From the post:
I was doing some poking around to find out about OpenNet (which the Department of State uses), and I came across a DOE implementation of it (they apparently helped invent it.) Clicking the author link works really well! The site is clean and crisp. Very professional looking.
The “Document Categories” list on the Advanced Search page gave me pause.
There are about 70 categories listed, in no discernible order, except for occasional apparent groupings of consecutive listings. One of those groupings, strangely enough, is “Laser Isotope Separation” and “Other Isotope Separation Information”, while “Isotope Separation” is the first category in the entire list. “Other Weapon Topics” is near the end; various weapon categories are sprinkled throughout the list. I guess you have to go through the whole list to see if your weapon of choice is “other”.
Read on. There is discussion of a DOE thesaurus and other analysis that I think you will find useful.
I had to grin at the option under “Declassification Status” that reads Never. Maybe I should not pick that one for any searches that I do. Probably just accessing the site has set off alarm bells at the local FBI office. BTW, have you seen my tin hat? (Actually “never” means never classified.)
Seriously, this interface is deeply troubled. In part for the reasons cited in the post but also from an interface design perspective. For example, assuming accession number means what it means in most libraries (probably a bad assumption), means that you know the number a particular copy of a document was assigned when it was cataloged in a particular library.
If you know that, why the hell are you “searching” for it? Can’t get much more specific than an accession number, which is unique to a particular library.
Someone did devote a fair amount of time to a help file that makes the interface a little less mystic.
Extra credit: How would you change the interface? Just sketch it out in broad strokes. Say 2-3 pages, no citations.