This week included my most favourite thing which is to be asked to come up with some illustrations. I tend to default to what seems to becoming my ‘style’; Mainly, I think becauseI can do them pretty quickly and give people the chance to see how I’m thinking.
I found the article a lovely exhortation to just get started. round about the same time I saw the work of Chris Piascik which was obviously the stars aligning to make me stop procrastinating and start doing that thing I’ve been meaning to do for ages.
In my case it was a content audit for a site that I’m starting work on - exciting I know, but I’ve been reading and understanding the importance and value of these and thought now was the chance to try to begin a project with a more comprehensive brief than we’ve sometimes had before.
I think this is one of the major perils of working 'in house' - the desire to get things started and feel like things are progressing can lead you to maybe miss steps that are unfamiliar or were the value in doing them is less immediately tangible.
So, I procrastinated some more and used wget to download the existing site (I have a weakness for command line stuff, that makes me feel like I’m a proper geek), so that I could potentially move things around - see how good I am at procrastinating?
I still hadn’t started the audit at this point. Previously we’d also tried something else new in creating user personas that would be used to design and develop features for. Keeping the GDS service design manual all about user needs, in mind I tried to see what questions the content on the site was answering.
All the while through this process I was really anxious about whether I was doing it right, and whether it really would prove useful later on in the process. Maybe a bit of impostor syndrome creeping in? - a natural consequence of trying something new I guess. I persevered, knowing that it would be doubly annoying to have a half finished content audit and got it to a usable state. I still wasn’t sure what I was doing was right, so took the long shot that one of the many clever people I follow on twitter might be able to reassure or help me. @liammcmurray from Bath came up trumps and pointed me to some colleagues - @RichProwse & @copytofollow who do this for a living. There were kind enough to point me to some helpful resources and share some tips.
It was a cool example of this web community that we hear so much about.
I’ve now produced an initial version of an audit that now will hopefully, make the next stage of the project proceed more smoothly and help us create a better product.
All of that story about the mundane day to day of my work is to illustrate how acting upon a well written and positive article can be so good for your productivity and confidence.
Syd did a brave thing - trying a fun interactive code game, and I thought it went pretty well even if not quite as well as he’d hoped. Plenty of bravery points for standing up there and doing a good job of keeping things going.
Mark started his take about with a tail of Mountaineering on the Eiger (and his proposal to his concussed wife!). The point of the story about Andreas Hinterstoißer was left hanging until the end. Mark then talked about his experiences working with CERN to understand their content problems - that of very different audiences for the output from CERN and how to tailor messages for them. He also talked about how working for Al-Jezeera has meant a much deeper understanding of the journalistic process and how stories are constructed has been necessary.
For Ling and Eddie’s talks I was stuck in the dark seats and so my notes are sparse. Ling made some interesting points about the important of the big buying decisions that people make on her site, and doubted whether a smartphone could ever be a comfortable place for that kind of transaction. I suspect many in the audience disagreed with that, but you’d have to be pretty grumpy not to like Ling’s presentation and gusto. Which is reflected on the site Lings cars
Long been fan of Jon Hicks lovely icon work and bought the Icon Handbook. This talk was great for getting the tons of information contained in the book. Not quite so sure it worked quite so well as a talk. I’ve heard Jon on podcasts and would have liked him to digress and talk around the subject a little more, like I’m sure he can. Some of the examples of odd icons he gave, showed a glimpse of how entertaining and informative he can be when going ‘off piste’.
I’ve seen Jeremy speak twice before and each time was a wide ranging and interesting snapshot of a topic, so I was expecting more of what had worked well in the past. This felt different - the same overview and context of a wider web was still there but he talked through the redesign and refactoring of The Session. Nicely relating everyday development of a site to the principle of preservation and the future friendly web.
Jeffrey Zeldman finished the day, and gave a cracking talk that had lots of examples, anecdotes, ideas and suggestions liberally littered throughout. I think he did a great job of sending everyone away all fired up to do great work, but with some specific links to help. A pretty ideal combination to my mind. Because it was such a great talk it makes sketchnoting it pretty easy, and I’ve a feeling that I’ll be flicking back to my notes pretty regularly over the next few months.
Eddie did an interesting roundup of the the techniques he used to create the handheld site. It was notable not only for a very in depth explanation of the process, but also for his honesty when confessing things that he’d done that he wasn’t entirely happy with. Detailing the compromises in that way made it better for me, and talking about them in front of a huge audience must have been daunting.
Brendan’s talk was a nice change of style with him talking very fluidly about the very fluid and exploratory work that he keeps in his ‘cupboard of experiments’ ready to be used in more commercial work. I especially like the quote from Paul Rand that a designers’ job is