4 min read

25. Plans

Revisiting past practices, Agile, and swearing
Two abstract versions of calendars
Image generated by DALL-E

My January has been bookended by unexpected events. I started the month coming out of delirium from my first-ever Covid infection (I was doing so well! I probably got it from the location from the last newsletter: Prague) and ended it with Auckland's record breaking flash flood delaying my flight back there. (Any Auckland folk reading this: I hope that you are safe and well with minimal damage to their property). Luckily I was able to reschedule my flight to one a mere day later (today, rather than yesterday) and go directly to my planned next stop of Wellington. All being well, this newsletter should reach your inbox while I'm on my flight. As John Lennon sang in 'Beautiful Boy', "Life is what happens after you make plans."

This month in digital government and design

I finally wrote down what I've learned about getting user-centred design to work with government and agile. As part of writing it I discovered the Lean UX manifesto, which is why one should always do some desk research even when writing from their own experiences!

Lisa has written a heartbreaking post about leaving UX thanks to the constant emotional labour required. The twitter comments are also worth a read. I was reminded of a blog post from a user research contractor in 2018 about extreme burnout (thankfully with time away they came back and deleted the post).

James Higgott talks about how NHS Digital is creating an evaluation model for stakeholder requests.

I shared Dave Rodgers' blog post on the traps of target operating models with a lot of people at work.

Webaxe have also collated sources of stock images including people with disabilities.

Will Soward has created a Neurodiversity Design System (not entirely sure about the title, but that doesn't detract from the content).

Speaking of design systems, Dan Mall explains that there are not one but six different types of design system.

I've spent the last 3 weeks at work helping translate a paper form to a digital service with user flows, so am delighted that Paul Smith has written about the value of user flows for government digital services. I feel that zoomed out designing has become less of a thing (thanks to high fidelity tools like Figma and the GOV.UK prototype kit?) but want them used more.

Speaking of the old being new, Scott Kubie wrote some thoughts about information architecture (IA) . I sometimes wonder if Jesse James Garrett's 'State of User Experience' plenary at the 2009 IA Summit (and "it's all UX") was the start of IA being ignored, but it's a valuable discipline, particularly with complex websites.

The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) have published their research on how partially sighted and blind people can self-test for covid using lateral flow tests (also known as rapid antigen tests).

Rachel Coldicutt writes about the need for ethical friction in digital services.

When I was at Service Design in Gov conference, I heard great things about Vicky Houghton-Price's talk. It's now a blog post: "Do you need another map? Probably not". I violently agree about small screens making Miro not a like-for-like replacement of a physical wall.

Back in November when I wrote a history of the GOV.UK Service Standard, unbeknownst to me former GDSer Matt Knight was doing the same thing. Matt's history of the Service Standard post has a few details that I didn't know about (such as the 4 point MVP that is the real version 1).

Tom Dolan wrote a swan song blogpost to 4 years of being a Product Lead at the department of International Trade (DIT). I love the idea of a 'secret product' amnesty!

Tom's replacement at DIT (Matt Jukes) is crowdsourcing a product roadmap collection.

Adam Silver has been doing great government interaction design work for years and is sharing his best practice in quick videos. You can see these "forms but better" videos on Youtube or sign up to his newsletter to get them as they're uploaded. (Also, if you're more of a reader, look at his Adam's blog post from 2019… or his book on form design).

And Cedric Cin talks about how market models may not work in the way that you expect (is the cafe really a cafe?)


I missed this from the end of last year: The 8th Annual Tucker Awards for Excellence in Swearing.

Sarah Wachter-Boettcher couldn't motivate herself to write her follow-up book, and later realised that she was trying to write it for the wrong reasons.

Males hunt and females gather? Not so.

Just gonna put it here that Andrea Riseborough (who got an Oscar not thanks to an actor driven campaign) is from my current home of Whitley Bay.

Who knew that it was possible to describe all the Oscar-nominated films with quotes from the 2010 comedy Bridesmaids?

Speaking of movies, Nida Mansoor's Polite Society looks like a brown feminist Scott Pilgrim Meets the World in the best possible way.

I loved Rian Johnson's Knives Out and Glass Onion, and am looking his mystery TV series with Natasha Lyonne, especially since Poker Face is getting great reviews.

The Guardian writes about people taking evening classes that changed their life.

Influencers, but with a twist.

And finally, I look forward to seeing some of these in NZ in February (again hoping that those in Auckland are OK).