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 we trying to learn, and what will we do with the information? …


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.


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 a lot to collaborate with teammates on, so it wasn’t really necessary for me to be working that early. Then I ran at noon ET (9am PT). When I got back I warmed up some tofu and veggies for lunch.. …


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 week with the Boxing Day holiday on Monday and New Years Day on Friday, so I also took off Tuesday and Thursday. …


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!

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The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western Rail Trail is the longest rail trail network in British Columbia extending from Hope to Castlegar. Once a comprehensive railroad system, the decommissioned tracks are now home to an extensive recreational trail providing almost 650 km (400 mi) of connected pathways throughout the region. …


Weeknotes #30: Dec 14–18, 2020

I thought about trying to write this post as a poem, “Twas the week before Christmas”-style but realized that would probably be more difficult and time-consuming than just writing a normal post..

Last week was fun! I was very busy note-taking for the two tests we ran with TryMyUI. I did my best to try to work through one and reflect on the findings before switching to the other, but one of my colleagues was off on break as of Thursday so we tried to squeeze in all our discussions before she left. …


Weeknotes #29: Dec 7–11, 2020

This week I was preparing to kick off some unmoderated usability testing with TryMyUI. But before I pushed the button to kick off the tests, I ran a couple small pilot tests with one or two users.

These pilot tests were about ‘testing the test’, rather than focusing on the results. I’ll be honest, I’m not really used to doing pilot tests before my user research. When I’m running a 1:1 discovery interview with someone, I am a little loose with my scripts. If things go in an unexpected direction, I tend to go with it. …


Weeknotes #28: Nov 30 — Dec 4, 2020

This week I really dug into my Top Tasks Monitoring/Task Performance Indicator project (name TBD).

We’ll be running usability tests via TryMyUI, where people will be asked to find certain answers on the Canada.ca website. We’ll measure their time-on-task, task-success, and perceived ease-of-use in completing the tasks. This will be used to identify areas of improvement. We’ll be monitoring these same scenarios and tasks on a regular basis until we find the success rate acceptable (generally 80% success rate, or at least 20% improvement over the baseline).

What to measure?

The Agency had already completed some Top Tasks work, and identified a list of about 25 Top Tasks that people are coming to the CRA web presence to perform. We regularly conduct a survey of website visitors where we ask them why they have come to the site, where we provide them a list of possible suggestions as well as the ability to write in an answer. …


Weeknotes #27: Nov 23–27, 2020

As I mentioned last week, I recently started talking to my manager about an ongoing monitoring and measurement project for Top Tasks. On one hand, it’s a bit daunting because I’m still new at CRA, but on the other, this is a wonderful way for me to dig and and familiarize myself with things.

Organizing web content by Top Tasks is an approach championed by Gerry McGovern, and the canada.ca webteam has worked directly with Gerry to structure our web content. This week I picked up his book to help ensure I was clear on the approach and rationale. …


I have to admit, weeknotes seem harder since joining CRA! If I consider the role weeknotes play in my life, they’re often a way for me to process something going on. Something that’s weighing on me, so I turn to an empty screen to work through it.

Yet since starting at CRA a month ago, I haven’t had as many thoughts eating away at me. I looked back at the post I wrote a month into my time at Transport, and I was worried about how much I had on my plate, and how to prioritize it all.

At CRA, I’m on a team of a dozen smart, like-minded folks who support each other, so I don’t have to resort to writing out my feelings to get them out of my head. I can actually talk to my colleagues! Good for my stress levels, perhaps not so great for my body of writing :-) At least for now, as I’m still quite new and playing more of a supporting role on my teammates’ projects! …

About

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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