Report:Delphion/Usability

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DWPI on Delphion is no longer available, as of March 31, 2012. DWPI data is available on the Thomson Innovation platform.

Usability

The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large. Further subjective information is presented in clearly labeled "Editor's Notes" throughout the report.

Overall, Delphion’s search features are designed to be easy for the beginner to use, but efficient for the advanced searcher to use as well. The fact that the search interface contains both an extremely simple keyword input and also an advanced command language input box speaks to Delphion’s versatility as a tool for both casual background searching and more structured investigations. If the need exists, novice users should be able to teach themselves command language syntax from the available help files without the need for on-site training.

Regarding the search input forms, the various fields, although a bit overwhelming in number (especially on the advanced search page), are well described by pop-up help windows called up by clicking on small question mark icons next to each.

Regarding the result/hit list view, the tabbed interface design saves load time by using the same core results set display, and having the different tabbed options and menus load only within the blue box at the top of the screen. Dividing the available actions (i.e., data extract, PDF download, statistical analysis, etc) into different tabs keeps the user from being overwhelmed. Most tabbed functions are self explanatory, and there are quick help guides that load right on the page next to the input area; this is a nice touch to help new users understand the function and get started without having to refer to a help guide.

Search history usability is impacted by the fact that Delphion does not automatically save search strings. While this might be done to protect privacy, the system might have done better to create a temporary saved search page to be purged after a set period of time (such as the system used by MicroPatent). Queries of interest on Delphion have probably been lost by forgetful users because of this lack of automatic save. The absence of this feature might also be a consequence of the fact that the system is designed for users who will mostly be performing casual, informational searches rather than systematic legal investigations.

Help resources through Delphion are bountiful, but they exist as separate FAQs or PDF reference guides (organized by topic) rather than being integrated into a single, searchable help source. Since the majority of users will be those at least somewhat comfortable with searching, the lack of capability to search an aggregated help file for a specific detail might be frustrating.

Regarding the system's analysis tools, the results are split. The Snapshot statistical analysis tool should be easily comprehended and adopted by the novice user – the principles behind it are transparent. However, the clustering function is probably seldom used, and upon first blush it is not immediately evident what the best practice method would be for using such a tool (or how it could further analysis in a methodical way). A foray into the marketing materials section of the Delphion website was necessary for most users to grasp the principle behind its function.

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