Our Work


Maximizing the Flow of Information

By Natanya Pope on November 03, 2015

Hi! I’m Natanya, I work with the legal experts who help to keep ILAO’s content accurate and up-to-date. For me, ILAO is like one big input/output machine, the purpose of which is to process content and churn out bundles of legal information and tools for users who are looking for answers to specific questions.

Much of the ‘input’ is supplied by a brilliant and wonderful team of volunteer legal experts who contribute their time and knowledge by writing, reviewing and modifying ILAO’s resources. Why lend their expertise? Because they believe that universal access to the bundles of legal information and tools (output) will result in users becoming more informed and empowered participants in Illinois’ confusing and adversarial legal system.

While there is no doubt that a steady input of accurate and current information is vital to creating the output (a.k.a. bundles of reliable information and legal tools), how efficiently the information is processed is equally as important to the end result.

Which is to say: All workflows for processing content are not made equal!

Last month, ILAO’s Technical Director Gwen Daniels wrote about converting to a User-Centric Integrated Information Architecture by creating triage rules to maximize the flow of information to website users. This new system must efficiently assess the user’s needs and effectively direct them to the best available resources to help them solve their problem. Transforming ILAO’s current system is a massive technical undertaking, which means that content must be transformed as well. To fit the new website’s user-centric architecture, we are changing the way we input information.

Old way: What we’ve been doing is adding much of the content on the sites and categorizing it by subject area. Our Legal Content Volunteers update the information as needed. Users then must sift through a plethora of information until they find what they need. Depending on any number of factors (time, computer proficiency, frustration threshold, etc.), users may give up.

New Way:With a more targeted process for delivering content, the user will answer a few questions that will lead them to the best available resource for their specific problem.

Here's an example of some triage statements:

User clicks on "Name Change" ---------->"I want to change a child's name"-------> "I am not the biological parent of the child "----------> "I am the adoptive parent of the child"-------> [Article or link to resource]

Now, instead of only reviewing content, our brilliant and wonderful Legal Content Volunteers are playing a part in maximizing the flow of accurate information by helping ILAO develop triage statements. As a point of reference, I tell the experts to think of questions they would ask their clients that would help to give them the best advice. (Keeping in mind that ILAO doesn’t give advice--just info!)

This new model of content delivery creates a win-win-WIN situation. The putters-in know that they are making the best possible impact for their time and effort, and information flows more efficiently, producing the most useful output for people who need it.

Stay tuned!