In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface

Bloomberg Law’s new home page.

The Bloomberg BNA legal research service Bloomberg Law today is introducing a new user interface that streamlines the search experience by making it easier to conduct searches and to find specific types of content.

The changes were spurred by customers’ feedback that they appreciated the breadth of legal and business content on Bloomberg Law but found it difficult to navigate, Scott Mozarsky, president of Bloomberg BNA’s Legal Division, told me during a preview on Friday, also attended by Carl Sussman, product director for Bloomberg Law.

“This very clearly is a tremendous improvement around search,” Mozarsky said. “A lot of players in the market like to say that they’re changing the way people do research, but now we think we really can say that.”

The new design features a prominent search bar at the top of the page that serves a dual role. It is used to conduct searches, both natural language and Boolean. Without changing any settings, you can enter either a natural-language or a Boolean search. (If you’re a Boolean purist, you can set it so all searches use terms and connectors.)

At the same time, site navigation is now built directly into the search bar, so that as you begin to enter the nature or name of content you are looking for, it suggests matches.

The home page as it formerly appeared.

If you are looking for business intelligence tools or the Labor & Employment Practice Center, for example, start to type the phrase and suggestions will appear. If you are looking for the treatise Harmon on Patents, begin to type the name and the suggestion appears. Click it and go right to the table of contents.

The search bar uses something Bloomberg calls Context Awareness, which means that it adapts its scope to your location within the research service. If you are at the Labor & Employment Practice Center, the search bar knows that is where you are and limits your searches to that library. A drop-down within the search bar lets you choose to either expand the search beyond that library or narrow it to more specific topics within the library.

The new look of the search results page.

Users still have the ability to browse and drill-down through topics hierarchically through a collapsible menu on the left side of the screen. This menu also takes you quickly to My Home and My Favorites. My Home is the location within Bloomberg Law that you designate as your start page. If you are a labor and employment lawyer, you may choose to set the L&E Practice Center as your home page. The My Favorites link takes you to the items you’ve selected as your most-used content, tools and features.

How the search results page appeared in the prior version.

In addition to the search bar and the collapsible browsing menu, the home page has been redesigned to add boxes intended to help users quickly get started on research or pick up from where they last left off. These boxes are:

  • My Favorites, where you can save the content, tools and features you use most often. As noted, your favorites are also listed in the browsing menu to the left. This is so that, when you leave the home page, they remain readily available to you.
  • Popular Links, providing quick access to the most frequently used features on Bloomberg Law.
  • Continue my Research, enabling you to pick up work from where you last left off.
  • Learn More About Bloomberg Law, providing access to help and support information.

The search results page now displays the most relevant results across different types of content. You can narrow results by topics or by content types or jump to specific titles.

The redesign also includes enhancements to Bloomberg Law’s practice centers. They now have a new look and feel intended to put the highest-value content front-and-center and make it easier to find.

The new interface is being rolled out to all Bloomberg Law customers today as part of their subscriptions. While legal research services sometimes maintain their former interfaces for a period after rolling out a new one, Bloomberg Law is not doing that. All customers will be switched to the new UI.

“We don’t do something this large without having extensively previewed it and tested it with our customers,” Mozarsky said.

Mozarsky said that this will be a busy year for Bloomberg Law, with a number of additional enhancements in the works. But as much as the company will be focusing on improving its platform, its greater emphasis will continue to be building up its content. Bloomberg Law has added substantial volumes of content just in the past year, he said, and will continue to do so.

“Content is what built this business,” Mozarsky said. “We never want that to be overshadowed by the technology.”