Courts.ie UX Evaluation & Redesign
Assessing the usability and user experience of the courts.ie website & designing for enhanced user experience.
Does the courts.ie website provide sufficient clarity in complicated law matters for a positive user experience?
Strategy & Planning
The courts.ie website is the primary source of Irish law information for members of the public and law professionals. I evaluated the website to design a more intuitive experience for the public, while maintaining the technical information for professionals.
Content / Interface Audit
A content and interface audit was carried out to examine consistency in style and layout across the website.
The courts.ie website is one of the most difficult websites I've ever tried to navigate, contains many dead links, is extremely inconsistent and presents huge amounts of data to users at all times.
Prior to testing the website with users, we examined the information architecture of the site in order to carry out task analyses for different use cases.
It became clear that this website is intended for law professionals and public users, however the information is not separated. Law jargon and un-needed information is throughout the content no matter what task is being carried out. The chosen scenario for user testing was:
Scenario: You want to open a small claims case and need the relevant forms and information.
This scenario required the user to navigate to 2 or 3 different sections of the site, and I expected it to be a challenging task.
Interviews & Scenarios
To ensure that we had a clear agenda and our research would be consistent, we created a testing script. This script contained initial questions, a use scenario for the participant to complete, and follow up questions. All interviews were recorded, including screen recording software.
Eight usability tests were carried out, 7 participants had never used the site before and 1 was a junior solicitor and had experience with courts.ie.
We found that participants were overwhelmed with the information provided, they believed that it wasn't designed with the public in mind and that navigation was excessive and arduous.
I created a journey map to track the progress of each participant. These were helpful in identifying common areas of difficulty and ease across all of the tests.
Participants became confused at similar points throughout the site navigation. They also highlighted how many different and unclear ways there were to find the information.
To make more sense of the users, I used behavioural variables to graph their behaviours across the tests.
The variables assissted in highlighting the lack of experience that the majority of the public have with law matters. Complex phrasing and jargon was throughout the entire site, including information of no relevance to the public user.
I decided it was important to split the site into a version which separated the public information and complicated information for law professionals.
Sitemaps & User Flows
The sitemap for courts.ie is extremely wide, with many different ways of achieving the same tasks. Certain use flows even removed navigational aspects locking the user out of the functionality that they needed.
I created a far simpler and more intuitive sitemap which separated public and professional information, reducing the required steps for all use cases.
I chose to focus on a different use case for redesign:
Use Case: Online jusry duty response.
Jury duty cannot currently be responded to online, so as part of my design I created the full user flow for jury duty response.
DESIGN & TEST
The design insights found through sketching and paper prototyping were applied to a mid-fi digital prototype. This prototype gave a more realistic impression of what the site would look like to users.
I tested this mid-fi prototype with the participants from the previous phase of user testing. They found that it was much easier to navigate and the content was much more managable.
I carried out a heuristic analysis on my mid-fi prototype to find any additional usability issues on a screen by screen basis.
The majority of issues are very minor and would be dependant on the abilities of the user. The main issues which could arise are that the user may not know if what they want is in professional or public, or that they do not know about the hamburger symbol.
With continued development the information available could be condensed further and it may be necessary to change the hamburger into a more recognisable signifier for a dropdown menu.
The courts.ie website is completely outdated and doesn't conform with conventional web usability or navigational guidelines. It is a website which desperately requires a complete design overhaul.
I believe that I carried out a thorough UX evaluation and designed a superior layout for the courts.ie website. Separating the site into public and professional sections is completely necessary based on the research. Users found my redesign quite intuitive, enjoying the ability to respond to their jury service online, which currently has to be completed through the post. All of the required information is available where it's needed and the user flows are improved significantly.