The consumerization of technology has increased public expectations of usability, and it’s time for legal to increase its expectations too.
The consumerization of technology has caused a sea-change in the expectations of the average user. Having strong tools is no longer the only criteria to wide-spread adoption; vendors and software providers must ensure that these tools are approachable, easy to use, and are supported by updates that add features as needs evolve. This is the case not only in consumer-facing applications, but increasingly for those that target specific industries.
However, because many of tools currently at home in niche industries like legal are a prerequisite to doing the job effectively, developers often put features ahead of usability. E-discovery software provider Everlaw is trying to change that.
The company, which was recently identified as a “vendor to watch” in Gartner’s 2015 E-discovery Software Magic Quadrant report, focuses on the right-hand side of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, handling tasks from processing to presentation. According to CEO and founder AJ Shankar, the company owes the nod to its continued emphasis on accessibility.
Shankar said in a recent interview with Legaltech News, “What we focus on the most is the user experience and changing the tenor of the discussion. Every lawyer has a smartphone or a Blackberry; it’s a sophisticated piece of technology, but it’s designed in such a way that it makes the job easier, and as a result people want to have it on them at all times. “
Shankar points out that for smartphones, only the most technologically advanced devices have a chance to be successful in a hypercompetitive marketplace. But when it comes to enterprise tools, which are often an essential component to core responsibilities of a department, the niche nature of tools (not to mention far less competition than in consumer markets) can result in a usability tradeoff.
“We’re asking, how do we create a product that people love to use? People are spending a ton of money for a product that just has to not be buggy, and is slow or hard to understand. We want it to be as fast as Google and as easy to use as an iPad,” Shankar explained, as he discussed the underlying design mantra of Everlaw’s products.
In legal technology, as with other industry-specific technologies, niche requirements, constrained budgets, and a glut of legacy processes can create lowered expectations on the quality of interaction with software. Those expectations can themselves be a barrier to implementing better options, especially when users assume there are no better options.