52: Week Seven

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Blooming heck seven weeks. Seven! Still feels like day one in a lot of ways.

I spent this week away from Newport – 3 days in Titchfield and a day in London for Citizen 2013 (working from home today). I’ve been (way) under the weather all week so it wasn’t really a great time to be living out of hotels but it was a pretty successful week nonetheless.

Recruitment is starting to go get going and I am hopeful we’ll get all the empty slots in my team filled this summer and with some really high quality candidates by the looks of things. The editorial team (soon to be retitled ‘content design’ in line with GDS) should be fully staffed in the near future and we had huge interest in our Video/Audio producer role so I’m confident of filling that with a great person as well. We will be advertising for a ‘Head of User Insight’ and a Product Manager in the Guardian as well as on the Civil Service job site in the next few days – they are both interesting roles and I hope we get a good range of applicants.

Slightly less meetings this week – though there were some good ones which is always helpful. I met up with Alan Smith who runs the (award winning) ONS Data Visualisation Centre down in Titchfield for an interesting chat. Alan and his team are producing genuinely cutting edge visualisations using HTML5 and various javascript libraries etc while ensuring that they are methodologically bullet proof as well. They are limited somewhat though by the inability of our web platform to actually host that kind of modern content! That is something that clearly needs resolving and seems like something I should be helping to sort out.

Had some very useful chats about the infrastructure and how we can get to a better place for user testing etc – particularly doing like for like comparisons with the current site vs some kind of beta version. There are a few hurdles but it seems like we are getting somewhere and everyone seems to accept the importance of the piece of work.

Yay the blog is sorted🙂 Going to ‘launch’ it on Monday and then aim for two posts-ish a week. I think it is going to be a vital communications channel for us – especially as it is clear from last weekends press that people aren’t seeing the work that is being done and so we need to be more transparent about what is happening and the decision making behind that.

User testing started this week – its a pretty sizeable card sort https://ons.optimalworkshop.com/optimalsort/test1 that can take up to 30 minutes but we have had a great response so far and it is vital work.

I’m not going to spend much time reviewing Citizen 2013 as I was feeling especially unwell during it and think it coloured my opinions unfortunately. There were some decent talks (I especially enjoyed the chap from Demos) but, for me at least, it was neither inspiring nor practical so left me a little underwhelmed. Like I said though that could well just be due to the fact I felt rotten.

Week eight is looking busy. Trips to Titchfield and Fleet, some important meetings and hopefully I’ll be kicking off some prototype projects.