Spending more time with users
This week I’ve had the welcome opportunity to spend more time with our users.
Since joining Babylon Health in January, I’ve been facilitating a weekly design review. They’ve been happening for some time but I’ve mostly taken over the planning and running of them.
We’ve been meaning to review the format and the purpose of the sessions for a while now.
That's because, although they can elicit some really valuable feedback, we also know that the objectives and outcomes are not as clear as they could be.
One of our designers took the time to share some feedback with me a couple of weeks ago and on Thursday, I ran a retro with some of the session’s regular attendees to find out more.
The retro produced some excellent insights into what’s working and what needs improvement, and some useful suggestions for taking this forward.
And on Friday, I met 2 engineers who have worked closely with the squad throughout the creation of our design system. Their involvement has been and will continue to be critical for our work, so it was really good to finally put faces to their names.
Publishing accessible components
Since I joined the design system squad at Babylon, our focus has been to document existing iOS and Android components to stem the flow of inconsistency and duplication of effort across products.
The past couple of sprints we've been working on designing, building and documenting some new components for web, starting from scratch.
This means we've been able to focus on building them with the correct standards and system thinking in mind, and importantly, we've been working with an accessibility expert to ensure they work for everyone.
On Friday, we broke the "never ship anything on a Friday" rule to publish the first one: a primary navigation component.
It's one-page in the design system, but I'm proud of it because of what it represents: a well-functioning design system team, collaborating well to deliver high-quality work that benefits others.
HTML and CSS
In my spare time, I dabble in cooking and food photography. I mainly post my efforts on instagram but I’m in the process of building a website to share recipes more easily.
One of my intentions in doing this is that I also want to learn a little more about HTML and CSS. My job has given me a basic understanding of both, but not a working knowledge. And increasingly, I feel that knowing a bit more would help me to contextualise some of the conversations that frequently crop-up around design systems.
So good old Adam has been helping me. We created the site by forking this one and deleting most of the content, and so far I’ve practiced changing the colours and fonts.
I’m not in any particular hurry to do this, but I’ll post updates when I have them.
A trip to The Cotswolds
Last weekend we stayed in the Fish Hotel in Farncombe for 2 nights.
It was really peaceful, it’s set in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by fields and trees. We went for a long walk on the Saturday which was mostly lovely, but I wore trainers and realised far too late that the situation very much called for waders, or at the very least wellies.
Ending the walk literally knee deep in a mixture of mud and horse manure did prove to be a little detrimental to my zen, but hey—you can’t win ‘em all.
After posting last week that I was getting back into reading fiction after a long hiatus, I absolutely blitzed through Sally Rooney’s Normal People this week, which I loved.
I found the ending a bit disappointing, but I enjoyed the rest of the book enough not to mind too much.
A Brazilian feast
On Friday, Daniel and his wife Leili invited me and James for dinner at their house.
Leili is an amazing cook and food photographer and we were treated to the most delicious 3 course menu consisting of:
- a Brazilian cheese bread called Pão de Queijo served with smoked sausage and onions
- a fish stew known as Moqueca
- passionfruit posset with topped with caramelised nuts
It’s a real pleasure to be hosted by people with such passion for food and the history behind it, and my new mission in life now is to perfect Pão de Queijo, which are exactly the mini-cheddar-dough-ball hybrid that my life’s been missing.
A panic attack
While we were away in the Cotswolds I had my first panic attack in many months, if not years. It was triggered by something trivial: a sudden shooting pain in my jaw.
I very quickly decided I was having a heart attack and then—when it was apparent I wasn’t—my mind just spiralled into overdrive anyway, panicking about panicking, swinging wildly between berating myself for not being able to bring it under control, and worrying that this was the start of a prolonged period of uncontrollable anxiety.
A week later, I’ve got a bit more perspective. I can see more clearly what led up to it. A stressful few weeks coupled with a lack of looking after myself meant that the attack was near inevitable, and pausing to relax simply provided the opportunity.
Nevertheless, it’s a warning sign I need to pay attention to, so this week I’ll be mostly avoiding alcohol, eating healthy, being more boundaried with work and social media, and reintroducing my exercise regime.
Presenting at The UX Conference
The theme of the conference was designers collaborating with designers, and we talked about building the community behind the GOV.UK Design System.
When we agreed to do the talk together, I underestimated how difficult it would be to prepare a talk with someone I no longer work with day-to-day, whilst trying to navigate the first few weeks of a new role. But in the end I think we pulled it off.
It was good to recall the work we did to collaborate with the GOV.UK Design System’s users and stakeholders, to make our processes open and inclusive, and to enable contribution. It’s those things of which I feel most proud. It was also a treat to see the other talks. My highlights were:
- Henny Swan’s talk on creating accessible buttons
- Rachel Shillcock’s talk on burnout and value-led design
- Andrew Godfrey’s talk on communicating with intent
- Hayley Hughes’ talk on creating unity, not uniformity with design systems