Organizing Better Self-help Systems: a design study

Legal Tech Design - Access to Legal Services usability study of self-help centers

“Access to Legal Services: Organizing Better Self-help Systems” is a 2007 design-oriented paper on how Self-Help systems could be made more user-friendly.  The authors Gina Mastarone & Susan Feinberg assess the status-quo designs (as of mid-2000s) of self-help legal sites & conduct some user feedback sessions on them.

Here is the paper abstract via IEEE Xplore Abstract – Access to Legal Services: Organizing Better Self-help Systems.

The need for free, objective consumer information has increased since 2003. Legal services, such as the Illinois Technology for the law and the public interest, address this need through online self-help services where users can access personalized legal aid. Usability is an important factor for such self-help Websites where users may have limited computer experience. This paper examines the usability of the national public automated documents Website for seniors, novice computer users, and legal advocates. We briefly review current design for statewide Websites and then apply usability metrics to tasks of the information search and retrieval process. We report on users’ interaction with features of the system related to navigation, process flow, user expectations, and the successful retrieval of legal documents during a session. The particular strength of the insights provided by this explorative usability test and talk aloud protocols is that they refer to both informational sites that users primarily browse and a process-dependent information retrieval system. From these preliminary insights, designers can produce sites that take into account user mental models that impact their overall satisfaction.


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