Welcome to the final sprint notes of the year. The ONS Digital office is covered in 200 metres of twinkly lights and we all had cake for breakfast. Does that mean things are slowing down towards the end of the year? No, not really. Because of the way Statistics are published, the build up to Christmas, the gap between Christmas and New Year and the very start of the January is one of the busiest times of the year for us.
Still, some parts of the team are starting to take some well-earned time out. My thanks to them all for the huge efforts they have collectively made this year.
So, what have we been up to?
Well – we did it. Sprint 13 saw us finish all the features we needed to get the Customise My Data Beta in front of you, our beloved users, at the start of next year. Taking the ONS website from being a collection of HTML pages with Excel files attached to them, to a dynamic platform capable of offering a consistent data backbone in six months has been an all-consuming task, but one I am very proud of the team for completing.
In particular, we have spent a lot of time focusing on the formatting of the files downloaded from the new system to ensure they are as easy to use as possible and continuing to iterate on the filter page journey. This has been a consistent focus across the project and something that is essential to its ongoing success.
Al and Benjy took this latest version out to Birmingham for some user research and the responses seemed positive
As always, you can see what we took to this session and what we leant from it on our prototype page 
The rest of the dev team have been either bug squashing, or starting to spend more time thinking about how we can continue to more deeply integrate geography into our web world. That final point is key to us now as we ensure the project delivers on its three priority areas
- Allow users to find data more easily
- Allow users to customise data
- Allow users to browse by geography
In other news, Kieran has joined the team as a senior content designer and is has hit the ground running (fast) in producing some great work (in collaboration with twitterless Awen) in breaking down our bulletins  and starting to think about how we can improve them for different groups of users.
In blogging corner
- Phil went to see another newsroom (boo), but wrote great post about it (yay)
- Al wrote an all too rare, but brilliant post on our year in user research 
- Benjy has written up the design sprint we did all the way back in ep 7
The Visual site has continued to deliver some incredible articles as we build towards fully integrating it into our main site
Finally, we have gone on a small recruitment drive. We are looking to start to build our design team in Newport and are currently looking to hire five design roles and a new front end developer. We have written a post specifically on what the roles are about. Please do ask us any questions you have around them and share with others if you think they would find them interesting.
Thanks for reading and see you in the New Year
 The format we use to publish the commentary around statistics. Initially called a bulletin because of brevity. A slow move away from this is why we need a content designer
 22 rounds of user research in a year feels good. Very nearly every sprint.