Legal System UX Project
The legal system is notoriously difficult to navigate for the average person. I partnered with prospective law student Amy Weissenbach to help people access the child custody process. Through user research and prototyping, we designed a physical and mobile custody map to help guide people through their legal journey.
Research results were presented to and well-received by the CA Judicial Council and subsequently picked up by Harvard Access to Justice Lab.
This collaborative court project began with an exploratory mindset to use design to improve one aspect of court proceedings.
Through needfinding, ethnography, and other qualitative research methods, we discovered a user group in people seeking child custody. These users often felt helpless and lost in their process. Many fell through the cracks of the imperfect system.
Our design goal was to give control back to the user to navigate themselves throughout their legal journey.
We produced a case guide after receiving enthusiastic feedback on prototypes from court goers, attorneys, and volunteer staff.
Our work has helped to inform the CA Judicial Council on how to better keep their users in mind
The Stanford Legal Design Lab works to open access to legal support for people who need it. Lab Director and Lawyer Margaret Hagan presented us with the challenge of improving the user experience of one legal process at the San Mateo Superior Court.
We discovered that users needed a bird’s eye-view of the entire child custody process and a record management system for them to feel in control of their journey. Taking inspiration from Google Maps and board game maps, we developed paper and app-based prototypes to provide users with the tools to solve their own legal problems.
We visited local courthouses and self-help centers to observe user interaction with services, staff, and the building space itself. By collecting quantitative data and conducting ethnographic interviews, we began understanding users’ stories and compiling user personas.
We mapped a typical user’s journey, traced her emotional changes along her path and identified touch points for interventions.
We decided to focus on the process of applying for child custody since the procedure is relatively formulaic yet there was no easy way for users to manage all the steps. We prototyped several options and –based on feedback–chose to proceed with a map-based visual guide. It will provide an overview of the court system, teach legal jargon using simple graphics, reduce the language burden on non-English speakers, and allow users to navigate their own journey.
Prototypes & Testing
I created a click-through prototype with InVision. It included checklists and step-by-step instructions. In the future, we envisioned a backend for form population as well.
Another prototype provided step-by-step guidance to users through a simple scrolling interface.
From our testing, we found that a large percentage of our users prefer hard documentation rather than digital solutions. We decided to produce a high fidelity prototype of a physical booklet case guide.
The case guide provides:
Detailed and concise checklist of steps
Clear itemization of required documents
Gender-neutral characters and simplified language