Without fanfare last Monday FamilySearch turned off the home page of its Classic.FamilySearch.org website, redirecting traffic to the current www.familysearch.org home page. (The old catalog remains available, however.)
Some users are not pleased with the retirement. Elaine Lee said, “Please can you tell me WHY you have RUINED a perfectly good website. I have used this website for 12 years and now find it so confusing.”
First released to the public in May 1999, the site was an instant success. The traffic load in the first few days was overwhelming and crashed the website.
FamilySearch.org, May 1999
For many years, site navigation was enabled via four color-coded menu pages; the home page was green.
FamilySearch.org, June 2001
In later years, a search form was added to the home page and color coding was eliminating. This home page design continued until it was shut down Monday.
In December 2010, this original FamilySearch.org website became classic.familysearch.org. (See “Beta.familysearch.org Replaces www.familysearch.org.”) It was replaced with the current FamilySearch.org (not to be confused with new.familysearch.org, which will be replaced by FamilySearch Family Tree).
The original site was characterized by a search experience still favored by many individuals. The search strategy was simple: enter an individual’s name. If too many results were returned, add another piece of information to the search. Repeat until the result set was reasonably sized.
Back in February, FamilySearch gave users an opportunity to express their feelings about retiring the original site. Rochelle Edwards said, “Very disappointed to learn I can no longer access the old site. It was so much easier than the newer version (which I find extremely difficult) and can no longer find things which I could so easily find on the old site.”
I call the old site’s search paradigm “exact search.” Not all users found it intuitive. Beginners often entered both birth and marriage information, precluding results of both types. The current site implements a new search paradigm. Some users like it and some don’t.
Mike Fisher said, “Forget about the old site. The new site allows much better user defined search parameters. I find what I want, not what the old site allowed me to see. Plus the bonus of no patron submissions.”
What do you think? Was the old/classic/original site better, or is the current site?