Mental Health & Wellbeing in Your Workplace, Wherever That Might Be

The Beatles - Help Sculpture on Wall The Beatles - Help Sculpture on Wall

The pressures of work, or providing for yourself and/or your loved ones has always been there. But it seems to me that these pressures and strains around modern work are amplified today by multiple sources. We sometimes seem trapped in a race to nowhere and forget the things that really make a life important.

I have worked in various roles, for Agencies, Consultancies, in-house and (since 2018) Freelance running my own Research & Design business, Merlan Ltd..

All these roles have been varied, but the one thing they share is that they require certain techniques and coping mechanisms to maintain good mental health and wellbeing. While success in this area varies for everyone, having access to key resources to help in the process will hopefully prove useful to people.

The resources listed have a focus on supporting mental health & wellbeing in the workplace specifically compared to the large amount of resource available to support people’s day-to-day lives.

General Resources

https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/

“Whether you work with 10 people, 10,000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been more important. Mental Health at Work is here to help you find the information and resources you need.”

https://osmihelp.org/

“Open Sourcing Mental Illness is a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising awareness, educating, and providing resources to support mental wellness in the tech and open source communities.”

Resources for Freelancers & The Self Employed

https://www.leapers.co/

“Leapers supports the mental health of freelancers and the self-employed”

Conferences & MeetUp Resources

http://mhprompt.org

“Prompt is a means of encouraging a conversation about mental health at tech conferences and meetups.”

Charities, Public Sector & NHS Resources

https://www.mindwell-leeds.org.uk/professionals/mindwell-at-work

“MindWell is the mental health website for people in Leeds. Funded by the NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, it brings together information from the NHS, Leeds City Council and the third sector into one single ‘go to’ place.”

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

“After reading this guide you should: have an idea of how to manage your own mental health at work; have an idea of how to reach out to a colleague in distress; have an idea how you can work with others to make your workplace more mentally healthy for everyone.”

https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/

“Whether you’re an employee worried about your own or a colleague’s mental health, a company looking for a charity partner, or an HR professional interested in improving mental wellbeing in your organisation - we’re here to help.”

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/workplace/

“We support workplaces with a range of programmes including our Wellbeing in the Workplace elearning tool and our in-house and open workplace training courses.”

Technology & Hardware Resources

https://www.moodbeam.co.uk/moodbeam-for-business

“Over the last two years we’ve built up the most incredible relationships with organisations who really care about pioneering better mental health within their industries.  Moodbeam’s technology has allowed them to see where they can make a real difference to the lives of those who rely on them to make the right decision.”

Hopefully the resources above can help both individuals and organisation to be better supported in regard to Mental Health & Wellbeing in the workplace.

[Note: 17/03/2020] I’ve been capturing notes for this article since helping to answer this question:

shared by Jennifer Aldrich on twitter. The current 🌍 global situation made me think that it would be useful to get this out of draft, share it and make any required changes later.

From a 1960's Manual to a 2018 Design System

Second-hand book shop, junk shops, antiques centres. I’ve always enjoyed having a look over these types of place to draw what design inspiration I can from the items that can be found there.

I must have passed Bar Farm Antiques - https://www.barfarmantiques.co.uk/ - dozens of time before finally deciding to stop off one day and have an explore.

Bar Farm Antiques Centre - Front © 2018 BAR FARM ANTIQUES Bar Farm Antiques Centre - Front © 2018 BAR FARM ANTIQUES

It’s a fascinating place, well worth a look if you’re passing by. After looking through various areas (but not having a coffee in the converted bus café ツ) I came to this part of the centre.

Bar Farm Antiques Centre © 2018 BAR FARM ANTIQUES Bar Farm Antiques Centre © 2018 BAR FARM ANTIQUES

And taking a look through, found this excellent example of layout/formatting for tabular data. The cover alone was great (just look at that ‘By’)

SC Calculator Charts Book - Cover SC Calculator Charts Book - Cover

It got even better inside, clean layout, well structured & aligned data. I ended up using this as an example of data table layout for a Design System I was working on at the time.

SC Calculator Charts Book - Inside SC Calculator Charts Book - Inside

SC Calculator Charts Book - Inside, close up SC Calculator Charts Book - Inside, close up

This layout wasn’t done by a famous designer, just someone asked to layout a Comptometer - http://anita-calculators.info/html/mechanical_calculators.html - guide in an office somewhere. But what they created back in ~1960s has cast a long shadow to the Design Systems of today. Take time to look at the work done by those who came before us in the quieter corners of design, there’s a lot we can learn there.

NUX7 – (Still) A Conference for Teams

The excellent NUX7 conference takes place later this year in Manchester - http://2018.nuxconf.uk/.

One of the key aspects I try to get across when discussing UX with people is that it’s not just one role for a single (or team) of UX professionals in any organisation. One of the key aims in UX is bringing it in as part of wider business processes. As the Government Digital Services Team often point out, UX is a team sport.

User Research is a Team Sport User Research is a Team Sport via http://www.disambiguity.com/strategy-is-being-on-message/

As part of this, it feels that events like NUX7 really benefit when attended by people who don’t class themselves as UX professionals. People who come from others areas of business who are looking to get an idea of how UX fits into these wider processes. More and more businesses are understanding that UX is not something that can be tacked on to the end of a project, instead it needs to be a foundation, underpinning all aspects of a project.

Along with a great line up featuring speakers who have worked with LinkedIn, The New York times, The Belfast School of Art, Confer Health & more NUX7 is a welcoming and open conference for anyone interested in how people actually use systems, apps, websites & products.

As a Project Manager, visit NUX7 and find out how UX can fit into Agile & Lean development processes.

As a Business Analyst, come along to NUX7 to see how UX can dig into the user needs of a business.

As a Developer, experience NUX7 and gain a better understanding how UX design thinking can shorten development time and build on consistent, usable patterns.

An open conference suitable for PMs, BAs, Devs, Managers, Analytics Experts & more to offer a better understanding of what UX is and what it can offer any business.

If your role involves working with people in any way, you will benefit from attending, and hopefully enjoying NUX7.

Tickets

Tickets for NUX7 are available here;

http://2018.nuxconf.uk/tickets/

With discounts for both students and groups of more then 5.

I’m looking forward to seeing a range of people, from all areas of all type of businesses at NUX7.


This post is an update to the one I wrote back in 2015 for the NUX4 Conference - https://electronicpress.co.uk/2015/10/06/nux4-conference-for-teams.html

DotYork/NUX Crossover Event - UX & Typography

I was recently given the opportunity to return to York to speak at the second DotYork 🔀 NUX crossover event.

This post acts as a round-up of useful typography resources & links from aspects mentioned during my talk.

Table of Contents

  1. The Adana Letterpress
  2. Design Guidelines
    1. Alignment
      1. Line Length
    2. Repetition
      1. Font Pairing
    3. Contrast
    4. Proximity
    5. Balance
      1. Grid Systems
      2. Baseline Grid/Vertical Rhythm
  3. Vincent Connare
  4. Creating Your Own Font
  5. Further Reading
    1. On-line
    2. Print
  6. In Conclusion

The Adana 8x5

The letterpress I spoke of in my talk was the British made Adana 8x5

http://britishletterpress.co.uk/presses/small-presses/adana/

http://britishletterpress.co.uk/presses/small-presses/adana/the-adana-8-x-5/

Caslon - current home of the Adana letterpress

Design Guidelines

The 5 key design guidelines, which align with useful typographic guidelines were;

  • Alignment
  • Repetition
  • Contrast
  • Proximity
  • Balance

This article - https://maddisondesigns.com/2009/03/the-5-basic-principles-of-design/ - offers a useful overview of these 5 Basic Principles Of Design.

Alignment

The research completed by Microsoft I mentioned during the talk on how people read copy, and therefore interact with typography, online can be found here in their article The Science of Word Recognition - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/typography/develop/word-recognition

Line Length

Further information on defining an optimal line-length for your users can be found in these articles.

https://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability

https://designshack.net/articles/typography/the-importance-of-designing-for-readability/

Repitition

Font Pairing

A useful intro to combining fonts can be found here;

A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Fonts

These are some great example sites showing font pairing in action;

http://femmebot.github.io/google-type/

https://www.typewolf.com/

http://hellohappy.org/beautiful-web-type/

http://typespiration.com/

https://justmytype.co/

https://typ.io/

And these following tools can be used to create and test your own font combinations;

https://www.fontpair.co/

https://www.canva.com/font-combinations/

https://www.typotheque.com/fonts/combinator/latin

https://typekit.com/

And in this area, Fonts In Use is a really useful site to look at real-world examples of both font combinations and individual fonts in place;

https://fontsinuse.com/

Contrast

The following online tool is really useful for quick checking of typographic contrast;

https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/

And this page rounds up other solutions in this area;

http://www.webaxe.org/color-contrast-tools/

If making use of Sketch App for your UI design, the Stark plugin has proved to be the best I’ve found for checking contrast of text;

https://sketchapphub.com/resource/stark/

Information on the Chrome DevTools browser integration can be found here;

https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/01/devtools#contrast

Proximity

The following resource offers a useful overview of proximity in regard to design with a specific focus on use in typography;

https://www.sitepoint.com/principles-of-design-proximity/

Balance

Grid Systems

There is so much written about the use of grid systems in design, and in particular how they apply to typography but this is a useful starting point for research;

http://thegridsystem.net/tags/typography/

The classic 📙 book Thinking With Type also offers some useful information in this area;

http://thinkingwithtype.com/grid/

Baseline Grid

In regard to the vertical rhythm of typography, look towards information like the following on baseline grids;

http://typecast.com/blog/4-simple-steps-to-vertical-rhythm

https://builttoadapt.io/8-point-grid-vertical-rhythm-90d05ad95032

Vincent Connare

Information on the Typographer & Designer Vincent Connare can be found here;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Connare

http://www.connare.com/

https://twitter.com/VincentConnare

Creating Your Own Font

There a loads of useful tools available to experiment with creating your own font of examining other people’s.

Fontstruct is a great on-line, block-based font creation tool;

https://fontstruct.com/

As is FontArk;

http://fontark.net/farkwp/

For Desktop based tools, the open source FontForge has always been the classic font/typeface design tool;

https://fontforge.github.io/

FontLab Studio is more an industry standard, but a more expensive solution;

https://www.fontlab.com/font-editor/fontlab-studio/

And Glyphs is the middle-ground between these two options;

https://glyphsapp.com/

Further Reading

On-line

Butterick’s Practical Typography

http://practicaltypography.com/

Butterick's Practical Typography

An excellent resource by Matthew Butterick (https://twitter.com/mbutterick) who also created the legal specific http://typographyforlawyers.com/ resource. Practical Typography offers an excellent overview of typographic theory and is an excellent starting point for learning more about this area.

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

http://webtypography.net/toc/

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

A web–specific version of the excellent Elements of Typographic Style book maintained by Richard Rutter. Very useful overview and intro to the more in–depth and non web–specific original.

Print

The Elements of Typographic Style

one of the best investments I can recommend when it come to learning typography is to purchase a copy of Robert Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style (http://amzn.to/1itePlL)

Elements of Typographic Style Book

For a lighter overview of typographic history and use take a look at Simon Garfield’s Just My Type (https://amzn.to/2yCVIck)

In Conclusion

Thank very much to all who attended my talk on UX & Typography

It hopefully offered some useful tips that can be applied to general product design work.

If you’d like to discuss more, or have any questions in this area, I can often be found discussing this topic on-line.

https://twitter.com/search?q=typography+from%3Awhitingx

Thanks ツ

UK Design Documentaries, Series & Talks

There are some great documentary films, and more recently series (https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80057883), about Design. But 2 things I have noticed about these are that;

  1. The same Design related films tend to be promoted across different (http://www.designers.watch/) resources (https://www.uxseattle.org/movies/)
  2. These films tend to have a US focus, both in subject matter and creation.

As such, I’ve been looking at films that focus at the great Design history here in the UK, both at a general level and on ones that focus on specific, British Designers.

📽 UK Design Documentary Films

Abram Games - Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means

“A film of the life and work of Abram Games features rare archive conversations with Games, interviews with his family and assessments today’s leading designers. All aspects of Games’s is explored from posters to product design.”

https://www.abramgames.com/dvd

📺 UK Design Documentary Series

The Brits Who Designed the Modern World

BBC Arts profiles ten great living British designers … to find out what inspires them to make such phenomenal objects. She reveals how designers have responded to society’s evolving tastes, from the brash 60s modernism of Margaret Calvert’s road signs through to the colourful technology of Rick Dickinson’s ZX Spectrum.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6278580/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b084flz2

The Genius of Design

This five-part series, made by the team behind the award-winning series The Genius of Photography, tells the story of design from the Industrial Revolution through 20s modernism, the swinging 60s, the designer 80s and up to the present day.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1729601/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sdb8x

🗣 UK Design Talks

Matthew Carter - My Life in Typefaces

In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books – remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

https://www.ted.com/talks/matthew_carter_my_life_in_typefaces

I’m hoping this resource will expand out over time so if you have any suggestions, let me know, I’m always happy to hear about new Design films ツ