The Case for Next Generation, Cloud-Based Legal Practice Management
In the dark ages, before there was cloud computing, there was sharp division in the tech world: PC or Mac. Remember that? The lines were drawn. Firms were either Mac shops or PC shops and ne’er the twain would meet. But something happened along the way. With the introduction of the cloud, software became agnostic and the hardware used to access it became less relevant. Mac and PC users could co-exist. As smartphones became ubiquitous and apps proliferated, savvy software developers turned their attention to UI/UX and connected the dots – the easier and more pleasant the experience, the more likely it was that the software would be used.
What is UI? What is UX?
User interface, or UI, involves the visual elements within a website or application that a user interacts with, such as buttons, icons and pages. A well-designed UI provides easy functionality for a user to maneuver around the application in a natural and efficient way. User experience, or UX enhances the enjoyment of using the software, fostering loyalty and reliance on the product. The creation of a user-friendly application or software shortens the learning curve for those that aren’t necessarily considered “techies”. The more attractive the application is to the eye, the more inviting and less intimidating it will seem.
The Evolution of UI and Functional Design
With desktop applications, whether for Windows or Mac, most applications contorted the UI to match the guidelines provided by the operating system. Sort of a forced conformity. The web has enabled developers to completely re-envision what can be done with UI, independent of their Windows or Mac overlords.
Other trends in UI best practices include the following:
- Hiding of UI elements and commands when they are not relevant (to help de-clutter the screen).
- Responsive behavior where the presentation of the UI is adapted to the specific resolution of the user. This is another benefit of a web application over a desktop application.
- Cleaner UI with less reliance on Skeuomorphism to mimic lifelike objects and surfaces with an emphasis on clean, crisp symbolic elements that are more immediately recognizable.
Legal Technology and the Challenges of Adoption
There has been much written about the legal profession’s complicated relationship with technology. Despite the growing number of states that have adopted the ethical duty of technology competence (26 at last count) and how often thought leaders extol the virtues of legal practice management software, there is still a disconnect on the ground.
As an LTT reader, you are most likely ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new technology. But, it is also very probable that you have peers, and possibly colleagues at your firm, who feel that the learning curve is too steep and they don’t see the need to change their ways. Just as it was unfathomable to imagine a world where octogenarians would be messaging their grandkids on Facebook, we believe that the key to adoption lies in the UI/UX experience. Next generation software created through collaboration among lawyers, designers and technologists. The end result– practice management software that is designed for lawyers, not coders.
What Does Cloud 2.0 Practice Management Look Like?
The key to a beautiful UI/UX experience within legal practice management software, is to provide consistent color-coding and universal symbols, eliminate areas of clutter and create a more clear and concise understanding of the application. But a beautiful UI/UX only goes so far. True Cloud 2.0 practice management software also incorporates these principles:
- Every feature and external integration needs to work seamlessly within the software.
- To enable law firms to operate like businesses, the legal practice software needs built-in business and trust accounting providing meaningful reports and metrics.
- Take email to the next level by building it into the software enabling unique matter-related capabilities such as time keeping, contact management, delegation and encryption.
- Use mobile apps that optimize attributes unique to mobile devices including fingerprint recognition, document and business card scanning.
To see for yourself how beautiful UI/UX can change the way you feel about legal practice management software, take a look at Zola Suite. Schedule a demo and see how Cloud 2.0 practice management can change your practice for the better today.