Where does product development begin? The legaltech products designed by Clifford Chance Applied Solutions have a very simple mission: to harness technology to improve efficiency and consistency, free up resources and enhance business performance for our clients. We want to make our digital products intuitive, purposeful and even fun to use.

Stages of development

While that aim is simple, the stages of development can appear complex. We test ideas, scope a minimum viable product, follow UX protocols, build prototypes and move into development within an agile structure of features and tasks allocated to each development sprint, among many other things. Yet, one of the most important stages of development happens before technology even enters the picture: discovery.

This is the analysis, research and preparation phase, not a single piece of code in sight. We want to understand the end user, who they are and how they work. What are their legal pain points, can these problems be improved by a digital product and what is the ideal solution?

One way of determining these factors in the design-thinking process is to recognise end user behaviour through empathy. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another isn't something usually associated with the fast-paced world of technology, yet empathy mapping is the best way to put the user (or persona) at the centre of the puzzle. The quadrants of an empathy map ask what a person says, thinks, does and feels in relation to an issue (or a prototype) and this information provides a glimpse into who that user is as a whole. There's no wrong answer, everything is valuable data, from what occupies the user's thoughts (are they unsure or too polite?) to their physical actions (continually refreshing pages) and their expressions of what annoys or engages them online.

It’s a brilliant insight into customers' attitudes and behaviours and enables product developers to understand and prioritise the needs of the user – an essential ingredient in validating that we're making a product that works for the customer on a day to day basis.

It starts with you

If you like the sound of helping us define our future products, get in touch, share your ideas or take our quick survey to have your say, we'd love to hear from you.