Weeknote 2

I received such encouraging feedback on my first weeknote, that somehow this feels like the difficult second album. It's made worse because, like everyone else it seems, I'm currently feeling a little under the weather.

Nevertheless, I'll give it a go.

What went well

Getting help from the Twitter hive mind

On Monday, I consulted Twitter to find out what kind of example copy people are using in their design systems.

We pretty much always use realistic copy in the GOV.UK Design System. What prompted me to reach out was spending an embarrassing amount of time with Dave, our interaction designer, trying to come up with a realistic example for our text input component. It was difficult because of a number of constraints that I won’t bother to describe here, but it made me question whether there’s a better way.

I got a load of really useful responses, and off the back of that I’ve written an article about handling example copy in design systems.

Unfortunately, despite a great response, that wasn’t my most popular Tweet of the week – this was. My most popular Tweet ever in fact.

Apparently mishearing tool names as people names is what it takes to go viral. (Well, viralish.)

Benefitting from the knowledge of people around me

One of the things I love most about my job is that I’m constantly learning new things.

Working in a multidisciplinary team means I get to work with people with lots of different skills and experience from my own. And what I really value is their willingness and generosity when it comes to sharing them. There’s never a suggestion that it’s not worth explaining something or that, as one of the least technically experienced team members, I wouldn’t be able to grasp it.

On Wednesday, I had another CSS lesson with Dave. This week, we covered padding, margin and borders, styling links and changing colours and resizing.

Not knowing much about this stuff hasn’t prevented me from doing my job. In many ways it’s helped me to ensure our content isn’t too technical, as I can easily put myself in the shoes of a novice user. However, learning about it now means I’ll be better placed to consider the needs of more experienced users, and how our content can support them, too.

I’m also hoping that this will allow me to make the odd change to my site here without always having to bother Adam. (Sorry Adam!)

On Thursday, I got to watch Ollie – our team’s tech lead – deliver a fantastic talk on how we build inclusive forms at the London Accessibility meetup. I knew some of what he said already, but I learned a lot of new stuff too. Seeing it all pulled together really brought home how much care and effort goes into making things accessible, and it makes me really proud to work somewhere that prioritises doing so.

Ollie’s also published a list of references for the talk which are well worth a read.

Other stuff I liked

What didn’t go so well

General productivity

Maybe it’s because I’ve been ill for the past few days, or maybe it’s because I’ve had a very meeting-packed week, but I feel a little disappointed about the amount I’ve actually produced this week.

The past few weeks, prior to this one, have felt ultra productive. I’ve felt had lots to show by the end of each week. This week though, not so much.

However, when a friend came to me feeling the same way a couple of days ago, I told them we all have weeks like that. I said that conversations, planning and thinking are a really important part of laying the groundwork for future action. So I guess I’ll try to listen to my own advice.

Lessons this week

  1. When Twitter goes right, it’s immensely useful (and hilarious).
  2. Being generous with skills and knowledge makes a big difference to those around you.
  3. Weeknotes are infectious.
  4. Organisations prioritising accessibility should be the norm, not the exception. But sadly it's not, and I count myself very lucky to work for one of them. For those of you that don't, keep fighting the good fight.