Bryant Peng
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Bryant Peng

Everlaw: Exploring the filesystem

Guiding document reviewers through a digital labyrinth

Reviewers need a way to find related documents.

Reviewers want to identify relevant documents as quickly as possible. If a certain document is relevant, adjacent documents are likely to be relevant.

For example, if a scandalous spreadsheet is attached to an email, we’d want to look at the other attachments to that email. If it was found in a folder, we’d want to look at the rest of the folder and other documents nearby.

I designed a file explorer that made document review faster. Reviewers can navigate complex file directories to discover and take action on relevant documents immediately.

Involvement

As the sole designer, I led the entire design of the feature from ideation to release. I worked with the CEO (our de facto product manager) and a full-stack developer.

Process

  1. Research: understand the problem
    User interviews
    Team workshop
  2. Ideation: find potential solutions
    User flows
    Paper
    Low-fidelity designs
    Prototyping
  3. Iteration: refine the solution
    User testing
    Prototyping
    Repeat
  4. Execution: deliver and ship
    High-fidelity designs
    Implementation

A file explorer optimized for ediscovery.

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel out of vanity. In an ideal world, I would’ve copied Dropbox or Google Drive and moved on to one of the many other projects coming down the pipeline. However, the ediscovery use case is a bit trickier than the consumer one.

Normally, you’re going through a file system you organized yourself; even if it’s messy, you know where everything is. In ediscovery, you’re going through someone else’s files and trying to find a needle in that haystack.

My new file explorer made file systems approachable. Folders with way too many documents are broken into smaller, prefix-based folders. Viewing an email automatically brings up its attachments, even if they’re located in completely different parts of the file system. And no matter how far you explore, returning to the original document is always a click away.

Large folders are split by prefix to avoid excessively long lists.
If you’re ever too far down the rabbit hole, there’s a quick way out.

Consumer-grade UX for an enterprise problem.

There were a lot of constraints. Everything had to fit into a narrow panel. Using a right-click menu was off-limits, because we supported touch interfaces like tablets. File systems are complicated and can have countless corner cases. The constraints forced me to be resourceful, and the result was a simple yet robust experience for both beginners and power users.

Actions appear contextually, bypassing the right-click limitation.
It was a long road. Packing in functionality is easy; doing it gracefully is not.

Made with usable and reusable components.

I created reusable components to be implemented across the platform. Everlaw is old by startup standards (founded in 2011), and the early features haven’t aged well. By incrementally standardizing UI components, we made slow but steady progress towards a unified design system.

Making steps towards a unified design system in Everlaw.
We can apply the same pattern to other features in the context panel.

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