When most of us hear about the importance of a good design, we tend to think of aesthetics – is the object pleasing to the eye, does it impress us visually, do we engage with it on some visceral level, etc.
For the professionals who work in the world of software design, the goal is much more than to produce a product that is visually appealing. These product experience designers are actually building pathways for those of us who use their tools to interact with them in ways that allow us to get more out of the technology.
Unfortunately, as was noted by panelists in a Legaltech New York session moderated by veteran legal industry observer Jeffrey Brandt, the evolution of software design in the legal marketplace has lagged behind the work done in other vertical markets.
“There are many factors contributing to the lack of software design innovation specifically when it comes to litigation technology, such as the rigidity of the litigation process itself and the demand for defensibility in the workflow used,” explained Shell Zhu, senior user experience designer for LexisNexis. “The complexity of eDiscovery and the litigation process requires a number of high-level considerations in the way the software is developed, so visual appearance and product design considerations are often set aside.”
But Zhu and a number of her colleagues are proactively making the case that litigation teams ought to place a higher value on software design when they select which enterprise eDiscovery platform and other litigation software tools to adopt. She sat down with us recently and shared three major benefits that can be obtained from good litigation software design:
- Reduce errors
“When design is executed properly, it can minimize errors. The recent legal drama between Google and Oracle highlights how one email unearthed through the eDiscovery process could cost Google billions of dollars. In this incident, Google accidentally produced eight drafts of a critical email because its electronic scanning technology did not flag the drafts before they were disclosed. What if eDiscovery software displayed a warning message when near-duplicates are produced, while marking the original one as privileged? Humans make mistakes, but efficiently designed software will help us complete daily tasks and also detect abnormal activity, warning us of the potential impact or risks.”
- Improve efficiency
“Most of us have experienced the utter frustration of losing hours of work to a computer malfunction. As a user experience designer, I see my role as helping people to solve daily pain points in their jobs. Fortunately, in seeking the answers to these questions, we realize great results brought by design changes. At LexisNexis, in our latest eDiscovery platform, Lexis® DiscoveryIQ, we utilize big round relevancy buttons for reviewers to label their document for production, instead of the checkbox layout most commonly used in the industry. By implementing this seemingly simple design, our users improve their review speed and become more efficient at their jobs.”
- Supplement human intelligence
“We have started seeing a major new trend in the litigation world where machine assistance is increasingly being used to fulfill production liability or bring insights to early case strategy. Just like chess players, the key for legal professionals to fully take advantage of the technology is to get extremely skilled at integrating their own knowledge and instincts with the computer analysis. Better-designed software makes it easy for such integration. The intuitive interface can bridge the gap between human thinking and machine learning. Complex technology doesn’t have to require a full crew of IT support; the better your software is designed, the easier you can start using it as a master.”
The good news is that forward-thinking leaders in the litigation software business are placing greater emphasis – and bolder investments – on understanding the ultimate power of beautifully designed software. This emerging direction promises to not only improve the aesthetic appearance of software tools, but also make the litigation workflow more efficient, accurate and risk-free.
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