Designing What Customers REALLY Want in DISCO Ediscovery

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At DISCO, we have an extraordinary focus on giving our users and clients a “magical” experience. DISCO was founded on the principle of combining world-class engineering with a deep love and respect for the law, and we wanted to share the groundbreaking work done by our product development team.

This installment comes from Haley Bonn, Group Product Designer.

Listening to customer feature requests is a critical part of being on the DISCO design team — but it’s not the whole story. To showcase the full process of delving into what customers truly need — as the saying goes, a hole, not a drill — let’s take a look at one of our newest features: time tracking and productivity metrics in review stages.

Design in practice:

Every team working on product improvements includes a product manager, a product designer, a lead engineer, and a subject matter expert. We work together to identify customer pain points and ensure our solution is powerful, elegant, and useful.

The customer request:

New features are commonly added to our roadmap by listening to user feedback — in fact, we keep a “scoreboard” of common features and how many requests they have. We take these suggestions from users and dig into them to understand: 

  • the problem our customers are trying to solve
  • why it matters to them, and 
  • if the proposed idea is the best way to get our clients to the desired outcome.

Usually, we have a hypothesis for each of these points, but sometimes the user research will point us in a different direction.

For this feature, we heard our customers asking for more visibility into reviewers' productivity during document review. In addition, customers were asking for reports on user time and activity. We started digging in to learn more about why customers want time tracking and productivity metrics but also what problem they’re trying to solve with the addition of these metrics. 

Our overall goal is to solve a problem the customer has — not just check a box or build something flashy that customers won’t actually use.

What are we being asked to build?

Next, we needed to scope the problem we wanted to address. Here, we determine what we can release the fastest that will add the most value to our clients without trying to incorporate too many features into the first iteration of the product. We also have to balance engineering complexity with making new features available to customers quickly.

For our time tracking and productivity metrics, we considered surfacing metrics that cover the whole application. But, as we dug into the reasons why customers had requested reports on user activity within DISCO, we found most users specifically wanted to track user activity and time spent in review stages as part of our workflow feature set.

Research 

To fully understand how legal professionals are using DISCO and how we might be able to best implement features, we start with research: interviewing customers, or even sitting next to customers and observing them use DISCO.

In developing the time and productivity metrics, we employed qualitative and quantitative research tools to understand the problem and guide our work in creating a new feature. 

For example, we began with semi-structured interviews with customers, asking how customers define activity within DISCO and how they define when a user becomes inactive. We dug deeper: Are there times when a user is in a review stage batch and may not be “active,” but should still be considered “working?” What are those tasks, and how long could they take?

Our hypothesis was that, as lawyers commonly bill by the tenth of an hour, the user should no longer be considered active after six minutes (0.1 hours). To validate our hypotheses, we ask users to rate how they would feel about having and not having “user activity” defined with a grace period and other aspects of the proposed metrics. This ensures that at minimum we’re designing what users expect and at best what delights users. It can also tell us what wouldn’t make them happy or when they simply don’t have a preference which can help us focus on delivering DISCO features our clients do care about, and most importantly, actually use and trust.

Our client interviews validated our tenth of an hour precision was satisfactory to customers, and customers preferred this over-counting minute-by-minute. As one customer put it, “evaluating every minute would be ‘death by one thousand paper-cuts.’ Reviewers are not robots and can grab a cup of coffee on the clock… as long as it doesn’t take over six minutes.”

The design

Part of good product design, especially considering the breadth of a product like DISCO, is being holistically aware of what a user needs to accomplish and how a new feature will permeate and impact other features in the product. In this case, we had to decide where and how to incorporate and display the new time tracking and productivity metrics. We already had robust review stage metrics that provided information on overall review pace and individual reviewer behavior, so it made sense to add the time and productivity statistics to the same report.

However, we realized we needed more real estate on the people metrics page to ensure users could see and compare multiple sections of data. 

Old Review Stages page showing all stages and metrics on the same screen vs the new display with more vertical space to accommodate the new time tracking and productivity metrics.

Even though it wasn’t part of the original scope, my team and I decided to update the entire interface for our review stages functionality as a precursor step to launching the new time tracking and productivity metrics.

Intriguing questions mean fun design challenges

Being a designer at DISCO always brings intriguing challenges — which is why I love working here! With DISCO’s focus on the macro and micro aspects of a feature, we ensure that our users experience DISCO magic with every task. I’m proud of how integrated product design is in our product teams and the weight that customer research and user experience are given in our development process. The time and productivity metrics are an exciting addition to the workflow feature set that will provide a meaningful impact to our customers.

Interested in learning more about a career with DISCO? Check out our careers page to view our open opportunities.

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Haley Bonn

Haley is the Group Product Designer at DISCO focused on the DISCO Ediscovery document viewer. As a designer, she is a strong advocate for user research, and loves finessing over the fine details. She enjoys collaborating with her team to solve DISCO’s complex user problems by crafting thoughtful, clever, and clean design solutions.

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