RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is FamilySearch.org the Edsel of Genealogy?

Large corporations with huge budgets and lots of advertising can make major mistakes in promoting new products. In 1958, the Ford Motor Company produced a new line of cars called the Edsel. This model was expected to compete with Chrysler and GM in the domestic market. See Wikipedia:Edsel. The concept and ideas seemed sound at the time, but turned into a marketing nightmare. Here is a description of Ford's intentions and efforts towards marketing:
Ford later claimed to have performed more than adequate, if not superior, product development and market research work in the planning and design of the new vehicle. Particularly Ford assured its investors, and the Detroit automotive press, that the Edsel was not only a superior product (as compared to its Oldsmobile/Buick competition), but the details of its styling and specifications were the result of a sophisticated market analysis and research and development effort that would essentially guarantee its broad acceptance by the buying public when the car was introduced. Wikipedia
For all that Ford could do to try to sell the new model Edsel, the market reaction was negative to the car's styling and conventional build. After three years, the car was discontinued.

Now, during the past few days, I have been fielding a huge amount of negative reaction to the recent changes made in the FamilySearch.org website from experienced users as well as casual new users. The online reaction from bloggers has been either very negative or apologetic. I am certain that this reaction is far different that the usual reaction to a change in website design. The reasons given in numerous blog posts focus primarily on the utility of the new design, not merely the pretty photos and changes in colors. Alexa.com, a website that measures web traffic, shows an immediate drop in usage of over 30% for last weekend and particularly Sunday. FamilySearch.org traffic is off almost 10% for the month. It is hard to tell whether or not the dramatic decrease is just the usual seasonal variation, but it appears from looking at the last six months that all indicators, traffic stats, search analytics and Pageviews are down from just a few months ago. The bounce percentage or the number of people who look and go away, has increased to 21% over the past weekend.

These statistics agree with my personal reaction and my experience with many people over the past week.

Is this something that we will all just have to weather? Is this a temporary storm that will pass as time goes on? I guess we will just have to wait and see.




4 comments:

  1. My reason for looking and then going away is that the search pages do not seem to function at all with Firefox 20.0.1 (the latest version). The "Search" button just says "Loading" and when I click on one of the geographic areas I just get a blank page. I have already complained to familysearch. Since I refuse on security grounds to use Internet Explorer, I've been effectively shut out of familysearch since the new web site came on line.

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  2. If it's not a problem a lot of people will make it a problem.. it will just take some time to be come familiar with it.

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  3. James - you are certainly entitled to your own opinion as to whether FamilySearch can be compared to the Edsel, however, I do feel it necessary to let you know that you have published incorrect information pertaining to the website metrics you found on Alexa.com. Alexa is not an accurate source for the data you shared. There are many sites that will tell you such: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/free-analytics-accuracy/ as well as http://www.seomoz.org/blog/testing-accuracy-visitor-data-alexa-compete-google-trends-quantcast

    FamilySearch uses Omniture/Adobe SiteCatalyst to track all website information and as an employee with access to this data I can assure you that the numbers are quite the opposite of what you have reported. Since the release of the new website on April 16th we have seen significant increases in visitors, return visitors, pageviews and a decrease in the homepage bounce rate. I will reach out to you via email to follow up. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, I always appreciate being corrected. I will be glad to look at the data.

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