Going to keep these brief as I was off sick yesterday and I’m still not feeling 100%. Don’t really want to spend time writing and thinking about work, I’d rather just convalesce under blankets.

The theme of this week was all about setting plans based on the strategic work we’ve been doing, namely

  • forming an OKR and outline of activities for Q4, based on the community strategy
  • forming an agenda for an away day next week and other TeamOps work, based on the coaching sessions, and
  • finalising the narrative for the Design System strategy for next year, including new capability and funding needs.

We also discussed release dates for GOV.‌UK Frontend v5.0 and our WCAG 2.2 guidance.

GOV.‌UK Frontend v5.0

The Frontend squad have been doing excellent work on the new major release this year, and we’re in the final furlong before releasing it. There’s just a few tweaks and additions to make to the docs, but it’ll be out soon.

If you want to get ahead and try out the latest beta release, it’ll make it a lot easier to upgrade to v5.0 once the final release is ready. Teams in a couple of departments and across GDS have been trying it out already, and their feedback has been really useful in sanding the edges off.

Check out the official channels for an announcement when the full release is ready.

WCAG 2.2

As you’ll have seen from the GOV.‌UK Design System’s accessibility strategy, we’ve been working on ensuring the styles, components, patterns and guidance meet WCAG 2.2 at AA level this year. (You’ll have seen it from activity on our repo too.)

This means we’re meeting a milestone 3 months ahead of our goal, which is fabulous work. It also means that teams across government will be spared the hassle of interpreting WCAG 2.2 guidelines for any components and patterns they’ve used from the design system, freeing up time to consider how the guidelines affect any custom or local elements they’ve built.

It’s great work, and the team have also demonstrated how they can start with ideas, validated through light research, and improve the Design System website iteratively. A design sprint to look at how we might improve accessibility guidance has resulted in a new feature that I can’t wait for the team to share.

My next contract

I’m really grateful to everyone who’s come forward, especially because some of them are superstars I’ve wanted to work with for a while.

This year has been my first experience of freelancing and it’s been excellent, thanks in no small part to being hosted by the GOV.‌UK Design System and Digital Service Platforms at GDS. The programme represents everything I care about in digital government, and it’s always life-affirming to be able to spread the gospel.

I’ve done a lot of growing as a product person over the years, being lucky enough to work on big projects, but the time is right to take a personal risk and go it alone for a while. Spotting opportunities and de-risking new ventures is all part of the day job, so I’m confident I’ve got the skills to make it work.