According to Quantcast.com, FamilySearch.org is the 1646th most visited website in the U.S. It averages between 1.1 and 1.3 million visitors a day. Here is the chart for the last six months:
This highly popular website is about to undergo a dramatic makeover. We have been talking about the new website for many months now. It is located at Beta.familysearch.org. The start-up page for FamilySearch.org now contains a prominent link to the new website.
Since I have the opportunity to come in contact with many people every week at the Mesa Regional Family History Center, I get quite a bit of feedback on the new website. Most of the reactions to the new site are very positive. But there is some concern that looking for specific information is more difficult. There is no obvious link to any of the existing FamilySearch databases, such as the Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index or Pedigree Resource File. All of these are accessed generally through a Historical Records search and not individually.
Here is a screen shot of the new site:
One feature of the Library Catalog that is obviously missing is the ability to define a location by looking at "View Related Places." This has been an extremely valuable resource but is entirely missing from the Beta version. It is also apparent that by integrating many other resource websites, such as the FamilySearch Research Wiki, into the Beta site, there is a measure of confusion, especially while moving between resources, because the site requires you to sign-in multiple times for each resource such as the Wiki or Forums.
One outstanding feature is that there are many links to the FamilySearch Research Wiki site as it now exists. This is a definite plus for helping people find relevant records. Additionally, it appears that new records being added to the Record Search Pilot website are now going onto the Beta site. Although despite announcements of new records and collections the number of collections has stayed at 455 for some time.
It is too early to tell if the new site will be an improvement. One way to tell will be to watch to see if use of the site increases.