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Building things - simple components, lots of reuse

Templating is always a balance of extraction vs re-use. Often I start out with basic outlines of components and over time develop a more mature version, guided by what they need to do and how they need to adapt to a design, it can be hard to know what you will and won’t need from the outset.

Not all services are the same, but most require core components. I sat down and reviewed the ‘Report Benefit Fraud’ service which is now in private beta to see what I had used across the service.

example pages from report benefit fraud service

Just six components are used to build the whole of the service (excluding layout), in total it has about 20 pages. Below is a list of the components it used.

Input Name Times used Variations
text field323
text area150
date field31
radio buttons (sets)31

These templates where built using Nunkucks, which is now used in the GOV.UK prototyping tool kit.

example of a textbox macro

You can view examples of the macros I used here. These are slightly trimmed down but can still be used to produce most of a service.

They started to get a little bloated with variations of the same component, largely this was a styling thing, i.e. a shorter text field or a non-bold label.

The main focus of the components is to make a easily re-usable block, that consistently handles errors and values without additional logic. This was done to reduce the amount of logic and testing required in the service.