Project Details •
Timeline: November 2020
Team: Tim Pham, Desiree Daniels, Adrian Kung
Role: UX/UI Design, UX Research
Knowable is an enterprise software company in Seattle, WA that focuses on contract data management for M&A. Through machine learning and legal subject expertise, their platform analyzes over 25 million contract data elements each quarter.
Writing contracts can be very time consuming for lawyers. Files are stored in unorganized repositories, which makes referencing templates and other resources difficult.
Position Board is an app that visualizes contract structure and capture user data for analytics on the Knowable platform. The main goal is to improve the writing process for lawyers and reduce legal risk to their company.
My Role •
As UX/UI Designer, I was responsible for researching user behaviors, ideating solutions, designing the user interface, and testing our prototype.
Knowable is an enterprise legal software company that builds CMS products for contract data management. Through machine learning and legal subject expertise, their platform analyzes over 25 million contract data elements each quarter.
Problem: Writing contracts can be very time consuming for lawyers. Files are stored in unorganized repositories, which makes referencing templates and other resources difficult. Lawyers need a better way to find and view their documents on a company-wide scale.
Solution: Position Board is an app that visualizes contract structure and capture user data for analytics on the Knowable platform. The main goal is to improve the writing process for lawyers, while reducing legal risk during negotiations.
My contributions to this project include research, ideation, design and testing. I worked on a team with two other designers and cross-functional partners (engineering, product, etc.) to explore and present this app design to stakeholders at Knowable.
Upon receiving the design brief, my team had little context on our users and domain. We were given a problem that Knowable was trying to solve.
It was important to understand contracts and interview lawyers to get a better sense of how users might use the app. I talked to lawyers with experience working in a large legal firm (30+ employees). I was focused on learning their contract writing process and the tools they use. I found out that most contracts have standard elements to ensure that they cover all the risks, obligations and entitlements.
From my research, here’s what's important:
• Lawyers reference older contracts to help them write new ones.
• Lawyers do not use a unified file bank for company-wide policies.
• Lawyers store files in their local hard drive and hate keeping them organized.
Here’s what I found:
• Users do not have a single source of reference for company policies to minimize risk and increase compliance.
• Users don’t organize their documents properly and their paperwork are tucked away in emails, which wastes valuable time and effort to find them.
• Users rely on resources from their colleagues, or they might not be using one at all.
My takeaway from the research was to start addressing a method to display reference data and allow users to manage company-wide legal policy.
After talking to lawyers, I created a persona using the data to scope user needs and frustrations. From the quotes, statistics, and behavioral attitudes, I began to see commonalities that helped me ideate potential solutions.
Meet Stephen. He is mid career lawyer with a very busy schedule. He wants to prioritize his time and complete tasks like negotiate with the counter-party. The last thing he wants to do is to waste time finding paperwork on his laptop during an important meeting.
In addition, I investigated competitors products to learn more about what software legal teams use to write contracts. I found was that there are three main roles that the competitors identified with: Data Analysis, Document Storage, and Contract Creation.
My main takeaway was there isn't a central tool that fulfills all these roles and needs of the legal software market. This also means users are interested in using a product that allows them to create, store, and analyze their contracts.
From there, I collaborated with my teammates in order to to sketch and brainstorm ideas. Using the knowledge we gained from the research, we knew that the layout of the contract needed to be disassembled and visualized for lawyers to quickly find what they need.
All contracts have the same basic structure as outlined. Each following topic is nested within the previous topic (ex. positions are found within subsections).
1) Templates: The entire document of the legal contract
2) Section: Key groups within a contract that defines a broad contract topic
3) Subsection: Groups with a section that defines a specific contract term
4) Position: The meaning or intent of language within a subsection
From there, I began to map out a user flow to plan out wireframes where lawyer utilizes Position Board to help them write a contract. The user should be able to easily search keywords and document topic usage for data analytics.
With the insight we gained, my team created a two-panel dashboard to view a full breakdown of contract templates and standard company language. I designed the home page to show data visualizations (graphs, charts, etc.) for a high level view of the company's overall performance.
As a UX designer, I designed and prototyped a high-fidelity wireframe from my team's sketches.
Contract breakdown contains the concepts, subconcepts, and positions of a selected template where users can pick topics to narrow their search.
Once clicked, the select topic will highlight and the dashboard will update with its corresponding lower-level topics. Users will also be able to filter “potential non-standard”, "high priority", or other tags to narrow down their options. This section allows users to optimize the dashboard with relevant topics.
Workspace contains each selected topic and additional information to assist the user. This information includes: topic info, standard language, and notes from other lawyers.
Users can view "topic info" to backtrack their search and find other related topics. Users can copy and paste standardized language provided by the company database. In addition, notes are generated by other lawyers to explain why a topic was changed in a negotiation.
As part of Knowable's data record-keeping, users can “record positions” into the system. This data will be used to calculate and show topic usage percentages. This information will help inform future negotiations to save lawyers valuable time and effort.
After completing 3 rounds of usability tests, I was able to iterate the design based on user feedback. I found that 50% of users were unable to determine which topic they were currently viewing. The majority of the update was changing components of the UI to improve usability (i.e. color, typography, icons, spacing).
In addition, an important iteration was allowing the workspace to expand to display more content. We discovered that contracts can be very lengthy (20+ pages long) and lawyers need better usage of screen real estate to see and read the language.
Position Board is an aspirational project for Knowable’s 2021 Q1 engineering sprints. It taught me a lot about how design and business goals intersect. I ran into many situations where an idea was not supported by Knowable's business model. I also became comfortable with working with enterprise software and cross-functional teams. I gained valuable domain knowledge about the legal world, as well as how to quickly overcome obstacles.
What's next? Not only was it important for me to design based on my own research, it was vital to learn how to work with the company’s existing framework. In the future, I would try to seek feedback early in the process to improve my designs.