Monthnotes? April 2021 :-)

It turns out that the work I’ve been most interested in since starting at the Canada Revenue Agency has been focused internally.

They’re the projects that haven’t been really clearly defined. A request comes in, and then as we start to investigate, more layers reveal themselves. The scoping and framing becomes the bigger unknown.

When we are confident in our craft and processes, it can be easy to rush in. We conduct user testing. We prototype screens. We report on results. We know how to do these things efficiently.

But sometimes the bigger question is why. Are we confident that…


Weeknotes: March 1–5, 2021

I moved from Ottawa (Eastern time zone) to Penticton (Pacific time zone) at the end of 2020. This isn’t the first time I’ve worked with coworkers across time zones — when I was in Denver I was on Mountain time while many of my co-workers were on Eastern time — but the extra hour difference with Pacific time has taken some getting used to!

When I was on Eastern time, I generally kept a 9–5 schedule, and enjoyed leisurely mornings to run, journal, or generally just ease into my day.

But if I were to start at 9am PT, my…


Weeknotes — Feb 22–26, 2021

I’ve missed posting a few times over the past month or so, to the point where I’m just going to stop counting posts and/or weeks. Cut my losses and just get back to writing!

Last week I attended my first ever Nielsen Norman Group training session. Their courses, conferences and certifications are probably the best known in the business, but I’ve never attended anything before. Having a virtual event made it easy for me to sign up for a single course mid-week. No travel, no hotel or transportation costs. And, better coffee than at a conference centre! Win-win-win!

The course…


Weeknotes Post #37: Jan 30–Feb 14, 2021

Yes, I know that Jan 30 — Feb 14 is more than a week.. But this is my 37th post since starting with the public service :-)
And I’m not posting this til March. Yikes! I got behind. I don’t think I even quite finished this post, but I’m going to hit “publish” as better late (and incomplete) than never.

This past week I really felt in my element! I started my UX career building HTML prototypes for usability testing, but it’s been quite awhile since my job officially involved any coding. …


Weeknotes #36: Jan 26–29, 2021

Last week, the W3C consortium released the first public working draft of WCAG3.0.

“Ah, WCAG,” you’re thinking. “The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.”
Not anymore. With WCAG3.0, they’ve changed what the letters in the acronym stand for. Now it’s the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (dropping the words ‘web’ and ‘content’).

Dropping the word ‘content’ is a big deal. A lot of knowledge about accessibility had to do with ‘marking up content’. Typically we think of content as being quite static.. so just put alt text on your images and use semantic headers and you’re partway there! /s

But.. the focus shouldn’t be…


Weeknotes #35: Jan 18–22, 2021

I recently had a thought-provoking conversation with a fellow researcher that I need to unpack a bit.

I have two projects on my plate at the moment, and in both cases they seem like “special projects” that aren’t directly tied to a program area committed to action. They’re both somewhat speculative; one to raise the question of whether we should commit resources to improvements, and the other is essentially a technical feasibility study.

Typically in designing a research study, we want to have a sense of the biggest questions we’re trying to answer. What are…


Weeknotes #34: Jan 11–14, 2021

I’m falling out of my weeknotes habit a bit, writing more when the moment strikes. But I do want to tie this to a time in my public service career.

This one is a bit tough to write publicly, but I’m just going to freeform what’s in my mind to get it out of my head.

In my current project, I am working with a few others.

  • I set firm deadlines… that slipped by. …


Weeknotes #33: Jan 4–8, 2021

First full week back at work, and I am working from a new province!

Over the New Year break, Sara and I moved from Ottawa ON to Penticton, BC. We are in an Airbnb while our townhouse gets built, but when you work from home, you can kinda work from anywhere!

The one new challenge is the time zone. Pacific time is 3 hours behind Eastern time, where most of my colleagues work. I’ve been experimenting with what hours to work. On Monday I sat at my desk at 6am to start work at 9am, but I actually didn’t have…


Better late than never! I’m combining these two entries as the past few weeks have been a bit of a blur…

During our (virtual) team holiday party on Dec 18th, I got a call from our realtor that our condo in Ottawa had officially sold! My wife was off work from Dec 18 — Jan 4th, and there were two long weekends over the break, so we seized the opportunity to relocate to British Columbia.

On week 31, Dec 21–24th, I continued to work while packing was going on around me. Week 32 was already going to be a light…


Most of my posts these days are about working in the public service. But lately I’ve had another area of interest occupying my thoughts. Rather than letting things just stay jumbled in my head, I figured I’d document it here. This is a work-in-progress, but maybe it can help someone else (and/or, if people have feedback or suggestions, I’m definitely open to it!)

Last September, Sara and I were in Penticton and we rented electric bikes to explore the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) trail. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!

The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western…

Andrea F Hill

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.

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