Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ancestry.com Responds to Old Search Controversy

Take the Ancestry.com search survey to affect the future of Ancestry.com search functionalityOn 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.

Immediately after the announcement users began expressing concerns, as did John Mutch to me in the message I published yesterday.

Ancestry.com’s Matthew Deighton sent me a message, responding to John and those like him.

“I know that Old Search is a hot topic right now,” wrote Deighton. “We want to make sure that the community knows that we are not abandoning the functionality of Old Search, but merging the best of Old [and New] Search into a consolidated search experience.” Deighton asks that I provide you with a survey link. The results “go directly to our product developers so they can take it all into account in the coming months when designing this new [consolidated] experience.”

You can take the survey here: http://ancestry.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8ubNXU8IiQcxqVD

From my experience in software development, customer input through the normal support channel often does not make a difference. First level support people have limited ability to correctly filter grain from chaff. Overworked product managers may not have time to read tons of chaff-laden feedback. Feedback is often inactionable. (It’s too general.) Even if time were taken, engineering resources might not be available to make changes.

I think this is one of those moments of alignment when your input will make a real difference.

No, you won’t convince them to keep the old search engine around. Old code gets more and more difficult and expensive to maintain. I’m surprised they’ve kept it as long as they have. But I’m convinced that if you articulate exactly some aspect of old search that is lacking in new search, this is one of those times when your feedback can make a difference. I recommend you jump on the chance.

Deighton included this message to users:

Ancestry Statement

Good evening,

In an effort to continually improve your experience on Ancestry.com, we are asking for feedback on our search function. Our plan is first to gather feedback from our core users. We will take all of that feedback into account when we are merging the functionality of Old Search and current search into a consolidated search experience.

You can take the survey here: http://ancestry.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8ubNXU8IiQcxqVD

Many of the recent concerns and comments have cited functionality that actually exists in current search, as well as in old search – specifically:

  1. Our current search experience allows users to view search results as a list of ranked records or as a consolidated list of categories.
  2. Our current search experience allows users to do “Exact Match” searches.
  3. Our current search experience allows users to specify a “Collection Priority” to filter results by country.

Crista Cowan has a great educational video which demonstrates this functionality in the current search experience:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c423yU5Ccs0

We also have a helpful article which does a side-by-side explanation of how to achieve the same types of results with the current search as in Old Search: http://ancestry.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5569/kw/old

Thank you,
The Ancestry.com Product Team

Ancestry.com Smart Search Tips and Tricks

Stay tuned for more S.O.S. Week articles.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting the survey link - I've responded
    I understand the cost of maintaining TWO methods but they are making the wrong one "the current search"..... In my terms OLD search is the current one and back when the product manager announced changes via a blog I did so comment


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