Archive for February, 2012


Devising a Training Budget

by David Wynne

We go to quite a lot of effort at Red Badger to find the right people to employ, people who will invest themselves in our company and what we’re trying to achieve; all very noble.  But as with all good relationships, it’s not just about the take but also the give – you get back what you put in.

Part of that giving back often comes in the form of training, be it a book, a conference or even a traditional course.  The question is; how much do you spend on each employee and who get’s to say when it get’s spent?

One of the great things you get to do when you start your own company is to put in place the policies you always wanted when you were an employee working for someone else.  I’m sure many people ultimately decide to start their own company because they think they can make a better fist of it than their current or past employers.  Whilst that all sounds fantastic in practice, one of the other things you have to do when you start your own company, or indeed just run any company responsibly, is to make decisions that are in the interest of company long term security.

We strongly believe in ensuring that we hire the best people and then help them stay the best.  We also believe in hiring managers of one so figured we’d delegate the training budget management to each employee; with some ground rules of course!

Here’s the email we sent to our team:

We’d like to set out and agree an open and fair approach to training, such that each employee can self-manage any training courses or conferences they are interested in attending.  To enable this we have decided to set a nominal budget allocation for each employee so that they can judge when and what they would like to attend in regards to training.

We propose to set this at around £2,000 per calendar year, per permanent employee.  Our thinking is that this could fund attendance at a lot of smaller events and courses or the ability to attend one large conference per year.

Some things to note:

  • In the case of attending a conference, the price of your ticket and travel will count towards your training spend.
  • This amount is not a hard fixed amount and can be increased to cover more expensive conferences if circumstances allow.
  • This is not a prompt to figure out how to spend £2,000, but intended to illustrate what you can expect Red Badger to contribute to your training each year so everyone knows where they stand and all are treated fairly.
  • You still need to discuss conference/training attendance with us before booking.
  • The ability to attend events will depend on project resourcing.
  • If you attend a conference/course we would expect you to share your experience and learning with the Red Badger team (e.g. lunchtime brown bag sessions) and with the wider community via the Red Badger blog.

As with all things, this is an iterative process which we will tweak and improve over time with experience.  I’d love to hear what other companies do and any feedback on whether this deal sounds great/ok/crap.



UX for every one – UX developers are here.

by Sari Griffiths

I always had a problem with the term ‘User Experience (UX)’ being used to describe a particular discipline – not that I don’t agree with the fact that’s what they are predominantly concerned with. I just don’t like that it seems to imply that other disciplines are NOT about user experience.

I am a graphic designer, and it is definitely (should be) about user experience. But that’s probably very obvious – so I didn’t complain.

And there are developers.

I recently read an excellent blog about the UX developer by Leisa. She makes a point that some front end developers are so in tune with the idea of user experience, they can be called UX developers for their contributions. 

I cannot agree more. But I also agree with one of the comments the article has – “UX dev is just a good front end dev”. Because of front end development’s closeness to users, in the same way as the visual design and site architecture, it has to take user experience into consideration to do a great job.

What about the back end devs?

You might think, well, it’s not important that they understand UX – after all they are not creating direct touch points to user journeys. 

I am lucky enough to have worked with some back end devs (i.e. Stuart and David) with strong UX understanding, and oh my, it REALLY makes a difference.

There would be no ‘you can’t do that because it’s not built / structured / stored in the right way’, because they understand the importance and WHY you’re asking certain things to happen. They would be coming up with alternatives to achieve your goal, or find the way around it. They could suggest you a new way of doing things which you thought technically not possible (or plainly not thought of), because they understand the user journey and user experience principle. It’s the same in any disciplines – you can solve problems so much better / quicker when you know WHY something needs to happen rather than just WHAT needs to happen.

So my conclusion is – UX devs definitely exist and it includes ALL devs. If in doubt, try working with one. It’s so good, you don’t want to work without them ever again. 🙂