It’s back… my long-awaited week notes return.
Now felt a good time than any to write again, hopefully kickstart my writing again as it’s taken a huge slip recently, whilst I have plenty to say I also have little motivation to write it but since working on the Design System at DWP I’ve become incredibly heavy with design thoughts and wanting to write (missing out on the time due to other duties (see the 2 kids, wife’s business and a constant battle against the weeds in the garden)).
This morning we had our usual stand up, but I decided that I needed to discuss my distaste for getting served crepes when I was originally offered pancakes (this was heavily linked to me cooking breakfast pancakes for my daughter).
But back to work - today is the day we have agreed on the design of the “new” design system for DWP, something more streamlined and catered to provide more of an easier service to the users.
I am starting the journey of getting more interaction between the design system and the design community - we all want the same thing and I have a great relationship with the team so I don’t see many challenges, the joys of having a prior relationships with the wider team eh!
Evaluating the outcomes from the brilliant Design System’s day that GDS ran last week. Whilst, I feel we were on top of quite a lot (thanks to the team’s prior knowledge and know-how before I joined) I still took away quite a lot, especially around community things.
I am looking into running sessions that will unite, bridge and help us get talking freely - less about work and more about THE work, specific work that helps us all.
There is always a need around showcasing the work we do, the design doesn’t automatically come with a value output, and always promoting and showing the point of the work we and I are doing is key and showing it’s totally worthless without working for them, my users.
With the community vibe in mind, I decided to trial the following:
Office hours - where we share an hour of the week/month and explain what we did (i guess its similar to design community show and tell)
Power hour - where we open a slack channel for drop-in calls, and discuss their patterns and talk openly (a show and tell for them, lead by them)
Brown bag - we get folks who do not want high-level talk but a deep dive (optional attendance) into a pattern - bring your lunch!
A survey - find out how to find how the design system is working for you
It’ll be an interesting test to see which sinks or which come through as a shining light - plenty of work to do in this area but, all projects have challenges and all projects need the work, I’m just glad it’s this kind of work where I can control and have a lot of input in the outcomes (whilst trying new things and learning).
This morning, we ran through the design and future planning of the design system site. The dev-lead has really smashed through the design we agreed on (it’s a light build and MVP) and is running at parity with the design team (there is 2 of us!) and it’s good to work at pace and just get-stuff-done for launch and testing.
I have also implemented a mural board (a whiteboarding tool) where we track designs, versions, conversations against versions and feedback (post-it note heavy stuff) - somewhere to document decisions, reasons and all that stuff that we often don’t do as designers that slips through the cracks.. or worse ends up on a jira ticket!
We also have a mural board of truth - within my first week I ran a workshop to discuss who are the users, what are their needs, how we measure success (this also includes KPI’s which is often missed within public sector), then I will often revisit this board to check we have hit the needs, and challenge the team to align to the needs and see if we are still doing the right thing.
11 am meeting to run through a much needed contribute model - even if only to make it clearer for senior stakeholders. It’s been said many times, and I will keep repeating this - design systems live and die with the contribution, we need to find out what’s working or dying on its feet within the current process - we use GitHub issues at current but more recently we’ve moved to use GitHub discussions with a small testing group and it has been brilliant.
To initially kick off a pattern, we don’t need much - its more of an eye, an awareness of the work, this means screengrabs, a paragraph on why you went for it, how and did it test/work well and what team you are on (we ask team/service so if needed we reach out for more info to get a wider understanding not just interaction design but content, UR, PM, business needs - you name it we want it).
Sound simple eh? Anyone who worked on a design system knows it isn’t - I need to get the community to feel it’s part of their role, their need, and to find time to provide us with the goods - I also need to remember this is key in solving any contributing issues, many Systems in the past fall into the styleguide where it becomes one person leading the charge and making decisions - I see myself as the person who puts the jigsaw together, not the jigsaw maker.
Working on learning “stuff” today, reading blog post after blog post to see what others did - but there is still a whiff of design systems still not being crystal clear in the how-we-do-the-do or getting it into a team sport. I’d love any help on this - so get in touch if you can talk through what you did (good or bad!). Ran through the current version of the design-to-developed site and ripped it apart in Mural as a team, all agreed changes were not to big but incredibly valuable.
Also - Bobbin and Bumble update, today we (re)launched our brilliant new Ikea highchair cushion covers - these items were our original sellers and have been so popular and I couldn’t be as proud of Emma as I am.
Useful links this week:
https://designdetails.fm/episodes/292309 - Linzi Berry, a manager on Lyft’s design system talking about the design system, the struggles and I found some gems in here.
https://www.bobbinandbumble.com/collections/ikea-klammig-pyttig-antilop-high-chair-wipeable-cushion-covers - Our chair covers are made for the IKEA highchair, these help your baby during those fun moments of mess-free-weaning (I know far more about baby products now than I could ever dream of).