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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.
Engineering Village is designed to be friendly to new users. This is evident in the presence of the Easy Search bar, which is modeled after Google’s simplistic design: users who never want to think about special indexing or date range limitations can still run a search. In addition, Engineering Village contains helpful pointers on every search form, instructing searchers on the use of the system’s proximity and truncation features. Finally, the search-refining features of the Facet bar will probably be intuitive to most users after a few tries (although the graphing and exporting features may not catch on as quickly).
Downsides to usability include the limited display options and storage space, and the temporary search history feature. Although users can convert up to 400 records to display in the Abstract or Detailed view formats, this functionality might be confusing to novice users, who may abandon it in favor of reviewing individual records by clicking “Abstract View” or “Detailed View” for each one. Linear results viewing is an important efficiency feature of all search engines which will be used heavily, and Engineering Village’s features could be better in this regard.
In addition, the limited storage for results of interest seems as though it could be an obstacle to some users, especially those who may wish to save handpicked results over time. Users are allowed only three saved results lists, of up to only fifty results each. However, there are workarounds, like using facets bar, for users who wish to merge large datasets that can be created by searching for (rather than hand-selecting) sets of documents. And users who wish to save all the results of a search string can save the string itself, rather than the document set.
Finally, the temporary search history feature erases search strings when a user times out or ends the session. This can present a problem to prior art searchers, who must often keep detailed records of their queries over a search project. In Engineering Village, unsaved search strings can easily be accidentally lost, and this may cause some users frustration when they find they will need to re-do their work. This problem is especially pronounced since the timeout occurs after 20 minutes.