Weeknotes 15

It's been ages since I wrote one of these.

I've actually had things to say, but just not mustered up the energy to sit down and write.

So this weeknote covers more than just this week, but hey, rules are there to be broken.

What's gone well recently

Launching the child funeral fund service in 6 weeks

Last time I mentioned a few successes we had around designing the form that lets parents and friends of the family claim the cost of a child's funeral.

We were working to a very tight and fixed deadline for this to make sure we met the policy launch date. I'm so chuffed with the work the team and I did on this and I've got a blog post and case study coming out on this soon.

Contributing a bank details pattern to the GOV​.​UK Design System

When designing the child funeral fund service, we had to ask users for their bank details to let them claim back the incurred cost. This includes making payments to non-UK bank accounts.

From our research, we could see that there were lots of services that do this, but they all do it slightly differently—and we couldn't find any that asked for non-uk bank account details.

In theory it's just a bunch of form fields. But, like everything else, I hasten to add, this turned out to be far more complicated than it first appeared.

We were confident enough in our approach to contribute a pattern to the GOV​.​UK Design System.

That way, new services will find it easier to design this sort of thing for their users and we won't end up forgetting all the things we’ve just learnt from tackling this problem.

I worked really closely with Gemma (user research) and Amanda (content design) to:

  • research and speak to other teams and departments including DWP, HMRC and GOV​.​UK Pay at GDS about their designs
  • refine and unify the pattern based on everything we found out
  • create guidance for the GOV​.​UK Design System pattern page

It was a challenge working out what falls in scope for this pattern. Like, there's a lot of additional things to consider when asking for bank details in order to set up a Direct Debit. But we left those details out—maybe there will be a separate pattern for that, that references the bank details pattern.

Similarly, it was a balancing act trying to decide how much detail to provide around things like why we chose to give users 1 input as opposed to 3 for the sort code field.

After a lot of back and forth, I'm really proud of what we produced. It'll hopefully be launched in a few weeks time.

Slowly building a community around the MOJ Design System

We have a small but dedicated team now working on the MOJ Design System, which is a huge milestone considering it's been done in people's spare time up to now.

In the last few weeks, we've onboarded 13 people to the working group. They're responsible for reviewing new components and patterns before they go into the MOJ Design System.

Their first task was to review the bank details pattern before we sent it off to the GOV​.​UK Design System team for review. It was really helpful because as I said earlier, we had some concerns around certain aspects of the guidance.

Sharing it with the working group meant that we were able to get some really useful feedback and a helpful sense check.

We've also been reaching out to designers and developers to encourage people to contribute to the MOJ Design System. Everyone I’ve spoken to so far is keen, so I'm looking forward to working with them over the coming months.

We also have a Slack channel for the MOJ Design System where people can make suggestions and get support. And I’ve definitely noticed an increase in activity, which is another good sign that the community is growing.

Collaborating with Caroline Jarrett on a new article

Caroline Jarrett, if you don't already know, is an expert on form design. We got chatting on Twitter about where to put buttons in forms.

Caroline suggested I write an article on this topic. Buttons, forms—what more could anyone want to write about?

But even better is that Caroline agreed to review my article. I've been wanting to work with Caroline for ages so this has been sweet. I’ve learnt a lot from her in writing just this 1 article.

I look forward to publishing it very soon.

What's not gone so well

Only 1 thing has not gone well and that's doing too many things at once. In the last 2 weeks, on any given day I've probably worked on 4 or 5 different things.

Context switching like this is not only draining, but less productive. Don't get me wrong, While I'm getting things done I've not been able to work on deeper challenges that require a more focused effort.

I'll attempt to sort this out by foreplanning my week better.

Things I'd like to read and watch again