Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Mailbox: FamilySearch Responds

Mailbox from W 300Dear Readers,

This is cool. A FamilySearch vice president, Craig Miller, responded to my article, “FamilySearch Photos.” You may recall I pointed out several deficiencies in the product.

Let me first share a note from one of the FamilySearch developers working on Photos. Then I’ll share Craig’s response. And finally, I’ll rejoin you afterwards.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

The photos feature is still in development and is not yet complete, and I'm glad you gave it a try. Many of these issues are being addressed right now. The search is a temporary one until the complete search experience is integrated with Family Tree.

Please join the discussion on Get Satisfaction to find out the current status and add additional feedback. I hope once it is complete that FamilySearch Photos will be a great experience for everyone, and feedback like this is great at helping it improve.

Logan [Allred] *

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Two years ago the development team announced at RootsTech that they were going to change the way they developed the software for the web site. They decided that in order to better involve the community in the design of the products that they would take an approach that starts with a very minimal set of functionality and make it available as soon as possible to a select set of people. They would take the feedback and that would be the basis for their next design and build cycle which is usually about 2 weeks (changes will come often - sometimes 3 times a day). As pieces solidify more people would be able to access the functionality which tests the scale and performance.

Some times as they get to a certain set of functionality that initially seemed to meet the needs of customers it is discovered that it doesn't scale or it doesn't meet the needs of a specific segment and they have to go back to the drawing board. Although it's a painful process for those that choose to experiment and give feedback it is having remarkable results. Currently there are several major efforts underway that are in various stages of design and build.

One of the largest is the Family Tree, another is photos and stories. Others are underway that are still in design. Family Tree is particularly difficult because of the complexity of transitioning from an "opinion model" of the data in to a "conclusion model" in the family tree. Trying to keep the data straight in each part and keep both running and in sync has proven very challenging.

That being said we are working hard to take the customer's feedback and make improvements.

Thanks for hanging with us.

Craig Miller
VP Product Management
FamilySearch *

Hi. It’s me again.Thank you, Craig and Logan. That’s pretty awesome to have a vice president respond to one of my articles.

I support the process Craig has outlined. I am an incrementalist. I would rather have partial functionality sooner than full functionality later. Get your product in front of your users and let them help shape it.

But I understand that many of you are totally flummoxed by products released this way. Relearning how to use a product every two weeks, or three times a day, can be perplexing.

I appreciate your pain. Teaching others about a moving target is particularly challenging. “Welcome students. My slides are old so it doesn’t really work this way anymore, but here’s how it now works. Oh, and by the way, by the time you get time to try it out, it won’t work this way either.”

If you’re going to live with the pain, you might as well participate in the upside. Give your feedback. Learn to use Get Satisfaction. Let your voice be heard.

--The Insider

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered your blog recently and have enjoyed your posts. I was thrilled to see the response from FS. And I have to say it is the most clear and concise answer I have yet to see in regards to what they are doing with Family Tree! I wish they'd post that front and center at FS.... It explains it so well. Thanks for posting!


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