Last year, we made suggestions about how the U.S. Supreme Court should redesign its website. Today, the Court unveiled a new website. The new website is a small but important step towards increased openness and accessibility, although it needs serious work.
Notable improvements include making recent Court decisions available from the homepage, a somewhat more logical design, and an interactive Court calendar that allows you to see what cases are scheduled for argument. According to the Court, additional enhancements include docket files going back to 2000, a new case citation finder, and enhanced search and navigation abilities.
There are several areas where important improvements should be made, all of which focus around providing context to the information it provides.
- The webpage needs to provide more information about what the Court is doing, explaining legal terms of art, and grouping relevant information together (such as information pertaining to a particular case).
- It should incorporate a user-friendly advanced search engine.
- Use machine-readable formats (not just PDFs).
We strongly encourage those redesigning the Supreme Court's website to talk to members of the user community to get a better feel for the kinds of improvements that would be helpful. Certainly, we would be willing to engage in that conversation.
- Blog of the Legal Times (3/18/2010): Supreme Court Unveils New Web Site Design
- SCOTUSBlog (3/18/2010): Changes for Court’s website
- SCOTUSBlog (10/1/2009): A proposed redesign for the Supreme Court
- Sunlight Foundation (8/27/2009): The Supreme Court Website: An Updated Redesign
- Sunlight Foundation (6/2/2009): Redesigning The Government: The U.S. Supreme Court
- A compendium of resources from Sunlight (wiki page)