Ministry of Justice

Digitising the legal system

Courtroom digital systems

Project background

Main objectives of the programme: To make efficiencies in the management of criminal cases through digitisation, streamline the business by reducing paper-based form filling and manual file handling, reducing errors and saving expensive lawyers and court time.

My role

As a UX Practice Lead, in this strategic leadership and management role, my aim was to improve the UX team’s ways of working. Having previously worked on the Common Platform as a Senior UX Designer a few years ago, I was called back to enable and mobilise the UX team.

Challenge 1: Defining a user-focused process

The programme was set on tight delivery deadlines. Business Architects held focus groups and created requirement documents. However, without involving the UX team, no time was spent on up-front user research. Usability testing was done too far down the line to allow time to make design changes.


Involve researchers in preliminary workshops and user interviews in order to allow the team to identify user behaviours, needs and pain-points. By following a design process with well thought-out solutions, the UX team gains a strategic capability, and is able to make grounded design decisions.


Build relations with Business Architecture team and senior stakeholders to show the value of user research with early insights on user behaviours, so that the requirement documents are more focused and based on research and analysis, rather than assumptions.


Following workshops with the business to explain the design process and show examples of what good looks like, decisions were made to add researchers to the Bus. Arc. team in the initial Discovery stages, and to run ideation and co-design workshops with real product users.

example of a User Research and UX design delivery process

Challenge 2: Improving the end-to-end experience

A delivery roadmap was followed without clear indication to how projects link to each other from a user perspective. Some user tasks were cumbersome or even impossible to complete as the end-to-end journey was never considered, undermining the whole digitisation effort.


Use Service Design tools and co-design workshops to get an understanding of how different users preform their tasks. Users often shifted from one task to another, so we needed to identify disconnected tasks and link them efficiently.


The team set out build to a high-level map of the legal system from a defendant perspective. Starting at the point of arrest (Police) or fines (DVLA, TfL, TV Licensing), and progressing through prosecution (CPS), defence solicitors (external), court systems (Legal Advisors/ Judges, Court Associates and back-end staff) all the way to trial and ending with sentencing.


Co-design workshops to create a defendant-led user journeys and a Service Map of the legal system placed on the wall to help facilitate conversations around user needs. Videos of usability testing were used to display user’s pain-points.

example of an end-to-end case progression through the legal system

Challenge 3: Increasing the team size to support programme needs

The UX team was focused on wireframe deliverables to business requirement documents, and didn’t feel like they had the full picture. Team members were called in at different stages without background information or user research, making design decisions everyone’s business.


Involve researchers and designers at early stages and kick-off meetings to show the value of early research and increase team size to support projects.


  • Mapped what projects looked like for the design team from the time they first heard about them and until it went live. 
  • Set up an online research schedule so everyone can see where and when research sessions take place. This is so that interested parties will get a chance to join and observe research related to their work.


The shift to early research allowed me to make the case with senior managers to hire additional three people to the design team. With new team skills in UX, Research, Content Design and a Service Design, I was able to delegate more talent to take part in the daily Scrum stand ups.

example of a UX Research Roadmap

Challenge 4: Creating a style-guide that’s fit for purpose

Government style-guide, which was designed for public-facing services, was used for internal systems, sometimes at the cost of over-simplifying the interfaces and limiting functionality. The complexities of running trials in a court room involves simultaneously managing serval cases which can lead to important information being overlooked due to time-sensitive actions.


Identify and list a new set of design components and features that can be used to surface important information such as alerts, new messages and live changes, which are not supported by the government public-facing style-guide.


Taking accessibility considerations into the equation, a new set of design components are the base for a new style-guide specifically suited for the Common Platform as a working document.


In a series of workshops with Judges and other system users, the UX team identified and designed new components and with the help of the dev. team coded and tested them. This allowed to cover the gap with the standard GDS Design System components which were not designed to be time-sensitive.

example using the Government Design System to manage courtroom hearings