“What’s your favourite object?”
This is the question that I ask participants at the beginning of one of Josef’s workshops.
“What’s your favourite object? It can be anything at all.”
The answers range from bicycles to coffee machines to beds. (Too frequently, people also list their “cat” or “dog”, which I always find a little troubling given I’ve asked them to identify an “object”!)
Regardless of the answer, when participants respond to this question, they always give me a look which suggests that it’s simple or obvious.
But, I always follow it up with a slightly more nuanced question, which they often find harder to answer: “And why is that your favourite object? What is it about that thing that makes it your favourite?”
"Why is it your favourite object?"
Though it may take a moment, there are always reasons.
Maybe it looks good.
Or feels nice.
Or maybe it just works.
This conversation is designed to reveal to the participants the answer to the question: “What is UX?”
UX stands for user experience, which is the interaction or experience someone has with a system, product or service. So, for each of these objects, the UX is the participant’s experience of that object.
Don Norman, Director of The Design Lab at UC San Diego and the man who popularised the term in the 1990s, says of the term:
“I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual.”
UX design, then, is the practice of trying to manipulate that experience to be better.
The importance of good UX is best demonstrated by looking at bad UX. This is because good design is often so successful at meeting our needs and desires that it becomes invisible.
One of our favourite examples of bad UX is this website.
Why are we here? How do we use it? What does this button do? Why would I want to press it anyway?
If you’ve ever used a digital product and you didn’t have to consider questions like this, you have good UX to thank!
But, why does this matter?
For creators of legal tech, including Josef’s builders, it matters because people will not use products or services that do not offer them a good user experience. This is particularly true in the digital world, where you are competing for every moment of attention with the news or an email or Facebook.
So, if a builder builds a bot on Josef and it has bad UX, there is the risk that it won’t be used. And, if you build a digital legal product and no one uses it, did you build it at all?
Josef builders use a form of "heuristic evaluation" to ensure good UX.
There are lots of resources and tools and techniques that UX designers use to ensure that digital products give the best experience they can. Luckily, they’re available for legal professionals to use too!
One of the most common is called a “heuristic evaluation”, which allows us to quickly evaluate the UX of a digital product.
To do this, we provide Josef builders with a set of “heuristics” or rules against which to measure their bots. These include:
– Information is power: keep the user informed of where they are, what they’re up to and why.
– Make it pretty: there is a strong correlation between perceived ease of use and aesthetic appeal. That is, users think something is easier to use if it’s prettier!
– Less is more: there is always a tension in digital legal products between being precise and being concise. Users need and want both but, in the moment, they’ll be much more focused on the latter.
– Speak the user’s language: always put yourself in the shoes of your end user, particularly when making decisions around how to present or explain information.
– Be delightful: give your bot some personality!
Using these rules, the builder can then check whether they got the UX of their bot right.
To be more certain, and at a later stage in the build, we also encourage our builders to do user testing. While there are lots of ways of doing this, you’ll give yourself a good chance of collecting helpful information if you:
– Choose the right testers: pick people who look like your intended end users
– Ask the right questions: ask a mixture of quantitative and qualitative questions to unearth strengths and weaknesses
– Apply the right learnings: testers are experts in the problem, not the solution