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The Philosophy of Design: How UI Adds Value to Legal Tech

Dylan Salisbury

There is a lot of excitement and anticipation around our new Aero UI and how it will make life easier for many e-discovery and internal investigation teams. The philosophy behind Aero is to make Relativity simply powerful. But how does design philosophy translate to greater efficiency and productivity—and why is now the right time to foster this evolution?

We at Relativity strongly identify with the old adage, “good design means good business.”

In-house legal teams, especially in 2020, are facing increasing pressures from multiple angles. To help, many are relying more heavily on technology.

To name a few of the rising challenges adding to the complexity of in-house legal work:

1. Dramatic growth in data volumes

The world is in the midst of an information explosion. According to IDC, “The amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years.” This data management journey has just begun for corporations. Collecting, storing, analyzing, and utilizing (and avoiding misutilization!) of this data will continue to be a growing burden for most legal teams.

2. Proliferation in collection points

This growth in data is being driven by a plethora of devices and platforms that didn’t even exist five years ago. We can’t overlook the skyrocketing utilization of platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Slack over the last few months. These easily recordable meetings and chats present new data management challenges in and of themselves. Legal teams need to be able to manage all disparate sources in a way that makes communications easy to follow.

3. Increasing complexity of matters caused and changing regulation

This trend presents a growing problem, particularly for larger organizations. For example, GDPR and CCPA present a whole host of challenges on their own, often forcing legal teams to tread a thin line: From DSARs and third-party subpoena requests to cross-jurisdiction legal holds and collections, the ability to respond both quickly and accurately is critical.

All of these factors hitting at once add a tremendous amount of complication to your legal work. As systems and workflows become more complex, and the volume of data becomes increasingly overwhelming, the importance of simplicity in design for the systems you rely on becomes even more critical.

Utilizing solutions that offer a thoughtful, simple, and intuitive user experience can help in-house teams work more efficiently as they keep up with a shifting legal landscape.

At Relativity, we take great design seriously. The simply powerful philosophy is embedded into everything we do, and it is how we are helping customers organize data, discover the truth, and act on it sooner.

How do our developers think about SaaS design?

As we continue to develop RelativityOne as a simply powerful platform, a number of measurable factors help us make informed design decisions. This set of guiding principles helps inform what we’ll measure and improve upon. 

  • Designed for everyone

We seek to present a familiar user interface in line with what most people use in their everyday lives—meeting the expectations of today’s tech user. Companies like Uber, Google, and Apple have set the bar high with design philosophies like “it should just work.” RelativityOne users should encounter an intuitive design that enables them readily accomplish tasks, feeling comfortable, confident, and at home when logging into Relativity.

  • Importance of simplicity and intuitiveness

The overall goal is to save teams time and decision-making effort by improving the simplicity with which users can find what they need. That means reducing unnecessary steps, confusion, errors, clicks, waiting time, even mouse travel—and pushing insights and understanding forward more easily. We put users at the center because we realize that they need a UI that is intuitive, easy to learn, and accessible so they can meet their own deadlines.

  • Design is embedded in everything we do

The hallmark of good design is when it’s invisible. You shouldn’t need to think about it. Bad design stands out like a sore thumb—you notice when things don’t work right, or a task becomes confusing or arduous. Great design is about truly understanding the needs of our customers and exceeding expectations without interfering with their use of the software. Our UX development efforts bring our designers, product specialists, and engineers together, enabling diversity of thought and the ability to anticipate the right capabilities for the right user at the right time. Ultimately, all these little decisions add up to significantly improved user experiences.

How does this translate into value for in-house team?

Never in our industry’s history has user experience been so important in everything we do. With so many moving parts on every project, an improved UX has substantial ripple effects across everything from operational efficiency to reducing opportunities for human error.

  • Good design improves business operations

More intuitive design contributes to operational efficiency. Every tiny little work stoppage forces your users to reset their concentration and think about what they are doing. Our goal is to help your team to stay “in the zone,” firing on all cylinders by reducing points of distraction. By reducing the risk of accidents or oversights, we can help reduce associated downtime and costly rectifications. Thoughtful design translates into faster throughput, happier users, fewer headaches, and more predictability and dependability for your department’s operations.

  • Good design provides organization a competitive advantage

With improved operations, your team can better serve your organization and provide a greater competitive advantage in the form of quicker and higher quality output. Good design gives you the tools to take time back. You can use that time to work on things that your competitors aren’t working on—things like implementing AI or machine learning, or creating your own solutions to tackle challenges better than anyone else.

Additionally, reduced vulnerability to error means reduced chances of costly mistakes that can put your organization at a disadvantage, ensuring you stay at the top of your game with a forward-looking strategy.

Across the board, greater team-wide accessibility enables you to take on more strategic and complicated work and keep up with the rising expectations and burdens placed on your team.

  • Good design secures the longevity and sustainability of a platform

Any piece of software is only as effective as your ability to use it to its fullest potential. Before investing in the tool that will drive your legal projects forward, due diligence requires considering how your team will interact with it and how they will integrate it with existing and future workflows and third-party providers—and evaluating how much investment your providers make into constantly improving upon this experience. Design occurs before, during, and after each stage of software development, requiring ongoing measurement and improvement. The best software designers continuously look at the problems they are solving, then iterate and evolve their platform to work more nimbly and effectively, meeting your team’s needs now and for years to come.

These principles have been at the center of our engineering and user experience philosophy—what we refer to as “the Aero approach.” User experience is more than just a coat of paint, and more than a UI. It’s about the holistic way we’re building and designing how diverse real-world human users will interact with our system—and giving them a simply powerful platform on which to do their exceedingly important work. This drives not only how we talk about Aero UI and RelativityOne, but it’s also fundamentally about how users interact with any aspect of our software and company overall.

If you would like to learn more about Aero UI and how Relativity is putting these principles into action, watch this video explaining how it all comes together.

Get a Sneak Peek at Aero UI

Dylan Salisbury is a product marketing manager at Relativity, where he specializes in understanding and serving the corporate community.

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