Sprint notes: a catch-up

So I have got a little behind writing these and in an effort to catch up will be doing a roundup of the last 3 sprints.

Before the update, if you haven’t seen what we have been working on, please take a look and let us know your thoughts. More details and a link can be found in this blog post.

The last few sprint have shared a focus of really ramping up the user testing and testing the prototype and our patterns by getting more data loaded in. During the early part of this period we were working towards a point where we could open this up to a wider audience and start to increase the amount of eyes on it. Alongside that was looking at tools to capture information from these user journeys to inform future work.

In my last sprintnote I spoke about how we had reached the point where a user could navigate the complete end-to-end, homepage to download, for our initial two datasets. Since this point we have been working through the list of increasing complex datasets we identified at the beginning of the project. These were ones we were keen to test for a myriad of reasons, with each bringing a different sort of complexity to the table. This sprint we reached the point where these were all loaded and available from the site.

Loading these has identified a host of challenges for our front end a prompted a lot of changes. Of particular focus has been iterating over our geography selector and identifying where there are shared components between this and our other selectors for browsing hierarchies. We have looped round this a couple of times and have reached the point where there feels like there is enough ‘special’ about how users interact with geography that it needs some slight variations on the patterns we are using.

Another big focus over this period has been looking to polish the site and make it more robust. We have always kept in mind that as a Alpha we are looking to test hypothesis rather than build a production quality system but there have been a number of tasks that have felt worthwhile in this area to give us confidence when we are demoing the site or taking it out to users. As some of the datasets have got larger we have also started to explore how this process can be optimised, making some changes where there seemed an immediate benefit.

Alongside this our search prototype has been built out to the point we can test and we have populated with the metadata for 800 datasets. This now gives us a great test platform to start refining the algorithms behind the scenes and optimising based on user searches. In addition we have included our first thoughts around how we can help bridge the gap in search between the statistical geographies and the terms users enter.

If you have any thoughts or comments on any part of the website please do let us know in the comments on this blog post or on Twitter to @ONSdigital