In the article “What does a user-centered eviction court summons look like?”, Margaret Hagan answers this question. Her analysis can be applied to most court forms. The key design principles outlined are as follows:
- Have a clear visual hierarchy. Put the first and second most important information in large boxes, with icons, indented lists, and images.
- Make it easily readable. Use small blocks of text and short sentences. Follow plain language. Use lists where possible. Bold each paragraph’s take away.
- Use symbols and images when possible. Be sure to have a court logo or seal to impart that it is official and important.
- Use the space on the page wisely. Main headline and message at top left. Details and action required in the middle of the page. Dead Zone in the bottom left. This is how people scan a page.
- Nudge people through words and images. For example, list negative consequences for non-compliance or peer comparison.
See images of the before court form and the after court form for comparison.
Our court / tribunal forms in Ontario could be improved by implementing these user centred design principles.
(This article was originally posted on slaw.ca, Canada’s largest online legal magazine.)