Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts on FamilySearch Redesign

If the goal is to soften the approach to genealogy, then make a new website, just as did with the less formal I've heard several high-level FamilySearch engineers explain "There is only a small segment of potential users who are serious researchers, so the thrust is now to reach those who have photos and stories, but are not interested in becoming genealogists".

At the RootsTech 2013 Official Bloggers' dinner, I agreed with that concept, but I didn't think the new focus would be at the expense of the existing FamilySearch user base.

If the goal is to alienate the researchers in the genealogy space - you succeeded.

Family records? That doesn't mean archive and church records from throughout the world. It means the records one holds within a family. That is a pretty tried and true, well recognized definition of that term. So why place your digital record collection under "family records?"

It's obvious the FamilySearch engineers didn't consult a panel of genealogists when designing the site.

If less than 11% of the FamilySearch digital collection is indexed, then WHY persist in encouraging a search by name? This means a great number of searches will prove disappointing. The solution? A simple clickable image map for browsing record collections moved to a prominent  "above the fold" position. I can envision a table where search boxes are on the left, and the image map of the world is on the right, with text explaining that only X% of the images are indexed. Yes, include a link to encourage folks to participate in FamilySearch Indexing.

At least provide a site map.

How about "mouse roll overs" providing definitions to family history terms that may be unfamiliar.

How about white background and black text, instead of grey letters on a lighter grey background? This is difficult for people to read.

Russ Worthington, Randy Seaver and Laurie Haldeman-Lambe joined Ol' Myrt here on the panel for the Exploring the FamilySearch Redesign Hangout on Air last night. Here's the recording:


  • Doris Haskell "Just finished watching tonight's HOA about Family Search.  The impression is that there is plenty of room for improvement.  I think it may be because it is such a massive website.  The site has come a very long way, and I have faith that it will continue to improve.  Thank you for making this information available to us."
  • Sharon Atkins "Thank you for the HOA re: New FamilySearch site.  I really liked Russ's suggestion of a Home Page populated with links directly to the other sections of the site.  Generally speaking, what used to take us 1-2 clicks, appears to have doubled."
  • Hillary Gadsby "Watched some of this last night but had to leave when it got to midnight here in the UK. I have been building my tree but have not yet added any photos or stories and will probably not add any until I have checked with other family members who have sent me some of the photos that they are happy for me to add them.
    My main concern is with merging as I have noticed that sometimes other children get added with another spouse instead of the same couple as parents. I am not sure how this happens and whether the other children need to be added in a particular way.
    I think I will have a read before I try adding any more children to see what advice is on the website. 

    Maybe like many others I went in thinking I knew what to do before reading the instructions. Never a good idea." (FamilySearch, this means the site isn't intuitive!) 
  • Marilyn Poole "I'd like the button to take me back to the old FamilySearch place!"
  • Donna Wendy "After reading Randy's blog I tried adding to my Family Tree there.  Had to telephone FamilySearch help.  They were very nice.  I had to delete children before I could get rid of the family where the father had the same name as my ancestor."
  • Kathryn Smith "My one complaint about the new Family Search site is how deeply they buried the link for the Wiki.  I probably wouldn't have found it if I hadn't read Randy's blog.  (Thanks, Randy!)"
  • Betty-Lu Burton "I hope Family Search is listening and make it easier to find the Wiki."
  • Barry Kline "I am a bit concerned about this merging aspect.  Do you happen to know if someone can change information that I uploaded and know to be correct and documented through merge with something that is incorrect and not sourced?"
  • Kathryn Smith "Yes, there is lots of work that needs to be done cleaning up the tree.  It seems to have automatically added a child and both parents with EVERY state birth record.  Therefore, if a couple had three children, each parent is in F.S.F.T. THREE times before the merges are completed."
  • Virginia Kysh "I have 250 photos in Family tree. I love it."
  • Taneya Koonce "I cannot get enough of the new FamilySearch! I love absolutely everything about it. Yes, they have issues to iron out, but I am overall feeling very positively about the new features."

With change comes a learning curve. But this revision of is too far off base. Put all the fluffy stuff over on a new website. 

Lee Drew's New FamilySearch Site Design ~ A Left Turn?

  • Randy Seaver replied on G+ "I just use bookmarks... the one on my Chrome toolbar is for Record Collections since I tend to search by place."
  • Ol' Myrt replied on G+  "In this day and age, bookmarks on a specific computer should not be the mainstay for Internet researchers."
Randy Seaver's First Look at FamilySearch Family Tree Stories.

Randy Seaver's FamilySearch Unveils Their New Website Design.

Randy Seaver's FamilySearch Photos is Open.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
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