American consumers have proven to be lovers of a well-designed product. For proof, look no further than the way that Apple Inc. has revolutionized enormous industries – such as the music business, the notebook computing space and the entire mobile communications category – with a series of sleek, elegant and well-designed products that are among the most expensive in their respective niches. We’re willing to pay a premium for a product that looks great and performs great.
Interestingly, that same mentality has been slow to transfer to American businesses. Generally speaking, corporate IT buyers have been far less impressed by design and far more focused on cheap, fast and function-bloated. But in a wide range of B2B environments, things have begun to change and “design thinking” is now more common in the development of business software applications.
This is the third installment of a three-part blog series this summer in which we’ve explored important developments in “User Experience” (UX) design within the litigation software industry. In the first article, we reviewed what UX means, why it’s important in business software products and the training required to be a good UX architect. In the second piece, we dove into one particular example of litigation software and explored why “predictive coding” technology has so far failed to fulfill its promise in eDiscovery. Today, we conclude with a sneak peek into the emerging discipline of “design thinking” in litigation software development.
“We’re now using a design thinking framework that brings together professionals from our product management and engineering teams, as well as the valuable input from our customers, to come up with innovative ways to improve the way customers interact with our eDiscovery software products,” said Michael Etgen, Ph.D., senior user experience architect at LexisNexis.
At the heart of this approach is the idea of putting yourself in the shoes of the user and trying to understand their perspective as your starting point, the building the software platform from that vantage point. For example, the Institute of Design at Stanford has proposed a five-step process for design thinking in software development (empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test) that establishes empathy with the user as the baseline.
With that in mind, Etgen explained that a major focus in eDiscovery software design right now is working on ways to introduce transparency into machine learning so that users have more control over how the software is put to work for them.
“Legal professionals need to feel more comfortable with the use of machine learning, and the outcomes they obtain based on their work with it, so they will then start to apply it to situations throughout the eDiscovery workflow they don’t even contemplate right now,” said Etgen. “LexisNexis is striving to bring innovation to B2B software development by thinking in new ways about how customers engage with software products across our portfolio of tools.”
Earlier this year, the company introduced a next-generation eDiscovery software platform that unites both the technical and user experience aspects of software.
“Our goal with Lexis DiscoveryIQ was to use a design thinking framework to create a tool that is easier for users to put to work in the eDiscovery process,” said Etgen.
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