or 2013, I pretty much decided to pick back up on the web development and see what I could do.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Emily Lewis: And since you picked it back up, has it been something that you are enjoying more than you did in the earlier days when you didn’t have the kind of resources available or is it just a constant – [laughs] I sometimes feel it’s a constant effort to stay on top of what’s going on.

Ben Furfie: It’s definitely a constant effort to stay on top, but I think having been a journalist, I so thrive on that.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: I would actually say that there’s less pressure to keep on top of things as a front-end developer than there is as a journalist.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: I would frequently go on holiday for two weeks and come back and felt like I have been asleep for a year as a journalist, and even within relatively sort of tame industries like sort of high-end IT, well, being a front-end developer today, yeah, as you said, you need to keep on top of things, but I enjoy the challenges. It’s a little bit more rewarding than just trying to keep on top of press releases and that type of thing.

Emily Lewis: Well, speaking a bit of your writing, this episode was inspired by an article you wrote and shared with us about whether a small business really needs a CMS, and before we get into that specific discussion, could you explain what a CMS is to you as a developer and even maybe how that’s evolved from your earlier experiences when you said you’ve worked with CMSs, but not really as a developer.

Ben Furfie: Yeah, sure. So for me, a content management system or anything that gives people the ability to interact with a website without necessarily needing to know codes, and obviously, as we all know that doesn’t really exist, that’s sort of like the Holy Grail of content management system, like for instance, something as simple as what I had in the early days when I was a journalist of learning that sort of the tag made things bold and kind of says how long ago, “Well, it’s now ,” and that the tag made it to like you made it underlined all the way to learning a couple of other things…

There’s no real way of doing a website without having some level of technical knowledge. But going back to the question of what a CMS is, for me, like I said, it’s anything that gives somebody whose primary job isn’t involved in the web industry an ability to actually edit and manipulate a website.

Lea Alcantara: So is this definition different when you’re speaking to clients? Do you even explain to them what it is?

Ben Furfie: It depends. I mean, you’ve got to kind of make a judgment call when you first speak to a client of how technologically savvy they are. I think the Demystifying the Web episodes that you’ve done recently have been great in terms of laying sort of people knowing, and I agree one hundred percent with what you’ve said in those, that you’ve got to weigh people up and sort of anticipate what they do and don’t know, and even if they do know things, sort of take it back because sometimes it feels very much like people reading a thesaurus with a series of web design terms and just vomit back onto a page.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Right. [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: So I’m trying to avoid the technical terms. It’s more about trying to identify what it is that they need to do with that site. What is it that their current website isn’t doing for their business that they have as a goal or sort of an aspiration and steering them towards a sort of trying to find out what is from a business perspective that they need, and so I’m trying to word it like sort of ten equal discussions of things like content management systems or HTML and CSS.

Emily Lewis: So I guess in the flip-side of a CMS would be a static site, so there’s this CMS-driven site and a static site. Can you sort of describe what you consider a static site?

Ben Furfie: Yes, so I think the thing I was talking about in that blog article was very much sort of a static site from the sense of one site where you can actually touch the files effectively. If the files themselves actually exist on the server, you can’t literally touch them, but you can open them up and you can see whether you’re using sort of a little bit of PHP to put in a header and a footer or whether you are literally writing the code for each page entirely per file.

For me, it’s sort of that type of thing that it’s absolutely hardcoded website where there’s of dates of baseness, so where there’s very limited amount of PHP being done. It’s done easily. It’s extremely quick, extremely simple, and that you can basically get out as quickly as possible, and so more than anything, get the technical things that come along with choosing a CMS and working with a CMS out of the picture so you can focus on that business, and you make sure that you’re actually addressing that rather than thinking about technical problems.

Emily Lewis: And so, I mean, to me, a static site is basically what we might call old school, though I don’t mean that, that it’s not something that makes sense today. I just mean that before we realized we could tap into a database, we might have been hardcoding all of these pages, or I think maybe even, it might have been Macromedia and maybe Adobe bought it, but there’s something called Contribute, and it wasn’t really a CMS, it was just sort of like WYSIWYG to let clients create pages.

Timestamp: 00:10:11

Ben Furfie: Yeah.

Emily Lewis: But they were essentially static pages. They weren’t dynamic in the sense of creating entries that would just be populated through a database connection.

Ben Furfie: Yeah, exactly. That’s sort of the approach and it’s one of those strings I think as we’ve sort of joked prior to getting this thing open and running, one of the number one problems with small businesses is getting them to pay anything for maintenance with having static sites.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: It kind of takes that out of the equation. I mean, you know, so looking back over the, let’s say, ten years I’ve worked with sites that have got some form of CMS, almost always the attack or the damage is done to a database or done through a database.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: So it’s that type of thing of, you know, if these people aren’t going to pay for maintenance, then you’ve got to still protect them at the end of the day because it’s really your reputation on the line. But equally, by still taking that out of the equation, it makes things simpler. It means that you can actually just focus on, like I said, what the business need is without necessarily having to worry about and even training them to some extent.

Emily Lewis: So for these clients that you go with a static site, is it that maintenance/security angle that is what you used to decide if that’s the fit, and is that part of a discussion with a client, and then kind of from that, if they don’t want to pay to maintain like their CMS to keep it up to date, get help with maintaining a database-driven system, what happens when they want to update their website, like if they have to update something on their website?

Ben Furfie: Yeah, yeah, they’ll effectively want, so let’s take the first bet when it comes to sort of addressing sort of it from a security angle, the security is really sort of a side. It’s not really the main reason.

Emily Lewis: Main.

Ben Furfie: One of the agencies I’ve worked that I think have somewhere in the region of about 30,000 customers over ten years.

Lea Alcantara: Wow!

Ben Furfie: And the vast majority of these were ones that were like so small B&Bs or sort of handyman services, and the reality is that these guys who has static sites that were eight years old, they were still doing what they needed them to do. Okay, they weren’t mobile responsive, but the only thing they ever needed changing on them was maybe their contact number or their location address and so it comes down to that thing of for me when I start speaking to a customer, it was always a case of looking at what they’ve done with the website. I think Jack McDade, in his content workflow interview, made a great point, which is how many times have we seen clients demand that they have to have a website that’s editable, have a blog and then three years down the line, they go back to the website and they’ve got there still the only post, although it has been self-editable on the site.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: It’s that, “Hey, look at the things with my brand new website.” It’s sort of looking at what they’ve done in the past and actually realistically saying to them, “Look, guys, you haven’t actually done anything to the website. It’s not because you couldn’t, it’s not because there really wasn’t anything he’s to do, why would actually being able to edit the website help you achieve your business goals?” It might be that they were given a blog last time, and blogs are like a generic ambiguous thing to a lot of people, and they think, “You know, what am I meant to blog about? Am I meant to blog about what I have to dinner?”

Emily Lewis: Right.

Ben Furfie: Well, it’s not necessarily about that, it’s about more maybe sort of moving away from that sort of conversation about “oh, I need a blog” to, well, actually what you’re looking to do is provide confidence to people who would come to your website that you can supply the services, so rather than having a blog, we’ll have case studies or customer stories section which is effectively, for all intents and purposes, treated like a blog where they sort of update a site doing that. But it’s very much a case of looking up what their capabilities are as well with that a lot of these guys.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: So I have a sole traders or sort of the sweet spot for me was always somebody who had at least one employee, but what I’m thinking of to have a marketing person, and because of that, it meant that very few of them ever had time to sort of sitting down and spending their valuable evening writing stuff.

They very rarely ever had time so it meant that you could come up with sort of packages that focus on giving them the ability to have a content writer or myself or somebody else write up that content for them and post it, and in that sense, the question becomes, does the client need a content management system? Because, of course, you could sort of flip it as, does the client need a content management system? If you’ve done a deal with the client, do you need a content management system to manage the site and stuff?

It’s very much about like touching on those type of topics and sort of working it out because it might be the case, and as I’ve discussed with a couple of people in the last week after sort of highlighting that this topic was going to be on the show, a lot of them have quite validly pointed out that their clients never touched their content management system, but they do or that it might be their virtual assistant who touches it.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: Well, that’s a perfectly value point, but as far as the client is concerned, they haven’t got a content management system.

Emily Lewis: So I guess these would have to be questions that you’re having during the sales process?

Ben Furfie: Oh, absolutely, yeah.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Ben Furfie: I think it’s one of those things, and one of my personal goals and it’s a thing that I’ve talked to people about before is when I’ve spoken to clients in the past, they always say that it’s refreshing that I’ve actually taken the time to take a step back and look at their business.

Emily Lewis: Right.

Ben Furfie: A lot of the web developers out that they have spoken to have immediately started going, “Oh, we can get this WordPress theme or these designs are going to be perfect for you,” and having those type of discussions at that point is completely the wrong approach, and I think it’s one of the reasons why some web developers kind of come across his profession because it’s coming across to people that you’ve got no technical knowledge, and quite frankly, no desire to learn it as you suddenly going into sort of a lot of technical stuff. As far as they’re concerned, that’s what they’re paying you to do. They don’t want to have to worry about it.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely think that when more and more developers think about the business perspective first before the technical perspective, that naturally ends up people thinking whether or not a CMS is even necessary, but I’m a little bit curious, I want to take a step back and ask a technical question because we’ve been defining static sites and CMSs, but there’s kind of an almost like an in between, which is a static site generator. Is that a type of CMS?

Ben Furfie: Yeah, I’d say a static site generator is definitely a type of content management system. However, it’s the type of one you wouldn’t ever want to put in front of a client.

Emily Lewis: Right.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And genuinely you don’t know. I mean, often you’ve got – probably my highest profile example is the old healthcare.gov website that I think were set up for Obamacare, but I’m not a hundred percent sure about that. Well, obviously, I think that was built on Jekyll.

Lea Alcantara: Oh, interesting.

Ben Furfie: It was a Jekyll or something similar to that, but it was static and they had an interface, and I can’t remember what it is, and I’ll pass the link over to you that’s showing this, where it was basically a website that gave me the ability to make edits to the GitHub repo without needing to know anything about version control.

Emily Lewis: Oh.

Ben Furfie: It basically when they created a new post, I think you just get it to flow to sort of a new feature and then that was sort of edited and if they wanted to have some sort of editorial control, they could be saved as NIS or the end of the feature and then going to release and the release would be checked by the editor and if that was okay, then it was approved and sent over. So yeah, static site generators are a type of content management system. I wouldn’t necessarily say they were static in the sense.

Emily Lewis: Right.

Ben Furfie: But they’ve got all the benefits of the static site in terms of speed and security, but they’re not, I wouldn’t quite say exactly static.

Emily Lewis: And so I have not used anything like this. I’ve only heard about it in basically what you just shared, and so there’s no real “control panel” like we are used to with a content management system. It’s just sort of I guess like wizards that are helping get update a system.

Ben Furfie: It depends. I mean, if you are a developer that’s using it straight off the bat, and it’s been a while since I’ve used one, so if I do get this wrong, feel free to slap me on back of the wrist.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: Well, from what I remember, it’s very much code based if you’re not using that type of online service. I think there was only about sort of one online service. I think it was developed specifically for that purpose, but yeah, it’s very much you have to know coding if you’re going to use it, so it’s very much a developer’s tool, if I’m consistent.

Emily Lewis: So is that the kind of thing that would probably make sense for a client if the client doesn’t need a CMS, but the developer to support a client does?

Ben Furfie: Yeah. It has a potential option of doing that. Again, it comes down very much sort of looking at the limitations that come with using a static site generator and making an informed choice based on what the client needs, what you need to be able to do with the site.

Even it comes down to – there’s a big learning curve with the static site generators, and it’s debatable whether for somebody who might only be doing one or two a year, it’s debatable whether it’s even worth learning it. It might still be sort of a time benefit and a cost benefit to just build them statically, and I mean, ultimately, that is sort of the big part of what was behind that post as well and sort of looking at sort of whether or not CMS is required from the perspective of you are spending a lot of time hooking these systems into your static designs.

Timestamp: 00:20:13

Emily Lewis: Right.

Ben Furfie: Well, if they’re never being used and the client isn’t anymore the wiser, you’re effectively leaving money on the table by spending that time hooking it in. I mean, I went through a phase where I was working with WordPress flows, every single part of the website had to be editable through their ACF (Advance Custom Fields) or CMB2, and I realized very quickly that nobody was using that.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Ben Furfie: Effectively, I was shooting myself in the foot. I was taking my average earnings from about I think about $70 down to about $45 an hour, and like I said, there was no benefit, a client wasn’t any the wiser, so the only person who is really losing out was me.

Emily Lewis: Yeah, I think this is a really useful conversation because I can honestly say that since I’ve been working with CMSs, I don’t think to not use a CMS, and frankly, most of our clients, while they are small businesses, they are small businesses who are heavily invested in digital marketing so they are updating regularly, but I think this is a good question that we should include and a good angle that we should include when we’re asking questions during the sales process because you’re absolutely right, I can build a site faster just doing my front-end expertise than I can when I have to hook it into a CMs, and so if that’s something that would actually make sense for a business, then that means we can use their budget more effectively for something else.

Ben Furfie: Exactly. I mean, I sort of taking an approach of if they’re not updating the site any more than once or twice a year, then absolutely no question about it, they’d go static.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: If they are creating new pages exactly the same as another page and it’s quick if you use to effectively duplicate a page and make a couple of changes, keep it within version control because, of course, that the beauty of keeping things entirely static is it makes version control abreast, it just means that you can quickly change a thing.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: Of course, it does mean that. You need a developer to do it and as some people pointed out is that really the best use of a developer at this time, but it comes down to that thing of a cost-benefit ratio of how much stuff he needs changing in this page, and if it’s only a small amount, say, like the background image that he’s changing, the title he’s changing and the body texts he’s changing, well then you can use something like Byword to basically drop everything in or mark it all with using Markdown and you presently needs control of and it converts it all to PHP.

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You copy, drop it in and hey, presto, that sorts it, so yeah, and then there are a couple of people who I have still managing in terms of their sites where they are literally just static sites. My soon to be wife’s website is entirely static, and it means that whenever I need to change anything, I just pull down the latest copy of the repo, do that, put it wherever I need to put into Byword, and then sort of export it and drop it in, and realistically, it takes me maybe, let’s say, five minutes to change already a page, whereas for me to have hooked all of that into content management system, it could have taken me hours.

Emily Lewis: Right, right.

Ben Furfie: So the reality is I’ll never get it justified spending that time hooking it in a CMS to that site, or that’s not true for everything, and like you said, it is very much a case of looking at what they’re doing, how customizable they need it, and yes, taking that decision going from there. But the one thing I will say is never trying to do a blog statically.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: I did it for 3 months? It is the most painful thing that you will ever experience as a developer, apart from maybe like they always joke that the worst things in front-end development are cache-bust things and naming things.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: It has gotten to the point the painful thing is trying to do a blog statically, especially with you do it with Open Graph, and yeah, it’s one of those.

Lea Alcantara: Oh.

Emily Lewis: Well, let’s take a little bit of a step back, so I think one of the things that I’m hearing and I think make complete sense is that when you’re in the early discussions with a potential client and you can take a look at their current website and see if they’re blogging or putting news articles or case studies or whatever and getting a sense of how frequently it’s updated, but what are your questions for someone who is new to having a website. There are still small businesses out there that haven’t gone online, but may want to go online. What are the kinds of questions you ask to kind of get a sense of their business needs when they may not even know what they are yet for the web?

Ben Furfie: Yeah, so I mean, again, it comes down to – I actually just completely ignoring the web in this situation and just saying, “Let’s do a deep dive into your business. Let’s have a look at what your revenue for the last 12 months was. What you are looking to achieve, is that feasible? If it is, let’s look at ways that we can do that without necessarily even investing in a website.”

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: You know, Facebook comes first back for them and using some kind of landing pages to like a lead pages. It’s about trying to avoid sort of defaulting to the comfortable space and going, “Oh yeah, let’s build you a website.” If it’s not really necessary, then you’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot, and what’s more, if that person then feels a year or two down the line like they’ve been sort of conned effectively.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: That they’ve spent this money, and they haven’t really seen a benefit from it, then it damages your business because every person who runs a business knows at least one of the person that runs a business, and that sort of a referral that you’ve lost, and over two to three years, that’s potentially ten referrals that you’ve lost, so it comes down to that. But equally why I’d say as well is sort of helping them realize that a website is a bit like an ice cream truck.

I can sell you an ice cream truck, but if you don’t buy stock, i.e., content and put in the right place, so the sharing and the advertising, nobody is going to buy ice cream from you, and that’s not my fault. That’s your fault, and it’s sort of making them realize that it’s not like in the 2000s where the marketing plan was, “Hey, have a website and you’ll make tens of thousands of dollars.”

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: It doesn’t work like that, and I think more and more people themselves are coming to that realization, and so helping those people who are maybe a little bit so slow getting on to the web realize that that just isn’t the case.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Well, I just want to put out there that it seems like when you’re getting into these conversations about the business, a lot of things that business people are really concerned about is control, and I think that’s what CMSs could give them because I do feel like a lot of clients that go to us, like Emily and I, specifically say they’re tired of always contacting a developer to change every little thing. So even if it is something small, would you say that a CMS is still relevant for a client that really wants that type of control over every aspect of their business?

Ben Furfie: Yeah. So there are a couple of points there. The first one being this is the reason why WordPress is or one of the major reasons why WordPress is seen as sort of the number one content management system in the world. If you think about it, back in the days before… so we automatically assume that content management systems were something you had to get in a website, most people’s brochure parts of their website were entirely static.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And then they suddenly have these blogs that they could edit, and it was a revelation to them, and I remember sort of my dad having this kind of thing and he was like, “Oh, my God, I can change all this and do that. Why can’t I do it with the rest of the website?”

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And I think WordPress was in the right place in the right time to sort of capitalize on that, and it’s the part of the reason why it’s so bloated on what it actually is, which is a blogging platform, and sort of it’s one of those things where you suddenly need to take a step back and sort of say, “Okay, right, why do you want that control? Why is it about paying out for a developer that you don’t like? Is it just because you see them as a cost and there’s no cost benefit?”

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: Well, if that’s the case, is that because what you’re getting them to do actually isn’t having any return back to the business? If it’s more about sort of them perceiving you as a cost based, then one thing that a developer can do is sort of reposition their relationship as an outsourced sort of part of their business. You don’t just work for them, but you are an integral part of their business and you are effectively an outsourced employee. So rather than just being an annoying nerd that you’ve got to wring open and poke them with sticks several times to try and get them to do this stuff.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And they start to see you more as an employee and they stop seeing you as sort of a cost, and then you’ve got flipsides as well. One of the things that I’m doing at the moment on the company that I work at is investigating alternatives to WordPress, and that’s not to say we’re going to get rid of WordPress, but it’s sort of taking a step back and looking at so what are the options out there for sort of controlling the front end, and we do regularly have new subdomains and new sites over time whenever we start patching it once a month.

So as you know, we are a classic example of a company that has a genuine need for a content management system, but it’s taking a step back and saying, “Do they need the full power of WordPress or do they need the full power of Craft or Statamic or one of the multitudes of CMSs that are out there as options?” And it’s looking at things like – I can’t remember the name of the module of a plugin, it’s off the top of my head that Jack was talking about.

Timestamp: 00:30:14

Emily Lewis: Workflow, was it called Workflow? [Host note: It’s actually Workshop, not Workflow]

Ben Furfie: I think it might be, yeah.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: Sorry, Jack, if that’s not right.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: So identifying exactly what is out there and frequently changing, I’m trying to sort of making sure that whatever you deliver to them gives them the control that they want without opening their site up to security risks or open them up to sort of vandalizing their own sites because how many times have we put up a beautiful site that has had kind of immense amount of UX work put into it, immense amount of care to make sure they matches their branding and we go back and it looks like something that’s crawled from under… off 2000, you know and sort of come off of MySpace, you know?

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: It’s that type of thing. It’s sort of looking at how do you balance the two things.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: I think that’s such an important aspect when you’re reviewing the site, like what needs to be edited and who needs to edit it because I feel like, especially in the CMS world or just in the development world, there’s a tendency to over-engineer things and make everything dynamic and everything editable just because you can.

But simply asking, “Well, if they just need to edit this sidebar section, then perhaps that’s all that needs to be done,” and I feel like, especially when you are focused on performance on your site as well, the least dynamic the pages the better, and I believe that’s a conversation Emily and I have with our clients on a regular basis, too, and they’re like, “Oh, can we edit this?” And we usually say, “Hey, do you need to edit it on a regular basis or is this something you’re going to just change in like one year or three years because if that’s the case, then I’m just going to hardcode it in the template and it will be faster.”

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: And usually they agree on the latter suggestion versus the “I just need this new field.”

Emily Lewis: Yeah, our clients really do respond. I think we’ve done a good job of educating our existing clients about speed and performance, and our clients are also really comfortable asking us to make those one-off changes here and there, which is a good segue to our next question about like retainer agreements, but before we get into that, I do have I guess a comment/question, but I kind of feel like what Lea was describing where we have clients that are asking for more control, and they don’t want to have to ask a dev for help all the time.

To me that’s a flag that their business is growing and they are not a fit for what they have right now, and so maybe if they had a static site originally or whatever the situation is, that reflects a growing pain, but that’s really an opportunity to reevaluate where they are, not just give them a CMS kind of thing, but that it’s a signal to something bigger.

Ben Furfie: Yeah. I mean, probably going back to one of the earlier questions where you were asking about somebody who’s brand new and hasn’t had a website before, I think static sites are the perfect example of – I hesitate to call it a Minimum Viable Product [MVP] because I know it’s not the same kind of logic behind it.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: But if we call it, let’s say, Minimum Viable Site, it’s about identifying what they need as the priority and getting that out there. I think people sort of underestimate how valuable those are. “Hey, new website coming soon” type thing, you know, a type of placeholder website. Because if you think about it, a lot of businesses only really need the this or equivalent of a Yellow Pages ad.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And that’s what they are, they literally have that, “Hey, here’s our name. Here’s what we do. Here are our contact details,” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: Because if you’re talking about sort of somebody who is aware of who the company is and they’re looking for details, that’s all they need. Not everybody sort of wakes up and sort of says, “Today I need to get my garden done. I’m going to go and search on Google.” A lot of people don’t do that. A lot of people would ask their friends and family, “Hey, do you know of a gardener?”

And I’ll give you an example, we’ve literally just had the fence posts on the back of our garden replaced and the people who made this or actually who sort of instigated that actually asked their friends and family first and the people who were a recommendation from them and now that they’ve done that, you know, we’ve seen the high quality of the work and we’re actually having them do a couple of bits and pieces in our garden, and that’s sort of recognizing that that’s a way a lot of business works, it’s crucial.

I think sometimes we get sucked into this idea that the web is everything. Business doesn’t happen unless it happens on the web, and that’s just not the case. It’s sort of I think a lot of the time, people neglect such crucially important type of website. You’ve got your obvious ones like e-commerce and lead generation websites or brochure websites these days are more of a confidence website. They probably know who they are. They’ve probably been recommended. At that point, they’re all ready to buy.

They just have that little bit of confidence or the ability to contact them and so you don’t need to go over the top with those type of things and like I say, it’s coming up with a minimum viable website that will enable that person to do that or like you said, if it works and it helps their business grow, there is going to come a point where that doesn’t fit them anymore, and that’s when you can start having a real conversation about why they need to invest in their new website rather than sort of what some people do which is when that after three years and they say, “Oh, hey, your website looks really rubbish now. It’s probably costing you the business. Can we redesign it?”

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: Well, like I said, we’ve had clients with 8- to 9-year-old websites who were turning over six figures simply because the people who are going on the website didn’t care. They are literally looking for a phone number or they are looking for sort of a location of how to get to them. It’s like I said, it’s very much about sort of taking step back in technical, just the stuff that we really geek out on, we sort of talking about and thinking about as developers, and actually sort of saying, “Right, let’s take everything a step back and actually look at what the client needs.”

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: In effect, it’s a bit of a René Descartes’ approach of “I think therefore I am.” He stripped everything back when he was questioning things and that was the saying he was left with, “I think therefore I am,” so I can build everything, go back and use the scientific method. And what about this? No, I think it’s complicated.” So it’s taking a step back from all those sort of ornamental fluff. It’s the core part of our job. Basically, it’s completely irrelevant to a business person. it means that we can actually take a deep dive and actually on what it is exactly that they need.

Emily Lewis: Yeah, I like this because I feel up until this conversation that Lea and I have done like superior job of not being prescriptive when we are first engaging with a lead or speaking with a client about something new they want to do, that we really do try to come to it with their business first, but this conversation makes me realize we haven’t gone that far. We haven’t stripped that fine layer. We are always assuming that a CMS is involved.

Ben Furfie: It’s an easy thing to do. I mean, for me, I only came to that realization when I was working for that agency and have the occasional ticket come through and often seeing this addressed, and asking the sales guys, “Why haven’t we sold a new website to this person?” “It’s not responsive. It’s not, you know, that,” and they just turned around and said they don’t care. It makes some money. It does what they need them to do, you know?

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Ben Furfie: They pay us a hosting fee every year. If they need to change something, they pay for us for an hour of our time to change it. They don’t need to worry about it. It just sits there and does its job effectively.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: In regards to that though, I do feel like a lot of people in our industry are moving away from clients like that mostly because they are not as profitable. You’d have to do a volume amount of those types of clients in order to make a lot of profit, and in your article, you mentioned a retainer agreement, and I feel like the thing that I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around is that these less profitable clients are inclined to do a monthly retainer, like am I completely wrong?

Ben Furfie: No, you’re absolutely right. I think if we approach them with a traditional idea of what we consider to be a monthly retainer, that they’re incredibly hostile to it.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And one thing I actually found interesting and that I learned when I was working at the agency where I had many, many clients is that there were two very, very distinct types of clients. The ones who are invariably willing to spend money on retainers and money on marketing, the money that they were spending was their businesses’ money. The ones who were much tighter were spending their own money.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: Now, whether that was because they were a sole trader and the money that the business had and their own money was one and the same, or whether they just weren’t very professional in the way that they handle their businesses’ finances, that’s up for debate, but it was a big thing to note, and like I say, if you approach them in the traditional sense of saying, “Oh, hey, guys, you know, we’ll build this website for you for $500. By the way, you need to pay us $50 a month if you want to make any changes.” Well, of course, that’s going to rub them off the wrong way.

Where I was going to go a little bit different there, I’ve had a lot of very positive feedback before I was approached by Bikmo was going down the route of and I am not entirely sure how you’d describe it to people to make it clear in their mind what it was because I’ve never really got that far, but it was very much a Website as a Service.

Timestamp: 00:40:14

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: So rather than paying upfront for the development, what you effectively did is saying to them, “Okay, it’s like a mobile phone contract. Your mobile phone is absolutely your own cellphone contract.” I think it varies in the US. You are locked in for two years. You have to do that or you have to pay the balance for you to sort of get out of it, or you don’t have to pay anything upfront, you’d get that phone and then the minutes and the data that you get is what you’re effectively getting as a value add are what you’re actually paying for over the course of the two years, and it’s saying to them, “You know, rather than spending, say, $500 upfront, how about you change that from a capital expense to an operational expense of a $100 a month or $75 a month over the course of two years.”

So at $100, it’s $2,400, so that immediately $2,400 that you’ve made from that one client who are locked in, and would often need to spend $500 with you because what they’re seeing is they’ve got a website, they can put it against that they’re making a month rather than it being an outlay and then effectively they can send over a request through a ticketing platform. If he’s changed something, “Can you…” It actually gives you a real beneficial way of saying, “Right, we’ve got a service level agreement for our basic plan,” which is what most of them would end up on, “and we’ll make the change within a week.” Most are fine with that.

You can make a sense of caveat, it’s like I was going to where, if they’ve been a bit naughty and they’ve done something that they shouldn’t have and they need to change it legally, and we’ll change it too, and that’s no cost to them within 24 hours. Another thing as well is make them a little bit more confident with things like if you want to cancel that contract, you’ve got to pay an exit fee, but if your business closes, there’s nothing to pay because at the end of the day, that’s stressful enough as it is.

That also removes the fear of locking themselves in for two years, and it also means that effectively they have a relationship with you. How many times have we built websites and then gone away and six months later we go back and check up on the website and think we haven’t heard from them, and like Jack said, they’ve replaced it with WordPress website. It’s that type of thing of having that retainer and sort of shifting the way that people actually pay for these things, it makes it more of an ongoing relationship.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And again, it’s just sort of trying to trying to look at it from their perspective of this is a big capital outlay to someone who’s paying out of their own money. If they only make, say, $1,500 a month, a $500 website is a third of what they take home, and it’s sort of having it in that sort of mentality, and that was the idea of having a retainer, and that’s how you make those clients profitable.

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: Oh, that’s just kind of blowing my mind. I like the perspective of that cellphone contact situation, and I’ve heard about this before. I believe someone in the ExpressionEngine Pro Network does this specifically for nonprofits where in the overall cost of the website, when you added up for the two-year contract or three-year contract, it ends up being what “normal” website costs, but they just divide it in months, and like they don’t do like a deposit or anything like that. It’s just you sign the contract, you’re going to guarantee this much, and then you’re just going to get a monthly outlay, but then like at the end of the day, obviously that ends up being the total cost of “real” website you would do anyway.

Ben Furfie: Exactly, yeah, and I mean, there’s also over benefits to people because it means that at least at first it’s going to be slow. You might have less money coming in, but let’s say you bring in, and as I say, moving in a year, you have managed to get two new people on every month, that’s $2,400 a month coming in. It’s that type of thing that’s saying, “Can you say with any certainty that you have $2,400 coming in every month without you actually having to go out and sort of find clients to do that type of thing?” I’m not going to say that you can’t carry on doing your existing type of project based of thought. It gives you that all hallowed holy grail of residual income without trying to find people who are looking for SEO or looking for sort of PPC when they’re not our core areas.

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: And what you’re ever going to do as well is somebody who actually specializes in doing that, it’s one of those things of looking how do you sort of find residual income with what you actually do as a specialty.

Lea Alcantara: Well, and the other benefit I’ve noticed is that it gives you a continual relationship with this particular client, so that it gives you a reason to always contact them, et cetera and so forth, on a regular basis, and you never know what type of business will grow.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: And since you already have that ongoing relationship, if they have a larger project in mind as their business grows, then you’re the first person of contact.

Ben Furfie: Exactly. I mean, that’s one of the things I see working inside startup now where I won’t obviously go into too many details. When you actually reached out and talk to people and you get business from it.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Ben Furfie: But if you just let them sort of languish, then yeah, you get business from them, but it’s not as great a return. I think the thing that a lot of web developers and designers do very badly is keeping in touch with their clients.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And I know Paul Boag of the Boagworld Podcast often says that it’s incredibly important to just reach out and just have 5- to 10-minute chat with your client every so often. There’s men, as well, I think was advocating the idea of setting up calendar reminders. I think he uses a piece of software that does it for him, but contact me or something like that.

Well, effectively, it just sends out or you can send it and so you open MailChimp potentially as a plaintext email if you want to make it look a little bit more like you’ve actually written it. That just basically can go on to say, “Hey [First Name], I haven’t heard from you. Well, I hope everything is going okay. It would be great have any catch up just to make sure that everything is going okay with the website and the business. Hope everything is good and speak to you soon.”

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: And it’s that type of thing that’s very simple. Maybe there’s an element of some of those being terrible at time managing, and I can’t not put my hands up and say that I am.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: It’s amazing a challenge. We’ve all done it. We’ve all been out stretching. We all look ahead in the sun when time things are not going well and so we go, “I’d speak to the client and deliver them the bad news,” and maybe that’s sort of the thing we feel sour with the relationship when we’re afraid to follow up after that, but it’s sort of having that and having an approach where you’re in constant contact with the people.

You’re still going to find them, and let’s say they don’t care, but you’ve just wanted it done. If he’s telling them up, “I’m really sorry, such and such has happened,” unless they’ve got a firm deadline like a trade show or an event, most of the time they can afford to let it slip a week or two weeks after when you initially said it. They’re not going to suddenly flip the desk and lunge on you and try and grab your neck with a phone.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: They’re like, “Oh, it’s all right.” What I often find useful is when you having to choose of somebody else. Imagine you work with a copywriter and the copywriter has a problem that means that they’re going to be a week delayed. You’re like, “Okay, I’m just laying out.” Now, I’ve got to let the client know, but it’s one of those things that sometimes thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve got to now let them know.” Just take a step back and realize that it’s just business, it’s life, things like this happen and as long as you actually tell them in advance, they’ll be happy.

Emily Lewis: But I think…

Ben Furfie: That avoids a lot of issues.

Emily Lewis: Yeah, and I think having the retainer relationship or long-term relationship, however you make that happen, makes that easier.

Ben Furfie: Absolutely.

Emily Lewis: Like when we have retainer clients, we talk to them every week regardless of whether there’s something happening in that.

Lea Alcantara: Deliverable.

Emily Lewis: Yeah.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Emily Lewis: And that just makes it easier to talk to them because I literally did what you just described on Friday. I took the day off on Friday and completely forgot that I had scheduled to bring some client stuff live on Friday night. So at the last minute, I notified that client. It was no problem, and probably not only because this client is great, but because we talk to them every week. They know we’re working. They know we are on top of things.

Ben Furfie: Exactly, and again, coming back to sort of the mystical arts and black magic of web development.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: Well, as it is, I just got a lot of clients. I’ve got no idea what we do.

Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]

Ben Furfie: If we’re all being honest, sometimes we don’t what we’re doing. But it’s one of those things where communication is key, whether you do that on a contract basis or whether you do that on a retainer basis or whether you just do that with somebody who you sold the website to two years and you haven’t heard from them. If there’s one thing that you do after this podcast is just find somebody who you haven’t spoken to for a while. Give them a ring and see how they are. You never know you might actually end up getting some business out of it.

Emily Lewis: Yeah, totally.

Lea Alcantara: I definitely think it’s so important to do that constant contact because again, like you said, you never know. Like one of our clients right now is someone that I met at a random non-business event and we just kept in touch on in LinkedIn and then all of a sudden, years later, they’re a client.

Timestamp: 00:50:04

Emily Lewis: So we’re nearing the end of the podcast, but I did want to ask a couple of additional questions about the topic about needing a CMS or not. Do you ever encounter a situation where a client is coming to you and they’re saying, “I need a CMS,” or they’re saying, “I need WordPress,” or whatever, what kind of conversation do you have with them to backtrack them away from that perspective to get first to the business goals?

Ben Furfie: So probably the most of the time, if you have anybody say, “I want a CMS,” they’re never saying, “I want a CMS.” They always say, “I want a WordPress.” You know?

Emily Lewis: [Agrees]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And I say, “Any WordPress?” Specifically because I think WordPress itself has become such a generic trademark, although I’m pretty sure that the guys like Matt (Mullenweg) and team over Automattic probably wouldn’t be happy to hear that, but the reality is a lot of people do sort of say, “Oh, yeah, I want a WordPress website.” They don’t actually mean they want WordPress. They mean they want a site that they can edit. In the same way that you might Hoover your living room or your house or you might…

Lea Alcantara: Right.

Ben Furfie: What’s the wall thing over there… I can’t remember. It’s…

Emily Lewis: Spackle, yeah.

Ben Furfie: Yeah. So you might spackle your walls. You know, actually, that’s not the term. It’s just that it’s become such a generic trademark that people use it to describe the action, and in the same way, I found that WordPress has become that sort of generic trademark within our industry of somebody who wants to edit it. So it’s a case of just saying to them, “Okay, so is it that you want to be able to edit your website.

Okay, well, why do you want to be able to edit your website?” Okay, so it’s like that you turn around and say, “Well, we’re spending a fortune on our web developer at the moment and we don’t feel like we’re getting a return.” Then it’s the case of then just steering it back to, “Okay, would you mind if I ask how much you’re paying for that web developer? What are the types of things that they’re doing? How does that fit within what you want to do as a business?”

And so you steer it back ever so gently to the point where you’ll find the majority of times that you speak to a business owner about business things, A, they love it. Let’s be entirely honest, people love talking about themselves and their company.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: So steering away from the thing that they’re nervous about, which is web development, taking it more towards what they feel more comfortable about, you’ll find that you really don’t, and you’re not pushing against the brick wall there. You will find it’s far, far, far easy than what you ever imagined to get a business person to talk about their own business, and it’s steering the conversation in that way away from a particular platforms or particular technical decisions that you’ll find that you end up gaining a far better understanding of what the goal is.

Chances are with this type of client, she probably will end up using a CMS. And one thing I will say as a takeaway from this, don’t ever think, don’t use a CMS at all. It’s just more about taking a step back and rather than jumping in, and another example would be, “Hey, yeah, let’s just use React.”

Emily Lewis: Right. [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: So few websites need React.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah.

Ben Furfie: And even the ones that do are arguably best suited with like Vue.js or something. It’s more about sort of getting people to take a step back and actually questioning, “Right, okay, stop thinking about ten good things in the WordPress space, and it might be, ‘Oh, I can use this template.”’ It’s about taking a step back and sort of focusing on why that person is speaking to you and yes, so really rethinking the approach you’re actually taking to building that website.

Emily Lewis: So I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit. We noticed your own site, it looks like it’s running on Statamic.

Ben Furfie: Yeah.

Emily Lewis: Why did you choose a CMS for your site? Is it because you have a blog? It’s because it’s relatively minimalist.

Ben Furfie: I think it’s minimalist both in design, which is sort of the default website theme. I am one of those people who are incredibly picky and I just figured, “You know what, I want a really nice clean theme. The Redwood Theme is that, let’s go with that.” In terms of having a blog, is it my personal objective to write more? After ten years of being a journalist, I hate writing if I’m being entirely honest.

Emily Lewis: I know the feeling.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: Yeah. So it’s sort of having that, but then also you know, it comes down to the fact that we’re investigating different options, like I said before, so getting my hands on and I got Statamic means I can try a couple of different things. There are a lot of pages that aren’t public or have sort of redirects on there that you can’t publicly access on that site that it has got me to play around with things without being necessarily public any way that I can access them on my various sort of test devices and stuff.

So yeah, I mean, that’s really so why I went to Statamic. It’s the one I was testing in the moment. I’ve had websites like that on WordPress and I had them on Craft. I’ve had them in Perch. It’s just, you know. Again, I might be the one who says don’t use a CMS, but I’m addicted to trying different CMSs again.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: So it’s one of those. It’s part scratching my own itch part, correction, my work addiction part and just trying to actually learn more.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: There. So to wrap this up, do you have any final advice for clients deciding whether they need a CMS or not?

Ben Furfie: For clients, I would say take a step back from thinking about technical things. When you start talking to a web developer or web designer or an agency, that’s not the time to be talking about technical things. You’re effectively taking the approach and it was one of the project managers I used to work with and I love this saying. It’s like saying, “I know where I’m getting married. I know when I’m getting married. Now, I just need to find my wife.”

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: I’m sure it’s probably a saying that’s quite common, but it’s far too often when we start talking to clients, both they and we are rushing into that sort of trap, and it’s about taking a step back and actually working out, well, for one, are you actually the right fit for each other? But also start taking a deep dive and looking at where the things are in the business side you can help with and then once you got those answers, starting to think about the technical solutions and effectively you can help them with those problems.

Emily Lewis: And do you have any advice for developers as they decide whether or not it’s worth it to implement a CMS or not for a client?

Ben Furfie: Yeah. If you have only ever used one CMS, please this year try a different one.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs] Amen.

Lea Alcantara: Yeah. Yes.

Ben Furfie: Please, if you only ever worked with open source content management systems, be that WordPress or Drupal, please try a commercial one. If anything, and I’m not saying that you should go breaking any copyright laws, but you might learn something that can benefit your own open source system. Believe it or not, the premium paid for CMSs are light years ahead of any of the open source content management systems that a big popular on the market at the moment, and there’s a reason for that, their focused, they’re aware of what they need to do and they don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Don’t try them. Get your head around how they work and then once you’ve got a best understanding of, A, what they do, what are the options are out on the market, you are in a better placed to actually help clients and even other developers to sort of make the most of the tools that we absolutely, incredibly fortunate to have. Because let’s face it, if some genius haven’t come up with the idea of a content management system, we’d still be doing everything statically right now probably.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Ben Furfie: And yeah, like I said, blogging statically, no, not a good idea.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: Fair, fair. Well, that’s all the time we have for today, but before we finish up, we’ve got our Rapid Fire Ten Questions so our listeners can get to know you a bit better. Are you ready, Ben?

Ben Furfie: I am.

Lea Alcantara: Okay, first question, introvert or extrovert?

Ben Furfie: Oh, probably well about ten years ago, I was an introvert, but being a journalist kind of forces you to be an extrovert.

Emily Lewis: The power is going to be out for the next week, what food from the fridge do you eat first?

Ben Furfie: The cheese probably.

Lea Alcantara: Yum.

Ben Furfie: It could be the bacon, it could be the cheese. I’d probably end up trying to work out some way of making something together with them.

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: What’s your favorite website for fun?

Ben Furfie: Fun? Probably Reddit.

Emily Lewis: What’s the last thing you read?

Ben Furfie: User Experience Design by Paul Boag.

Lea Alcantara: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?

Ben Furfie: This comes from one of the guys I used to work for in Dubai, “There are no such things as stupid questions, only stupid people who don’t ask questions.”

Emily Lewis: I like that. What’s the worst piece of professional advice you received?

Ben Furfie: Oh, that’s actually a good one, “Use WordPress, it’s perfect. They’ll do anything.”

Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: What’s your favorite color?

Ben Furfie: Probably green.

Emily Lewis: If you could take us to one restaurant in your town, where would we go?

Ben Furfie: Oh, good question, I would probably take you across the river to Liverpool and take you to a restaurant called Etsu. You know it’s very, very good food when you go in there and it’d be the places for Japanese people, even though you’re in Liverpool.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: What’s your favorite board game?

Ben Furfie: Favorite board game is definitely Battlestar Galactica, not that I get to play it very often because, obviously, it is a six to eight hour long board game, so if it were sort of going for a short game, I’ll probably be seeing myself play Settlers of Catan.

Emily Lewis: I love that game.

Lea Alcantara: I love it.

Emily Lewis: All right, last question, Hulu or Netflix?

Ben Furfie: As we can’t get Hulu over here…

Emily Lewis: Oh, you guys can’t.

Ben Furfie: No.

Emily Lewis: I didn’t know that.

Ben Furfie: No. Especially, equivalent, of course, would be the BBC or sort of the multitude of—

Lea Alcantara: Or Amazon.

Ben Furfie: Yeah, I’d probably say, doo-doo-doo. I’m going to go with Netflix just because, obviously, I don’t want to go and sort of twisting the answer.

Emily Lewis: [Laughs]

Lea Alcantara: All right, thank you, Ben.

Ben Furfie: Okay, thank you very much.

Emily Lewis: This was a great conversation. In case our listeners want to follow up with you or send you questions, where can they find you online?

Ben Furfie: Probably the easiest way of getting a hold of me online is Twitter and my handle is @frontendben, as in for front-end developer. The other way of getting a hold of me is probably going on my website, benfurfie.co.uk, and dropping me a message through the contact form.

[Music starts]

Emily Lewis: Excellent. Thanks a lot for reaching out to us with this idea in your article because I think this was a really useful discussion.

Ben Furfie: Yeah, and thanks for having me up.

Lea Alcantara: CTRL+CLICK is produced by Bright Umbrella, a web services agency obsessed with happy clients. Today’s podcast would not be possible without the support of this episode’s sponsor! Many thanks to Backup Pro!

Emily Lewis: We’d also like to thank our hosting partner: Arcustech.

Lea Alcantara: And thanks to our listeners for tuning in! If you want to know more about CTRL+CLICK, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ctrlclickcast or visit our website, ctrlclickcast.com. And if you liked this episode, please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or both! And if you really liked this episode, consider donating to the show. Links are in our show notes and on our site.

Emily Lewis: Don’t forget to tune in to our next episode when we’re going to talk about Google Analytics with Terri Jenkins. Be sure to check out ctrlclickcast.com/schedule for more upcoming topics.

Lea Alcantara: This is Lea Alcantara …

Emily Lewis: And Emily Lewis …

Lea Alcantara: Signing off for CTRL+CLICK CAST. See you next time!

Emily Lewis: Cheers!

[Music stops]

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Emily Lewis and Lea Alcantara

CTRL+CLICK CAST inspects the web for you!

Your hosts Emily Lewis and Lea Alcantara proudly feature diverse voices from the industry’s leaders and innovators. Our focused, topical discussions teach, inspire and waste no time getting to the heart of the matter.

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Bright Umbrella