Class Blog Project updates

The evolution of an eviction self-help website

by Margaret Hagan, also published at Legal Design and Innovation

Along with Daniel Bernal, I’ve been teaching a Stanford pop-up class, Design for Justice: Eviction. We’ve been working with a team of 10 students and a network of experts, legal aid groups, and courts, to plan out new ways to support people who have received eviction notices.

Design for Justice: Eviction concept board for self-help

The challenge of the class is: what can we provide to people who have just received an eviction summons and complain in the mail, to help them understand their rights and feel empowered to show up to court?

In the first class, Daniel laid out the background research and concepts. He is working on his PhD with this challenge as his focus, and he got the team up to speed on the current legal landscape and self-help offerings.

From there, our student teams began scoping hypotheses — new insights and concept designs of what could address the challenge. Then, within a month, we vetted these with our network of experts, to get their ranking of importance and viability. And our designers and developers sprinted to create medium-fidelity, working versions of the concepts that were vetted.

This past weekend, we subjected these mid-fidelity prototypes to user testing, with people who have been evicted previously. We’ll be writing up our findings more thoroughly later — but for now we just wanted to show the evolution of one design over a month.

The evolution of a legal self-help website

One of the main vehicles for this self-help will be a website. Here is it’s journey in sketches and images.

October 24th: At a lunchtime, test-run workshop, a student/faculty team proposes an online resource for tenants facing eviction
Jan. 19th: at class planning meeting, our teaching team sketches out one of the possible website prototypes that might emerge during our class
April 28th: At our proper class, one of the students, David, creates a one-page concept sketch of an interactive self-help website
May 3: plotting all the possible functions that could go on a page
May 11: Boiling down all the functions to a cleaner flow, simple sketch — the start of some color
May 13th: Focusing the details, the messaging of the culled down website
May 18: Getting specific (though a little messy) about 3 different variations to test against each other
May 19th: Testable live version of website — not perfect in terms of content or visuals, but a skeleton of the functions and flow we’re looking for

We had 3 different versions of the May 19th website — we’ll be streamlining these based on feedback into one higher-fidelity site. We’re digesting all the user feedback we received at our latest testing session to redraft the site. All this is aiming towards a trial that Daniel will run over the summer of new self-help interventions, likely including a website, to see how people engage and use them in real life.

The evolution will continue, stay tuned!

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