A short week, but plenty of learning to happen still whilst I wait for my other designers to on board and get their accounts all set up.
Shaping work is my priority this week, digesting the project from its inception to its current position and listening to everyone who is linked to the project to gain as much information as possible as quickly as possible. My notes look like I’ve drank far too much coffee (I maybe have) but I always break the project down into chewable sections like:

  • Project breakdown
  • Problem / What do we know
  • Vision
  • Goals:
    - For digital
    - For alpha
  • Vision
  • Findings from the discovery report
  • User needs
  • Key Functionality Requirements
  • Testing ideas (ideas feed from the discovery outputs)
  • Risks
  • Questions for the wider team

Anyways, let’s get onto what the week was like.

What did I enjoy:
The support from my line manager - Chris Hawker is great. The fact I can talk openly and not feel worried, and ask for help at any time at all is amazing, feeling really happy, settled and excited to be here.
I’ve started to shape a mural board, that I probably won’t share - but it has scribbles from a mad IxD who is trying to gather as much data as possible from all the docs and make sense, I love the investigation part and understanding the why, when and how we tackle(d) the problem.
A show and tell showing what has happened and what is coming for my project was a great highlight, the project has plans, and it has a timeline that feels realistic and do-able, whilst I’m sure it will hit bumps in the road and possibly change and be challenged it is certainly on the right track.

Writing case studies for my past 2 projects (HMRC and NHS), I am so happy I kept notes during the project and screen grabs of things I can share, so keep an eye out for these!

I managed to land myself 3 games for my dusty PS3:
Alien Colonial Marines (nowhere near as bad as people say, Assassins Creed - Blag Flag and the ultimate time robber - Red Dead Redemption, a really strong line-up and only cost about 4 quid overall!

What challenged me:
Writing case studies is tough, providing information whilst not making the project sound as tough/toxic as it was. I do not want to alienate the place of work to provide a bad reputation which could lead to good designers not joining, it’s a toss-up between honest reporting and just keeping the case study purposely concentrated on the project. If people want to ask me about my experience with my places of work - please get in touch, more than happy to chat.

One thing that isn’t discussed much is sorting out how to get paid when contracting, the spaghetti junction of dealing with your recruitment agency and umbrella company can be a minefield, but… I think I’m all settled. My tip: speak directly to your umbrella company and if possible, stick to the same one (I have recommendations)!

Speaking to ex-colleagues from previous places of work is a little unsettling at the moment, people are having tough times out there, and whilst I am not their line manager, I still keep in touch and try to coach as much as possible, reminding people that “they are not their job” is an educational piece, and also “you do not control the output of the team” when you are pushing upstream.

What am I looking forward to next week?
Launching a case study (I hope), I want to share the work we did at HMRC, I am so proud of what we ended up with and how, as a team, we worked together and got to a strong solution.

Did I mention it’s my birthday on Saturday? Strangely, I forgot you keep adding a 1 on after you reached 40, I just want to keep pretending I’m a 40-year-old man who collects retro games and consoles, plays games and listens to Screamo.

Watch of the week:
For a while, I’ve been looking to eat better food and have been cooking things from scratch. Cooking is my go-to, to get away from digital and burn a couple of things (including fingers), but I found Ethan Chlebowski a great help when shaping meals like salads, lunches etc, and he tends to cook on a budget too.

Podcast of the week:
This week is retro heaven, but also retro gaming hell. I stumbled across a podcast that revisits old spectrum games (and by the looks of other platforms more recently), and the episode I’m linking to is Horace Goes Skiing, it turns out.. as in most cases when talking about the wonderful Spectrum - the game isn’t as great as my memory serves up. Damn it! If you remember the Spectrum and loved it (why the hell wouldn’t you love it), this podcast is a beauty!

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