Last Monday I got to speak frankly about Ancestry's New Search with Kendall Hulet, director of product management. (Kendall and I go way back. Someday I'll have to tell you about the argument we had about trees and—it's still painful to think about—how I turned out to be wrong. Now that I think about, I wasn't wrong so much as Kendall was right. But I digress...)
We sat down together to hash over my concerns with New Search. I wrote about a couple of the worst problems earlier this week. See Inside the problems of Ancestry's New Search. As of Wednesday night, the promised fix for the new home page Quick Links hasn't been released. I assume this will be released as soon as possible.
Here's my entire laundry list of problems with New Search. Following the list, I'll tell you what Hulet had to say about them.
- New Search returns too many false positives, as was discussed in my last article.
- New Search requires more clicks than Old Search.
- New Search lacks the database specific search forms that Old Search has.
- Old Search has bugs.
- New Search has bugs.
New Search requires more clicks
Hulet and I discussed this at length and I provided a variety of examples contributing to the rise in the number of clicks needed to perform everyday tasks. Hulet explained that they are aware of most, if not all, of these issues and are exploring different ways of addressing them. But, he said, fixing known bugs is a higher priority.
I think New Search presupposes use of trees and ranked searching. So users who depend almost exclusively on exact searching are running into bugs and design flaws that Ancestry didn't find or didn't think about. New Search is proving to be painful and extremely less productive for exact searchers.
While trees and ranked searching are very useful and important new tools for searching, I'm shocked and surprised that many long-time users are not using them. I consider myself a power user's power user. I think there are very few people on the planet who understand and use the search system for real-life searching more than I do. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that could generate successful searches faster and more efficiently than I can. And I consider tree-based searching and ranked searching to be essential tools for effective searches in some situations.
Consequently, I'm surprised that so many people are not using these tools alongside the primary and essential tool of exact searching. I wonder if Ancestry knows this? It's a real failure on Ancestry's part to not communicate and teach users how to utilize these tools.
I guess I should try and show how these tools can be effectively used. If I forget to address this in future articles, keep reminding me to teach you when and how to use tree-based searches, ranked searches and exact searches to add value to your Ancestry experience.
My wife says it's time for bed. (I'm writing this last night and scheduling it for morning publication.) So what follows is the remainder of my outline, with some reminders of points to cover. I'll cover these topics in a future post.
New Search lacks database specific search forms
Old Search has bugs
Include scary big numbers and Results by Category here.
New Search has bugs
I'm aware that nearly simultaneously with the release of New Search, at least one database got broken.