Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Changes to FamilySearch.org Website

I started noticing changes to the FamilySearch.org website late last week. FamilySearch has changed all its search pages except the Catalog (the one that needs it the most).

Book Search

Book Search formerly linked to FamilySearch’s book collection, Family History Archives, on a website of Brigham Young University. Now it links to http://books.familysearch.org. While I really hated the old search and access software (called ContentDM), it was familiar and was used on dozens of websites.

The new system—still in beta—has much to be desired. The new system is extremely slow when one clicks on a book to view it. The old system displayed the cover in under 5 seconds. Pages were downloaded one at a time. The new system downloads the entire book before displaying the first page. This takes over a minute for a moderately sized books on extremely fast Internet connections.

imageRecord Search

On the Record Search screen, FamilySearch made several changes to the Browse section which should decrease the number of clicks needed to see collections of interest.

Hurray! They moved the All Record Collections further up the page. On many computers it will be above the fold.

FamilySearch also broke out the British Isles and the United States, eliminating an extra click for each of these high traffic locations.

Too bad they didn’t fix the weird America that shows up before Europe. Don’t write me and tell me why it’s there. I know why. It’s till confusing.

Tree Search

The Tree Search screen layout changed to look like the search form on Classic.FamilySearch.org. Before:

clip_image001

After:

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I’m pleased to see the incorporation of a tried and true design. The only appreciable difference is the specification of events. FamilySearch is utilizing its new paradigm of hiding part of the search form until the user clicks on Birth, Marriage, Residence, or Death. I like it. Hiding complexity is probably a good thing, but I think it increases the learning curve for new users.

Too bad they didn’t fix the contrast problem. Contrast the before and after images above and you’ll see how much worse they’ve made the contrast. Am I the only one experiencing eye strain because of this? Is no one else besides me complaining to FamilySearch?

Or does FamilySearch ignore its users?

2 comments:

  1. I've complained about the low contrast, to no avail apparently. This use of faded grey text and low contrast is quite common, and I find it very hard to see. Many genealogists fall into an older age group, where vision problems are the usual -- come on, people, make your websites user-friendly, that is, Visible! --Liz

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    1. Is it just me, or does FamilySearch.org perform poorly when using Safari on an iPod or similar device?

      Wireless at the library (or home) is fast, yet FS takes forever to load. If it were only the speed I could get by, but on numerous occasions the site also ignores/rejects my login (such as when looking up microfilm orders) and forces a second or third login attempt. No error is displayed. It's like the initial login never happened and the page refreshes or redirects to the home page.

      I'm not a huge fan of the site design, but at least it performs well on Firefox and IE on my desktop.

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