Week 14: 27-10-2017

Quiet as a mouse

For reasons that have never been explained to me, Parliament holidays appear to run from November to October. So lots of people were using up leave. For those with sprogs, it was also half term. Pretty much the office was empty, weeknotes are parched and I’m typing for completeness.

Parliament in the area, we’re international, we’re continental. Confined to base

Probably lots of people went to places. But they were not work related. Looking at Twitter, Raphael appears to be at MozFest but he’s not reported into the weeknotes channel. I’m scraping the barrel here.

The search bit of the Data and Search extravaganza seemed to surprise no-one, which we’re counting as a success.

Robert’s been trying to work out how to make the description text of search results a little less mad. A lot of that is learning how our newly-established processes for data gathering and testing work. He thinks he does now understand most of it, but a lot is being built right now.

The search team had some pretty serious agile ceremony (christ, that’s awful) stuff going on. It took some time, but at least one person thought it went well.

Robert spoke with Colin again on Members and related matters. He imagines he came across as rather old-fashioned.

Robert also met with colleagues in other departments on search and related matters.

There was some work on finding out how to set up a Microsoft equivalent of the Google Webmaster account. We think we’re nearer to making that happen.

Dia, Jo and Robert met to chat about search result presentation and the forthcoming hints. A deal of not-immediately-visible work has been done in the search team, establishing infrastructure and skills.


Robert spoke with Julie on how we might progress the GDS Digital Academy stuff.

Robert also got updated on the latest news in the service review work and lined up with a new-to-him colleague for a review. He spoke with his service review partner on how they’re going to run it: questions, approach, records and so on.


There is a note in the weeknotes Slack channel from Robert. It says:

“By the way, if anyone wants to talk to me, I’m always very willing to take a half hour and buy you a nice coffee.”

I’m not sure if this invite was intended for people in the office, or if anyone is free to take up this offer. Either way, the author would encourage you to take time out to take caffeine with Robert. It is “always worthwhile” (TM).

Measuring things

Liz, Franny, Laurence and Dia met to discuss Laurence’s design for displaying links to PDFs from search results. Liz wrote up a first draft for the analysis, research and testing of display hints for document types in general. This involves finding out how many downloads we are currently getting, whether it varies by device type (mobile users being of interest), ideas around why people want PDFs / certain document types and whether content is dictating that, and what might happen as a result of including document type hints. Will downloads reduce, or perhaps increase, depending on the user goal?

Machines that do learning

There was no one around to teach the machines anything so they took a rest week.

Things that caught our eye

There appears to be a general feeling of ennui with the internet this week.