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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Update from FamilySearch.org and comments

The FamilySearch.org Blog has an update on some changes to the FamilySearch.org website. The comments are pretty vague but do give some insight. Here are the statements with my commentary:

The latest release of FamilySearch includes only a few changes, none of which were huge. These changes were made to make your search experience a little easier and to speed things up. They include the following:
Comment: I have been using FamilySearch.org every day during the past week extensively.  So I did a quick review this morning (9 May 2012) and couldn't see any obvious differences.
Search Form Refinements
Small tweaks in formatting and presentation were made to address some issues that users voiced a concern about. For example, the search fields now have a descriptive word or two to help you know exactly what information should go into a field.
Either I can't find what they are referring to or the change is so small I can't find it, but I really don't know what they are talking about. FamilySearch Family Tree does have words in the search fields. Maybe that's what is referred to?
The All Record Collections Page
FamilySearch adds new records collections almost daily. We are quickly approaching our 1,000th record collection. While it’s wonderful to see so many record collections being added for your use, it also means that it takes significantly more time to upload collections. Some have noticed that the system seems to be responding slowly when uploading a record collection. We have fixed that problem so that all record collections upload nearly 400% faster.
Several other behind the scene changes were made that users will probably not notice but will make the search experience in FamilySearch a better experience for everyone. We hope these changes are helpful.
Hmm. something tells me this post that showed up today is really old. Maybe that is why I can't see the changes. The changes have already been there for a while? Why do I say this? Because the number of collections today is at 1144. Again, any changes must be incremental because I haven't noticed any significant changes in either searching or whatever.
Looking Ahead
We’re currently engaged in focus group testing of a new main page interface that allows for easier search, location of records, and an improved new user experience. Look for that in second quarter.
What has everyone at FamilySearch excited is the launch of the family tree. By end of year we’ll be rolling it out to all users.
I caught a glimpse of one of the prototypes of the "new main page" at a recent conference and I immediately had some of the exact same comments I have about the present page. First, it simply gives little or no information about the resources on the website. Some of the major resources such as the FamilySearch Research Wiki, FamilySearch Forums, the Online Video Resources and many others are buried in site with nothing on the main page to give you a hint that they are there. It seems like FamilySearch is competing with itself sometimes. Different "products" get more or less visibility depending on the emphasis from whoever makes the decisions.

For example, there are two links at the very bottom of the present page, one for "Free Courses" that takes to you directly to the video Learning Center and another "Browse Articles" That takes you directly to a country list in the Research Wiki. In the case of the link to the Wiki, there is nothing on the page you land on to identify where you are or that you are even in the Wiki. There are much better landing pages in the Wiki, including the present startup page.

I, for one, will be very interested to see what they will come up with for a new Home page. I am also interested in the comment about "family tree" since the program is already available to anyone who is interested.



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