Weeknotes from Content and Publishing (S1 E3)

Hello there. I manage the Publishing, Content Design and Digital Content teams at the ONS in Digital Publishing. Each week I’m attempting to give an overview of my work, key projects we’re involved in and encourage my wider team to blog more often about their work. You can find me on Twitter.

Welcome to episode 3 of series 1 of #weeknotes in which I try and distill a manic week into a few words.


A visit to the data visualisation team in Titchfield. 8 hours travelling is exhausting but it’s worth it to spend time with the team and to get to enjoy the energy, creativity and enthusiasm of the group. We welcomed a new Data Vis team member – hello Erin – and I caught up with head of data vis Rob Fry on objectives, team plans and our continuing mission to keep sane and be productive.


To London, to meet some colleagues in the Government Digital Service who are doing work to improve their publishing platform. They are keen to learn about the practicalities and challenges around statistical publishing and so it was a good test of my own understanding of our publishing process, our content management system and the differences between National, Official, Experimental and Research Output statistics. I think I made sense.

I also managed to join a really important meeting that our Public Policy Analysis team run around horizon scanning, called Slush. (Please don’t ask me why). While the work is embryonic it’s really great to see a more detailed view of priority areas to explore based on user needs being pulled together in one place.


I’m continuing work on a paper to the executive group in the UK Statistics Authority around the future of publishing, and with more than 2,400 respondents to a user survey, and almost 100 staff sharing their views, I’m wading through a lot of opinions and contradictions.

I’ve started to chuck thoughts into a draft paper but it’s proving to be difficult. There are far more questions than I have answers at this stage and I’m in danger of trying to both diagnose the organisation’s challenges at large, while also providing all the solutions. Scope creep.

I’ve also been mulling (milling) over a good analogy for the challenges in the ONS. And I think I’m close to perfecting my “ONS is a bakery” metaphor. More on that next week.


Meetings. All day. I caught up with designers to try and see if I can offer some help to their team, worked through how we can improve commissioning by producing a single proforma all teams will fill in once they start work on a project, discussed improvements to our economic commentary products, updated our risk tracker, tried to move plans to recruit a developer forward an inch, and then had a terrific discussion about the future of all statistical publishing across the Government Statistics Service.  Intense.


I’m lucky to manage some brilliant people and I got three of my senior team together to use their collective wisdom to shape some of my thinking on the publishing paper. Their enthusiasm and desire to improve how we work and help users is inspiring.

A quick catch up with the director on the paper offered a new direction to head in, which while re-setting some of my thinking, at least offered some clarity on the shape of what we want to say.

A quick coffee with a colleague, who is seeking advice before an interview, and that’s the week done.