Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ancestry.com Consolidated Search and Real Old Search

On 27 June 2013, Ancestry.com announced the retirement of its “Old Search” search engine. “We expect to discontinue the old search function as a separate experience within the next 6 months,” wrote Ancestry.com. This is “S.O.S. Week” at the Ancestry Insider Offices while we examine the issue.

You may recall that Ancestry.com held briefings with bloggers in early June about coming search functionality. (See “Ancestry.com Revisiting Search.”) We were briefed then on the retirement of the Old Search engine but were embargoed on writing about it. While the core functionality of the Old Search engine is present in the New Search engine (the “primary experience,” as Ancestry.com calls it), they have found that it is mostly hidden. They wish to provide a mode that better exposes the old search experience. They were calling it “Category Exact mode” since it presents search results in categories and uses exact matching. They showed a mockup of a possible search form, containing just first name, last name, location (country or state), and date range.

An interesting contrast is the Real Old Search form on the home screen back in 2004:

Ancestry.com Real Old Search home page

The Real Old Search results page looked like this:

Ancestry.com Real Old Search results page

The total number of matches was given as well as the number of matches in each category. Categories were sorted in perceived popularity. The advanced search form appeared underneath the results, pre-filled with the search terms.

Information entered in search forms had to match exactly, except surnames could be set to Soundex matching.

One or more categories could be expanded to show the five databases with the most number of matches, as well as links to pages containing all the databases in the category.

Ancestry.com Real Old Search expanded results page

Clicking on a single database showed a list of sorted matches:

Ancestry.com Real Old Search single database results page

The full width of the window was utilized, showing as many columns as feasible.  Columns and sort order were intelligently chosen for each database. In the example above, seven columns fit the available space, sorted by state, county, city, and birth year (which tended to group families together).

Happy 4th of July everyone. I’ll return Friday showing how these same screens look today, using features currently available in New Search.

3 comments:

  1. This post, and the one below contain forward looking predictions of what Ancestry will say later in July 2013…

    Cheers

    Roger

    ReplyDelete
  2. "The full width of the window was utilized, showing as many columns as feasible. . Columns and sort order were intelligently chosen for each database. In the example above, seven columns fit the available space, sorted by state, county, city, and birth year (which tended to group families together)."

    I wish we had that now! In fact, I wouldn't mind playing around with "The Real Old Search results page looked like this:"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your article starts out "On 27 July 2013, Ancestry.com announced..."... I think you mean 27 June 2013.

    ReplyDelete