For over 19 years, Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) has simplified the law so that people can seek justice. ILAO makes the law understandable and accessible through innovation and technology, providing residents of Illinois with tools to help themselves get the justice they seek. ILAO has helped to overcome the racial, cultural, language, education, location, time, disability, and financial barriers for utilising the law to get justice.
While we know that in the legal sector, confidentiality and reliability are of utmost importance, at the same time modern operations in legal require a lot of - third-party integrations for bringing various legal systems together for control; case management to efficiently follow legal procedures via workflows, documentation and archiving to improve consistency, and analytics to ensure fair governance. They also require performance systems that work smoothly under high load and enable endless expansion and customization capabilities to power legal impact.
I have never worked with a more dedicated group of developers.
Director, Product Development - ILAO
"One of the key reasons we hired QED42 was to add more experience developers to our project. They get Drupal! When I explain what I want, they understand how to approach it, whether it is a site-building task, contributed modules or something that going to require custom code. They frequently provided me with alternative solutions that were better than what I wanted. And it goes beyond Drupal, their development practices are deeply professional. With automated builds, deployment and testing, code reviews among the team and manual QA checks on every JIRA ticket assigned. They are honest about the reality that what it is going to take. We had a tight timeline to get this done. And they were clear it was going to require adding additional developers to the team. Which we did! Even with adding new team members there never was a gap in knowledge transfer. Not that the project didnt have the occassional hiccup, but QED42 always handled any issue quickly and gracefully"
Getting the right information in minimum clicks was the aim of the new website.
- The Drupal 7 site was having some critical issues with the design. It was complicated for people who were in distress and desperate for information.
- The content was inter-mixed throughout the Legal Information section, with no way to differentiate between aspects like legal information 'for legal professionals' and 'the public'.
- A UX overhaul of the homepage was needed to achieve two goals:
- Driving users to ILAO’s products
- Instilling trust in the organization and the products ILAO provides
- The Legal Information pages were overwhelming, particularly for a public user. ILAO wanted to develop a more streamlined approach that prioritizes (within a category) the legal problems most commonly experienced by people.
- Mobile-first approach for improving adoption and impact.
- Migrate ILAO's current website from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8
- Design revamp for enhanced user experience
- Migrating and simplifying the Online Triage, Intake and Referral System's (OTIS) complex workflows
- Include discussion groups, event calendar and job posting under the Legal Professionals section
- Adding library and pages - Form library section, Blog page revamp, newly renovated ‘Victim of crime’ pages
- Adding features - Toolbox feature for users to track their inputs, Attorney manuals (based on Drupal’s book module)
- Adding a Legal Information library that provides information, in various formats:
- Guides, articles, and how-to articles
- Informational articles
- Static forms
- Links and file downloads to informational articles
- Making Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE ®) content available to legal aid attorneys.
- Mobile friendly engagement - several main features, like OTIS, worked in the modal pop-up, which needed a revamp.
We helped ILAO bring clarity to its original version of the website, we build a redesign strategy to simplify data through intuitive navigation and accessibility.
Simple and easy, the new ILAO website reflects the coherence and seriousness of the problems the legal system can solve. The website was redesigned to bridge the gap between the attorneys, people, and the sometimes, complicated legal world. And finally, with a scalable design system, we made it feasible to access a visual language that integrates the classic principles of good design with innovation and the practicality of technology.
| User Research
After intensive user research, we gained some insights on user pain points, behavioural actions, and goals.
| Pain Points
- Opacity in the process - Users weren’t sure of where they were in their journey to legal justice
- They weren’t able to search/filter legal resources based on what their needs were
| User Behaviours
- Losing confidence in finding legal resources, users wanted to talk to someone
- They were unsure of the process and the output
- They found the information a lot to process, but they were keen on doing this on their own
| User Goals
- The primary user goal was to have a clear breakdown of all processes from beginning to the end, for them to have a clear understanding of the timeline of the case.
- The second user goal was to have all legal resources accessible.
- The users needed a sense of direction and guidance on what to expect
| Feature List
- Added Accessible features
- Simplified of the complex laws through content architecture
- Structured the process.
- Designed an actionable and intuitive user experience.
- Build for an omnichannel experience.
- Integrated a Design system for scalability and reusability of the components.
From the start of mapping out the new user experience, it was clear that ILAO would need an extensive library of components.
The ILAO upgrade or Drupal 8 migration was one of the massive migrations that we have executed. The migration included approximately 1 million custom entities, half a million nodes, some taxonomy, few users, and files. To add to this complexity, we were migrating them with their revisions and translations.
| Discovery Phase
The project started with an in-person discovery with Gwen Daniels (Director Product Development), where we analysed the current Drupal 7 site structure - what to scrape, what to retain with Drupal 8, and what to restructure/re-architect.
A hybrid approach between custom migration and Drupal core upgrade path was chosen since more than 75% of the structure after the discovery workshop was to stay the same as Drupal 7.
| The Drupal 8 Migration Journey
- Core upgrade path did a lot of heavy lifting for us by migrating the structure along with fields that had a migration path.
- Rest of it was followed with custom migration plugins and migrate paths. The site also had a few modules on Drupal 7 site which needed to be available with Drupal 8. We took care of porting them to Drupal 8 and contributing back while working on the project.
- The only technically challenging areas that we felt around this migration Project were handling multilingual & migrating revisions correctly with the entities.
- The migration was not only performed at the data level but also was accompanied with a complete re-branding of the portal which focused on solving major issues that ILAO users faced.
- The Drupal 8 portal was designed and developed keeping accessibility in mind. The frontend team aligned very well with the design team while developing the designs.
- The entire design development was done following a component-based approach, resulting in flexible and faster deliveries.
We created a smart Online Triage and Intake System (OTIS) for ILAO, available under ‘Get Legal Help’ on IllinoisLegalAid.org, designed to:
- Get users the best available help for their situation, that means directing users to a legal aid organization/legal information/forms.
- Help our legal aid organization partners accept cases in which they are likely to assist. Ideally, partners would focus on extended representation cases rather than advice-only cases to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
- Divert users to self-help action or commercial lawyers when a legal aid lawyer is not an option.
ILAO had TurboTax ® like interviews to generate documents to be filed in court or shared with someone. These include both court forms and documents such as letters and legal forms. However, these forms were scattered across the website. We made the 'Easy Forms' easily accessible through the Form Library and referenced them within articles in the Legal Information library and Guided Problem-Solving products.
These guide or coach a user through a legal process to resolve their problem. These include:
- Rentervention.com, a separate platform for Chicago renters that connects users to a pro bono lawyer (for some cases), generates documents and provides legal information
- Toolboxes that break down steps in a process, provide a checklist and allow for tracking progress over time and integrate with systems.
A library that provides general legal information, in various formats including:
- Guide that package - overview and related informational articles
- How-to articles - these include step-by-step articles and timelines
- Links and file downloads to informational articles
- Static forms
This contains practice support for legal aid and pro bono lawyers like:
- Proprietary content (IICLE ®) that ILAO has a subscription to and makes available to legal aid attorneys
- Attorney manuals (based on Drupal’s book module)
- Discussion groups (housed on Google Groups)
- Event calendar
- Job postings
A 24/7 platform that helps people understand their legal options and act to get the justice they seek.
Component-based page - Theming is primarily based on reusable components. These components can be used in multiple combinations to create a page layout.
Multilingual website - ILAO supports three languages English, Spanish, Polish.
Online Triage and Intake System - Get Legal Help feature that gives information about users' specific problem by taking step by step inputs.
Toolbox - This feature breaks down steps in a process and provides a checklist that allows for tracking of the progress over time.
Solr Search - Search feature is very important for ILAO because most of the legal problems are predefined and made available through searches. There are dedicated search features which help users search in focused areas.
SEO - We made effective use of some Drupal contributed modules like metatags. Translation improves with the ability to import and export the XLIFF files that our 3rd party translators use with their external tools