The Global Legal Hackathon is coming up this weekend, and BYU Law is getting involved again. The Hackathon’s purpose is simple: make it easier for lawyers and non-lawyers to engage with the law through thoughtfully designed web tools. One of last year’s winners is LexLucid. Attorneys volunteer on LexLucid’s website to grade company’s contracts with consumers–the terms of use agreements we often click on without thinking–and highlight areas of concern. Consumers can quickly read these reviews to see if they are comfortable doing business with the company. Case in point: I’m a bit uncomfortable using Venmo. Why? For one thing, Venmo’s contract states that Venmo can levy a $2,500 fine against customers they deem in violation of their terms, but Venmo limits its own liability to $1 (max). This is good information to have before something gets messed up with your Venmo transaction. Anyone can quickly see LexLucid’s contract reviews by using its Chrome extension.

LexLucid is a good tool. It leverages legal knowledge with a simple, user-friendly website to provide helpful information. What makes a good web-based tool? Good UX—aka user experience. If you’ve been involved with BYU’s LawX project, you’re familiar with good design principles. According to Ben Pines, an exec with the WordPress page builder Elementor, the seven principles for creating a great website are

  1. Design should concentrate on User Experience
  2. Websites are scanned, not read
  3. Users want clarity and simplicity
  4. Use common design elements versus creativity
  5. Know your audience
  6. Use visual hierarchy
  7. Incorporate user experience qualities (see

In other words, focus on the problem you’re trying to solve, and don’t let the design get in the way of solving that problem. And for inspiration, you can always look at these fantastic examples of what not to do:

Actually, the last site is really awesome (seriously, Space Cats). Surprisingly to me at least, intentionally ugly websites were thing a couple years ago—it was called the “brutalist” movement. For examples, look at Fast Company’s list of The Internet’s 10 “Ugliest” Websites.

When you think about someone who may use your website, think broadly. World IA (Internet Architecture) Day is also this weekend, on Feburary 23, 2019. This year’s theme is Design for Difference: “There is no average user. There is no norm.” According to Design for Difference, keep in mind the following differences between and among users:

  • Ability and disability
  • Access to information and technology
  • Language and cultural understanding
  • Age, gender, and identity
  • Experience

Great principles to remember when doing some legal hacking of your own.