Opportunities for the Network
The discovery phase of this project showed that template providers and website managers have been making a strong effort to provide a range of legal content and access to legal aid services through the statewide legal aid services websites. The detailed assessment phase highlighted a number of opportunities for evolving the usability of the websites moving forward.
This section of the report summarizes nine opportunities for the network.
Modernize visual and interaction design to enhance usability and match users' expectations of current web-based experiences.
- Use modern design patterns to simplify the experience. For example, a menu that expands from a list allows users to explore the full range of sub-topics in a category without leaving the homepage.
- Support wayfinding with modern icons.
- Indicate information hierarchy using distinct font types and sizes.
- Consistently apply styles for links, headers, body copy, and other page elements.
Balance flexibility and structure in the templates, enabling website managers to focus on content.
- Build a simple homepage template focused on key content.
- Establish simple navigation headings that can be used across the network in place of legal jargon (e.g., "Money & Debt" instead "Consumer Law").
Take a mobile-first approach to site redesigns, supporting users on any screen size.
- Provide adequately sized tap targets.
- Prioritize access to key workflows (e.g., finding a lawyer and finding legal information) on mobile versions of the sites.
Guide users through workflows and offer next steps to help them quickly address their legal issues.
- Guide users through workflows to support them in identifying their legal issue and taking action where relevant.
- Curate content so users can find useful and relevant self-help information. Remove extraneous and/or outdated articles and links from all site pages.
Improve readability, translation, and organization of content to reduce cognitive workload for users.
- Provide a translation link in the global navigation so users can easily toggle between English and other languages.
- Use succinct and visually distinct navigation headings.
- Provide summaries of critical information at the top of article pages for quick scanning.
Support multiple navigation strategies by providing alternate methods for interacting with content.
- Use an obvious indicator of focus state and provide skip link navigation to support users who navigate via keyboard.
- Use appropriate heading tags to support users who navigate via screen reader. For example, H1 is the first heading level and all heading tags should follow a sequential, logical structure that reflects the page layout.
- Use auto-suggest functionality to narrow down search results for users who navigate primarily by search.
Connect navigation elements to page content to create streamlined workflows.
- Make secondary navigation both visually and proximally linked to the content it serves.
- Use breadcrumbs to help users understand where they are within their experience.
Provide contextual help, giving users support without interrupting their workflow.
- Include definitions or other "help" content within the context of the user's experience (e.g., within an article page).
- Provide access to additional support within a page, rather than in complex navigation structures.
Collect and analyze user feedback to design experiences that are based on users' needs.
- Elicit feedback from end users through online surveys and other more direct methods like interviews and usability testing.
Prioritizing the Opportunities
The network's ability to address the opportunities described above may vary based on time and resources. With this in mind, EY Intuitive broke down each of the opportunities into smaller tasks and identified them as small, medium, and large efforts for template providers and website managers to take on. This report concludes with a summary of those tasks first for template providers and then for website managers.
What can template providers do?
Template providers can give website managers a system of templates that offer some flexibility. Make them easy to implement and manage for the website managers, while delivering a modern and usable experience for the end users. This can be achieved by the following strategies:
1. Be a good tour guide
Be a good tour guide for end users by building a framework of user-centric workflow-based experiences that help pro-se litigants identify their legal issue, receive education, and then complete a legal form or find legal help.
- Use user-centered terminology (e.g., for topics, legal issues, and key calls to action).
- Communicate functionality of templates to the network.
- Add text to forms that request a user's location to explain the reason for asking.
- Create dedicated ‘next steps' on content pages (e.g., articles).
- Enhance key page templates (e.g., Home) with a focus on users' needs (e.g., topics, issues, get help).
- Update other page templates to reduce potential for banner blindness.
- Develop app-like guided workflows that move users from identifying their issue to resolving it.
- Provide tag linking on content to facilitate organic navigation.
- Collaborate with the network to create a framework of templates and tools.
2. Design with a purpose
Design with a purpose to enhance usability.
- Create a common set of modern icons (e.g., for topics, legal issues, key calls to action, and content types).
- Implement responsive web fonts.
- Create logical header structure for page templates.
- Increase white space to ease content consumption.
- Deliver a user-centered admin experience that enables website managers to produce beautiful, usable sites with limited development or design resources.
3. Provide a robust search feature
Provide a robust search feature that functions as an alternate navigation tool.
- Indicate how the search results are ordered (e.g., relevance, alphabetized, etc.).
- Provide a link to Help when there are no search results.
- Reorganize results so that relevant results display first.
- Add details to results such as date published and type of content.
- Provide contextual help and suggestions when there are no search results.
- Build a robust search feature that includes 1) search input forgiveness, 2) auto-suggest, 3) sort and filter capabilities.
What can website managers do?
Website managers can enhance usability by focusing on content quality and clarity.
1. Aim for quality over quantity
Aim for quality over quantity by making content consumable, written in plain language, and findable through search and website navigation.
- Inventory existing site content.
- Identify content that serves users.
- Remove old or infrequently used information.
- Refresh outdated content.
- Implement SEO technical solution.
- Enhance all content for plain language, readability, and SEO.
- Convert content to interactive (versus text-based).
2. Clarify site hierarchy
Clarify site hierarchy by simplifying site structure and connecting content to related navigation elements and actionable next steps.
- Collect user feedback (e.g. interviews, usability testing, survey).
- Update copy (e.g., article pages) with contextual links to related information.
- Revise navigation labels to clarify meaning.
- Reorganize information (lists of content) based on user need.
- Include next steps for site visitors within the in context of articles and other key workflows.
- Remove extraneous content from left and right side bar, as well as the Home page.
- Provide progress indicators on all workflows.
- Implement guided workflows.
3. Create an inclusive content framework
Create an inclusive content framework by making all content accessible to the largest LEP populations and to those using assistive devices (e.g., keyboard navigating and screen readers).
- Review accessibility guidelines.
- Assess accessibility compliance using automated tools.
- Implement automated global translation API.
- Update search input box so it is findable and tappable.
- Analyze current website analytics data.
- Create single-page content for top 3 LEP populations.
- Plan future redesign or re-architecture with accessibility in mind.
- Plan mobile-first future redesign.
- Enhance existing content for mobile readability (tap target size, responsive web fonts).
- Update site to meet accessibility guidelines (leveraging template solutions from template providers).
- Human translate site content for top 3 LEP populations.
- Leverage template that provides a mobile enhanced experience.