Weeknotes 8

Things that went well

I wrote about the benefits of semantic HTML and ARIA

In last week’s weeknotes I said I’d like to write about the benefits of semantic HTML and ARIA one day. And this week I did just that. If only all my plans would happen so quickly.

I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’ll share it with the world as soon as possible. As it’s such an important topic I submitted it to CSS Tricks so I’m waiting to hear what they think.

I couldn’t have written this article so quickly or half as well without the help of Amy Hupe. She’s been way more than an editor on this.

She didn’t just make the words vastly better, but she gave me feedback that inspired me to rewrite the whole thing from the ground up improving my tone, structure and content.

And because of that it’s been one of the most enjoyable articles I’ve ever written. Here’s a few of the things Amy taught me:

  • Links work better at the end of a sentence.
  • One way to write a good summary is to start by bullet pointing the main points in the order you made them.
  • It’s okay to sweat over a single sentence for 15 minutes straight haha.
  • How to use less words to say the same thing better. I mean I don’t think I’ve learnt it but I’ve got better watching Amy do it many times this week.

Weekly design crits

Over the last 12 months the attendance of the design crits at work have been hit and miss because everyone’s under a lot of pressure to deliver.

But recently the attendance has improved a lot which has made them more fun and valuable all round.

This week one of the designers shared an interesting pattern to help users complete a number of independent tasks that can be changed until a deadline passes.

The GOV.UK Design System’s task list pattern isn’t quite the right fit for this. I hope we document this pattern soon so we don’t forget about it.

Almost finished recreating the GOV.UK Design System’s form components in Angular

Franjo Zanki has done some excellent work which I’ll be reviewing next week. Just conditional reveals and file upload to go.

Sharing government department patterns directly

In this week’s x-gov design system call, we talked about how departments are starting to use each other’s design system (and frontend code) directly and what problems it can create.

Things like, what happens if a department stops supporting their own design system. Or what if the size of a production codebase is unnecessarily large because of potential duplication across the GOV.UK Design System and the departmental one.

It came up because we at HMCTS want to use the HMRC Design System. And other departments, like DWP and BEIS are using our own HMCTS Design System.

This is a really good problem to have because it’s a sign we’re sharing our stuff more and more. I hope we can collectively move our patterns into the GOV.UK Design System to reduce the risk of such problems.

I got a ticket to ConCon8

I got a ticket to ConCon8 where some of the best content designers around give talks and run workshops for the day. I’m looking forward to learning tonnes.

This will be particularly helpful because my team has been without a full time content designer for a while now so this might help me fill the gap a bit.

People are enjoying and recommending my forms book

Obviously I love hearing positive feedback about my book. And I’ve had a number of nice comments since it’s release. And even Brad Frost recommended my book so I’m really chuffed about that.

Things that didn’t go well

I’ve not sent a newsletter in a while

I try to send an article to my subscribers once a month but I’m starting to fall behind. Luckily I’ve written a few case studies for my portfolio.

So I’ll send one of those out soon and see how they go down with my subscribers.

Too many meetings

At work there’s been a lot of meetings going on and they have really depleted my energy. And they’ve left little time for design research and prototyping.

Hoping things settle down soon on that front.

Not enough breaks

And because there are so many meetings, I’ve not made time for proper breaks which is just reducing my energy even more.

I’m definitely better when I take breaks, so this is a mental note to do just that next week.

Things I'd like to read again in the future