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Joining Well Digital

My first month as Senior Digital Designer at Well, the UK’s largest independent Pharmacy.

Since I wrote that I was Leaving DWP Digital, I received some lovely messages wishing me well. Some said they would like me to write ‘weeknotes’ for the new role.

Week-noting is a popular practice of people writing a day-by-day account of their working week. As you might guess though, my time became spoken-for rather quickly.

Instead, I decided to keep detailed notes of my first three days, followed by a round-up of what the month had to offer.

Day 1 — Digital Healthcare kick-off

Day one arrived. It’s Tuesday 29th August 2017. Having met some of the team at the Manchester digital BBQ earlier in the year, I was ready to get straight to work.

In the morning I joined a kick-off meeting between UsTwo & Well Digital. It is for a discovery project that will focus on ‘Digital Healthcare’.

It was a great way to meet the team and to start learning about how pharmacies and the UK healthcare system operate.

It was quite an intensive day. We covered our goals for the project, the assumptions, we did a dive into the existing business, NHS regulations as well as what is happening in the market.

1_GDlXmsvi_Fg-gyCGW9P5_w Outside Well HQ with Dan Sheldon and the UsTwo discovery team [Photo credit: ustwo]

Well have set a wide brief for UsTwo so it will be interesting to see what insights and potential opportunities they uncover.

Alongside the kick-off meeting, I did some general HR type things, setup my email and collected my new work machine. Lots of hellos, a tour of the building and my first day was complete. 🎉

Day 2 — Services Discovery, a growing to-do list & lots of acronyms

It is Dan’s last day in the office for two weeks, so we make time to catch up and talk about some early priorities before a new project kick-off, this time its a discovery to focus on ‘Services’.

It’s quickly apparent that I’m going to be busy, there will be no shortage of work but more importantly that Chris, Dan and the Well board have a bias for action, they’ll be moving fast and intend to learn by doing.

Initially the services discovery will be the project I will focus most of my time on. I‘ll be working with Common Good, a strategy-led design studio based in Manchester that are already partnered with Well, having worked on the new Store finder.

To kick things off Charlie (designer and co-founder of Common Good) started the day with a Project Point of Departure workshop which is a nice way to get things moving and to establish our first steps.

1_7NJAK8sbZwU5YFAAUstuJA The services discovery team outside Well Digital HQ

We defined a mission for the project as a whole, a mission for our first sprint and identified key people from across Well that will be able to help us along the way.

From there we started a session to understand what services Well currently offer, why, any business drivers and associated regulations.

Hinrich (Content Designer) lead this and grouped our findings. I knew Well offered a lot of services but I was still surprised at just how many and at the complexity of commissioning some of them.

I wasn’t the only one drowning in pharmacy and healthcare related acronyms, as I looked across the table, Radina and Charlie had beaten me to starting a glossary.

1_wykklzDYn8mOn4WLz6wp7Q Screenshot of an internal ‘Jargon Buster’

The kick-off takes up most of the day, I finish by continuing to set up the new work machine and wading through some more email.

I can see that it’s going to be fast paced, interesting and meaningful work that matters to Well as business and to a lot of people (customers and colleagues) who operate or reply upon Well services.

Day 3 — First ‘Show & Tell’

Thursday is Show & Tell day at Well, first of all, it’s great to see them being taken seriously (not just another ceremony).

Chris Ellett starts things off and I’m introduced to people, I talk a little bit about my role, what I’m going to be doing at Well and then it’s over to Charlie to talk about the work he and the team had been doing for the new Store Finder.

The services discovery we kicked off yesterday is introduced and I talk about some of the objectives the team have set as part of our mission for the project.

This week there are questions about the data used for the store finder, this is excellent, I’m really happy to see this happening because it is very much the point of a Show & Tell.

1_M4v3b0SbD-20o6YJuoUgMQ A show & tell at Well HQ

I’m told the attendance is steadily growing. In a fast paced, agile environment, a bunch of lengthy emails specifying what’s happening would soon be at the bottom of everybody’s inbox by 10:00am.

Show & Tells ask people to unplug and give their attention so they can find out what’s happening in an open forum, ask questions which importantly, others can hear and respond to.

After a good conversation we wrap up the in-person event and I stay behind to help record a summary version to camera which get’s shared on the company intranet for people that are unable to attend.

It’s great we’re being inclusive and not forgetting from our base in the Manchester head-office that what we’re doing impacts lots of colleagues in stores across the country.

I’m very happy to see that the team publishing the recordings have taken the time to caption (subtitle) the video, making it as accessible as they can for all members of Well staff. I’ll talk more about accessibility in the round-up below.

Finally, in the afternoon we get a cup of tea and get together to divide up the work over a shared Trello board. Doing this I can see already that there is a really positive, friendly and supportive team dynamic.

The day ends and my first three days are over. I’m tired but feel energised about the challenge ahead.

Four weeks later..

As I write this it’s the end of my fourth week with Well Digital, time feels like it has gone remarkably quickly, which I see as a good sign. So what else have I been doing since day three?

Design is a good idea

Part of my role is to help us establish design principles and practices here at Well but it is not something any one person can do overnight by themselves, nor should it be.

I’ve begun by trying to get an understanding of the design work that is currently happening here.

The discovery project has been a good place for this because we’ve been mapping user journeys for a lot of Well services.

We’re gaining a detailed understanding of the things people do with us, for example:

  • getting a Flu-jab for winter.
  • being vaccinated to ensure they are safe when traveling.
  • Having their medicines (and how they use them), reviewed by our colleagues in store.
  • Seeking advice about their sexual health.

This is vital because ‘digital’ doesn’t simply start and end with websites or mobile Apps. Journey Mapping is a start towards us gaining real insights about our users and their needs.

These ‘user needs’ help us to better reason about the things we need to do when designing end-to-end services.

When thinking about design, we should remember that people outside the digital team are also making significant design choices that affect our customers in meaningful ways.

To me, this means that as part of their job, they too are *designing *our products and services. In other words, every one of us is a designer, officially or not.

As Jared Spool points out:

When someone influences the experience of the user, they, in that moment, become a user experience designer.

I think this is already recognised here at Well. As people officially calling ourselves ‘designers’, our role is about being stewards for good design.

As a way to help some early discussion, I’ve started mocking up some posters to visualise some of my thoughts about our possible design principles and ways of working.

1_L7YZOO8uKtReCR9Dpp-cDA--1- Some of the ‘ways of working’ poster designs

I saw the Government Digital Service and my colleagues at DWP do this well and I will be referencing a lot of their wisdom.

We will be getting people together to discuss our principles soon. I learnt in government that posters of things like values and principles should not be used to enforce a culture, instead they should be a reflection of a shared culture and understanding. So for the time being, these are just my ideas and pieces of inspiration.

Accessible and Inclusive Design

I decided that as part of the services discovery, I’d start with an ‘expert review’ and audit of the existing Well website. This is usually a good way to highlight the things that will be crucial for us as we start to design and build new services.

The key areas I looked at were:

  • Design
  • Is the current visual language consistent? Is the content legible and readable? Has the site been built to be responsive or adaptive to various devices? and how does the design and user interface perform in certain contexts of use?
  • Accessibility
  • Does the current website present any barriers to our users? Given our business, our services are for people from all walks of life and we should strive to make our services accessible to all, no matter what their health condition, impairment, background or disability.
  • Web performance
  • How fast does the site respond to our users? Does it load in an acceptable time that will keep people happy and able to do what they need? What are the key performance and user experience metrics for the current site? Time to first meaningful paint? What is the homepage SpeedIndex? (not just Time to first byte or the time to document complete).
    Are we being considerate with people’s bandwidth? (mobile data bills are expensive!)

1_AtmzIT9hkzEIMLb4uS-ERA Board used to present back some of my findings

I wrote up the detailed findings, shared them with the discovery team and at Show & Tells. If you are not sure what some of the above means, follow Well Digital as future blog posts will explain more.

I will quickly focus on accessibility because I was super happy to see the Show & Tells videos were already being captioned. It is one small example of good accessibility practice.

I asked about this and people knew it was important for people that are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

However I want us to go further and to think about more than just physical impairments.

It is crucial to know that where, when and how our products are being used can present barriers to all us that can be avoided by good design and accessibility choices.

The Show & Tell videos for example, might be accessed by staff on computers with no speakers or in the store environment where headphones or playing sound is not appropriate, those people will be included simply by the use captioning in the videos.

We will be blogging and sharing more about accessible and inclusive design here at Well you can also follow Well Digital on twitter to keep up to date.


Its been a busy and exciting month. I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve been trusted to get on and do the right things and already made new friends.

I’m grateful to Dan Sheldon and Chris Ellett for the opportunity to join Well at this point in its history, I hope to make a contribution because its work that really matters, to our customers, colleagues, to Well as an organisation and perhaps to the NHS and the industry as a whole.


  • Like the sound of the work we’re doing? Email us.
  • You can download posters from our github repository.
  • Follow me on twitter to ask questions or challenge things I’ve said here.
  • Big thank you to Sam Schofield, Edith in HR, Gary & Zoey in Front-of-house, and to Ben Lingard & Matt Lindop of IT. All of whom I’ve pestered multiple times for assistance. 👏
  • Printers really are a pain everywhere.
  • Start with a cup of a tea and go from there.
Joining Well Digital
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