Prototyping versioning, ConCon8, beyond screens

Concon8, prototype versioning, perseverance and article updates.


I went to Concon 8 this year and it was brilliant (as expected). I went to 2 workshops and 6 talks. The highlights for me were:

  1. The content mapping workshop that Gabrielle Acosta, Katherine Dunne and Matt Clear ran. In a very short space of time we mapped part of the learn to drive journey people go on. We quickly learnt that getting down what you know about a map is more important than making the map neat and tidy, at least early on. And that the process of mapping content helps to quickly spot issues that would be otherwise hard to spot when diving into a small part of the journey.
  2. Reshma Gumani’s talk on why the NHS decided to use the words pee and poo to make health guidelines clear to everyone. The interesting thing to me is that the NHS decided to put the more technical terms in brackets after the plain language versions of the words which educates the general public at the same time. So the NHS guidelines are inclusive, informative and educational.
  3. Marc O’Connor’s talk on how to deal HiPPOs—the highest paid person’s opinion. He talked about a service that wasn’t working so well which in no small part was down to inconsistent language that confused users. That’s because some of the words were written by content designers and some by policy designers. To solve this, he got everyone from their respective disciplines in the same room to run through the options from their point of view. If the content satisfied the researcher, legal team, content designer and so on, then it was good to go. And so when the HiPPO later challenged the proposed change it wasn’t the content designer’s opinion against the HiPPO’s—it was the entire team’s collective view based on evidence, expertise and policy.

Automatically prefixing the version path in the GOV.UK Prototype Kit

When I iterate a prototype using the GOV.UK Prototype Kit, I create a new folder like /v2. This means for all the links and forms to work from within that folder I need to prefix the paths with the name of the folder.

I usually have to do a quick find and replace which isn’t too much of a pain, but it’s an overhead that I’d prefer not to think about. So I came up with a simple way to not have to worry about it in the future.

First, I update any reference within the views to the hardcoded path with config.path.

// Before
<a href="/v2/search-results">

// After
<a href="/search-results">

Then I add the following code to the routes file which takes the first part of the URL and makes it available in the views:

router.use(’/:path/’, function (req, res, next) {
res.locals.config = { path: /${req.params.path} };

Web components article

Amy’s been helping me loads with my web components article. Thanks to her, it’s way clearer for everyone and myself. It’s getting really close and I hope to have that published soon.

Thought of the week

Design isn’t just the bit when you design a screen—in fact that’s quite often not the hard bit at all.

It’s all the effort you go to get to the root of the problem and getting agreement on a solution. Like asking a question; challenging an assumption; having discussions; capturing rationale; curating that and making it easier to play back to yourself and the team. And having perseverance to do this over and over. All without causing stress within the team.

I say all this as if I know how to do this really well. I don’t. I just do my best and try to get better.