· Stuart Barr, HighQ
· Andrew Baker, Seyfarth Shaw
· Tom Baldwin, Reed Smith
· Patrick DiDomenico, Ogletree Deakins
These are my notes on an interesting session that talked about and in some cases showed some advance designs for law firm intranets and extranets.
[I had to miss the first few minutes of this presentation. One notable tweet on the subject from Rebecca Gebhardt said "UX is not UI. It is a user's perception of the product. Indeed in many ways it IS the product.].
The way people use things is changing. Desktop screens are only the start.
Macs, Androids and the like are changing the way people perceive design. Devices are exposing people to ways of interacting with technology that are more advanced. People have a better technology experience at home than at work.
IT can be easy, powerful and simple (Dion Hinchliffe).
Good design is now a key aspect of technology. We're trying to do more complex things with technology, but also need to keep it simple to use.
Aspects of the user experience may or may not be in the designer's control.
Make things simple by "bringing order to complexity." Don't add one more button. And don't design for the "edge cases."
An iterative design process is really key. See what mistakes users make and design to avoid those. Design combines science and art.
Design matters for adoption and engagement. Internally design helps staff efficiency and productivity, helping staff have nice experiences and do their jobs more quickly. Client expectations are getting higher.
He's showing before and after of design. He recognizes that no one on his team had the proper skills, and therefore brought in a design expert.
He's moving to design standards based on the designer's work.
About a quarter of Reed Smith work is on a fixed fee basis, so accurate matter profile was critical. They wanted to get more completed matter profiles, and also increase ease of use. They also put in some gamification, which surprisingly turned out to motivate partners.
Their old matter profile system didn't allow for search of other matters, only allowed for one area of law, and had a very long form you had to scroll through.
The new one had a tabbed view showing people the process.
The "confidential matter" was a critical question that was often not answered before because it was at the end.
The questionnaire form breaks down questions by area and showed percentage complete. Questions were presented in one frame. Save and spellcheck options were not buried at the bottom of the form.
A visual representation of completeness was important.
He listed "Leading matter profilers" on the landing page of the matter portal.
This led him to think about other areas where a leaderboard approach might help.
They'll have a rollup score for things that reflect good corporate citizenship.
Tom indicated at the end that they are looking into programs like badgeville to further leverage attorneys' competitive nature, and will be integrating this with their enterprise social networks.
Their firm intranet has soothing colors, light blues and the like.
They went with usage patterns in thinking about the most important things. Every page has a way to provide feedback.
They ran a card-sorting exercise and met with people from every department and office, asking them to sort the cards representing 77 different pieces of content into piles that made sense.
Before they built anything, they created wireframes; these allowed to adjust the approach as they talked with attorneys and staff.
They used the "Balsamiq" tool for wireframing. It saved them a lot of time.
Looking back, Andrew feels that the graphics were a little too much, and that they also had a little bit too much information on each page. He's not sure about the value of the intranet.
[Ed--to give some sense of the visuals, I have to note that the Seyfarth intranet home page was much more content-heavy than the other two demonstrated.]
They've more recently rolled out a client extranet "SeyfarthLink."
They first tried to figure out how clients used the previous extranet. The clients are very focused on portfolio management or portfolio centricity. They created matter sites, client sites, and portfolio sites. Content can be collected and shared.
They are sharing live financial data on the client extranets.
He recommends Stephen Few's book on Information Dashboard Design.
Team pages can be really important, adding a human touch that encourages visitors to trust the site.
They didn't start with mobile, and think it may be difficult to go back and make it work on mobile.
A lot of the Seyfarth work has been client-facing. That has a very different value proposition.
He's talking about SharePoint intranet evolution.
Back before structured sites, everything had to be right on the home page. They had a traditional intranet home page that had dozens and dozens of links and small font.
Neuroscientists from Princeton have established that clutter makes people anxious.
Focus is very important for getting your point across. Don't design so the user is confronted with a wall of words.
The new "OD Connect" has a persistent banner with key search and some buttons.
A news and announcements section is targeted to your own office and practice group. It only shows the selected article but conveys the headlines of the other.
A dashboard shows recent matters and also a financials preview.
He wanted to make it "magnetic," give people a motivation to come to the intranet.
OD Connect has customized view for secretaries allowing them quick access to their lawyers' matters and financials.
Associate view shows associate bonus targets, calculated for the individual. You can work with documents from the portal. A news tab shows news about OD and about its competitors.
Users can customize one of six feeds from a dropdown.
He is always asking, "What can we take away from the screen to let people focus?"
OD Connect allows people to select specific top-left navigation.
If you go too far away from what people are used to, they may get frustrated.
The "Find It" button opens a navigation menu on hover-over. The wins have been the Find IT button, search, and customized buttons.
How people feel about your brand is important. He wanted to make people feel connected to it.
The theme of pre-rollout communications was "making your life easier." They distributed nail puzzles and matchbooks.
When they can, they put buttons at top and bottom of the form.
Expectations have risen, designing for mobile is critical, and we need to simplify our tool.
[Ed.--I really liked the clean look and feel of OD Connect, and also the features that were customized to particular types of users like secretaries].
Design is even more important for client-facing work. It's appropriate to use design consultants in this type of work, because it doesn't rise to the level of an FTE.
It is important to have client-facing extranets have a consistent look and feel with other online properties.
Lawyers may not know what cognitive overload is. But if you relate some common consumer solutions to their problems, and show them visually, the leaders can understand the need better. Don't try to explain, show. Use Balsamiq to focus them on what's important and to move them away from what's not important. Running too much by higher ups can paralyze the process.
The project took about thirteen months but would have taken less if they hadn't been interrupted in the middle. He used PLA and Joshua Fireman, as well as a design/advertising firm.