One month in, one cross-government content conference down

Attended some meetups, juggled training across the country, oh, and organised one big cross-government content conference — it’s only been 37 days since this journey started.

Audience in the main hall at ConCon6

Picture: Laura Billings (Twitter)

I joined the Government Digital Service (GDS) just over one month ago. I’m sort of trying to still figure out how a) it’s already been a month, b) how much has happened in that space of time. 5 September feels like a long time ago.

I’m part of a small but perfectly formed team who look after training and learning needs of the cross-government content community, aptly named the ‘content community team’ based in the GOV.UK team.

Safe to say, it’s been a pretty amazing start.

Communities are hugely important — not just to network, but to learn and be inspired by others

One of the best ways to understand a different community in government is to visit one of their meet-ups. My first was the cross-government design meetup, which happened during London Design Festival.

Many things were shared about what is taking place in terms of service design across government to help users, for us — the citizen (remembering civil servants are users too!).

Services being designed and put together which can help people know more about floods in their area, registering and booking an appointment at a GP surgery ultimately taking out the hassle when moving and making the complicated simpler such as the personal tax account.

Bringing the community together provides ultimate knowledge exchange

Yesterday was the sixth edition of ConCon — the cross-government content conference. Over 240 content designers from 56 departments and agencies — from the big central government departments to small support agencies — attended ConCon. They came from all over the country to learn from one another. The tickets were so popular they sold out faster than a band playing at the O2 (maybe not that much but it wasn’t far off).

Sessions ranging from accessibility, product management, data, policy, user journey mapping and clear writing — just to name a few. It was also about reflecting where the community was at in terms of skills, mapping capability against the Digital, Data and Technology profession ‘Content designer: skills they need’ guidance.

There will be a longer detailed blog post coming up in the next couple of weeks about the day on one of the GDS blogs but to be involved in pulling together and running ConCon6 was such a rewarding experience to see the reaction and feedback coming through on Twitter, knowing the impact it will make back in departments and agencies.

As I tweeted yesterday, it wouldn’t have been possible without the community helping on the day to make sure it happened, speaking and running workshops but mainly attending the conference. The people make the community what it is.

There’s always more to learn, always someone to be trained.

ConCon6 has finished but thats not just the learning experiences. GDS runs training nearly every week of the year for content designers, press officers and statisticians to help learn how to write for GOV.UK but more advanced training on pair writing, training others in clear writing and user journeys.

I pull all this together — the logistics of making sure people who need training, get trained, by a trainer, with the right training resources afterwards. I’m lucky to work with a great team — which I mentioned those at the start of this post.