Yay to 4 day weeks! Taking Fridays off suits me. It’s too bad I can’t do it consistently because I like getting a full time salary and I need my days off for other purposes.
The highlight of this week is that we got a lot of content accessibility fixes done – Thanks to all the amazing Content designers in Content support.
The accessibility team is a small one. We needed to make lots of manual changes to GOV.UK content to make it more accessible. we couldn’t do them programmatically as each one needed to be reviewed and improved by people with the right skills – Content designers.
We asked for help from the GOV.UK Content Support team and 27 members of that team spent the day working through these changes. We called it a content blast day.
What went well
The Content Blast day was a very organised and effective one. We spent some time earlier in the week preparing and properly defining the work that needed to be done. We split them into broad categories – improving image descriptions, adding table headers where appropriate and resolving issues with duplicate titles.
We had a session to introduce all the content designers to the problems and we worked together in dedicated group hangouts, threads in slack channel and tracked google sheets. It was so organised and much of that credit goes to the content designer in our team and our delivery manager, Craig.
We also worked with another team to make sure we were resolving issues with duplicate titles in an effective and sustainable way without negatively impacting their work. It highlighted the importance of broadly understanding what other teams are working on so you can identify areas where your work converges and work together instead of being in each other’s way.
At the end of the day, we had reviewed more than 350 pages, decided patterns to help fix duplicate titles and everyone talked about how effective and organised it was – so yay!
I spent some time trying to understand how we currently render the option to request accessible formats of documents, putting together a kick off document and then running a kick off session to think about the next steps towards a future where this option is available on all document attachments. We didn’t quite finish that discussion so it’ll be continued next week.
I had one of those relieving moments where you realise “oh, we really don’t need to do anything about that at this time’ . We were exploring the issues where same links go to different urls, the report showed almost 20000 instances!
After reviewing some of them it became clear that most of them were clear within their context and therefore did not fail the Web Content Accessibility Guideline criteria to make sure that the purpose of a link is obvious from its link text, or its link text in association with nearby content.
We will be improving guidance on writing link text in general but it’s a pleasing feeling to be able to decide quickly not to do something… yet. Focus.
I also spent some time with the team and accessibility experts reviewing the accessibility statement considering what we’ve learnt so far and the new legal advice.
Even though there’s still work going on and we don’t know all the changes needed yet, it was a form of dry run to identify how the accessibility statement needs to change so we are not scrambling to change it in the last week. We made some key decisions that serves as a clear brief for the content designer and accessibility expert that’ll be pairing on it.
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.The prime directive
We finally had our first retro. I love retros. It’s such a great opportunity for honest conversations and to explore what’s working well for the team, what isn’t and consider ways to improve. We also reviewed the delivery plan to see how we were progressing towards our goal and started considering some strategies to get more done. Ha, I can’t believe the deadline is in 3 weeks
What could have been better
With so much on and 3 weeks left, we’ve had really limited time and opportunity to do proper user research and test some of our hypotheses or changes we’ve proposed so we’re going with old user feedback and advice from accessibility experts.
One example is we think moving image descriptions into body text makes them available to more people and will encourage publishers to write better image descriptions.
We believe it’s a change that will be better for everybody but it’s also a significant change to how alt texts are used so it would have been good to test it, specifically with screen reader users to ensure that the change does not inadvertently affect them in ways we’ve not thought about. I later wondered if I could have tried harder to find a user in that group apart from testing it with screen readers on our own.
In other news
Martin and I gave a lightning talk at the GOV.UK recruitment evening – we talked about what a Product Manager does, the kind of products we work on and how we work at GOV.UK. It went very well.
This week was also the last week for the Introduction to product management course and it covered MVPs, Product roadmaps, techniques for prioritising and how everything fits together. It’s nice that so many people across government have benefitted from this course.
In the best other news. It’s my birthday today.