Weeknote 23rd December 2022 – Round off the year and learning some SQL

The last weeknote of the year, although I may take some time to write some reflections on the year as a whole as it draws to a close.

I’m glad I picked this habit of writing weeknotes back up and I think I’ve kept the habit for longer than I did before back in 2016 when I first started. Back then it got increasingly tricky to share the ins and outs of my work as the public communications of the org I was working in were so closely managed. It’s good to be working more in the open, and I plan to keep sharing as I head into what will be the second year for GOV.UK Forms in it’s present form (a fair bit longer if you could differently named previous projects getting the idea off the ground).

This week I’ve been watching my colleagues one by one drift off into annual leave and the holidays. So I’ve been spending most of the time preparing for the next set of work at the start of next year.

I’m planning to jump pretty quickly into a round of usability testing of specific features, and another of accessibility testing of the whole product. The second of these will be the first round of testing we’re doing in the production version of the product, beyond the very closely managed process of building the first live form back in September. There’s some interesting technical challenges about moving towards testing in production rather than the prototype that is maintained in the GOV.UK Prototype Kit.

As well as this prep, I’ve been saying goodbye to my fellow User Researcher on the project, who was on loan to GOV.UK Forms and is moving on to another role within GDS. We’ve been working very collaboratively, but there was some work particularly on the recruitment of participants side that he’d been taking most of the responsibility for that I needed to get up to speed on.

I’ve also taken some time to do some professional development. I’ve been working through this Udacity course on SQL for Data Analysis. Since moving in to my current role I’ve been doing mainly qualitative research, but previously I’d done a lot more quantitative work and my experience is pretty mixed methods. I always relied on the analysts on my old team to do the nuts and bolts work in SQL though, and I wanted to get skilled up so I could do it myself if needed in the future. I think the intersection between quant and qual research is one of the most interesting areas for digital products, and I’m looking forward to the data side of Forms getting built out so we can get into this as the product grows.

The course has been very good for someone with lots of experience of quantitative research but none of SQL, and I’ve found myself getting up to speed on the basics quickly. I’d like to top it up on something on Python data analysis when I’m done.

So now I’m just rounding off things for the year. I have some plans to spend some time writing and reflecting before the end of the year, I’ll probably share more soon. Until then though, have a great end to the year!


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