Richard Boulton home

Weeknotes 6 and 7

5 May 2014

Two weeks worth of weeknotes today again, after a couple of very productive weeks. The restructure to form a "search and browse" team has been a great success so far, with lots of progress being made and a first release of a new search interface expected this week. Having a team with a clear objective, and sprint goals set such that we're all working together on the same thing has made all the difference.

On the first day of the sprint we had a fairly tough planning meeting, but I think the effort put into that was worth it setting aims, and making it clear how much there was to do. Some good work from our delivery and product managers to cut down the scope of the sprint gave us a great deal of focus. So much so that by the middle of the sprint we were running out of fully planned tasks to do and had to have a reprioritisation meeting.

Our focus has been to get a new, less cluttered, search interface for GOV.UK implemented and deployed, and while the new interface isn't yet fully deployed we progressed much farther than I'd hoped, and is now undergoing some user research. Tara has done some excellent work on updating our "healthcheck" data, which we use to check that the ranking for searches is working well, and as a result I was able to build on that to perform some tuning to ensure that the large amount of detailed content from government departments wasn't overpowering the smaller number of "mainstream" pages.

We've also developed our first "facet" to allow search results to be filtered by organisation, and are likely to add several more facets to search result pages in future.

I began some work to fetch information on the popularity of pages on the site from analytics, and put that in a form suitable for use when ranking. An initial prototype of this improved the quality of results radically, both as measured by the healthcheck and by inspecting some of our previously problematic searches. Hopefully this will get into production in the next sprint.