Design mechanics are sets of insights and tools that we can use what interventions we can design — and how to get people to use and engage with our ideas.

Within the wide of umbrella of mechanics we have specific categories to be deployed.

FOR IDEAS: What solutions should we focused on?

  • Ideabook, concepts that I & others have thought of
  • Problem book, what users want, what is going wrong with the status quo
  • Analogy List, taking from other industries & situations and bringing their learnings into the world of law
  • Inventory of other projects, what else has been tried & works

FOR ENGAGEMENT: How do we create designs that people want to (and will) use?

  • Nudges, ways to trigger people to behave in certain ways
  • Vehicles/forms, ways to deliver solutions, forms for interventions to take
  • Levers, materials that designers can use for an intervention
  • Heuristics, rules of thumb that will shape users’ perceptions & behavior
  • User requirements, Personas, and Mental models

FOR IMPLEMENTATION: What are good designs, that are intuitive & usable?


  • Models: Interfaces with promises
[This page will be updated with these materials — currently it is under construction ]

Solution Patterns to draw from


I am gathering patterns for solutions, general structures that could possibly be remixed into a new legal services solution.

Legal Design patterns with promise

Another pattern to borrow from in designing online legal services -- this one from car buying. This series of interfaces could be useful in matching a customer to the right legal provider (which lawyer fits your needs?) or the right legal process (which legal path should you be pursuing?). Volkswagen stages ...
From the New York Times: Company Thinks It Has Answer for Lower Health Costs: Customer Service. This article profiles a double analogy -- could Starbucks-style scalable customer-driven services be used to improve health care -- and then could this be applied also to legal services? Virginnia Schock seemed headed for a ...
Another great analog for legal services is personal finance services. A designer I'm working with sent this site from Australia as an example of great design for complex systems: Anne St. Parnter's site on consumer-facing finance & insurance advice, calculators, and planning tools. Here are some of the tools that they ...
NerdWallet is a web platform that allows anyone to ask a question about money, finances, insurance or the like -- and the site provides them with free answers in response. Once you ask a question, you can read licensed advisors' responses to general situations like yours -- and also peruse 'Related ...
An article on The New Yorker by Sarah Larson, “Serial,” Podcasts, and Humanizing the News profiles the power of audio journalism -- particularly narrative non-fiction podcasts -- to draw users into complex explanations with storytelling techniques. Media journalist David Carr had hosted the panel discussion with several new podcast producers ...
A regular radio program, in which a host fields phone calls from a broad listening audience, about their individual problems, giving them advice & educational information to help them address the problems -- and presenting them as examples to the rest of the audience.
A video documenting real-life situations, but packaged into narrative arcs and characters that users can relate to, and which they want follow.
People add their private data to a public database, to share the cost/time/outcome/other quantifiable value was in their own experience. Then these individuals’ experiences can be sorted & used to show trends & ranges. Others can browse the database and begin to see what is normal to pay/spend/experience in this ...
Gather experts from a sector, have them create a shortlist of what principles and actions must be followed to achieve a good outcome. Test them to make sure they're all clear, actionable & relevant. Distribute widely, with brand attached -- possibly have naming/shaming for violators or awards for followers.
Present the user with a big decision she could be making, that involves trade-offs. Identify the key factors she must weigh to make the decision, and allow her to enter in variables for each of these factors. Use her entries to recommend to her what decision to make.
Collect feeds of information, figure out what the use & action points related to these different feeds, and visually present the info to the user with pointers, signals, and other messages that indicate takeaways & trends she should care about.
Take a successful experience from a central, official hub -- then rescale it to make it mobile, so that it can be taken out into communities that don't typically have access to the hub. (E.g., a food truck, a mobile library, or a blood donation van)
On a public platform, set out a first draft of a work product (or even just the topic under consideration) and give the public tools to contribute to this work product -- generating content, editing and reviewing others, and sharing it out.
Make a striking document that has images & text, which shows illustrated information (perhaps with a narrative) to help engage & inform your user on this topic.
Gather together users' descriptions of their experiences with a thing -- they say what was wrong, what was good, how it compares to other things in that category, and what recommendations they'd make for others.
Create an experience where the user is challenged to learn information, show her knowledge, make difficult choices, and try to win rewards.
Bring together a group of people who can be agents of your initiative in their local circles.
Use SMS-based messages to send out automated texts and responses to users.

PATTERNS for designing legal websites:

For the Orientation, Entry-Points

Portal layouts can provide a high degree of customization for users. They’re ideal for news sites, but not a replacement for a well-designed Dashboard in a business application.

For the Information-Finding Function:
The Master/Detail screen layout can be vertical, horizontal, or even nested. It is ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to stay in the same screen while navigating between items. A horizontal layout is a good choice when the user needs to see more information in the master list than just a few identifiers, or when the master view is comprised of a set of items that each have additional details.
Column Browse

The Column Browse screen layout can be vertical or horizontal and a number of levels deep. Ideal for creating an custom user experience by allowing the user to start from various entry points for navigating hierarchal or related data.


The Search screen pattern can range from very simple to quite advanced. This pattern is ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to navigate directly to an item or set of items meeting specific criteria.
Refine Dataset

The Refine Dataset layout can be vertical or horizontal, and is ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to refine a set of known data, or further refine search results.

The Q/A screen layout is ideal for helping a user quickly find a solution. Q/A differs from Search/Results in that it can assist users in identifying possible options or a single recommendation in an arena they are lacking expert knowledge (e.g., health insurance, mortgages, or budgeting).


Tabs can be vertical or horizontal. The Tabbed layout should be explored after all other layouts have been considered. Before choosing the Tabbed layout, double check that this approach won’t make users tab between sections to complete a single workflow. Remember to apply the “one screen per goal” philosophy. A Tabbed layout can work well when there is workflow requiring data to be analyzed from multiple perspectives, as with a list, chart, and heat map.

Browse can provide the best layout for users who goal is to quickly scan and navigate information. It can be two or three columns and typically the primary content is in the left most column, with additional related options served up in the right column(s).

Parallel Panels

Parallel Panels can be stacked (showing one at a time) or unstacked (showing all at once). This pattern is ideal for organizing chunks of information that are similar or have interdependent tendencies. Efficiency is gained by keeping the user in one screen. Ideal candidates for the stacked variation of this pattern are simple workflows with a visible goal that is fed by multiple inputs or multiple non-sequential steps.

For Dashboard & Management of Tasks, Personal Info:


A Dashboard layout will provide key information at a glance, real time data, easy to read graphics, and clear entry points for exploration. Stephen Few’s book, Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data can be used for reference in designing and testing Dashboard designs.

For Process-Guidance, to get tasks done step-by-step


The Wizard layout is ideal for guiding a user through a complex or infrequent workflow. It can be vertical or horizontal depending on the nature of the data.

For Doing a Task, Filling in information


Any Form layouts should be approached with a solid understanding of usability and design best practices. Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks by Luke Wroblewski is a terrific resource for designing forms.

The Spreadsheet layout can offer easy edits, additions, previews and totaling. This type of screen should provide the following functionality: standard table features like sort, hide/show columns, rearrange columns, group by (if applicable), global level undo/redo, add/insert/delete row, keyboard navigation, import and export, and possibly preview and summary functionality.
Interactive Model

The Interactive Model layout is characterized by many interactive elements associated with a core object (e.g., a graph, calendar, map, sheet music, or text). It closely aligns with the user’s mental model and offers direct manipulation.

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