Jason Cale by Jason Cale

Week 156

Things are heating up on the GovUK project as we ascend towards getting our application ready to be shared with the public in the coming months.

We’ve gotten most of the underlying tools and architecture built and are now primarily developing and refining the central experience which will make up the Government Corporate website-of-all-websites.

To assist with this strengthening of focus we now have product owner Neil Williams’ full time devoted to getting this bad boy out in the open, as he had his last day at BIS on Wednesday.

Having a product owner around every day to engage with is one of the core tenets of a good agile team, especially when we are needing to really pin down what is important in the run up to the beta going public.

That said, Neil has been excellent in keeping things running whilst holding down two jobs, so if anything this should just make things a little easier for Neil, and I hope he enjoys being able to enjoy the space left from relinquishing his other responsibilities a little.

Following good news with good news, our man from upstairs Ross Ferguson is joining us a few more days a week from the Foreign Office before becoming full time in May.

Ross is helping us out with developing the international elements the website, he knows his onions from his coconuts.

A guilty pleasure of mine is the joy of having Ross’ robust Scottish accent in the office and as James’ isn’t very convincing these days, I’m hoping that it re-flower with Ross around the office to offer encouragement.

Our Herlihyarious project manager Pete, has pretty much nailed my West Midlands drone which he oh too kindly offers up in dulcet lamentations whenever I’m looking tormented.

The accent part of this weeks note comes to an end.

Most of my torment has come from struggling to get design elements bubbling up and out into some form of ‘completion’. Our team is moving so quickly that my preference to do no upfront design and allow the UI to evolve organically in the browser dependent on real content / functionality has caused me to be a bottle neck.

This I think is due to visibility of my intent being stuck in my head as I’m too busy creating instead of directing the creative approach.

In light of this I’ve planned some time to step back for a few breaths to outline the overall creative approach for everyones reference.

Sharing this with everyone to iterate on should allow us to collectively understand and move towards where we should be heading. Maybe then I can focus on the fine details which will really make the UI sing.

Whilst there is frustration, I do find this process really interesting as well as humbling. In hindsight the spectrum of no-upfront through full upfront interface design work should be viewed as such.

Having dialled my working practice towards doing nothing upfront was a little too extreme. Coming back towards some (continuously refined) upfront work should make for a more pleasurable experience and follows advice I’m actively trying to live by ….

Here lies the joy of our process, every day is new with the chance to move towards something that works when we realise something isn’t working out so well.

Up into the clouds

It was mentioned briefly before that we are going to be working with O2 again. This week Chris and myself met with some of their crew to discuss what was needed to help them over the next few weeks.

Come monday Chris and Tom will looking at scaling up #blue further for an impending flood of activity from some top secret O2 project.

Hello, Tom Stuart

Getting involved with O2 for a few iterations will mean our team is a bit squeezed for time, and we like to keep it on the big easy. So in order to keep our delivery pipe of infinite doom open and spraying into our clients’ faces, we have asked GFR friend and honorary sometime office dweller Tom Stuart to help us out for a few weeks on the GovUK project.

Tom has already worked on the Citizen side, and we know that he is really really good. So we are looking forward to seeing how we can work with and learn new things together.

Collaborating with people outside of our little bubble tends to have a mirror holding effect, which is really useful when you care about refining how a group can work together to achieve something better than the day before.

My mind is empty, so with big love I will bid thee adieu, — Jase.

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