Week 46

With a tiny exception for a bit of consultancy, last week was all about…


…specifically, preparing the Digital by Default Service Standard and Government Service Design Manual for release.

Government Service Design Manual homepage

Andrew’s blog post explains more about them. For my part, I’ve been editing mountains of guidance and working on several iterations of the navigation and introduction since New Year. It’s been a big challenge, helping to get the lessons learned from dozens of staff members out of their heads and into a markdown document, but it’s been very satisfying. The reaction has been fabulous: lots of praise, lots of constructive feedback, lots of debate among people interested in the nitty gritty of it.

For the team involved, there’s a lot of work to get it updated, polished and refined in time for the formal release in April. I’ll be swooping in at the end to help out with that, but first I’m taking a couple of weeks break.


Week 45


A lovely end to the week, spending a couple of days looking at pretty places with Ellen and Toby. Much needed too, as the week to come proves to be crazy-busy…


Final few days of work on the Service Manual before it goes out on a public beta. Lots of writing, lots of skirmish lists, lots of prioritisation. The feeling within the team is generally one of relief; soon it’ll be in front of people, and real work can begin to make it work for users.

1000 Words

Mikey and I had our first chat about running another day of talks for Thought Bubble this November. We also ran a quick retrospective of the last one, resolving to ask fewer people to speak and to start a little later in the day (I didn’t eat until 5pm last time, which nearly drove me mad). Next up we need to chat to the Thought Bubble team about how best to start wrangling speakers.


Started checking the boxes I need to get through to change the company’s name this week. Existing contracts mean I might not be able to do that for a while, but hopefully that’s something I can get to in a couple of months time. I also absolutely failed to finish off last quarter’s accounts, so that’s something I carry into Week 46.

Week 43

I’d forgotten how important a change of environment can be to powering through work. Two days in the last week I’ve worked from home, and gained about a day back on my to-do list. It introduces other complications (communication across team, slightly more time spent getting up to speed the next day) but it feels like a worthwhile trade-off from this direction.


Freshest in my mind, as it looks like I’ve wrapped up most of the work I need to do on this project. Last week I went through the interviews with Anne to pick out highlights for a print edition. Really nice to get a different perspective on the speakers, and it should be a lovely accompaniment to the films.

I might have a bit more work once the drafts come back from the designer, but for the most part I’m done. The films are now being graded, the sound is being mixed, and Anne’s putting the finishing touches on the edits. It’s been fun playing a part in her creative process.


Lots of copy triage, reviewing guidance on how to build services for new teams across different departments. I’ve got a skirmish list (a pre-release checklist of triage and tweaks) that’s behaving more like a game of whack-a-mole than a to-do list. Work on that will dominate the start of Week 44.

Anything else…

A very small bit of work for Lonelyleap, and a day out in London Town for The Story.

Also worth drawing your attention to two things I can’t visit. Secure, The Koestler trust’s exhibition of artwork from prisons, secure hospitals and by people on probation opens in Wales in a couple of weeks. Playng a small part in judging this year’s awards was hugely eye-opening, humbling and rewarding, and if you’re in the area it’s worth taking a look. Meanwhile, Zainab Akhtar is working to establish a Comic Collection as part of Leeds City College Library – keep an eye on that as I’m sure it’ll blossom as the year rolls on.

Week 42

A surprisingly singular-focus this week. All GDS, all the time. Three half-day workshops dominated the week, two focused on the Digital by Default standard and the other an all-hands. Plus lots of ‘the usual’, which is probably worth defining at some point. A good week.

Besides invoicing for Kent and SMEE there’s been remarkably little project work this week. That’s probably good. The last few weeks have been a bit exhausting, so it’s been good to have a breather before motoring on the final leg of the SMEE films. I did manage to head to a Sophia Coppola double bill, go to a Dan Deacon gig, and visit The Shard, the Ansel Adams exhibition at the National Maritime Museum and an RSPB sanctuary though.

Rainham Marshes

Week 41

My Grandad’s funeral was last Thursday. I gave the eulogy. It was a sad day, as you can imagine, but (clich├ęd as it sounds) we did all reflect on the positive things about his life and our experiences with him. It was enormously cathartic.

Anyway, the world didn’t stop, and nor did work…


A short week. Time in the office was spent plotting revisions to guidance we’re drafting, and enlisting a bit of help for a dedicated day of wordsmithing tomorrow. Also planned some upcoming videos, which continues into Week 42.


Following a chat with Tom last week I wrote two short sketches for Rockall. Along with more concentrated visual references and a bunch of other short segments they’re going to shape our sense of the story. Tom’s comment (that this is ‘a third album’) continues to ring true; we’re not at the demo stage, and these are the first stabs at some jamming.


Learning smile on this one. A month after submitting the first round of copy I’ve had to wrap up the project. Too long a delay on feedback and too full a workload means that taking it any further at this stage would be a mistake for myself and for the client. Still, a tough decision, and not one taken lightly.

Anything else…

I should probably Google this, but there are two things I keep noticing in London right now. One is a colour story told in handbags involving a combination of a deep blue and leather, and the other is foxes (as logos/icons/etc).