Sunday, August 2, 2020

MyHeritage Announced They Redesigned and Improved Their Search Engine

I received this from MyHeritage this morning:


We are pleased to announce that our search engine for historical records has been redesigned and improved. Searching our treasure trove of 12.5 billion historical records is now easier and more intuitive than ever before!
WhatsApp Image 2020-08-02 at 11.07.09 AM
We redesigned the search engine to improve the user experience. Our main goals in this initiative have been the following:
  • Provide faster performance to allow users to run more searches in less time
  • Allow users to edit the search while viewing the search results, and run it again, to make it easier for them to locate the records they need
  • Display more results on each page
  • Simplify the experience by unifying simple search and advanced search into one search form that is simple to use and powerful in capability
Additionally, our search engine will automatically suggest typical filters in global searches, and more relevant filters that will enable you to narrow down your searches within the current category or collection you are searching in. We’ve also added icons under the record name to clearly distinguish between a historical record and a family tree record. 
More improvements are in store over the coming months, including applying the new design when browsing our collections from mobile devices and more as described in the blog post. Stay tuned! 
How is it different?  Is it really better?  
I like the idea of faster performance, more results on a page, and dynamic changes to a search without going back to the search fields.
Time to try it out!
)  I entered my favorite ancestor, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) of Massachusetts into the new search engine fields, using inexact names, a birth year plus/minus 2 years, and the state (inexact):

When you use a field, a dropdown menu lets you select Exact/Inexact for names and places, and a year range for birth date.  The user can add more details, a father, a mother, a spouse, a child, a sibling, a death date, a marriage date, a residence, gender, military, immigration, keyword, or any other date or place or record type.

With everything inexact except the birth date range, I expected many match results:

There were 74,347 results, including more than 10,000 family trees.  The list of collection categories is on the left of the screen above.

Unfortunately, the list of results starts out with Family Trees.  Most researchers want to see the "best" records - the ones that match the names, dates and places input - and not someone else's family tree.  Yes, I can click on the different categories, but with my "Search" button click I want and expect to see actual records from the MyHeritage collection.

I hope that MyHeritage will prioritize actual records rather than family trees for the results list of a global search.  If I want to see family trees, I can click on the Family Tree category.  For me, the above is a waste of time to sort through the Family Tree matches at the top of the list to find the records - they may be many pages down the list.  Time is my most precious commodity, and I don't have much left.

2)  I went back and changed the names to Exact, and the results list got shorter:

Only 61 results (for some reason the "MyHeritage photos & docs" are not counted).  There are only 53 family trees, and 8 actual records.  The first actual record was the 40th result on the list of 61 matches.  IMHO it should be at the top of the list.

3)  On the Category list, I clicked on "Birth, Marriage & Death" to see the three matches provided:

There is a cemetery record and two marriage records (from two different Massachusetts towns).  I can click the "View record" link on the right side of the screen to see the record, download it, etc.

But why only three records?  I know that Isaac has a birth record and a death record in the Massachusetts vital records - Ancestry and FamilySearch has them, - doesn't MyHeritage have them?  Also, Isaac was in the Civil War and there should be a military record or two for him.

4)  However, searching by exact names will not find every record for a person because of errors in speaking, hearing, recording, transcribing and indexing.  I should not have to scroll through thousands of matches to find those records.  Ah, I could use a wild card for some letters!  I added a wild card to search for "Isa* Sea*er" and the results showed:

Hmmm.  So wild cards don't work with this new enhanced search engine?  Didn't they work before?

5)  Final thoughts:

*  A different search engine with more options.

*  Improved speed, fewer clicks, more results.

*  Essentially the same results as before - the record collections haven't changed.

*  Records need to be prioritized over family trees.

*  Wild cards need to work.

My "wheels" are squeaking - hopefully MyHeritage will improve on this enhancement by considering my comments above.


Disclosure: I receive a complimentary subscription to MyHeritage, and gave received other material consideration in past years. I uploaded my autosomal DNA raw data to their DNA product. This does not affect my objective analysis of MyHeritage products.

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Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Diane Gould Hall said...

Excellent summary Randy. Thank you.
I'll rant for a minute. Why, when websites update and say they are making improvements, are they rarely, if ever, improved? We have two such cases recently with Blogger and now MyHeritage. I appreciate all we have at our disposal in this day and age. But, along with that goes an expectation of actual improvements and not just annoying changes.
End of rant..........for now.