It has been four years since LexisNexis unveiled its first Lexis Advance product, originally called Lexis Advance for Solos. It followed that a year later with the formal launch in December 2011 of Lexis Advance, its next-generation legal research platform marked by a streamlined and simplified interface and Google-like universal search. In the years since, Lexis has continued to make changes and refinements to Lexis Advance (as it did here). But on Sunday it rolled out the most major redesign yet of the platform.
LexisNexis previewed the redesign in July at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, as I reported in a post then. At that time, however, the platform had not launched and remained in development.
The focus of this latest version (if you’re counting, this is version 4.2) is on streamlining the interface without sacrificing functionality. As Marty Kilmer, vice president of Product Platforms at LexisNexis, told me yesterday, they wanted this to be easy to use for law students just learning legal research while retaining all the tools and capabilities that law librarians and other advanced users would want.
As I noted in July, they have done this by simplifying the design throughout the interface and attempting to maximize the content and tools available on a page. On the home page and on every page, the same Google-like universal search bar remains, but gone are tabs and gone are various buttons that replicated functions already available in any browser.
The search page now contains multiple “pods” that provide quick access to the user’s history, folders, favorites, alerts, news and notifications well as to help and support. For now, these are fixed on the page, but the ability to customize and re-position some of them may be added later.
From the main page, users can refine and filter searches in advance, to limit them by jurisdiction, category, practice area and other facets. As you add filters, they are displayed on your screen, and any filter you’ve added can be removed with a click. Also, a filter icon inside the search window turns black to remind you that you have filters set. One you’ve selected any group of filters, you can save them as a “favorite” if you want.
Both the results pages and documents pages have also been streamlined. Content categories show on the left side of the screen to further filter results. Buttons for printing and saving to folders are prominent at the top of the page. In a document, right-click on a selected portion of text to bring up the copy with citation option or to annotate, highlight or add the text to a folder.
Browsing has also been beefed-up in this latest version of Advance. Now, browsing by topic and browsing by source have been combined into a single widget. New categories have been added to the browsing menu, including browse by publisher. Users can also select whether to browse only sources that are included within their subscription plan or also out-of-plan sources. If out-of-plan sources are included, they show up in a dim-colored font to signal that they cost extra. A “browse”drop down at the top of the page lets you select any source or topic to browse.
Browsing also extends to full publications. If you type “Nimmer” in the search bar, it will immediately suggest Nimmer on Copyright and give you the choice of its table of contents or its text. If you select text, it begins to display the book in sequential order, letting you move from section to section. The TOC remains available to expand and browse from the left of the screen.
For general searches, results show matches across all categories of materials. You can easily narrow results to cases, statutes or other content types by clicking on the left of the screen. A new Snapshot view shows the most relevant results on a single screen. When you select a case from the search results and view it, a Shepard’s summary is shown on the same page; click it to go to the full Shepard’s report.
The new design is responsive, so that pages display properly on any device, whether it is a computer, tablet or smartphone. The design extends across all integrated Lexis Advance products, including LexisNexis MedMal Navigator, LexisNexis Verdict & Settlement Analyzer, Lexis Practice Advisor and LexisNexis Counsel Benchmarking.
This release also expands the content available within Lexis Advance. Ever since Advance first launched, LexisNexis has been porting content over from its legacy research systems. That process started with the most-used content and worked its way down. With this release, that process is now at its tail end, Kilmer told me. This release adds 13 million documents, including constitutional archives, administrative code archives and selected international titles.