Company Update

Extreme Makeover: How We Revamped the PACER Case Locator

Ryan Stone

Ryan Stone

Ryan Stone

Oct 13 20233 minute read
Before and after case locator makeover screenshots

Navigating bankruptcy records should feel seamless. However, the outdated and intricate PACER system remains an unavoidable hurdle. Its limited interface and bloated navigation make searching for cases less than delightful.

In this article, we recap how we gave the Case Locator a makeover. Our focus was on simplifying the user interface, streamlining workflows, and bolstering search capabilities. Through our adjustments, we've improved the experience.

Improvement 1: Don’t Break the Bank

The Court makes it expensive to search for cases. Searches start at $0.10, and accessing a single document can cost $3.00. Considering that many BankruptcyWatch users run thousands of searches daily, these expenses accumulate rapidly. As we designed our PACER makeover, our top goal was leveraging our powerful API and live copy of the court’s database to make searches more affordable.

Improvement 2: Remove Bloat

GIF of a messy desk being flipped to a clean one

Searching for case info on PACER takes you through 4 different pages on two different systems which sometimes requires dozens of clicks and multiple fields of data entry to get even basic info. Savvy PACER users keep multiple tabs to jump back to relevant search pages quickly. We wanted to streamline the search with one page to view the results quickly.

Improvement 3: Design for 2023

GIF of older person pretending to be young

Much of PACER’s antiquated UI code was written over 20 years ago. As part of the makeover, we wanted the Case Locator to look like it was designed in this decade. We started by analyzing the page according to Nielson Norman’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. We built prototypes, surveyed current users, and went through several iterations of updates. Finally, we applied our company’s design system to make it fit seamlessly with the rest of our Platform.

Improvement 4: Connect to Actions

Proof of Claim connection visualized

Why stop at search? We wanted to make it simple to use the information from the results. To do this, we linked several quick actions for users to do with a relevant case:

  • Monitor the Case: Keep a tab on ongoing cases with just a single button click.
  • File a Claim: Streamline your process by filing a claim directly within the system using our smart form.
  • Docket Report: Pull the docket report and view each item for the case.
  • Claims Register: Pull the claims register and view each claim in the case.
  • Sell the Claim: Instantly sell a claim for the case.
  • Partner to File the Claim: Work with an experienced partner to file the Proof of Claim.

Improvement 5: Keep Innovating

Screenshot of the BankruptcyWatch changelog

Possibly the most significant shortcoming of the Case Locator is its stagnant development. The last significant update to the Case Locator was several years ago, and the Case Locator is the most recent service to receive a major update. Embracing an iterative approach to enhancement is vital. To foster this, we've implemented logging mechanisms to monitor usage, introduced a feedback form for user insights, and set periodic meetings to gather continuous input. At BankruptcyWatch, we're committed to regular releases, ensuring constant improvement.

Next Steps

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