Thursday, April 3, 2008

Have you tried the New Ancestry Search? has been modifying the "look and feel" of their Search box and Match results over the past few months. Users were invited to evaluate the "New Search" and to make feedback comments to the development team, led by Kendall Hulet. I made many comments to the team over the past month via email, and also took weekly surveys about likes and dislikes. The resulting "Look and Feel" are quite different from when this feedback was started thanks to input from the commenters and the work of the development team.

Any Ancestry user can now take the New Search for a test drive. Here is one set of screen shots from an exact search I just made for Isaac Seaver, born in 1823 +/- 5 years.

1) The initial screen when I bring Ancestry up from my Favorites (in "Old Search," note I have checked "Exact Matches" and have inserted "Seaver" in the last name box):

2) This is the match results using the "Old Search." Note the "New Search" and "Try It" link in the top right of the screen. I clicked on it.

3) Clicking on "Try It" brings up an explanatory screen about New Search. I clicked on the "Get Started Now" link in the box beside the reddish "Take the Tour" link.

4) The "Get Started Now" link takes me to a New Search screen - I input "Isaac" "Seaver" and "1823" "+/- 5 years" as Exact search criteria. This is the top of this web page.

5) At the bottom of this screen is a list of Specific Titles and Collections if I wanted to go directly to one database (but not all of them are listed). The bottom part of the web page looks like this.

6) After filling in the Search boxes, I clicked on the reddish "Search" button at the bottom of the Search box. The screen below shows the results of my Search. Note that it found only three census records and three sets of Family Trees that met my Search criteria.

7) I chose the 1880 Census from the match list for my Search criteria, and clicked on the "View Record" link. Note that my Search criteria are listed in the left-hand column, with exact match criteria in quote marks.

8) The record summary of the 1880 census entry for Isaac Seaver is shown in the next screen. Note that the left-hand column allows me to do a number of operations with this record. The summary of the record is expanded vertically from the Old Search, and has a larger font size. The Source citation is at the bottom of the record summary. I clicked on the "View Original Image" link.

9) This screen shows the actual record requested. The same buttons as on the Old Search are available to Zoom in or out, go to the Previous or Next image, and Order, Save, Print, Share the image, or get Help.

Ancestry has modified the Old Search screens also - once you pick a database to search, the screens in Old Search look like New Search screens (in my example above, Screens 8 and 9 are identical). They have also expanded vertically the Old Screen web page presentations a bit with a larger font and more intermediate lines between information. You have to scroll down more but they are easier to read.

It appears that they have eliminated, or just haven't included, the Ancestry World Tree matches in the Family Trees section. Ancestry World Tree is the same database as the Rootsweb WorldConnect database which will move to the Ancestry domain at some time in the future. Hopefully, Ancestry will reinstate the link to the WorldConnect database in the near future, since it is a separate database.

One addition that I like in New Search is that they have eliminated the Search box tabs on the opening screen - the ones for Historical Data, Family Trees, Stories and Publications, and Photos and Maps. In New Search, you get a list of all matches in your Database Matches screen. Other than this change, the Search results are exactly the same between Old Search and New Search, as far as I can tell. Presumably, they will delete the explanatory screen (#3 above) at some point in time.

If you set your Ancestry opening screen to the New Search, you get a different look and feel. I'll show that sequence tomorrow.

This look at New Search Ancestry assumed Exact Matches - I will do the same thing tomorrow with Ranked Searches so that you can see the differences.

UPDATED 4/4: Miriam commented that she couldn't see the "Try It" on the Search box screen, and wondered if she had to be signed in. I just tried it after logging out, and the "Try It" shows up on the second screen - the one after the inital screen. You do have to be a subscriber to see the document images, but you can do a search down to Screen 7 above.


Miriam Robbins said...

Randy, you said "Any Ancestry user can now take the New Search for a test drive." How do I do this? Do I need to download or sign up for something? I am not seeing the "New Search" and "Try It" link in the top right of the screen. They do not appear on my screen when I run a search.

Tim Agazio said...

Randy, I'm experiencing the same thing as Miriam...the "Try It" button doesn't show up for me either. I wonder if they are testing the function and it doesn't show up for everyone...