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Protocol Analysis of a Federated Search Tool: Designing for Users
Internet Reference Services Quarterly (2007)
  • Emily R. Alling, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Rachael Naismith, Springfield College

Librarians at Springfield College conducted usability testing of Endeavor's federated search tool, ENCompass for Resource Access. The purpose of the testing was to make informed decisions prior to customizing the look and function of the software's interface in order to make the product more usable for their patrons. Protocol, or think-aloud, analysis was selected as a testing and analysis method. Subjects from the general college community were recruited and given a list of tasks to perform on ENCompass, and they were asked to speak all of their thoughts out loud as they worked. Upon analyzing the test results, researchers found that subjects' problems fell into certain categories, such as unfamiliarity with terms or navigation from screen to screen. The researchers were able to use their findings to recommend extensive revisions to the interface, which improved usability for this library's patrons.

  • protocol analysis,
  • usability testing,
  • federated search
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
Copyright 2007 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. Available online at
Citation Information
Emily R. Alling and Rachael Naismith. "Protocol Analysis of a Federated Search Tool: Designing for Users" Internet Reference Services Quarterly Vol. 12 Iss. 1/2 (2007)
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