Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ancestry Introduces Beta "Improved Website" - And A First Look has announced a significant change to their website, and especially the person profile in an Ancestry Member Tree, today.

Here is the announcement:

Over the past year, we have been conducting extensive research and testing to gather user feedback on our existing Ancestry website and to identify critical pain points.
As a result, we have been working on a groundbreaking initiative to evolve the Ancestry website to meet the needs of our users. We will introduce a new and improved Ancestry experience that makes it easier for anyone to discover and tell the rich, unique story of their family.
 The improved Ancestry website includes: 

  • A new LifeStory view to transform your ancestors’ facts and events into engaging, unique stories
  • A new, intuitive, modern look to streamline your work flows and make your family story the focus
  • Historical Insights to discover significant historical events that your ancestors may have experienced
  • A new Facts View to make it easier to validate facts with sources, and edit and review facts contextually
  • A new Media Gallery where you can consolidate all your media in one place
 We will be showcasing the Ancestry beta at RootsTech, Feb. 12-14. Visitors to the Ancestry booth will be able to opt in to participate in the beta.
For those not at RootsTech who would like to be invited to the beta, visit this link to request to be on the waitlist: We will be inviting new participants off the waitlist to join the beta over the next few months.

Here's a quick look at the Beta site as it pertains to the Ancestry Member Tree:

When you click on the link, you see a welcome that explains the changes to the site:

Clicking on the "Get Started" button takes you to your active Ancestry Member Tree, which has a different look from the previous web version:

If you run your mouse over one of the persons, a larger person summary appears:

Clicking on the person's name or the "Profile" button takes you to the profile.  Below the person's name are four links - to "LifeStory," "Facts," "Gallery," and "Hints." In the upper right-hand corner are links to "Research" and "Edit".

On the LifeStory link:

The LifeStory starts with a summary paragraph about the person's vital dates and family members.  Below that is a small relationship  chart with spouse, children, and parents.  Below that is a map that shows where vital record events took place.

Below the map a series of Events in the person's life, and some historical events, are listed.  The date is in a purple circle on the left-hand side.  There is a short paragraph describing each event, which can be edited, and the attached documents or photographs for the event are shown:

Some historical events are shown, but there are not many yet.  Here is one on this profile:

The historical event story can be Reviewed or Ignored.

The LifeStory seems to concentrate on relationships to parents, spouses and children.  The births of the children, the deaths of the parents or spouse, etc. are listed in chronological order.

 On the "Facts" link (at the top of the page under the person's name), the Facts (date, event), Sources, and Family Relationships are in three columns.  The slide below shows the Birth Fact highlighted, and it shows a link to the Source citation.

If I highlight a source citation, you can see the link to the Fact and also have an "Edit" button to edit the source citation:

The "Media" link at the top of the page shows the Media items attached to the person in the tree:

The "Hints" link shows the Unreviewed Hints for the person, but you can click on the "Show" dropdown menu to go to the Ignored or Accepted Hints also.

That's just a quick look at the Ancestry Member Tree changes.  There are a number of other links and buttons to experiment with on the pages above.  I can't find the Notes now.

I really like the LifeStory layout and content.  I don't see a way to add another story to the Life Story page now, but I think it will be available at some point in time.

This feature essentially replaces the "Story View" that is available on the current Ancestry profile.

The new "Beta" version of Ancestry is live for me now, and I don't know the way back to the current site.  I was part of a group that participated in two presentations and question/answer periods about the Beta, and was provided the opportunity to work with it during the past two weeks.

The message from Ancestry said people could volunteer to evaluate the Beta site but you'll probably be on the waitlist.  They want feedback, and will be getting quite a bit of it at RootsTech 2015.

I'm sure that there will be more publicity about this over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Thanks, Randy, for this peek at the revised tree views.

New "Facts" page looks clunky and crowded.

Looks like the "Story" page still randomly excludes timeline Facts.

Looks like there still is no way to sort the order of uploaded images.

Diane Gould Hall said...

Thanks for sharing this Randy. I have found that many a time when websites think they are making things better for us, they in fact, are not. I will be the first to admit that I dislike change. Seems that many websites and apps are making changes just for change sake. How will I like this new Ancestry? Time will tell. I signed up for the beta wait list. I always give them feedback when they ask. I very much dislike the new look of the indexed page. So, in conclusion, I am not excited about this new look.

Unknown said...

Not excited either. This is going to hide a lot of the info I look at most and add clicks to get to the features I use often. Of course it LOOKS slick to, but it will be less user friendly to a heavy user.

Unknown said...

Not excited either. This is going to hide a lot of the info I look at most and add clicks to get to the features I use often. Of course it LOOKS slick to, but it will be less user friendly to a heavy user.

Geolover said...

Hmmm, I see one major defect is carried over to the new Lifestory page from the current Story layout. They always **omit** the name of the County for the event. I really do hate this feature.

Is there a way to print out the Lifestory in a concise way? Hidden under an "options" button? I wish they'd reassign the programmers who constantly hide stuff so you can't find it without extra clicks. Grrrr.

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a wonderful weekend!

T said...

Every year they "improve" it. I think two more years before I won't use it at all. I don't want to learn a new program every year. At my age that might not even be a choice!

Not excited. I keep giving feedback. Allow us to order the media into a more useful order. That's never going to happen, apparently. Just throw a bunch of photos and documents on to the page the same way you throw them into a shoe box.

Unknown said...

My problem is with SEARCH. I'm not looking for somebody's family tree, just the databases for answers. If I'm looking for somebody's marriage, I don't want to see a list of "Census 1910", "Census 1920" etc. Can I go back to the previous searches?