Design principles

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The design of legal products

Making legal contracts a better experience

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In Don Norman’s terms[1] design is comprised of affordances, signifiers, mapping and feedback, a taxonomy of which the design of legal products seems utterly ignorant.

Pace layering

  • Be patient: Fundamental change comes slowly. Do not make the mistake of trying to change a fundamental/biological level behaviour with the fashionable layer. Biological behaviours are very persistent.
  • five degrees, not fifty: A radical, sudden change is much more likely to break, be unsustainable, and create unexpected and unwanted knock-ons and consequences for other parts of your machine. Make gradual changes, and build on them, gradually.
  • Use your experts: You have a great, real-world source of knowledge and intelligence about the problems and opportunities in front of you: The people who have those problems and are missing those opportunities. Your current staff. They need to be in the centre of the design process. You can’t leave it to management consultants who have no subject matter expertise at all.
  • Change adoption is hard: The real challenge is getting your subject matters to engage. They are more likely to engage:
    • Where the changes are immediately, personally, beneficial to them. No-one had a moment’s trouble adapting to the BlackBerry.
    • That require none, or minimal, behavioural change. Everyone knows what they know, and does what they do.


See also