What designing Law App for non-tech savvy lawyers taught me. Ui Ux case study
Law information app that I designed for a client and key takeaways from it.
For this project, I worked with the client preparing the product’s business model, User experience, user interface designs, backend development using Aws + node, and android native app development.
Project Brief with the client
- A law app for people who rarely use mobile phone apps. These users just communicate within WhatsApp and WhatsApp groups, basic calls and play youtube videos sometimes. ( info as given by the client)
- Require case information with key specific headnotes and conclusions in short instead of the full judgment given by the court.
- Sections to explore cases and search functions to search for specific cases.
- View the case information in short with how much the case can be trusted to cite in another court.
- Check out references for the cases and case cited by which other cases.
Understanding the product and the market
- Lawyers need to cite and refer to certain cases when they put forward a point in court. Usually, they take help from website databases and books.
- To make the process faster, easy to understand and boost productivity, a law information app with a simple interface would be helpful.
- Other law apps in the market have paid features but are very complex to use. Also, they have a lot of not so important cases and bloated features.
- Selective cases that gave landmark judgments would be great.
Now what the client conveyed to me as a database product, was, in reality, a search product for the end consumer. A search engine with features to find cases as well as explore up cases.
We don't exactly understand what product problems are unless we think from the perspective of the user/consumer.
- Before taking up user interviews, I wanted to understand the requirements and problems in the field by looking at what the competitors were doing.
- I checked out several apps and websites which provide law databases, checked out their reviews and interface.
- To conclude, we required case cards with simple information and a good search engine to proceed up ahead. No websites or apps, however, had explored feature to help users explore cases by browsing topics.
Persona + Survey & Interviews
To dig deeper into the problems faced by the lawyers, I decided to take personal interviews on call. Out of the 25 lawyers I interviewed on call, some with the help of my client, two predominant user groups had been identified during my research phase:
- Non-tech-savvy users who never used any type of app for case details.
- Users who have tried different apps but were mostly not paying customers of any apps.
Questions asked for the interview
- Do you use any app currently for case information? Which app? What do you like/dislike about it?
- Have you tried using any app in the past? Which app? What did you like /dislike about it?
- What problems do you face in finding cases?
- What takes the most time after finding a case? Summary of the case? or References or something else?
- What other features would you like to see?
Key takeaways from the interview
Pre Planning while making app + Business plans for future
It would create problems for daily users if I change the layout of the app to meet the business plan requirements at a later stage. A prime example of this is SnapChat.
Once the users form a habit to use an app in a certain way, they are very reluctant & unwelcoming to change. Increase that by 10x for non-tech-savvy people.
This is the same reasons why Whatsapp is reluctant to a major change and brings very minor changes over the years.
The client was unsure about the business model. They knew about a product that was required in the market, but not exactly how to make money from it. I had a look at different competitors and different business models that can work out for a search app and suggested the following business ideas for the app.
I knew due to time and budget constraints, the product won’t include earning features but it would possibly implement in the future. So I pre-planned for multiple scenarios and then started to think about the solutions in screens.
Google adverts were an option to integrate directly into the app, but it would hamper the experience of the user. The possible earnings from it were not what the client was looking out for. So this would be the last option to think about.
Some of the features in the app to be paid whereas some of the features to be free. Paid features would allow access to more detail analysis and other case details.
The subscription was a good model to keep the servers running as well as bring in new features. Subscription could be on per month basis, 6 months and yearly basis at a cheaper price to lure in more users at start.
One time fixed fee for the users to have unlimited access to database and search functions.
The database would give API access to other developers and other apps who would like to use it above the free tier quota. This is usually the same methods by which Google API and other API services run.
Not every solution lies in User Interface
Sometimes the solutions are simple in the real world instead of making it more complex under the screens.
The client decided to go with the subscription model, but without increasing his project budget & time. Also giving away 30% to play store was a big no-no.
The solution was simply to collect upfront money in person or by direct bank transfers and give the user access to the app through an access code. It was more like a “contact us” section that is usually seen in Saas ( software as a service) applications but in an offline transaction. I came to this solution based on a few observations
- The lawyers who were not tech-savvy, I don’t expect them to work along with online payments nor they did so. I took the 2nd survey by calling back 10 people to ask if they did online payments. Only 1 of them said yes, the other 3 didn’t trust the online services and the rest 5 users didn’t know how to use it all.
- Payment gateways charge around 3–5% fees. Google PlayStore charges 30% which was too high to pay for the client. Direct bank transfers or offline cash payments would work for the client.
- The budget & time for developing payments integrated backend would go up which the client wasn’t looking out for in the initial phase.
As a User experience designer and product designer, you need to take business constraints including budget & time, user experience & feasibility and then think about solutions, some of which might exist outside the screens.
The app has around 1300 daily active users & paying customers in a month. Over 1600 users tried the app.
The user base is small & limited to lawyers in India, but the app is effective with a conversion rate of record ~82% from free to paid customers.
Some problems I faced and conclusion from this project
My client gave me changes almost every day, in the main structure and the idea of the app itself which made it complex to come to a solution.
Try to empathize not only with your customers but also with your client/project managers to think like what is in their mind, what actually are they looking out.
Most importantly, empathize with the problem to find the right solution. If possible, try to have first hand experience with the problem itself.
Understand the person who you interact with for project details or reporting, empathize with them, empathize with the users and research deeply about the field you are working in. This helps you create a really great user experience that can be implemented.
People are unwelcoming to changes.
Make sure to plan things up beforehand as much as possible. Try to get knowledge about future plans & future features of the product, so that the user experience, due to product changes, is not hampered as what happened with Snapchat.
Sometimes the solutions can be beyond the screens. Try looking for ideas,inspiration and solutions in the real world as well.
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