One of the biggest benefits for me of my time at GDS, was the opportunity to learn about accessibility.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really knowledgeable people and accessibility experts, in an organisation who really champions the need to make things accessible.
And now I’m continuing that learning at Babylon Health, thanks to the efforts of the brilliant Fred Warburton.
Fred has been working tirelessly to make the case for improving the accessibility of Babylon’s products, provide training to staff, and establish a framework of standards and assurance to raise and uphold the bar.
Watching Fred doing this work has been a real lesson in the patience and persistence it takes to raise awareness and capability around accessible design, and I’m really grateful for the chance to support him in some small way.
One of our designers, Gigi, is working on producing some sonic brand guidelines for our design system.
It’s been really interesting to consider how we can create and serve up guidance for something other than the visual elements we typically include in design systems.
I’ve also learned that a surprising amount of consideration and effort goes into creating sounds and haptics to support digital applications. Who knew?!
The class was a birthday present, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was really stuck in my head last week and feeling quite stressed out, so having the chance to focus on something distracting and tactile (clay is so wonderfully cold!) was just what I needed.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll get to collect the pot I made once it’s been glazed and fired. I have to admit it doesn’t quite look like the ones on their website. It's a little more... rustic. But I'll treasure it nonetheless.
Welcome back, fiction
For the first time in a while I’ve been reading some fiction again. It’s been ages since I read anything that wasn’t about work, and I have to say it’s been really nice to have a dose of escapism.
I’ve been reading Jojo Moyes’ Giver of Stars which has been a pleasantly easy read to get me back into the flow of reading.
I’m nearly finished, and next on my list is Plume by Will Wiles, author of Care of Wooden Floors which is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
Ran our first team retro
When I first joined the squad, I brought in a designer from outside of our team (thanks Jason) to facilitate our retro. I did this because I wanted to take part, and to be fully present to hear people’s contributions.
On Tuesday, we had another retro and this time I facilitated it.
Some people were at home that day, so I ran it as a remote session for all of us, with everyone joining from their own laptops.
I used funretro, a handy little tool I discovered when I was at GDS, designed for running remote retros.
I actually think remote-first retros work really well, because they force one-at-a-time sharing in a way that in-person meetings don’t always do so well.
And aside from the efficacy of the format, I was really pleased to see some of the “what went well”s covering things I’ve worked hard to improve since my arrival.
We’ve still got work to do, but there’s a sense that we’re working more efficiently, prioritising well and collaborating better, and I’m really happy with that.
Things I read, watched and listened to
- I re-read chapter 2 in Alla Kholmatova’s Design Systems in which she explains the importance of design principles, what makes a good one, and how to create them. It turns out that book is still as helpful as it was when I first read it nearly 3 years ago.
- Why the GOV.UK Design System changed input type for number, a brilliant blog post summarising a deep investigation by one of the team’s frontend developers, Hanna.
- This podcast on the GOV.UK Design System with my friend and former colleague, Tim.