Directory of services weeknote 29/11/19

What we’ve done this week

  • Had a demo of the latest release of MiDoS (going ‘live’ nationwide in December) – the latest functionality seems to meet the needs of our initial end-users, organisations across the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) and social prescribers (who will access the data held within the directory via the Elemental Digital Social Prescribing Platform). We’re starting to work out when we can test our hypothesis on this product.
  • Caught up with colleagues at Newham Council and North East London Commissioning Support Unit to see their thoughts on MiDoS, how they’re using it currently and how we can work better together.
  • Added five new voluntary bodies to the minimum viable directory. This brings us up to nearly 200 programmes and activities on the directory, many of which are within Well Street Common, our pilot Neighbourhood.

What’s on next week

  • Exploring investment in digital upskilling across the voluntary care sector – we’re holding a problem statement workshop to help remind us all of what we’re trying to solve with regards to this specific element of the project. This will help inform the solutions and research we devise.
  • Expanding the end-users of the minimum viable directory – we’re attending the Adult Social Care 3 Conversations team meeting to set up a small cohort of social workers onto it. This is staying true to our values: test, gather feedback, accept changes, learn and adapt accordingly.
  • Buckinghamshire County Council is leading a project around standardising how data is captured, held and stored (read more here) – we’re introducing their digital team to the MiDoS team so we can explore this standard over coming weeks. 

Today’s weeknotes are brought to you by Meg Dibb-Fuller, Product Owner on this project.

Directory of services weeknote 20/11/19

This project is looking at how a digital approach can encourage the voluntary health and social care sector to connect with people who need their services. We’re exploring a couple of options that answer this user need:

  1. a searchable database of voluntary organisations
  2. upskilling the organisations themselves so that their own digital presence informs end users

We are building on the good work achieved during the Discovery phase of the past few months; and the next phase will continue to run along Agile principles and user-centred design. This may be a new way of working for stakeholders but we hope they’ll come along for the duration. For the unfamiliar, our approach means that:

– We place the user at the heart of what we do. Not managers. Not budget holders. Not the most senior person in the room. But the people who are going to be using the service. 

– We do as much as we need to do to get to the next step. We don’t plan out a project from end to end and work through it. We accept change, we learn, we adapt.

This is the abridged version for the time-poor. Please read the HackIT Manifesto in full if you’re at a loose end and need an excuse for a Garibaldi.

We will meet with relevant stakeholders when specific issues within their area of expertise arise and need to be discussed. Our governance primarily comes from weeknotes, show and tells and service assessments.

All weeknotes (where we air our triumphs and challenges) will be published here; stakeholders will be invited to give feedback at face-to-face show and tells; and we will have a service assessment with assessors where we more formally demonstrate and defend how we’ve delivered. And, as an NHS collaboration, there are no doubt other boards and reviews which we will need to update.

We’ll keep this first weeknote short and sweet. Future versions will be published here and on LocalGov Digital’s Pipeline.

Re-engineering Hackney content weeknotes 19/11/19

Elephant in the room

The new website at has now been live for six weeks and you’re probably missing weeknotes. So… be careful what you wish for!

In the spirit of Agile, we’ve been collating our user needs in a backlog throughout the project, and prioritising via Moscow (Must, Could, Should, Won’t for the less Agile amongst you). This allows us to improve continuously while accepting the brutal reality of finite resources.

We no longer have dedicated developers and designers on the project, however, Miles from the Learning Trust and our ICT apprentices have stepped in to help. Under the guidance of our lead front-end developer, Emma, they have been fixing functional, design and accessibility issues across the interface. It’s a delight to see a steady stream of bugs pushed through the fix process as they gain practical knowledge of the React framework and our specific tech set-up.

There remain a couple of elephants in the room. One is called Navigation and the other Search. We simply didn’t have time to polish the navigation before launch; and so we made ‘having a navigation at all’ a Must while ‘locating where you are in the navigation’ had to become a Should. We’re nearing the end with this piece and hoping to deploy to live in the next week. 

Search is virtually instantaneous when you hit Submit on your keywords. However, we know it’s taking an age to get to the search page when you click the search icon. This leaves users hanging, wondering if it’s broken. It’s not an easy problem to solve but, as an interim, we’re looking at taking the user to the search page immediately on icon click and then having a ‘loading’ icon while it indexes in the background. At least then the user knows something is happening. 

Residents continue to let us know what’s not working on the site, via Hotjar. We’re currently fixing an intermittent bug on the widget for ordering green recycling bags. While third parties are out of scope for this project, we’re not going to ignore an important issue and, you guessed it, on the backlog it goes. We still need a mechanism to feed Hotjar back to services automatically so that they are aware of any issues and are better able to take ownership of them. 

Our Web team, Iain and Alan, in Comms are using Site Improve on a daily basis. This means they can see for themselves where quality and accessibility issues lie and can get a jump on Hotjar. We still have work to do to meet AA accessibility standard and Iain is working with Gill on the accessibility statement for the site. It’s a work in progress as we continue to make things better for those particular users. 

You may have noticed the slightly alarming ‘insecure content’ icon has turned into a padlock icon on the address bar. The homepage, and a few other pages, pull embedded images from WordPress and so we had to install a security certificate on WordPress. It’s done the trick, though we’re not overly thrilled with the use of the term ‘insecure’ as it’s not a true reflection on what’s going on.

In other news, we’re working with Hackney Museum to create an inviting homepage for the service. The homepage is the Museum’s front door and has to look like something you might want to step inside. Other museums are available and we need a competitive edge.

We’ll continue to share our achievements and challenges with you as we work on the live site. It may not be weekly, it may not be fortnightly. We like to retain an element of surprise.

We’re hiring! Front-end developer

Fixed Term/Secondment Contract (24 months)

£48,309 – £52,192 per annum (PO9) inc. Market Supplement of £57

Closing date: 10 November 2019

HackIT is looking for a Front End Developer. The role will enable us to increase our capacity to develop prototypes and continuously improve our services better to meet user need. 

Hackney is building a pattern library so that our team, suppliers and partners can develop consistent user experiences that are intuitive, mobile-first and work for all our users. We have also developed as a headless CMS on WordPress with a React front-end and this role will be crucial to ensuring that we use this to build content products that meet user needs. 

You’ll be part of the leadership of the digital design team, together with our Lead User Researcher and Lead Service Designer, participating in multi-disciplinary teams through Discovery and Prototyping development phases. You’ll also be part of our development team as we move to an API-first approach and support our data and insight team as they build interactive tools for residents and colleagues. 

Essential Requirements:

– 5+ years’ experience as a frontend developer
– Fundamentals including semantic HTML, CSS and vanilla JavaScript
– Passion for CSS and knowledge of Flexbox and Grid
– Comfortable with Sass and PostCSS
– JS-based build tools – Grunt, Gulp, Webpack
– Experience with NPM and GitHub
– Care about accessibility and performance
– An eye for UI and UX
– Desire to work on open source projects
– Be able to work quickly in an agile environment
– Good collaboration skills with designers and other developers

More details and to apply.

Maps: not just for Summer

We are proud to present our new map for… Autumn! Now the nights are getting spookier and the leaves are turning brown, the Love Summer map was starting to look a little optimistic. The new map covers Halloween, Bonfire Night, half-term activities and bracing walks around the borough. Blow those cobwebs off and take a peek.

This is the culmination of just two weeks’ work from Liz Harrison’s GIS team of Sandrine Balley and Marta Villalobos, with front-end development help from Emma Lewis. And not forgetting Wing’s determination to seek user feedback from unsuspecting visitors to London Fields playground.

We’re continuing to refine the design and functionality of these maps and now have a template that we can increasingly turn to any use. Watch out for more Love maps soon.

Screenshot of Love Autumn map
Screenshot of Love Autumn map