Weeknote 19th May 23 – Irish routes/roots and ‘simple routing’

Back to the weeknotes! If you’ve missed them, I did actually write one I didn’t publish a few weeks back, but decided to leave in draft due to the restrictions we have on communicating about government work in the run up to elections.

Then I had two weeks of holiday. We went to Ireland for a road trip around the country. I’ve been wanting to do this as a holiday since doing a mini road trip around coding clubs in Ireland for work back in 2018.

We had a great time taking in cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick), coastline (Westport, Achill island, the cliffs of Moher, lots of the West coast) and countryside (various places!). We also visited the town my grandfather grew up in getting on for 100 years ago, found quite a bit of family history and bumped into some people who turned out to be my ‘first cousins once removed’ in a cemetery while following up that history. It was a fantastic mix of exploring and relaxing. Despite exploring a lot we felt like we could have spent way longer in all the places we visited, and there are lots of areas we didn’t manage to visit. So, I am sure we’ll be going back soon to take in more of the country.

Before I headed off I spent a lot of time working on welcoming some new people to the GOV.UK Forms team, including colleagues who are going to pick up research work on partner organisations. Having templated a lot of how things should work with Private Beta partner departments, and figuring out what’s most useful to focus the research on, I’m delegating lots of that and focusing more on development of new features.

So this week I’ve been working on rounding off some work with a few partner depts I was already deeply involved with for continuity. There’s a couple of usability testing sessions to do next week, and one more interview about form processing, then the partners I had underway can be handed over to engagement to round of building their forms. My new colleagues have already started off with the next set of partners, and they will hopefully be accelerating the numbers we are working with concurrently now the form builder is maturing and opening up the opportunities to work with increasing numbers of forms.

I’m already underway with my next focus on form features. Our next on is the capacity to create simple routing around forms – letting people move to certain questions based on their answers to previous questions. My design colleagues have put together a ‘simple’ implementation of what could be quite a complex feature.

Designing the research to test out the potential of this for different types of forms has been a bit mind bending. If you’ve ever made a form or survey that has questions that are conditional on the answers to others you will know that it can quickly get quite confusing. Now try designing scenarios to test how people use those features in a range of ways, and the mental models they end up using to do so. It’s taken a lot of thinking, but I’m happy I’ve got a solid draft plan. There’s too much in it though – boiling it down to the most crucial areas to test and learn from is a job for the start of next week.

Next week I’ll be doing the above mentioned sessions with partner organisations, getting things ready for testing simple routing with users the following week, and writing up the things I’ve been to busy doing to share properly recently.


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