There has been a lot going on behind the scenes the last few weeks and while it hasn’t been quite as obvious as the major design update back in October it has been no less important.
A major update has been the implementation of both ‘versioning’ and ‘corrections’ functionality in to both our publishing application [Florence] and the design. Corrections are a consistent reality for our publishing team – any time a correction is made it needs to be done in an “open and transparent manner” so we have designed this to be clear and consistent across all of our outputs. Corrections create the need for ‘versions’ as it is important to provide our users with access to the superseded data / analysis so they can do their own due diligence. This has been on the backlog since the early days of the project so it was a big win to get it built and integrated. It also provided some additional functionality to add generic ‘notices’ to pages which was a nice little bonus.
Our ‘Release calendar’ is also now built and currently going through some online, unmoderated user research. The Calendar has some nice touches including the ability to subscribe direct to your calendar application via iCal but unfortunately we were not able to find a way to avoid having to maintain both the ONS and GOV.UK calendars as GDS do not currently provide any kind of API access to their version of the calendar and other options seemed too fragile for something so important to our users. Some day.
Florence has been getting some love the last couple of weeks. As we have been building more and more functionality into the site Florence has had to expand to support that and allow the publishing team to maintain whatever we are adding – unfortunately this has at times lacked the kind of attention to user experience that we were so proud of in the early days of the project and we are working to rectify that now. In future this is something we’ll need to do better – it is easy to get focused on the front-end but we must remember not to neglect the tools that make it all possible.
We also updated and expanded our chart-builder tool within Florence. This now supports more chart types and improved formatting but there is still work to do so our colleagues in Data Visualisation are auditing the charts so we can ensure they are compliant with our guidance on Style.ONS.
David has written elsewhere about the encryption work he has been doing and he has also been working with our supplier eduserv to get us moved from AWS to their environment as well as taking advantage of the latest updates to Docker to tighten up and simplify our deployment pipeline.
As ever site search has been on the agenda. Recent user research threw up some problems (at least they were new problems) which were primarily about the search UX and so after a lot of conversations and sketches some updates are incoming there. My gut feeling is that we are creeping towards a solution but that this will just continue to be something we work on long after launch.
That is just a snapshot of what the team has been up to the last few weeks – there has also been a load of user research, enormous amounts of content migration, liaising with internal stakeholders, the design of a new information architecture for a currently neglected section, a fair bit of recruitment action and a visit to Buckingham Palace.