Why a Consumer-Grade User Experience Matters in Ediscovery

Ediscovery technology ease of use

This is another post in our multi-part series covering our ediscovery chapter of a legal informatics textbook. To catch up on the series, you can download the ebook in full. In it, we cover the ediscovery basics, including the history of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM); core technical ediscovery concepts; the technologies powering ediscovery (encryption, machine learning, transcoding, etc.); as well as the future of ediscovery.

Today we’ll look at yet another technology powering ediscovery—the consumer-grade user experience.

Consumer-Grade User Experience

“Enterprise software” is a phrase that can conjure memories of being saddled with a tool that is overly complicated, poorly documented, error prone, and expensive. These are experiences we might have tolerated back when there was little overlap between the tools we used for work and those we used for play, but advances in mobile, social, and cloud technology have blurred those lines. Today, we use phrases like “consumer-grade user experience” as shorthand for the higher design quality we have come to expect from applications developed for the consumer market, and we increasingly expect all software to meet these standards.

These raised expectations have transformed the software we use at work. On the whole, pursuing a consumer-grade user experience (UX) makes software simpler, more visually appealing, more naturally intuitive, more flexible, and more accessible. Perhaps more importantly, a superior UX doesn’t end at the software’s user interface; a truly consumer-grade UX involves software that is easier to evaluate, purchase, deploy, maintain, and, if necessary, replace. Ideally, it also involves no compromise in utility; the software should be just as powerful as traditional enterprise software. The net result is users who are more relaxed, comfortable, confident, and capable with the software.

Legal, as a relatively niche market for technology, is often one of the last sectors to enjoy the latest advances, including those made in UX. In many ways, this has given legal professionals unjustified reputations as technophobes, when in reality they have simply been resisting the inferior UX that other professionals have long-since abandoned. The good news is that the adoption of cloud computing in legal has opened the floodgates to consumer-grade user experiences. From legal research to practice management to ediscovery, legal professionals now have software options that deliver enterprise-grade utility with consumer-grade usability.

In our next and final post in this series, we’ll discuss the future of ediscovery as we see it.