Weeknote 27

Good things

Design system models hypothesis workshop

On Friday, one of our product designers, Joe ran a virtual hypothesis workshop for our team to help us surface our assumptions about how we should model the design system we’re creating.

This is important and challenging since we have to support at least 3 brands with the design system, so having the workshop was a good day to get us thinking about this as a group.

Also, Joe joined Twitter this week, so if you’re reading this and you like design systems, go give him a follow.

Talking about evaluating design system documentation

On Thursday I met with Jennie from Atlassian to share some advice on measuring the value of design system documentation. Some things I suggested were:

  • track no-results search terms to spot gaps in your documentation
  • use highlighter testing—I’d go one step further than the process outlined here and ask the participant to annotate or talk through their highlighted sections
  • use task-based research to see if someone can follow the documentation to complete a task, and focus on successful task completion rate
  • tag support requests by topic (for example, installation documentation) and type (for example, understanding or findability) to spot priority areas for improvement, then see how your changes impact those queries

When it comes to assessing documentation, I’m a firm believer that both quantitative and qualitative data should be used together to draw conclusions. One without the other is only ever half the picture, and you’ll need to make assumptions to fill the gaps.

I’m speaking at Content Teatime

On Thursday 20 August, I’m speaking at Content Teatime about how we exclude people from content when we make assumptions about them.

The theme for the event is responsible design, something I love to talk and hear about. I’ll be speaking alongside some brilliant folks from the NHS and DWP, and also David Dylan-Thomas who I saw give an amazing talk last month at the Design Content Conference.

I can’t wait.

Learned things

I’ve been learning a lot about the challenges around creating a design system that supports multiple separate and high-value brands.

I don’t think that preserving brand individualism and creating a centralised design system is impossible, but it’s certainly hard, and I anticipate it will come down to a series of trade-offs.

Not-work things

We’re having an extension

When we bought the house we live in now, we did so with a plan to extend it as soon as possible.

2 years later, after a long back-and-forth with our architect and building control, a global pandemic, a couple of job changes and a period of poor health, it’s finally happening.

We’ve booked the builders in and they’ll be starting in about 3 weeks time. Things are about to get real dusty.


Missing the office… just a little

For the first time this week, I really missed going into an office and being with a team.

I have been, and still am, at the highly anxious end of the spectrum about Coronavirus, so I’m not in a hurry to go back. And, like a lot of people, I’ve enjoyed working remotely more than I expected to. But I wouldn’t have chosen to do so to this extreme if the circumstances were different.

I think that successful product management depends on trust, and healthy teams are built on strong foundations. And those things, while not unattainable, seem harder and slower to build through a screen.

Conversations about ways of working, product strategy and prioritisation are infinitely easier if you can grab a cup of coffee in between, and talk about your cat, or their weekend plans, or how much that guy in your office sounds like Woody Woodpecker when he laughs.

The unplanned check-ins that happen on the walk back from a meeting, or when you’re making a tea at the same time are important bonding ground, and at the moment, we can only engineer those opportunities.

I don’t feel ready to go back, but I do miss it, just a little.


Presenting our team’s work

On Wednesday, we had a show and tell with all the teams in our alliance, and I presented the discovery work our squad has been doing on the question of multi-brand. (Sidenote: pretty much every second word I say right now is “multi-brand”.)

It’s the first time I’ve presented anything in this role, and it was a nice moment. I always like it when I can start talking about the work: it makes me feel like I’m transitioning from clueless newbie to competent team representative, and who doesn’t like to brag on behalf of their team?

Things I read, watched and listened to