Design Guides & Reviews for Legal Help Websites

Use these detailed guides on good legal and government website design to improve your legal help websites.

Using better design can help you make a more engaging, user-friendly, and effective website.

These reports & tools showcase applied reviews, benchmark standards, and proposals for best practices on designing an effective website.

Explore Other Legal & Government Website Assessements

Statewide Legal Help Website Usability Assessment

The Legal Services Corporation has an extensive assessment & recommendations report from 2017, of legal help websites. The team used interviews, usability tests, and benchmark tests to evaluate statewide legal help websites.

Use this report to find assessment tools & metrics that have been used to find which websites perform best. You can also use their mixed-method in-depth assessment as a template for your own.

They measured around content :

  • Plain Language
  • Language Access
  • Content Presentation
  • Accessibility
  • User Support
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Community Engagement
  • Ease of Navigation
  • Visuals and Icons

Civic User Testing Guide

The Smart Chicago Collaborative has a guide to running usability tests for civic (or public interest) websites, apps, and other technology tools.

It presents a very practical overview of how to operate User Experience and Usabiity testing, especially with diverse community members in public places.

Use this guide to structure recruitment, research protocols, compensation, analysis, and other detailed tasks.

18F Remote Usability Testing Guide

The federal government design & tech group 18F has a series of extensive articles that walk through how civic teams can run usability tests of digital services, especially in a virtual situation.

These articles from 18F include examples, research protocols, ethical considerations, and more guidance on how to run remote user-centered tests well.

Early Stage User Testing Guide

Our Stanford Legal Design Lab wrote a free visual guide on how to test new ideas with people in a court or a lab setting.

Our team wrote this short book, User Testing New Ideas, to walk through exactly how we ran user testing for new traffic court-oriented redesigns.  We captured the steps, tools, and ethical considerations we took when doing early-stage testing of new prototypes.

This guide is for user testing new concepts, if you are at an earlier stage in your development cycle.

Review Your Site with Checklists & Benchmarks

Does your website have a clear plan for how to attract, engage, and channel different users to the right info and tools they need?

Read this short introduction to the basic Funnel Strategy that we have observed as a best practice among court and legal aid websites.

This brief article presents the basic flow your team can set up of Homepage > Problem Area Page > Scenario Page (with rich payoffs of information guides, referrals, and tools to use). This article can help guide your thinking about how to structure your wonderful content and resources so people can find and use them.

How is your website performing in terms of usable & effective content and visual layout?

Our Legal Design Lab has made a Self-Audit tool for a website administrator or collaborator to use.

You can go through this interactive form as an individual or a team. This will help you review how your site is doing compared to benchmark principles of good design.

Do the self-audit here, to get an action plan of how you can make your site more user-friendly.

Come use the Legal Help Website Design Review at our sister site, Justice Innovation

Our Legal Design Lab has created a visual checklist review, that you can use to evaluate your legal help website. Have you covered critical issues, to make sure your website is user-friendly?

Go through the checklist to evaluate how you’re doing and what to improve.

Explore Legal & Government Best Practices on Website Design

Government Website Design System

The federal government’s design group USDS has a comprehensive Design System that shows civic agencies how to lay out their website in clear, usable ways. It includes specific rules, components, and code to use.

Use this system for clear examples, components (like buttons and containers), and principles to follow.

Legal Help Design Testing & Strategies

The Michigan Advocacy Project & Graphic Advocacy Project have a guide to using legal design strategies to improve your legal technology efforts.

These include guides for user testing & principles about how to make legal help that works for many different types of people.