Digital Service Design Weeknotes

What we’ve done in the last 2 weeks

This sprint we have focused our efforts on the investment service, having spent some time away from this, helping to develop COVID-19 response funding programmes.

  • We’ve managed to create a first prototype for the legal agreement part of the service based on a hypothesis we’d identified to test as a team, drawn from evidence we’d gathered in previous research.
  • We also ran 6 sessions to test our prototype, we recruited people using our new user research panel and analysed what we saw.
  • To start this work, we revisited, as a team, what we had done so far and checked in with our research and hypotheses, to make sure that we are focused on users. …

What we’ve done in the last 2 weeks

This sprint we’ve been focusing on paying down some big pieces of debt. We use ‘debt’ to talk about work that we’ve had to set aside to make sure we’re focusing on the most critical things or choosing the minimum viable work to deliver. We make sure we capture work that we want to come back to, and flag it as debt. We try to bring a little bit of debt into every sprint, and occasionally focus a whole sprint on some chunkier bits of debt work.

There were three themes within the debt we picked up this sprint: inclusion, design and technical debt. …

Digital Service Design Weeknotes

  • We’ve been working towards two sprint goals this sprint — we’ve done this to try and make sure everyone on the team is working towards a goal, whilst balancing some slightly skewed work in terms of the timings and skills needed.
  • Our first sprint goal was to enable Welsh language toggling in the investment service.
  • we revisited content and made iterations based on the evidence of needs found during user researcher comprehension testing. We took evidence, such as terminology that confused users, and added hint content and examples, to make content clearer.
  • Stu and Paul, our developers, then made code changes in funding-frontend (the applicant-facing part of the new investment management system), before sending the content to one of the Fund’s Welsh Language Officers, ready to be translated. We have broken the form down into sections to do this work. By doing it in stages, it means that funding front-end can have Welsh translations in place for when we’re ready to launch a funding programme through the service. This will save us time in the long term. Stu and Paul are also updating the automated test suite for funding-frontend so that the additional loan scenarios are included. …

You can see all the things we’re working on and all the things we’ve worked on so far in our trello board which you should be able to view without creating an account.

  • Content designed a new page for the service to allow applicants to upload their organisation’s governing documents. We have worked closely with our colleagues in the legal team to write the content. Our next sprint will see us designing and building the page.
  • Deployed the business plan guidance to the website as a usable, accessible HTML page.
  • Content designed small grant application emails on GOV.UK Notify. Notify is the government’s messaging platform that is used by more than 1,700 services across the public sector. It lets you send emails, text messages and letters to your users. We are using it to send notification emails from the new service, for example when a user submits an application form. …

You can see all the things we’re working on and all the things we’ve worked on so far in our trello board which you should be able to view without creating an account.

What we’ve done in the last 2 weeks

  • Pulled some user stories out of our research findings so far, so that we can start building and extending functionality to meet them. So far, we’ve focused on needs around case papers and decision meeting admin, as well as thinking about what needs our users have for prompts or notifications.
  • Created User Journey Maps for the ‘as-is’ investment management service and began to map out the things we know about the future investment management service. These maps will help us visualise the work we are doing in relation to the way things currently happen during a the end-to-end life cycle of an application and grant. …

You can see all the things we’re working on and all the things we’ve worked on so far in our trello board which you should be able to view without creating an account.

What we’ve done in the last 2 weeks

  • We created a Service status page on the website, to notify users about planned maintenance on our internal grant management system. We had a quick turnaround to create this reactive piece of content.

We worked with brilliant colleagues in our Cardiff office to develop a speedy Welsh translation for the status page, which meant that we could go live with an English and Welsh version. …

We are the Digital Service Design team working at the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Our team is currently made up of 10 people.

  • Ellie Craven — Product Manager for Open Programmes
  • Paul Smith — Senior Digital Designer
  • Jamie McGarrigle — Product Owner of existing systems
  • Kerry Lyons — Digital Content Designer
  • Karen Morden — Senior Content Designer
  • Gideon Goldberg — Senior Developer
  • Alice Kershaw — Head of Investment Services (Service Owner)
  • Sinead Lappin — Business Support Manager
  • Jo Arthur — User Researcher
  • Tom Steinberg — Digital Lead, Executive board

These weeknotes are a summary of all the work across the sprint. Our sprints are actually 2 weeks long, but ‘fortnightnotes’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. Up until now, we’ve been sharing our weeknotes internally. We’ve chosen to start sharing them publicly to help us share and learn from other teams doing similar work. …

Recently, some of our colleagues at the National Lottery Heritage Fund have asked us to explain more about how we work, and why we do things the way we do. We thought we’d share these in a blog post here, as part of our commitment to working openly. Some of the ways we work are a bit skewed towards software development, because that is a big part of what our team does. However, lots of the things we do can be used or adapted in other contexts and for other kinds of work.

Generally, we find that these practices have a far greater impact on our work and wellbeing than the specific tools or software we use to organise ourselves, so there isn’t a lot of discussion of particular tools or software in this post. We choose the tools that fit the team and support our practices — and team principles — with enough flexibility for us to change together as we learn. …

We’re a few weeks in to being the new digital service design team at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and we’re all beginning to settle into our new roles and find our rhythm as a team spread across several locations.

We’ve spent a bit of time in the past couple of weeks together as a team getting to know each other, and working out things like what we all need to do our best work and be ourselves at work, and how we should organise ourselves as a team to make sure we’re doing all the things we need to and collaborating as we go. …

I’ve loved reading these from others, and then Steve tagged me in his. This was in danger of slipping down my to-do list but then Gaz did one too and it was the nudge I needed to get it done.

Location: London, UK.
Current gig: Product Manager, dxw digital
Current mobile device: OnePlus 3T (I deliberately never have a work phone & don’t connect work stuff to my personal phone)
Current computer: MacBook Pro 13" for work. Slightly crummy old chromebook at home. …


Ellie Craven

Product manager at the National Lottery Heritage Fund. She/her. Fan of iterative change, open communication, data, infrastructure, hot chocolate & small animals

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