Without a good User Interface (UI), even the most current and complete information systems are essentially worthless.
Well, perhaps “worthless” is a bit strong. Yet a well-designed, intuitive UI can mean the difference between success (prompt, relevant results) and failure (tedious, time-consuming struggle) when trying to find the data you want.
LexisNexis® has discovered this with their online legal research service, Lexis Advance®. We’re happy that the company has announced plans for some needed updates to the look and feel of this important product. Usability matters—we have found this to be true working with clients across all industry sectors using a wide range of information and knowledge management systems. And one of the building blocks of usability is a strong User Interface.
Lexis Advance, Before and After
LexisNexis has announced an improved research experience for greater speed and efficiency, with seamless transitions across all versions including the web, desktop and mobile devices. The changes are supposed to be coming “this summer” although they have not yet happened as of this writing in early August.
Following are some of the feature updates they are showing:
- Modern design that joins current resources such as Folders and Alerts on the same screen as Recent Searches, Recent Documents, Favorites and notifications to the start page.
- Concise, easily scanned list of results that are always accessible, showing content categories that are descriptively labeled.
- In document review, the top of the screen will provide one-click access for returning to search results or navigating to the previous or next document.
- New preview of Shepard’s citation service.
You can learn more by visiting the dedicated Lexis Advance topic area on the lextalk forum. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with lextalk, this online community is a valuable resource, offering a forum, tips and articles for members.)
One of our favorite legal blogs, Three Geeks and a Law Blog, wrote about the pending changes to Lexis Advance back in May by sharing a story of a particular legal researcher. When asked to leave a Lexis Advance research project, which had compiled the results in several unwieldy tabs, this person said she didn’t want to lose the “precious tabs” to the information she had uncovered. The author created a mashup for her combining an image of Gollum/Smeagol from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie franchise with the Lexis logo. (Probably a rights violation, but that’s another story.) You will see the image for yourself if you click on the above link to the story.
“You Told Us, We Listened”
LexisNexis is positioning the new, improved Lexis Advance as an example of being responsive to their customers. This is what companies often do, even when the reality may be less about being in tune with customers and more about some unpleasant realities, like “Oops, we make a mistake!” or “The competition is eating our lunch!”
One of our own Business Intelligence Analysts working for a law firm client of ours in Los Angeles had this to say about the features of the current Lexis Advance:
“They are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of new legal research users, mostly due to interface and usability issues, so hopefully this update will help in that regard.”
We will keep you posted on the new and improved Lexis Advance as soon as we see it for ourselves. Meanwhile, for more details from LexisNexis on the improvements, click here to view this helpful .pdf document, Navigating the New Lexis Advance, which shows before and after screen shots to compare and contrast the changes.