On Friday evening, April 26th, lexisONE unveiled a completely redesigned web site. Back on July 6, 2000, I reviewed the introduction of their first site (lexisONE: The New Internet Resource for Small Firm Attorneys and Solos, http://www.llrx.com/extras/lexisone.htm). The Web, Lexis, and online legal research have all undergone significant changes since that time, so it is not surprising that Lexis has chosen to introduce an updated design and branding effort for their hybrid free/fee-based vortal.
Let's begin with a step back in time, and a quick review of the design of the old site. The previous lexisONE portal used a red background with white and beige text. The layout was functional, but the background made the site look very dark. Access to the free and paid resources was via a list of links on the right side of the page, while links to other Lexis products, including the site’s In the News service, were located on the left side of the page. Navigational icons (white text on a black background) were located on a bar that ran across the top of the page.
There was a web search and site search tool at the top right hand side of the page. Links to the overall content of the site was unevenly balanced between the right and left side of the main page, and the old site also used straight text links, on the bottom of the page, to lead users to content (such as Forms, News, Legal Internet Guide, Client Development, Professional Development, Practice Management, LexisBookstore, etc.). The previous site offered free content that included: case law, forms, a Legal Internet Guide, Tax Act Analysis, current news headlines, and lifestyle articles.
The old site did not make use of graphics, and so that is probably why the interface itself is the most noticeable change between the old and new sites. The new site represents a different branding and PR message; one that is more polished, user friendly, and appealing.
The new lexisOne offers a positive and user-friendly interface. It represents a distinctive and welcome change from the old site, although not one which will make you yell with delight or frown with disappointment. This site is, after all, serving a market that is far more interested in substance than flash, or Flash <g>, on their web sites, so moderation is the rule. A site that loads quickly on all platforms, is intuitive in its navigation, and directs users to useful content efficiently, reflects essential elements for legal researchers These are standards by which we judge the value of web sites that we choose to trust, use frequently and recommend to colleagues.
The site's background is now white, with black and red text. The site’s brand/logo, lexisONE, remains identical to the one on the old site. The tag line for the service, previously “Resources for Small Law Firms,” has been altered to read “The Resource for Small Law Firms.” Small firms and solos represent an important segment of the legal profession, and one that has many pro-active, tech savvy members, and this site certainly wants them as users.
Where previously there was only text and a few icons on the home page, now there are six photos; one in the center of the page that appears to represent a group of hip young attorneys striking a super serious pose, and at the top left of the page, there is a photo of a casual and dare I say, happy young attorney (an oxymoron?). I must add that she is carrying two books, along with a briefcase. Thank you Lexis, and long live law libraries (what can I say….I’ve been a legal researcher and law librarian for more than two decades). How about adding a photo of a law librarian on the site soon?
Now, from the top of site in the center of the page, users can clearly and easily access content available that includes the following categories: Find Cases for FREE, Find Legal Forms for FREE, Locate a Legal Web Site, Get Legal News, Find State Resources Online, Shop for Law Books and CDs, and access other fee based services as well.
LexisONE still requires registration, although the collection of personal data has been streamlined, with 50% fewer questions. According to Lexis, focus groups and usability testing were employed for this redesign in an effort to create a focused site experience, to sharpen the brand in the market, and to increase the emphasis on research for solos and small firms at a price point they wanted. It is important to note that this is an opt-in site. Your email address is only used to confirm your registration, password and ID. The site now has 10,000 unique visitors per week, and 115,000 registered users.
In terms of content on the new lexisONE site, here are some areas to note:
At this link, http://www.lexisone.com/freecaselaw/comparison.html, users can review, via a trio of charts, what features, coverage and search capabilities are available to access case law in both the free and fee based versions of the site, as well as what costs will be incurred in specific databases.
For those not familiar with the site, be sure to take a look at the State Resource Center, which provides an excellent range of free resources that differ from state to state, based on availability, but can include links to: State Home Page, Statewide Offices, Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch (with links to free state and federal case law as applicable), Rules of Courts & Forms, Executive Branch, Boards & Commissions, Regional, Counties, Libraries, and Miscellaneous (leagues, associations, etc.).
The Legal Web Site Directory is another useful source, and includes a topical collection of links to resources in categories that range from state bar associations to ecommerce.
Please be aware of this important content change in the new site: only federal and state cases decided after January 1, 1997 are available. Previously, the coverage included cases decided after January 1, 1996.
The new lexisONE offers users an updated, user-friendly design and navigation structure, as well as value-added free content that make it well worth taking the time for a first visit or a return one if you have not used the site since the redesign.