Monday, January 5, 2009

Ancestry.com possible future directions

Ancestry.com Customer Survey Ancestry.com has leaked possible future directions for their website. In a poll directed to some website visitors, those selected to take the poll were able to see possibilities being evaluated.

Besides standard customer satisfaction questions, Ancestry.com was particularly interested in how users felt about the website's search capabilities.

Respondents were asked how interested they would be in these possible enhancements:

  • Specify interest by record type (e.g. military, land, religious, ethnicity, etc.
  • Show real name in public profile.
  • Add to your task list suggested next steps based on what you've already done.
  • See indicators on search results that show which records have already been viewed.
  • Receive suggestions on where to search for missing information about an ancestor.
  • Save a search.
  • Write an online personal history.
  • Create multi-media stories containing text, photos, audio and video.
  • Upload existing audio and video files.
  • Download all your site contributions or purchase a copy on DVD.
  • Create slide shows with photos, records, music and narration.
  • Write a family history blog (provided by Ancestry.com) to share your experiences and discoveries with others.
  • Correct fields other than names
  • Add fields not keyed by Ancestry
  • Vote to prioritize database fixes.
  • Access images as you would on a microfilm reader. It was not specified if this would include the images currently hidden from view because no names are present.
  • Higher resolution maps with the ability to zoom in to details. Hopefully Ancestry.com would fix the resolution problem I highlighted in my article of 20 August of 2008.
  • Digitization service for photos and documents.

Respondents were categorized by family history experience, how long they've used Ancestry.com and frequency of use. Interestingly, respondents were also asked if they have their own blog and if they use social networking sites.

I'm pleased that Ancestry.com product managers continue to use scientific measurement tools to discover customer desires and evaluate customer satisfaction. In my opinion Tim Sullivan has built a great product management team and I think features added during his tenure reflect this.

This makes the still unfolding saga of new search particularly interesting to watch. Will Anne Mitchell respond to my challenge in The Perfect Search Storm? I've extended the deadline until end-of-day Friday to see if anyone will submit an entry for New Search. Will Old Search or New Search win the challenge? Stay tuned!

2 comments:

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  2. I've been reading your recent blog postings including the posting "The Perfect Search Storm"

    I'm not sure that a timed test on one example between the new search interface and the old search interface is going to be definitive on which search interface is better.

    As I've said in my postings on http://blogs.ancestry.com, both interfaces have advantages.

    The refine tool in the new search interface is very useful; the customized templates for each database in the old search interface are preferred by many users to the new search interface. We have been working on improving those on the new search interface.

    I've been involved in many conversations with ancestry.com users. Some are very experienced, some are new to genealogy.

    I think what people really want is better results. And that is where we are focusing. It's not a quick thing. We have over 27,000 data sets that are very varied in what they contain and how they are structured.

    That said, I'm watching to see what the results are. It's an interesting data point as we continue to work on improving search.

    Anne Mitchell
    Sr. Product Manager, Ancestry.com Search

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