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28 January 2021 #54

Hello. 👋🏽👋🏻👋🏾

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021. 

This tweet from Joe Biden’s Engineering Director was sent 30 minutes after the new president was sworn in. It says now includes a high-contrast mode, a large text mode, an accessibility commitment plus a Spanish version for the estimated 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US. 

Here’s to better inclusivity, unity and hope – it’s about time.


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Ways of working

❓ Content designers are used to explaining why frequently asked questions don’t do the job. Our affiliate Sarah Winters wrote about it back in 2013, and Tom Adams came at it from a private sector point of view in his post Why FAQs aren’t the answer you’ve been looking for. But, this post from Rebecca Hales who has a unique perspective as Head of Content Design and SEO at BT asks if FAQs are always a no-no. Challenging and persuasive. 

✅ In Why design systems need experience foundations, Shopify UX talks about the short-sightedness around maintaining and scaling design systems and asks “what if instead of just enabling fast work, systems could also enable reflection and understanding?” Related: The case for process-led design systems – build them so they're fit for purpose, not because they're trendy. 

↕️ A ‘decision stack’ helps show the connections between a business’s overarching vision and the objectives and strategies of the smaller programmes and individual teams. Visibility across all levels is important. Here’s how Co-op Digital is doing it

💎 Here’s a treasure trove of resources for the delivery community. It is UK public sector-centric but coordinator Myles Jarvis asks for recommendations and also explains how he created the list.  

🌟 And for the product community, here’s the most complete list of prioritisation frameworks on the internet. This tweet is a checklist for product managers – amusing, with slightly painful truths.

Best of 2020 (part 2)

Missed these in last year’s round-ups:

▪️ Looking back on 2020 by Common Knowledge, a not-for-profit co-operative building digital tools for grassroots activists. Overall aim? To empower people to resist oppression and form resilient, autonomous communities.

▪️ Harvard Kennedy School asked Chief Data Officers to look back at how data addressed racial inequality, furthered data-driven policies, and contributed to Covid-19 insights.  

▪️ 46 favourite reads on democracy, civic tech and a few other interesting things, by Tiago Peixoto from the World Bank.

State of technology

🇨🇳 In November, one of China’s richest men (co-founder of multinational technology company Alibaba), Jack Ma disappeared. His disappearance followed a summit, at which he’d criticised regulators’ attitude towards big business straight after an ally of Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, had stressed the importance of safe regulation so that business did not become the master of the state. Last week (3 months later) Ma reappeared, apparently quieter, more cautious and the feeling in the West is that Ma’s public show of dissent is connected. There’s been talk that the Chinese government plans to nationalise Alibaba and the Ant Group. Not the last we’ll hear on this. 👀

🌍 5 global enterprises on the future of work by Chris Herd. Nice to see the pros of outcomes over outputs recognised. 

🇮🇳 How a biometric ID system is marginalising pregnant women in India – a country which “accounts for 17% of the world’s maternal deaths and ranks in the worst 20 countries for infant mortality.” The system has seen success but this piece notes the ways it can be difficult to access child benefits and safe abortions. Add it to the list of products and services designed for men by default.  

💰 Capturing the State of IT – a post about the critical pieces of information that should make up the conversation between a Chief Information Officer and Chief Finance Officer.

Digital government

🇸🇳 Yux Agency is a UX company based in Senegal. This piece in Le Monde, discusses the challenges the team has faced and emphasises the importance – and difficulty – of taking context into account. Everything must consider the context of targeted African countries. 

✔️ This report from the World Bank presents the work program priorities for the first two years of the World Bank's GovTech global partnership. If you read only one part, skip to ‘Lessons learned’ from page 26 onwards.

🇺🇸 Loads to pick through in this piece: America’s most reliable pandemic data are now at risk. The Atlantic asks whether the Biden administration should undo a vital system that Trump’s health department created?

📈 Loved this live Twitter commentary by Matt Hobbs (Head of Frontend at GDS) during “the busiest hour ever in the history of GOV.UK” when the UK’s PM announced our *third* lockdown. 5 million unique IP address and browser combinations hit GOV.UK between 8pm (when the announcement began) and 9pm, and there were 3,429,224 concurrent sessions.

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