Weeknotes s01e06-h3althy_t3ns1ons.mp4

Colin Oakley
3 min readDec 9, 2017

I had an odd feeling looking at my weeknotes notes, they where blank this is probably reflective of an over busy week!


The Monday before a sprint ends is always an odd one, I seem to spend a long time closing JIRA tasks and making sure everything is ready for the next sprint.

I spent a little time getting my head around the next two weeks worth of work, a new version of voluntary National Insurance contributions for agents. This seems like it is going to fill a lot of time in my next couple of weeks.


One of the biggest benefits of working in Government is the focus of teams for user-centered design.

The most interesting part of this is meeting the user and understanding what you need to do to deliver on their needs. Picking up a project that has been established and delivered over a many months is never easy — you have zero context on why a lot of decisions had been made at the time.

When working on internal services, there needs to be a healthy tension between the product team and users, I’ve found a few instances where the process has been mapped like for like into a new service, but we should be in a position to challenge these positively to make it better, else we run the risk of becoming an Excel replacement services.

Rest of the day was taken up by sprint review and retro.

Wednesday & Thursday

Midweek holiday is the best sort of holiday, Wednesday morning was taken up with sprint planning and splitting up the development work for the next sprint, I skipped the afternoon and Thursday.

On the evening I got to see Nikos Tsouknidas and Joe Hart from the BBC GEL team give a talk.

I love seeing organizational talks — Nikos talked about silos in the BBC, and a couple of reasons for it happening. The talks should be posted online next month, I’d highly recommend it as my photos do not do it justice.

My biggest take away was: Greater collaboration will break silos, but this requires deliberate actions.

Conway’s Law: “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.”
Size of the BBC UX&D team compared to the whole of the BBC.
Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships


Much like on Tuesday I got to spend time with a user — this time a JAWS (which stands for Job Access With Speech) user. Observing someone using assisted technology is such an amazing experience.

It is a great way to highlight some the barriers that can be in a service, while we can test for some issues with automated testing, nothing beats watching users.

The user in question has Retinitis Pigmentosa, this meant he had some vision but it was easier for him to use a screen reader, most screen reader users I know have zero vision so he was more comfortable using a mouse for a lot of navigation, was great to see this mix of use.

I gave an overview of how the front-end of the agent facing service for Check your State Pension for the rest of the new team, it is always kinda odd talking through a service at a high level without being too in-depth.

I caught up with some of the interaction design team, about better ways of sharing design things (A whole other debate is what those things are).

It was great to see ‘Design Examples’ as a starting point.

We seem to have been through the a loop on this, but it is great to see this as design lead process, as it should be. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

It is like most things, focus on people, test, learn and adapt and be prepared to throw it all away if you get it wrong.



Colin Oakley

front-end developer in Government into html, css, node.js and a11y. Co-orginizer of Frontend North East.