Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ancestry.com Changes Search Results Page Format

I wondered why Ancestry.com was taking so long to respond last night after 9 p.m. PDT - and then the page format changed in the middle of my seemingly endless searching for records and sources.  It looked different.  I'm guessing that they took a new design live around that time.

For the record, here is the Search Results page from my post yesterday:


Today, I poked around to see what changes were made to the search results page format.

Using the same search terms for my Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), with the "exact match" box not checked, here is today's search results page:


The changes I see on this page ("new screen") from the first screen ("old screen") above include:

*  The fonts are different.  The font size and weight seems to be about the same for the results in the match list, but the "Results" heading is much fainter...I like dark fonts with contrast as opposed to light with less contrast.
*  The color scheme for the Results list is different - the "Results" header background is a very light green, rather than dark green, and the Categories background is also light green.  The "Matching Records" heading in the "Results" list is next to the matching person for some reason (I think that's a programming error.
*  There are tabs on the new screen for "Records" and "Categories" as opposed to "Sorted by relevance" and "Summarized by categories" on the old screen.  I like this change.
*  The "Star system" shown on the record matches has disappeared (as shown on the screen above).  I liked the old "Star system."

The screen above shows the "Records" tab - this is the "Categories" tab below:


One more significant change is:

*  You can click on the right arrows next to the different Categories in the left portion of the screen and expand them to see sub-categories.  I did that in the screen above for the "Birth, Marriage & Death" and "Military" categories.

If I select one of the matches from the "Categories" tab list, I see a similar layout, but with the selected database, and the bread crumbs to it, in the left panel.



I clicked on one of the matches listed to see the record summary for my Isaac Seaver in the 1880 U.S. Census:


I did not notice any changes to the record summary from before.

At the top of the "Results" screen is a message with a light blue background, saying:

"What's new  The search results page is faster and has a new look and feel. Tell us what you think."

When I clicked on that, I got this popup screen:



I made my selection and clicked on the double arrow and was able to comment on each of the format changes that they showed.  They include;

*  The "Searching For" area, where the presentation is more compact and simplified, and long fields are truncated.  I dislike this...
*  The "Category" area changes, where you can pick sub-categories with a single click.  I like this!
*  The "Layout" changes - fonts, backgrounds, etc.
*  Tabs for switching views between "Records" and "Categories."  I like this!

There is space for your comments on each option, plus one at the end of the survey for general comments.  I filled it out...

All in all, these changes are cosmetic, with the exceptions of the tabs and category expansion features, which are easier to use and are helpful.

Now, I'm wondering what records the search found that are different from yesterday's identical search:

*  The "Old screen" (first screen above) shows 84,655 matches  
*  The "New screen" (second screen above) shows 85,359 matches

And there are differences between the "New screen" for "Records" and the "New screen" for "Categories:"

*  The "New screen" for "Records" (second screen above) shows 85,359 matches
*  The "New screen" for "Categories" (third screen above) shows 95,527 matches.

I was told at NGS 2013 that the algorithms for "Records" and "Categories" were different, but I didn't expect that many differences.  

I'm really glad that this change happened now and not in June or July.  I have presentations on "Searching Ancestry.com Effectively" in both months, and will have to change all of my screen shots of results in the presentation!  

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/05/ancestrycom-changes-search-results-page.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

3 comments:

Nancy Marty said...

At the moment, I'm frustrated with ancestry.com's new search format. I had saved a census record several months ago and wanted to go back to see the page before and after it. When I entered the person's name for that census year, it first told me there were too many results to list. Then I added the city, etc. and it couldn't find any results! When I looked closely at my saved document, I noticed the name, Schaufert, didn't have the 'c' in it. Previously, ancestry would have included that in the results. I had to spell it the same way for it to be included in the results. I checked and nowhere did I have an exact box checked. And the new format didn't give me a column on the right with suggestions of other records for this person. I loved that! So far, I can't say I like the new format and the results of the searches I've done tonight.

Anonymous said...

The only way I use Ancestry.com is with "old search."

-Sharon

Diva Donna said...

I'd been able, thru some huge luck, save a search from the really old search page that I continued to use.
I've hated every new search they've come up with.
Now, the only link I had saved, won't bring back that old page, & this new one is worse then the last!
It was so much easier for me to find people in the old search!