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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.
The Knovel interface was built with engineers and scientists in mind. New titles are added frequently, as are new features or upgrades to existing tools. Knovel has even created its own titles, mainly aggregating tables, equations, and the like, when a comprehensive title did not already exist. The platform is easy to use and contains enough content to help increase the productivity of the user.
Users new to Knovel can easily start looking for content using the Browse page. The page is divided into sections based upon technology area, with subheadings for each subject. The organization is conducive to browsing as categories are well thought out, not over or under populated.
Searching is generally straightforward in Knovel. The basic search uses common Boolean, proximity, and truncation operators, as well as dropdowns to further limit the search. Results are easy to understand and navigate. The fielded search form is useful for very specific document searching, but will not be used frequently by most users.
Knovel’s productivity tools complement the reference collection well. Tools such as interactive tables, graphing functions, unit conversion, and a periodic table are value-added content allowing the user to quickly extract information from a specific title, rather than doing it manually. However some of the tools are complicated enough that a new user may not see the value in the tool initially.
The inability to save or archive commonly accessed titles is a hindrance to Knovel. The lack of this feature is probably due to a common subscription model, where a company purchases a limited number of seats for the entire company, rather than seats for each individual; therefore the company would not want to allow each user the ability to download books onto a local directory. However this lack of functionality could be frustrating for frequent users trying to access commonly used titles. Furthermore, the automatic log off time of 10 minutes seems short for this type of tool, and can become frustrating to users who are viewing a reference, move away from it for a short period of time, only to come back to the reference and have to login again.
Knovel provides a variety of help features for the new user, including a help guide, web seminars, a solutions search page, and customer support. The online help guide provides detailed instructions as a searchable PDF, but unfortunately it can be clumsy to navigate through, due to counterintuitive organization. The help guide is not necessarily automatically updated when something in the interface changes, however alerts to new content can be sent in a newsletter.
Finally, see the Customer Support section for information about available help tools and training.