Constitution Annotated 

Making the CONAN Accessible to Higher Education Mock Court Classes

Overview

Constitution Annotated is a primary legal resource that contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. It is an accessible digital publication for the general public on congress.gov and Constitution Annotated mobile application

I teamed up with four teammates to work with the Library of Congress, conducted detailed user research of the current App and website, and redesigned its UX and UI. This case study covers the redesign process that my team focused on improving the reading and researching experience, as well as adding new features of the teaching/learning collaboration and content creation for education proposes. 

Reading Experience

Researching Experience

Teaching/learning 

collaboration

Content Creation

User Flow

I. Professor flow

  • Use Conan to dive deeper into cases.

  • Highlight and save information about the case.

  • Build the hypothetical case and share to student.

II. Student flow

  • Save the hypothetical case to assignment folder.

  • View references and related cases on the sidebar. 

  • Highlight and save  information about the case.

  • Create a legal brief and share.

Current Product

As it mentions before, Constitution Annotated(CONAN) is a primary legal resource that contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution. It's an over 3,000 pages reference book and keeps updating based on the latest Supreme Court cases. According to CONAN dashboard statistics last year, around 38,524 visitors visited the CONAN webpage and read 53,938 pages overall. The number indicates that each visitor might read less than two pages on CONAN website. 

I listed two significant issues before I start working on the redesign.

  •  Who will potentially benefit the most by using the CONAN?

  •  Does the reading and researching experience align with people's mental model when they use the CONAN?

User Research

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My team brainstormed with stakeholders to come up with potential groups of people who will benefit from CONAN for educational proposes. We conducted user research by mixing methods of Contextual Inquiry and Guerrilla Interviews. The participants are law students, law librarians, k-12 educators who teach social studies, civics,etc., undergraduate students who are major in political science, government and pre-law, professors who teach relevant undergraduate level classes.

Through the user research, we try to find...

  • What is the mental model of users when they research on legal resources?

  • How does the Constitution Annotated fit user's needs? What are references and resources that users use currently?

I. Mental Model of Researching Information

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II. Narrow Down Audience

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Compared to other user groups, undergraduate students who are focused on political science, government, or pre-law, and professors who teach relevant classes would benefit the most from CONAN. 

Through talking with these students, auditing their class, reviewing their class syllabus, we found a unique group that potentially would be a core user group for CONAN. That is students who are taking Mock Court Trial class. Mock Court Trail is a simulated trial that is conducted as part of a course where students act as defendants, prosecutors, and supreme court judges.

Students completed legal briefs prior to their chosen court case and completed an opinion paper after their position as a supreme court judge. Cases were based on either real cases that were currently being argued in court, or hypothetical cases that were created by the professor.

Compared to other user groups, undergraduate students who are focused on political science, government, or pre-law, and professors who teach relevant classes would benefit the most from CONAN. 

Through talking with these students, auditing their class, reviewing their class syllabus, we found a unique group that potentially would be a core user group for CONAN. That is students who are taking Mock Court Trial class. Mock Court Trail is a simulated trial that is conducted as part of a course where students act as defendants, prosecutors, and supreme court judges.

Students completed legal briefs prior to their chosen court case and completed an opinion paper after their position as a supreme court judge. Cases were based on either real cases that were currently being argued in court, or hypothetical cases that were created by the professor.

III. Pain Point

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  • Professors must use multiple sites and sources to construct their high level mock court trials for their students

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  • Students must rely on the professor to provide them with the tools to research their hypothetical cases.

Design opportunity:

  • Content creation: content is easier to explore and allows users to create their own documents within the website.

  • Share information: users can edit personally created content and share it with other colleagues

  • Organize content: Website allows for collecting and managing information in a way that is helpful to the user

How might we integrate the Constitution Annotated content and redesign a tool for mock court trial students to better understand the Constitution and supreme court cases, and for educators to better facilitate the relevant classes?

Current Product Examination

I. Reading Experience

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The user goes to the CONAN website. He wants to read the 14th Amendment. After clicking the 14th Amendment, the 400 pages pdf opens up. He scrolls down to click "Marriage and Familial Relations," but he cannot link back to the contents page. 

Design opportunity:

Increase readability for users by

  • Restructure the introduction page of each amendment

  • Restructure the layout of footnotes and articles

  • Allow the contents accessible anytime

II. Researching Experience

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The user presses "Command+F" to search the keyword and then filters the information manually. He finds a case number in the footnote and wants to dive deeper, but he needs to open another window, then copies the case number to search bar.

 
Design opportunity:

  • Improve the efficiency for users to dive deeper into information

  • Increase the efficiency of locating the right information

Redesign

Objective I - Visual

  • Brand Design

  • UI Design System

Objective II - Restructure

  • Improve readability

  • Improve searchability

Objective III - New Features

  • Teaching/learning collaboration

  • Content creation

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Value

Different from other research tools:

  • CONAN offers unbiased analysis and interpretation of the Constitution that is not available anywhere else

  • The redesigned CONAN gives the user the ability to browse based on mental models that are supported through research

  • This tool is accessible to everyone, and not just to legal researchers and law students

  • Users will not have to leave the website to search for further information, as everything is available to them through the CONAN

  • Other tools of this caliber are reserved for legal researchers and law focused students, now it's accessible to everyone.

  • Including the ability to create their deliverables within the CONAN application.
     

Redesign value:

  • Providing a new educational resource that makes the CONAN more accessible to professors and students.

  • Reduces the need for external windows and allows for the building of hypothetical cases and research to occur at the same time.

  • Allows users to dive deeper into research by providing access to supporting cases and essays