Weeknotes Monday 28 Nov - Sunday 04 Dec 2022
I was on leave from work as noted last week.
Checked in with my team in stand-up, probably bored them with stories of my dog Ted rolling in unfathomably smelly things he finds in the woods.
Continued working on a new set of ‘provider pages’ for the planning data service that will hopefully help people to find out what data a particular organisation is providing to the platform.
We think this is important for:
- users wishing to consume data, because it should help them to trust the data if they can see where it came from and why it is published.
- users trying to understand the shape and breadth of a dataset.
- people providing data so they can see exactly what data is collected and from which ‘endpoints’.
Just some of the likely many reasons we think this could be needed.
Ended the day listening to the weekly ‘huddle’ which is a meeting to update staff on general goings-on within the digital directorate.
More work on the data provider pages. This time thinking about user journeys to and from that content.
To do that I usually start by drawing simple tree diagrams on paper. Only if I’m going to be discussing and sharing them with others, will I make them a bit more polished using a tool.
I do that primarily because nobody wants to have to decipher my handwriting but also because the higher fidelity helps people to see this is a solid proposal and not just a ‘what do you think’ or ‘how about this’ sketch.
In a previous role I created a version of these GOVUK Flow Diagrams for Miro which are now listed on the GOVUK design system community resources and tools page if you’d like to use them yourself.
I had a meeting in the morning with an account person from Figma as I will be an administrator for the department’s newly procured licenses.
I started building out the data provider page in a Flask prototype so that it would help myself and Adam (software engineer) to think about the structure of the page and the data that will be needed to generate it.
If you’re in UK Gov you might be asking, why are we not using the GOVUK Prototype Kit? - Its because we want to prototype with actual data from the platform.
It is harder to convincingly ‘fake’ the data than it is to use it directly so that is what we are doing.
To do that we create prototypes and proof of concepts using the same technology stack as the platform (Python + Postgres) so we can learn faster with real data. Thankfully we get a helping hand by using GOVUK Frontend Jinja from Matthew Shaw and friends at the Land Registry.
With the initial page concept sketched in code and ready to share with the team. I took some time to prepare what I wanted to show them and what I was looking for feedback on.
It is important to keep ‘design crit’ or feedback sessions focussed. There will be less confusion and it helps to keep people on topic.
So with that in mind I made sure to set the context and focus of our discussion to be primarily about the content design.
- What did they think of the classification of datasets by the reason they are published?
- Do the descriptions make sense and are they accurate?
- Does it help having a status? If so, what should it be? ‘Provided’, ‘Collecting’, ‘Found’, ‘Not found’ or something else?
- What’s missing? or what is not needed?
We discussed the page, what user-needs it is trying to meet and iterated the prototype as we spoke.
Next week Adam will take what I’ve done and make it use real data to generate the page.
I will hopefully get chance to work with a user researcher to devise a way to test this page and the journey we think it is part of.
By which point we will have swapped out the fictitious ‘Borchester Borough Council’ which is a tactic we use so that people don’t get alarmed when being shown prototypes or screen designs that are not using real data.
I’m still ‘finding my voice’ but writing weeknotes is becoming a regular highlight of my week.
It is a dedicated chunk of time for me to reflect on what happened and how I felt about it. I’ve had some lovely feedback from people I admire which was a nice boost.
I enjoy reading the weeknotes of others, so if you write weeknotes, send me your links and I will add you to my Blogroll