New GuideClearly Plug-In Streamlines Triage and Increases Access on Self-Help Desktop and Mobile Websites (News 2016)

Meet GuideClearly, the newest Open Advocate plug-in designed by LSC partner Urban Insight aimed at guiding website visitors directly to the content and information they seek. Its design and usability are particularly applicable to self-help centers, law libraries, legal aid organizations, courts, and other legal help organizations, by enabling them to more efficiently offer self-represented litigants the legal information they need, where and when they need it.

Though GuideClearly is still new, Kansas Legal Services (KLS) has already used it to help users find out if they can use online divorce forms. Idaho Legal Aid is also using GuideClearly to direct users dealing with landlord/tenant issues to the forms they need (available in English and Spanish).

Melissa Nolte, head of Research and Program Development at Kansas Legal Services, explained that the KLS GuideClearly divorce form guide “saves users a lot of time in determining what they need to be doing on the website instead of working through fruitless searches.” She added that using GuideClearly to develop the guide was “extremely easy” and that “showing the logic while building guides makes the transitions both clear and intuitive.” Because KLS’ GuideClearly guide only recently launched, KLS has not yet evaluated its impact. The organization, though, already plans on making more guides to go with their most popular web topics, including divorce, child custody, parenting time, protection from abuse orders, child support, guardianship, and criminal record expungement. Nolte believes the guides will make the Kansas Legal Services website “more friendly and useful for its over 160,000 visitors a year.”

In Maine, Pine Tree Legal Assistance developed the largest guide yet using GuideClearly. When MaineCare Section 17 eligibility rules changed earlier this year, PTLA needed to communicate the changes and guide people through eligibility questions. Using GuideClearly, PTLA built a Section 17 Eligibility tool. "[GuideClearly] was just the tool we needed to walk people through new eligibility requirements for Medicaid Community Support Services in Maine." said Kathleen Caldwell of PTLA.

As seen in pilot guides like the ones developed by KLS an PTLA, GuideClearly functions similarly to a built-in triage-system, guiding users through a series of on-screen questions that then takes them where they need to be in a site’s legal help content. While more complicated cases may be identified early on through the GuideClearly process and directed elsewhere for further help, the plug-in has the potential to triage simple cases to provide web visitors relevant content and information to meet their specific need, saving organizations critical real-time support time. The GuideClearly plug-in is also mobile friendly to better help the large percentage of self-represented litigants using their phones to find legal help.

Organizations using GuideClearly design their own site guides using the user-friendly GuideClearly interface. Abhijeet Chavan of Urban Insight, the designer of GuideClearly, added that most legal help organizations “use some version of live chat to answer questions, but that can't be available 24 hours and you need staff resources. GuideClearly guides can be used to provide users with automated answers to commonly asked questions when live chat is unavailable, or to triage users with frequently asked questions so the live chat line remains available for more complex cases."

Head to the GuideClearly site to set up a free test account of the plug-in. You can also contact Abhijeet Chavan with questions here.