LSC Releases Report, Toolkit for Improving Legal Aid Websites

August 3, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) released today a comprehensive report and accompanying toolkit for its Statewide Website Evaluation Project. The project assessed the quality of centralized legal information websites in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.

Statewide legal aid websites provide users seeking information about civil legal matters with important tools and resources. They provide basic information about common legal issues and connect users to legal aid providers, self-help centers, and lawyer referral services in their community. Increasingly, these sites also offer automated court forms that guide self-represented litigants through creating necessary legal documents.

The Statewide Website Evaluation Project assessed the quality and usability of these legal information websites. LSC, working closely with its consulting partner, the digital design and research group EY Intuitive, assessed these sites using criteria spanning nine focus areas: ease of navigation, accessibility, visual design and iconography, plain language, content presentation, mobile friendliness, community engagement, language access, and user support.

“This important evaluation, and the toolkit that accompanies it, will allow legal aid websites across the country to improve their usability and effectiveness and to expand access to helpful legal information,” said James Sandman, President of LSC.

Key takeaways from the project include the need to adopt a “mobile-first approach” in redesign—website managers should consider how the site will work on mobile devices before focusing on desktop web design, because users increasing access these sites through mobile devices. Another important finding was that many legal aid sites were too information-dense and needed to streamline content to ensure users can more readily find high-quality resources.

The project report and toolkit, now available online, lay out all the evaluators’ findings and offer a practical guide to improving users’ online experience. These resources will serve as a roadmap for states as they implement the next generation of legal information websites.

The project was made possible through generous funding from the Ford Foundation.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.