Weeknotes #26: Nov 16–20, 2020

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!

I will say, it’s fantastic to be back on a UX team again. Last week we had a few group discussions about button variations and intent, and the use of “you” vs “I” in our content. Details that can often get brushed over when your team is more focused on ‘delivery’ than ‘delivering something intuitive, welcoming and cohesive’.

Actually — I’m sure I’ll eventually dedicate some of my posts to talking about our various design patterns and systems here at the GC. I’m just still familiarizing myself with everything and don’t feel equipped to discuss it well yet. But we have a plethora of government-wide resources to refer to, and then determine how to apply it to our specific context.

For example, we’re the CRA. In our goal to “provide answers, not information”, we are working on what seems like a surprising number of calculators, to help people understand how programs and rules apply to their particular circumstances.

The context of these ‘calculators’ is unlike anything offered across many other government departments and agencies, and this isn’t something that’s elaborated in the current Canada.ca Design System or the “Web Experience Toolkit”.

Whether they should belong in some sort of pattern library or design system at a global or local level is exactly the thing that’s starting to roll around in my head, but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

I’ve heard some rumblings in the design system ecosystem of “systems of systems” — where you have global and local systems, but I am not sure whether the GC can (or wants to) support something like that. While there are merits to having some consistencies in brand and experience across different agencies, I’m worried we would be forsaking context-specific interactions and patterns and offering a sub-optimal experience. I think the risk is that we’d be serving an internal benefit (reusability) at the expense of the user experience. I’m sure the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle…

On Thursday, several of us attended the UserZoom State of UX Summit, and compared notes. A colleague grabbed a screenshot of one speaker who used the Government of Canada (maybe even CRA’s?)’s covid response as an example! Neat!

On Friday, my manager asked me to take the lead on an upcoming project. Moreso than the work itself, I’ve been thinking about how best to engage with the team. I’m still establishing relationships and getting to know people, and I want to be sure I’m devoting some energy to that, not just ‘getting the work done’. Not too much; I AM still myself, after all 😂 But I don’t want to just dole out work without taking the time to find out what people are really interested in doing.

At the same time.. I don’t want to be such a pushover that I’m not providing direction and guidance if the team needs it. I know at Transport I waffled sometimes because I wasn’t confident in the ‘right thing to do’ and questioned myself, or I wanted to be sure people on the team liked the work they were doing (and by extension, working with me). But sometimes, we have to do stuff we don’t want to — so that’ll be my focus, figuring out how to prioritize people doing work that interests and/or challenges them, while ensuring it all gets done :-)

So.. I guess I do have a few juicy topics bubbling up in future notes!

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