At the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock, the Ancestry.com team said that they want one search experience, but that they are not satisfied with the New Search screen yet, and will work with it some more, and that about 70% of searches are done in New Search now (paraphrased in my notes here).
Experienced users of Ancestry.com understand that there are four available Search screens from the Home Page at http://www.ancestry.com/:
1) "Old" Search -- basic search (from Home Page, has Exact Match check box)):
2) "Old" Search - advanced search (link from Home Page, has Exact Match check boxes):
3) "New" Search - Basic Search (from Home Page, has no Exact Match check box):
4) "New" Search - Advanced Search (link from home page, has Exact Match check boxes):
Shouldn't all of the available Search tables have a check box for Exact Matches? No wonder users of "New" Search are often confused (believe me, when I help my society colleagues, they are really confused sometimes! They are using New Search because it is the default when they log in to Ancestry.com, and they have no clue as to how to change it, or even that there is an "Old" Search).
There is a link to "Advanced Search" on the "Old" Search Home Page down in the right-hand corner of the Search table.
In "New" Search from the Home Page, the Basic Search table says "Advanced" in the upper right-hand corner, but it isn't the Advanced Search table. If you click on the "Advanced" link, then you get the "New" Search Advanced Search table, which includes the "Match all Terms Exactly"check boxes for each item.
The "Old" Search table has a link for "Search Tips" that produces a page with four line items (you have to click on each item to see the content):
Here is a screen shot of the top part of these Search Tips:
I continue to be frustrated by "New" Search every time I try it. It just seems like it is more "work" than "Old" Search, probably because I always use Exact Matches for my searches (and have to click to "Advanced Search" to use it). I much prefer having the current Search table at the bottom of the Search Matches page in "Old" Search, although the "Hot Key" feature in "New" Search provides an equivalent capability (but my guess is that only a few users actually know about it).
Perhaps my frustration above stems from using the Ancestry.com Home Page (http://www.ancestry.com/) when I go to the web site. Using the "Search" tab in Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/) provides a somewhat different presentation of the Search table, including a "Learning Resources" box on the right of the screen. There is a link for "Show Advanced" on the Basic Search box to go to the Advanced Search box, and "Hide Advanced" on the Advanced Search box. There are also links to "Old Search" and "New Search" on these pages, which are helpful.
How many users click on the "Search" tab when they go into Ancestry.com? Why should they? There is a Search field right on the Home Page screen (assuming that the user has customized their home page to put it at the top - I have, because it's what I want to use first on Ancestry.com).
My recommendations for Ancestry.com (not requested, but offered freely here!) are:
* Make the Search Tables on the Home Page and Search tab similar
Along these lines, I noted that there will be a Webinar on 14 October for Best Strategies for Searching Ancestry.com on Ancestry.com.
Full disclosure: I am not an employee, contractor or affiliate of Ancestry.com. I am a paid subscriber with a U.S. Deluxe subscription.