I had little motivation and energy this week even though it was a 4 day week for me – I don’t know why, it was just one of those weeks that feels ‘meh’ even as you try very hard to get through work.
Still, a lot happened during the week, most of it was setting the stage for the next few weeks/months. Here are the highlights:
What went well
I started line managing another product manager who also works on GOV.UK. We had our first catch up this week – It was a re-introductory chat. I used the ‘who’ section of Chantal’s blog about starting as a manager of product managers as a reference for the agenda.
We generally talked about their background and they became a product manager, the product they are currently working, their strengths and points of growth, their current biggest challenges, what they love or hate about their current work or product and the team they work with.
We also talked about how often to meet and expectations. It was a fun chat to help get to know them better and figure out how I can add value.
My delivery manager, Craig and I spent some time with several members of the GOV.UK senior management this week talking about the roadmap, some key decisions we made that we need agreement on and some recommendations of things we think are out of our scope but have an impact on improving GOV.UK’s accessibility.
They’ve now given us feedback on the roadmap and those decisions and recommendations. I’ll probably talk about those next week after we’ve discussed with the team and considered what impact it has on our roadmap and scope.
I also had a session with our head of delivery to raise some risk areas related to GOV.UK accessibility. We talked about the risks, the risk impact if it happens and the risk likelihood. This helped us determine what we can do to reduce the risk and who owns those actions.
I’m glad we’ve pushed for these conversations because the outcome is increased awareness of the issues that impact accessibility, more clarity and matched expectations on both sides!
We found that there were several accessibility issues caused by publishers. Apart from providing guidance, one of the things we’ll like to explore is preventing accessibility issues before they are published. I spent some time thinking about how we might take this work forward.
I reckon that for some, we may be able to prevent them and for others we may only be able to discourage them. I’ve now put some notes together and we’ll spend time next week thinking about the constraints and considerations related to each accessibility issue, if and how we might prevent or discourage them.
Another thing I spent time on is getting data on places where there are confusing heading structures on GOV.UK. Confusing heading structures (skipped heading levels, multiple h1s or missing headings) is an accessibility issue that we deprioritised before the deadline because it was not a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 fail but they are accessibility issues and are confusing for people using assistive technologies.
I worked with Karl, a developer on the data labs team and Esther, a content designer to find places where they occurred on GOV.UK. We have some reports now and we’ll need to do some analysis to make sense of them and figure out what has caused the problem and who can fix them.
The team has started auditing front end apps to find templates that are out of date or not using components when they should. This is great and sets the stage for our work over the next few weeks.
What could have been better
One of the problems we’ve had is the need to clarify and articulate the distinction between our role as the GOV.UK accessibility team and the role of the GDS accessibility team.
Based on our interaction with departments, we’ve seen that this is not clear. It also raises questions within the team so this is something we’ll work with the accessibility team to clarify so we can communicate better with departments and also manage their expectations.
We also found that we are quite reliant on the GDS accessibility for specialist advice which causes delay to our work when they are not available. We have started talking about upskilling ourselves as one way to tackle this
In other news
I was on another interview panel this week, this time for a content design role.
I was on the pink dynasty panel on how to start a career in tech for non-techies which was fun. This is the second time in the last few weeks that I’ve been in this kind of session sharing my journey. If that’s not a sign that I should write about my journey into product management, then I don’t know what is