What is Design?
- the human power
- of conceiving, planning, and realizing
- products that serve human beings
- in the accomplishment of any individual or collective purpose.
This formal definition is open: it leaves the specific content of a design process flexible to the specific needs of an expert area. It focuses the designers on the agency, purpose, outcome, and scope of design. Then the design brief — and the stakeholders — can determine the content of the process.
Design Thinking is an approach to find creative, innovative solutions to wicked problems.
When trying to build solutions to problems:
- Visualize ideas, don’t just talk about them — make sketches of the actual thing, not just descriptions — make the intangible tangible
- Rapidly prototype possible solutions, show them to users, get feedback, and then iterate on the prototype
- Before trying to figure out solutions, first get into the heads of your users, figure out their needs, action themes, and value themes — and use this to figure out the real, underlying problem
- This means getting out and spending time observing and living with users, not just reading about them, or doing quick surveys or consumer research — go for deep, empathetic understanding of the problem space you are working in
- Learn fast, move fast, be open to changing your mind and your proposals — value feedback and take it on to figure how you should be changing your design
- Don’t seek perfection, seek ‘enough’ to go out and get feedback
- Work in interdisciplinary teams, to collaborate with other experts whose ideas, taken together, can lead to radical innovations — and build paths for openness across these teams
Notes on Design
I am collecting together some design frameworks, to try to mash together a usable working model of a design process that fits with law.
Donald Norman writes in Emotional Design that there are three aspects of design.
- Visceral design: appearances. How does a product look and feel?
- Behavioral design: pleasure and effectiveness of use. Does the product behave satisfyingly, pleasingly, well?
- Reflective design: self-reflection and pride. What does the product say about me, about my life?
At recent talks and conferences, I have been welcomed and challenged by people who are explicitly systems-thinkers. Some resist a design approach as too “micro” and lacking computational modeling-that would better predict outcomes rather than testing + experiments. Others see the links between participatory, multi-stakeholder design processes and a systems approach. I am thinking through
One of the main points of resistance for lawyers in the design process is getting from talk to action. It’s too easy to start off with best intentions, but then get stuck in discussions, mapping, and brainstorming — without moving to making. This is a real challenge if your interest (like mine) is not just teaching design,
I have just released the first working version of my book, Law By Design. It is meant for people in the legal system, to understand how design process, mindsets, and patterns can help them solve the big challenges they are facing. I have compiled my notes, insights, and work into these chapters to lay out
In our Prototyping Access to Justice class, Kursat Ozenc and I are leading student teams to get quickly from speculating about how the courts could be improved to implementing new concepts. In our class today, in week 3 of the course, we had the students make some more progress along the Journey of Prototypes. The
In the Prototyping Access to Justice class that I’m teaching this quarter at Stanford, we’re taking a “service design” approach to the legal system. This means considering both the ‘front-end’ experience of the legal user goes, as well as the ‘back-end’ experience of the service providers go. Thinking of legal services through the lens of
This post was originally published over on Stanford Legal Design Lab’s Medium publication, Legal Design and Innovation. Enjoy! Out of all the workshops, design cycles, and product development that we’ve worked on at the Legal Design Lab, there are a few key principles that have emerged. The concepts that have these types of features are
I have been thinking about better ways to integrate the quick-development cycle of the Agile Design Process, and the community-driven spirit of Participatory Design. Here is my initial plan for what such a process would entail. The goal would be to run several of these cycles, in order to try out several different concepts rapidly.
Particularly for legal design, I find it very useful to do a special kind of ‘persona document’ for the audience you are trying to engage. This persona should all be about information preferences. How does your person like to consume info? Tech channels or not — and for which kinds of info? What style of
A notebook sketch I made for a class presentation on going from user research to brainstorming. The in-between step: scouting the frustrations — where your stakeholders and target audience are going nuts, hacking half-baked solutions, feeling exhausted and hating the current system. Those frustration points are opportunities. Because if you frame your new interventions as
This afternoon, I had the privilege of hearing Professor Jay Mitchell of Stanford University (and director of the Transactions Clinic at the Law School) speak about the value of graphic design and sketching practices for lawyers. Jay has a book, Picturing Corporate Practice, coming out at the end of February, that brings a design approach
I jotted down this small shortlist during a recent conference, when I was sifting through all of the points that I have been making in different venues, for different audiences, drawing from different research projects and design work. This isn’t meant to be totally complete, but it’s not half-bad as some core metrics and to-do’s
This is also an old page from my sketchbook — it must have been from a session at the d.school, and notes I took about how we can review our concept designs for more feasibility. I have been going back through all my old notes on the design process, and compiling them into a short
This school year, my priority is focusing on how to take the design process & adapt it to create research outcomes that are meaningful to the academic community — as well as to practitioners. The most direct adaptation is to extend the current style of design process I’m using, and then add on more research-driven
I came across this blog piece by the Dutch group Am I a Designer, exploring the question of “Why change the design process?” They resist an overly formalized, step-by-step design process — what they call a sequential design process — which makes the process seem clean and clinical. Instead, they push for a more cyclical,
After a conversation with a legal colleague who’s working on a new software project to simplify how courts and lawyers communicate, I was inspired to sketch out some thoughts on what an idea-person should be thinking about, to take their idea on a path that would lead to successful implementation. How do you get other
Last week, during my class Into to Legal Design Class, we had some guest designers from Intuit, who work on improving the user experience of their tax customers. One of my students asked the designers if they also work on how the customers’ tax filings will be received by the IRS. The question was —
As I’ve presented design to lawyers over the past several years, one of the main points of value I’ve heard echoed back from lawyers is the mindset of putting ‘Feasibility’ on hold, and focusing on ‘What Could Be’. If nothing else, design thinking can help us as lawyers to pause our critical, analytical approach long
A quick sketch of one of the key mindsets I’m trying to teach my students — and what design can offer to law. How do we think about problems in fresh ways, user-centered ways? How do we listen & research to get to root problems, rather than superficial ones? That’s what the design process encourages
by Kursat Ozenc & Margaret Hagan Everyday we make all kinds of complicated decisions, but (usually) without thinking much about them: a contract you sign, a mortgage plan you are commit to, a credit card you sign up for, a tax form you file, a medical treatment you agree to. Most of the time, these
Claire Medina and Joe Hodge of Kolba, a social venture incubator in Armenia, has an interesting post about the challenges that a small group inside of a larger org will have, when trying to introduce a design-thinking approach & push for innovation. They have encountered some challenges in encouraging a design approach to spread within
I have been fleshing out my concept of Wise Design, with specific principles, methods, and mechanics. Here is one insight that comes up again and again when helping people make smarter decisions.
For my class this quarter, I’m focusing on “the user experience of law” — and how to get the students equipped & thoughtful to develop great UX into their own service designs. To be more concrete about what I mean when I talk about UX with them, I developed a shortlist of heuristics (or rules
From design strategist Denis Weil, talking about connections between McDonald’s and the law.
Denis Weil, a design strategist, speaking to the ABA Legal Innovation Summit on what the Law profession should be doing.
As I’ve been writing up my ‘Design for Lawyers’ book & preparing my class presentation — I’ve been forming this venn diagram in my mind. Before, I would always explain ‘Design’ as composed of process and of mindsets. Now I’m adding a third main group — Mechanics. I’ve been struggling with what to do with
I’ve been writing up my version of the design process — particularly for complex service & systems challenges. Part of this undertaking has been figuring out which methods & tools should be used during the process. Here is one of the sketches I’ve made, to start laying out what the design tools could be, and
Here is a design method that I’ve used in some of my projects. It’s useful during the user research and the ideating phases of a design process.
Here is a report via Institute of the Future: a report on Future Work Skills 2020, about what future skills are needed in the next decade. Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to
For some of my design workshops, I have been encouraging groups to do more Feasibility & Viability Reviews of their prototypes — even if these prototypes are more ‘sacrificial’ than ‘actual’. I find that it helps people who have fallen head over heels in love with their new prototype idea to get some critical distance
As I’m planning out my Spring quarter Intro to Legal Design class, I’m thinking a lot about how to lay out ground-rules for the student teams that will be working on projects with real-world legal orgs. From my experience in many different groups — all at wildly different levels of camaraderie and functionality — I’m
I found this big drawing that I must have made sometime in 2013, thinking about what kind of projects need to happen, applying design to consumer law, law firm work, and beyond.
One tool I’ve been playing with while running workshops & doing my own design work has been a scaling diagram. It pushes the designer to take the problem statement they’re working on (that they’ve most likely inherited) and then make versions of it — going up in scale to make it more general, abstract, and
I am in Design-Workshop season right now, running a whole lot of sessions to introduce people to user-centered design & run through a generative cycle, to come up with some new ideas for legal services. I’ve been reflecting on my planning process, trying to be more thoughtful about what works well and how to enhance
Leysia Palen of Univ. of Colorado Boulder has made an interesting, succinct one-sheet to lay out different research methods for people working in tech and design. It makes clear some of the key camps in how we can learn how to make better, more usable technology products — and produce learning outcomes & research papers
I talk all the time about user-centered design — how to make your work product more user-friendly & engaging — but how to actually ensure your work really will connect with your user? Here’s a quick process graph, of how to think about integrating the user into your development of something new — whether it’s
I have been working on several legal designs over the past few months — scoping out how new interactive tech products should behave, what kind of experiences users should ideally have with them, and how they should be branded to engage their target audience. As I reflect back on how I have been designing, I
When giving a talk — whether it’s a three minute pitch of a new idea, or a forty minute lecture on a topic — I find it very useful to do a quick, visual cover sheet for what the flow & the punch of the talk should be. It forces me to focus on what
A quick sketch from my notebook, on how a design-driven innovation team can be set up. The core group should be small — 5 people or under — and have a mix of technical and content expertise. You need a designer, who can be an advocate for the users and the quality & relevance of
Over the past month, I’ve been doing a series of interviews with all kinds of people working in legal innovation. Some are focused on visualizing law, others on inventing new ways to we serve clients in need of legal help, others on bringing technology into legal aid groups and courts. These interviews are in part
A sketchnote about one of the fundamental parts of the design process: Prototyping to Think. The quicker we start to build, sketch, act out, and otherwise make our ideas manifest — the more ideas we can arrive upon. And the more feedback we can get on these ideas, to use to improve their quality and
Here’s a quick-note mindmap that I made while laying out notes for a paper I’m working on, defining what Legal Design is, and how design approaches can serve law. I put this visual up on Open Law Lab’s home page, and I’ll likely be using it (or a version of it) in presentations to legal
Last week I hosted a Visual Law Meetup at Stanford d.school. You can see a written report of the event over at LegalTechDesign. From our exercises, sharing & conversation, I took away a bunch of points about visual law. I’ve sketched them out here to share & reflect on. I divided them into two sections:
I have been creating more resources for the Visual Law Meetup that will be happening today at Stanford d.school. I’ve been making guides to a visual design process, and also some essential principles & prohibitions for communication design. Here is a set of Visual Design Principles, intended for lawyers, but applicable to many others: They
The second phase of the design process is Scoping & Defining a Design Brief. It moves on from the first phase of user research & understanding the status quo of the challenge-area you’re working in. In this second phase, you the designer should be focused on defining exactly what problem you are trying to resolve.
How do we brainstorm well in the legal world? I know plenty about what Ideal Brainstorming might look like, from my time at the d.school. But the truth is that this Ideal is not practiced in most legal innovation events I’ve gone to. And rather than leading a 1-woman crusade to transform brainstorming culture in
Here is a sketchnote I drafted for a general audience, to explain the value of taking a design approach to solving a problem. The term ‘wicked problems’ comes from Horst Rittel. A wicked problem is one that is complex, with lots of stakeholders, complicated interdependencies, no clear solutions, and multiple paths to pursue.
I drew this note a few months ago, when I was still a fellow at Stanford’s d.school — and thinking a lot about how we as lawyers can come up with new designs for products that lay-people will use. The key insight is — there will be no universal product or pattern of products that
Here is another sketchnote I made during a health care hackathon at Stanford Medical School, that focused on how to engage patients in their own medical care. Many of the principles and solutions are analogous to law and legal services.
This past weekend, I attended a health-care hackathon at Stanford, with the aim to increase Patient Engagement with their own care. I was on the hunt for analogies that could apply to legal users’ engagement with the legal system. Here is one sketchnote from the presentations & keynotes that were offered during the weekend —
As I’ve been writing up my design process, I’ve been creating some more tools and templates. Here is one for the ‘scoping’ and ‘understanding’ part of design work: the User Persona Profile document. Two of the central principles of the user-centered design process are to Design For a Specific User, and to Know Your User
Over on Cornell’s VoxPopulii Blog, I just posted up a comprehensive write-up on a Legal Communication Design pop-up-class that I had taught with Kursat Ozenc & Alex Gavis at Stanford’s d.school in May 2014. When we were planning out the class, I started to put together a framework for Legal Communication Design. You can read
A very simple illustration, made for one of my recent presentations explaining what design is to lawyers, and how it could be useful to their work.
Earlier this month, I attended an open Design Lunch at Autodesk in downtown SF. Chris Noessel, a designer at the Cooper design firm, presented on the topic: How do we, as designers, think new things? How can we create the conditions for disruptive thinking, that will lead us to breakthrough ideas to solve the challenges
Here is a visual I made for some of the recent workshops I’ve been running on Legal Design. As I present the concept of ‘design’ to a roomful of non-designers, I’m finding it useful to focus on two streams of doing design work: mindsets to adopt, and process steps to follow. This image is a
Here is a workbook I’ve made, for use in the Legal Design Workshops I’ve run with lawyers, law students, and others. This challenge was crafted for experienced lawyers, to reflect on communication practices & generate some ideas for innovative ways to communicate with clients. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
For my Get Smart communication design class, I made some handouts to guide the student teams through their work. One of them was about the different vectors a communication design could run along — as a tool to read designs & also to test your own.
A quick sketch of the general way people — students or practitioners — learning the Law By Design process can flow. A lot of details contained in each of these 1-2-3 steps, but nice to see it at a high, simple level!
Some more props & tools that I’ve been using in system designs. These are good for synthesizing research & notes — and then focusing in on what exactly the “Design Brief” should be, guiding the problem you’re trying to tackle & identifying the opportunity moments, the frustration targets, the leverage points — a good place
I’ve been creating lots of tools & props for use by (beginner) designers in their attempts to understand a complex situation & craft good interventions, to improve the system. The class I’m teaching on Plea Agreement Redesign has been the main prompt for these. Understanding Plea Agreements, the system they’re embedded in, and the stakeholders
Isaac Parker, a digital agency in the UK, has created a tool for designers & lawyers working on mapping flows of user services. The pack boils down common touchpoints and tools into cards, that can be used in a collaboration or workshop. The participants can use the cards as modules within a service flow, to
This is a design method prop that I’ve been using to help workshop goers & students of legal design. The purpose is to use the sheet to crystallize what starts as a ‘fuzzy’ good idea into a more concretely defined project. Ideally, you would use this kind of prop after a brainstorm, when you’ve picked
I drew this for my Stanford Design School fellowship, to be featured on the school’s site The Whiteboard. I hope it can be of use to anyone who is working in an environment that’s dominated by analytic, rational, and efficiency-driven people — like most legal environments. I certainly haven’t cracked this nut, but I’d love
I have been thinking about how to bring other people on board, to my driving mission of getting new, innovative & human-centered legal projects rolled out. One of the low-hanging fruit is to build up the resources & examples of how to use design in law, and when it has been used successfully. This can
One of my current projects is assembling together a Legal Design toolbox for legal professionals to integrate design into their practice. A cluster of these tools are those that help a lawyer or law students deliver better support to their clients. This is the challenge of the designer, and it is also the challenge of
Here’s a short, unnarrated overview of legal tech tools from Legal Services NTAP that lawyers & others could use to organize their projects, do better research, work on the road, take notes, use visuals, create media, analyze data, and use all the tech they already have in better ways. 50 Tech Tips 2013 EJC from
Charles Owen has been a professor of design at the Illinois Institute of Design for several decades. In an excellent 2006 article in Design Research Quarterly that discussed how design thinking can be taught in a range of different fields — law, art, medicine, hard sciences. I am writing a longer analysis of his description
My quick sketchnote from a team session witj Stanford d.school’s resident therapist, the d.shrink. How to make sure a team works in sync, to maximum potential? How to lead in a flat hierarchy? How to convince traditional academics to bridge over to interdisciplinary teamwork? Some sketchy starts to answering those wicked problems. ..
By Mike Rohde, its an excellent primer and portfolio of drawn notes and low fidelity information design. Buy this, use this!
I stumbled across this *terrific* sum-up of how ‘Design Thinking’ came to be over the past few decades, from Swiburne Univesrity School of Design PhD candidate Stefanie Di Russo. Please check out her blog I think – I design for more writings on the design process and evolution of designers. These passages are great, illustrated,
In September, there will be a meet-up in Boston for those interested in how design thinking may apply to law. I hope there can be a bicoastal connection — we had a great time with our first Law By Design workshop last month at Stanford’s d.school. Now we’re planning out a more extensive set of
User experience design is a necessity for all things law. Legal professionals, legal educators, legal technologists, they all need to define who their core ‘User’ is. It doesn’t have to be a data-driven selection, but of course that helps. The User should be as close to a real, complex, live person as possible, and not
Here is a sketch-note-drawing I made back in Summer 2011, at a design conference at Milan Politecnic, by Ezio Manzini. Everyone is a Designer! But how can we all be better Designers?
Here is one recent example of a Design Process model. It’s ostensibly for ‘Information Design’ — but could be for ‘Document Design’ writ more broadly. Like other Design Process models, the prototypes (in this case, legal or operational documents) would be based out of earlier steps of identifying the target audience & gathering insights about
Some of the questions that are at the heart of my thoughts lately…
Design is not just color choice or logo composition. It is the way a product is composed, that structures how a user interacts with the product what the flow of actions the user takes on it what mood and tone it conveys to the user what information and values are conveyed to users whether the
A quick sketch of a concept for wearable law… Of course fictional now, but only slightly tongue-in-cheek…
Having gone through 3 Hackathons in the past 2 months, I’m a little shocked about how little clarity there is about IP or legal grounding. It’s good to have an open collaborative environment, but it also leads to exceedingly mushy situations, in which people don’t have footing on who owns what — or what rights
I have been working on some quick sketches on what the design process is good for — and how to actually do it. Here is note 1 — I think it is pretty self-explanatory. This isn’t just for when you are trying to ‘design’ or ‘create’ something — it’s for any project, even a piece
I have been doing some readings to try to put together some frameworks that would teach non-designers what ‘design’ actually is. I came across the book How Designers Think by UK architect/designer Bryan Lawson, which offers a bunch of examples of how others have tried to represent the design process. Here are my notes on
I started typing out a 3 page email reply to a colleague who wants to figure out how to build a website for a legal project she & a team are working on. I realized, I have too much to say & I want it to live on the Internet, with visuals & links. So,
This excellent graphic from Jesse James Garrett should provide a fundamental basis for law-people to orient themselves in the world of User Experience design. Many interwoven tasks go into a good design, besides just choosing colors, fonts & shapes: 1) scoping out the user needs through quality, deep user research 2) writing the specs that
An article from Josh Kubicki, with advice customized for lawyers & law students on how to pitch their business idea. Startup Pitching for Lawyers & Law Students February 20, 2013 Lawyers and law students need to think more like entrepreneurs. But if they are to take the next step and become one and start
Halfway through this lecture from an entrepreneur + a lawyer from Wilson Sonsini, there is a very helpful walkthrough of term sheets + how to negotiate with venture capitalists. Beware Option Pools!
Thinking about starting a company? Think about the legal + market issues, here is a a great resource site from Steve Blank at Stanford, providing a step-by-step set of resources for getting your idea off the ground & onto a track twoards becoming a business.
Entrepreneurs need to know how to negotiate with venture capitalists, as they get their rounds of funding. Here is a Term Sheet Battle, sponsored by a law firm + start up incubator, so you can watch in detail how to do it well. (Source: http://www.youtube.com/)