E-Discovery software company Relativity announces this week the release of their Aero user interface, a sleek and powerfully new way to navigate documents and data in an industry-leading e-discovery platform. I spent some time recently with the product team and was privileged to see an early demo of the new UI. Because I have not logged into a Relativity workspace for a few years, I learned some things, and I think users will appreciate the new developments as well.
Remember all those tabs across the top of the interface? Gone. Remember how you had to scroll over or select another object to see more options? Gone. Menus have been moved to the left side of the interface in what can only be described as a more functional navigation pane. Click on the little hamburger icon on the bottom-left and it opens access to all menu options.
Rolled out in August to some customers and available more widely this month, Aero will be introduced first in the Relativity One environment.
I pressed the Relativity team on what exactly makes Aero Aero. For me, the name invokes thoughts of flight, spaciousness, and perhaps speed. For the development team at Relativity, the name Aero is not just marketing fluff. “This marks the biggest release of a product update in the history of the company,” Relativity Group Manager Kyle Disterheft told me. “This is more than just a face lift. It is the first release in which we demonstrate how big a deal the user experience is. Aero has the most new features of any prior release and has been tested more widely,” Disterheft added. More than 6,000 new workspaces containing over 700,000 documents are currently using the new Aero UI.
Aero is the culmination of ideas that help tell the story of how Relativity designs and builds software. From what I saw of the new UI, it appears that better, faster, more intuitive navigation was very much in mind. “We literally measured the linear feet of required mouse movement to enable faster navigation,” Disterheft said.
Navigation aside, Relativity has also fundamentally rebuilt the viewer to improve performance. New architecture allows the viewer to immediately load the first few pages of a document while the rest of the document is streaming behind the scenes. This improves document load times and makes page-to-page navigation nearly instantaneous. Relativity is reporting median document jump speeds have improved from 3.8 to 0.4 seconds and forms now load 40% faster.
I asked Liz Lieberman, the product marketing manager for Relativity, to describe a few of the tangible differences that users will see in Aero. “Modern aesthetics, a next-generation viewer, better workflow navigation, and faster performance.”
I did encounter a number of aesthetic alterations during a demo session. In addition to new fonts, colors, and icons, all of the layout and forms pages have been updated. “It’s not just the ‘look and feel’ we’ve updated,” Lieberman said. “We’ve also improved how users navigate between pages and how they accomplish tasks — all of which follow a more logical workflow,” she added. “And eventually, we’ll be automating tasks like ingestion, processing, and OCR.”
Don’t take my word for it. I also spoke to several Relativity customers who have been using the Aero UI for several months. Liraz Kolnik, the e-discovery operations manager at Control Risks, described Areo as faster, more stable, easier to navigate. “The design of Aero is sleek and makes the platform easier to use. With Aero UI, the quality of life in the system is much higher. Navigation alone is significantly superior and allows the user to more simply and clearly navigate around a workspace.”
In a press release, Relativity’s Chief Product Officer Chris Brown said that one goal of the Aero UI was to improve the user experience by working with customers to improve the UI. Matthew Nelson, the director of litigation support at Littler Mendelson, said, “The Aero team really has done a great job in design and also responding to user feedback and suggestions.” Control Risks’ Kolnik also praised the Relativity development team for working closely with this team and listening to feedback.
Others are praising the Aero UI as well. Jenna Rooney, director of client services at Array (formerly Innovative Litigation) was incredibly enthusiastic. Her team has been using the Aero UI since April. “Relativity has made incredible changes and improvements,” she said. “Ease of use, less buttons; the improved functionality has been a game changer.”
Admittedly, I have not used a Relativity workspace for a few years. But from what I saw during the demo and what I learned from those I spoke to in the past few weeks, Relativity seems to have hit a new stride in software development — one in which customers have a voice.
To learn more about the Aero UI, register for Relativity Fest, the annual user conference for all things Relativity. This year’s conference is virtual and is entirely free to everyone.
Mike Quartararo is the President of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), a professional member association providing training and certification in e-discovery. He is also the author of the 2016 book Project Management in Electronic Discovery and a consultant providing e-discovery, project management and legal technology advisory and training services to law firms and Fortune 500 corporations across the globe. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mikequartararo.