Following months of research and field testing, EBSCO Publishing has announced the release of EBSCOhost Web 6.0, an enhanced version of its flagship EBSCOhost interface. New features include thesauri for CINAHL, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO; a spell-checker that suggests alternative spellings; new print options; and a folder for marking items across searches to print, e-mail, or save. Additional enhancements include an updated graphical user interface that is cleaner and more easily navigated and three new options for Advanced Search, which has replaced the current Guided and Expert search screens. EBSCOadmin has also been upgraded to support the new EBSCOhost Web 6.0 features.
In a letter to customers in May, Michael Gorrell, EBSCO Publishing's senior vice president and chief information officer, explained that the changes were focused on concerns that originated from a usability consultant's feedback. The analysis, which was based on site usability and customer needs, led the company to concentrate on three main areas of EBSCOhost: the toolbar, the search screens, and the results list. The redesign project then involved extensive feedback gained through online interactive meetings with customers and focus groups as well as through usability studies and beta-testing by at least 1,000 customers. Since the interface now looks quite different and represents a big change, the company wanted to give customers adequate time to assess things and prepare for the new version.
Gorrell is clearly pleased with the resulting product and says that the many comments EBSCO received from customers were overwhelmingly favorable. "I'm very excited about EBSCOhost's latest version. This release is the result of literally years of ideas, months of intensive market research, and dozens of usability studies. In my opinion we have taken a very solid and effective product and made it much better."
According to Gorrell, the changes are designed to accommodate the range of searcher needs and abilities. For end-users who would mostly use the Basic Search, things have been simplified and streamlined. For professional and more advanced searchers, the change to the Advanced Search provides more power and functionality where needed. The Advanced Search can be customized by the library administrator through EBSCOadmin. It remains a Boolean search screen and each of the three options—Single Find Field, Single Find Field with Search Builder, and Guided-Style Find Fields—offers search history, an SDI and alert capability, and the new spell-check feature.
Another useful change is that full text has been reformatted in HTML to look and feel like current-day XML full text. It offers a navigable table of contents to article sections and provides live links to Web sites referenced in the article.
The new EBSCOhost Web 6.0 also provides the option for library branding on the Choose Database, Search, and Result List screens. This can include HTML coding and graphics. Administrators can set this up through EBSCOadmin by choosing the screens on which to display the branding message.
Rivkah Sass, reference and information services coordinator at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, sponsored a focus group and beta-tested the new EBSCOhost Web 6.0. "I really like the new interface. It's clear and clean," she said. About the improvements and changes, she doesn't feel it's "dumbing down" the process. "I think EBSCO tried to build a product that works as well as possible for the greatest number of people."
A list of all of EBSCOhost Web 6.0's new features, along with descriptions of each, can be found at http://www.ebscoweb.com.