Week 30: how to prioritise internal systems and needs

My last weeknote explained how I’d been playing around with the GOV.UK Prototype Kit to mock-up our page on best interests decisions. It worked really well for us being able to spin up a page quickly, utilising the rich GOV.UK design system to test various ways of presenting content to our users.

So well in fact that I feel like I’ve managed to transition into wearing an interaction design hat for the past few weeks. An ill-fitting hat, but one that I think I’m becoming more comfortable wearing.

A lot of this was prompted by coming across this ridiculously useful X-GOVUK resource. It’s billed as:

A community-maintained collection of resources which are useful for working on GOV.UK services.

What I’ve found particularly useful is this blog post about using the GOV.UK Eleventy Plugin to spinup several types of GOV.UK styled pages and templates tailored for your particular needs.

Focusing on internal user needs

One idea that’s come up for me time and again at work has been the concept of institutional knowledge.

This term might mean different things to different people, but for our context it’s about how we retain and make use of our organistional memory and skill on our particular specialist subject area.

I think most people might intuitively understand why it’s important, but I think there are a few other incidental benefits of investing in the notion of institutional memory.

A primary reason is about how to retain specialist knowledge of the organistion:

Each time someone leaves their job, a chunk of the organisation’s memory leaves too. How, then, do you run complex systems, see through long-term projects, or avoid past mistakes?

In our context, I think there is an incidental benefit of improving service consistency.

We run a helpline service for people who need help thinking through how to prepare for death and dying.

So… my design hypothesis:

If we can document and present our organisational knowledge we fix the primary issue of retaining institutional knowledge…

…whilst also creating a more consistent experience for people using our helpline service as all our staff use the same knowledge and tools.

A knowledgebase

So this is where prototyping comes in. Using the GOVUK Eleventy Plugin mentioned above - I’m working on a prototype knowledgebase’ to test this.

Knowledgebase may be the wrong name - but naming things is hard, and as of yet this thing is trying to do multiple things so I’m kicking that can down the road for now.

Early prototype of the landing pageEarly prototype of the landing page

Still very early days on this piece of work, and I’ve yet to even have the internal conversations about scoping this piece of work. But for me that’s the strength of this protoyping mindset. You can spin-up something so quickly and at such low cost that when we do come to talk about it together as a team I can show and tell. Not just tell.

Early prototype of an information pageEarly prototype of an information page

Other things…

I’ve been in Thailand since my last weeknote… so great, so hot.

Rush hour in BangkokRush hour in Bangkok

I’ve also just come back from the Lake District. Turns out it’s my 10th visit!

Moody LakesMoody Lakes