Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The New Ancestry.com Website

Facts tab of the person page of Ancestry.comAncestry has released its “new website.” The changes Ancestry is singling out are all on the person page of a member tree, although the rest of the site enjoys a new header and a new color scheme.

It’s not quite true, but it feels like Ancestry and FamilySearch are dancing around each other’s color schemes. It wasn’t long ago that FamilySearch adopted Ancestry Green as its logo color and moved from pastel website colors to black, white, and shades of gray. Now Ancestry has moved its website color from green to black and blue and shades of gray.

Like I said, the most significant advances to the new website are on the person page. The person page is organized into four tabs: LifeStory, Facts View, Gallery, and hints.

I’ve previously written about LifeStory. See “Ancestry.com Revamping Website.” LifeStory includes Historical Insights, which you can display or turn off. I gave the feature a positive review when it was launched on the Ancestry App back in December 2014. See “Ancestry.com Releases Historical Insights.”

The timeline in Facts View displays a timeline of facts in the left column and a list of sources in the middle column. (See the illustration, above.) Click on a fact and lines show which sources are attached to it. Click on a source and lines show which facts are associated with it (as shown in the illustration, above). Options allow display of family events, which I really love. On the old person page there has been a time or two when I have manually added births, marriages, and death facts of other family members. These help place on ancestor geographically in between their own vital events. They shed insight on motivations and what records might possibly have been created about an ancestor. Options allow display of alternate facts. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) calls for accounting for and resolving conflicting evidence. FamilySearch doesn’t support alternative vitals in its tree; Ancestry now surfaces them.

I must be missing something when it comes to the media gallery. When I had heard that Ancestry was fixing the media gallery, I was excited because the old one was almost completely worthless. I couldn’t tag. I couldn’t sort by title, description, file date, event date, date of upload, name of person, attachment status (attached or not), tag, or media type. I couldn’t search by any of those criteria. I couldn’t filter by any of those criteria. I couldn’t display any of those criteria. I couldn’t vary thumbnail size or switch the detail mode. I couldn’t rearrange the photos. Like I say, almost completely worthless. Ancestry said that the new gallery was entirely new. With it you could “organize and sort your photos, videos, and historical records quickly and easily so you can explore and rediscover the lives of your ancestors in a whole new way.” It does none of those things.

For more information, see “Announcing the New Ancestry Website” on the Ancestry Blog.

UPDATE: Since writing the above article, Ancestry has issued a clarification notice about the new website. They say,

We also sincerely thank you for all your feedback. As we transition from the classic site to the new Ancestry over the next couple of months, we are still working on a few final missing features, as well as making continued improvements to new features based on your feedback.

The list of missing features explains why I didn’t find anything new in the new gallery. The advertised advancements are still coming.

For more information, see “New Ancestry: Feature Update” on the Ancestry Blog.


  1. One thing, among many, that they didn't mention, is now you can attempt to add new information in 4, 5 or even 6 clicks! Wow! I used to do this in one click or at most 2 clicks. What an improvement! As I've posted on every blog, I am done donating anything to ancestry. I think there are a couple of sites that might work for my tree. I am searching for a new home. BTW I also won't be buying any more DNA tests there. Their new site is not for researchers. It's for the under 30 crowd who saw the commercial on TV where you don't have to do anything other than enter your parent's names and Voila! your tree is created! And how many times will they pay the $200 to $400 to subscribe? Let's see,,,,,,,,,,,hmmm.

  2. I have read the comments on the Ancestry Blog. They are overwhelmingly negative, but Ancestry seems undeterred.I have not tried the new Ancestry, and if it becomes the only way one can do Ancestry, I will be gone. Ancestry has enough serious issues with terrible trees that removing comments--which was the only way to TRY to make some rigour possible--will spell its doom. I have written hundreds of comments in an effort to be helpful and corrective. To wipe all that out is plain idiocy. And exhibits a complete disregard for the concept of community. I have been on Ancestry for 17 years--and Ancestry Deluxe for most of those years. If they won't miss me, I won't miss them.

  3. The changes seem to be "dumbing down" the research. I feel like it's really geared for people new to searching. I know they want to reach more people so they can make more money but I just feel like they are insulting the researchers who have been doing this for years. I don't want a pretty story line and "possible relatives" put in my lap. I would prefer if they had two views, a basic homepage that holds peoples hands through obvious stuff like they are trying to do now and then another more advanced homepage for people that don't need training wheels and know what they want to do and just get it done without having to wade through fluff.

  4. Part 1 as my first post was too long--

    I am so angry about the new website I could scream. I used to be able to tell exactly what was going on with a person at a glance...NOW I have to click here, click there...the black background on trees I find horrendous..That is not only NOT viewer friendly BUT when I don't want to add a bunch of new people to me tree that are distantly related I like to at least put a story on the person I DO have from the family, so others can get an idea of who the family is. That still works IF I do snipping copy with the awful black background and the cluttered people files, save teh snip to my hard drive and upload as a story BUT

    I was just about to start a project wherein to keep families a bit more organized I was going to print off a family view and then enter that into my hard copy notebooks. I was amazed that when I tried to print a family view I did NOT get a print of exactly what I was looking at--ancesrty automtically enlarged it (by a LOT) and the family view I was looking at came out in 4 different pages--SO if you want to print off a family view of a tree I have to use TONS of black ink to get it in the view I wanted it to print to start with...

    You can no longer tell the age of a person at the time an event occured. Knowing that is important. I have seen trees with children attached that the parents had to be 11 years old--it was EASY to spot a mistake--now you have to calculate all that stuff...Likewise for death dates--I have seen trees that had a fellow 120 years old at the time of his death...THOSE errors used to be easy to spot-NOW you have to calculate everything.

    Ancestry recently decided to hide comments on your profile page--I make a lot of comments on my trees when I am having a tough time with someone. I make sure the title of the comment clearly shows the issue I want to keep in mind as every time I look at that person, the titles of comments remind me of issues I have, data I have found that might help me in the future etc etc. If you leave a comment on a tree about an error OR to let them know you have additional information on the family they will never notice it---To be continued as my 1st post was too long.

    Today was the first time I opened up comments on someone who is a "tough nut" to crack---the comments opened on page 3, when I clicked previous comments it went to 8-13...what happened to page 1 and 2?

    So NOW instead of having a concise way of keeping track of various issues that I want others to be able to see, as sometimes these issues involve discrepencies I have found and i want others who might want to use my tree to copy etc that there are discrepencies to be resolved.

    1. Part II

      On the Classic website you could easily see through the mouseover function what a function was...no more..now you have to guess what every button does...

      I find the black and gray backgrounds difficult to view...what the heck was wrong with black and white?

      I don't want Census docs on the side, I want them in the timeline where they belong.

      I used to be able to at least SEE the first 5 stories or photos on a person, andn could tell what they were via mouseover to the description-and I knew at a glance how many stories and photos I have on a person...

      NOW I have to totally leave the timeline page to see documents.

      I used to add links to certificates andn other docs in the place in the timelines where they went---GONE--16 years of organizing files so that important docs were immediately visable--gone--So once again, you have to leave someones page OR have several pages on that person open just to see what you have.

      I used to spend quite a bit of time helping older folks and folks new to the site learn how to get around...even though the site USED to be pretty self explanatory--THOSE folks are going to be totally confused now. In MY experience MOST the folks I run into via ancestry.com are 50+--usually 60+--many with little to no computer experience...I don't think ancestry even considered the demographics of who most their users are---I am fairly savvy with a computer and not afraid to poke arounda site a bit trying to find a link I am looking for--NOW you cannot see what any botton does for the most part unless you click on it.

      The other day I was on the NEW site and there was not even a way to view everyone in your tree--something that is important when trying to figure out DNA matches...

    2. Part III

      I have someone I found yesterday with a death date of UNKNOWN-I was told a few years ago by an ancestry tech that if you use the erm unknown in fields the computer searches for a match as UNKNOWN...so I have been deleting them as I run across them. There was NO quick edit to get unknown out of there and there was NO death in his timeline--so there was NO way to edit the unknown entry into a blank

      I don't like ANYTHING except the alternate birth and name info showing BUT it shows the same names over and over--I deleted some that were just "extra" but when I went to delete one which was a duplicate of the name he is in my files, I got a cute little arrow that showed me where the info from--

      I had no idea if by deleting the name I would also be deleting the link to Ellis Island-AND I got stuck in that view and had to open a new page to bring me back to that person's main page--the back up buttons were not working--and I heard from others they were having the same problem. That is OK as I can back up with my browser button BUT how many people don't know that? I KNOW a lot of elderly folks don't-cuz I have to teach them that.

    3. Part IV

      I have sent multiple complaints about various problems I have had with the site and also things that I don't like through the support@ancestry.com address. How many people don't even know that exists? I wanted my comments in writing as when you call on the telephone I have had many experiences where they do NOT write down all the info about the issues you are calling about--sometimes they misunderstand-=-sometimes they truncate it so much that the REASON something is an issue is lost...and if "the powers that be" who are NOT researchers don't understand the reason for something being a problem, they are less likely to pay attention.

      THAT is why I like to send comments in writing so there are no misunderstandings...about exactly what I mean and the reason for it.

      There are SO many things I don't like with the new ancestry, it is crazy--The ONLY thing I like is being able to see alt births and and names which I could see thorugh facts and sources before.

      This site went LIVE well before it should have and I don't think they consulted seasoned researchers about the changes---

      The major compaints I used to have about ancestry.com was poor searching tools to narrow in on the person you were looking for as much as possible (even when you edit your search criteria you come up with too much "junk") and too many transcription errors. EVEN in directories, wherein addresses are typewritten, it seems abotu half of those transcriptions are wrong--there is NO good reason for that.

      As far as I am concerned they took a good site and ruined it...BUT I have 16 years with ancestry.com, and I research on a daily basis. There is NO way I could go somewhere else and start over. I have several lines that got back to the early 1600's and some even earlier. These are WELL DOCUMENTED ---and for sone of those folks in my Early New England lines I have TONS of documents (photos/stories) as many of these folks are discussed in detail in various histories in books etc...so every page I find on a site other than ancestry (and many that are ON ancestry) is put onto my tree as a photo or story--starting over somewhere else would be impossible...

    4. Part V-sorry if I overlapped--it was really hard to try to break up this post so much

      If you have been afraid to go look at the new ancestry I really advise you to do so so you can join the ranks of thousands or more who are complaining...if they don't know what we want, they cannot fix it.

      It will be too late when you open your account one day and see that you cannot figure out much of anything...and the tings you CAN figure out you don't like.

      Better to explore it now while they are implementing lots of changes in response to peolple's complaints.

      Personally, I want the choice to be able to see ancestry in the Classic view or the New View. I don't think they will make enough changes to the NEW one to make ME happy.

      I don't like the separate tiles for Census and other docs, they belong in the timeline. I don't like the black and gray...Essentially I don't like anythign about this new site.

      The time to voice your concerns about what you want changed is now while they are making voluminous programming changes as they hear what we have to say. Let them khnow now while they have a gazillion programmers on staff working on things.


    5. Woops I left out something important about viewing Comments which I do hope they bring over--NOW when you open your comments you get pages and pages of them to sort through--before it was easy to zone in on what issue you wanted to revisit--NOW I have to wade through 4 pages of comments (there are 15 on this person) to TRY to find the comment I want to find.

      Ancestry has created a nightmare.


  5. Ancestry does not care what you think. Ancestry is going to sell out for 3 BILLION Dollars. Whoever buys it will suffer the fall out.

    Best to download a gedcom and ALL of your uploaded documents to your computer. Look around for a new place to upload your GEDcom, there are some. Even if you can't upload your documents and pictures you will have a tree you can work with. And don't forget computer software programs work, too. No one who actually does research likes the NEW ancestry so the loss of our trees won't make any difference to most people.

    In the past two weeks I've been trying out other ways to have a tree on line and in the process found that the DNA matching at GEDMatch is far superior to the matches and circles at ancestry. And if you email someone there they answer you! Real people, real email addresses!

    But, my point is, ancestry is not the end of the world after all. I won't be using it but I've found so many OTHER good sites to use, I almost don't care what ancestry does 'cause I'm not there anymore. I'll leave my tree in hopes it shows up among all the wrong trees. 10 wrong ones must be right, huh? I just know I won't be going there every day to work on it.

  6. I just checked the blog again. Reams of new comments. I think if the New Ancestry is getting a 5% approval rating from users, that would be generous. Yet they are still acting as if they are getting nothing but raves. The advice to download a GED com is fine, but if Ancestry has the lock on most of the sources, the greatest pleasure I get in doing genealogy--which is trying to solve puzzles that may have only a minimal bearing on my own family tree--will be over. In sixteen years, I got pretty much all I needed for my own basic tree long ago. I need to have all the sources possible in one place for the kind of work I most enjoy. And I only have dial-up, so I gather it will be pretty impossible for me to work with the New Ancestry in any case. However, they also are apparently refusing to give refunds.How utterly loathsome of them, on all counts.

  7. Has anyone found it to be true that it wasn't only the face of Ancestry.com that has changed, but the pricing as well. Did they really take away many records that used to be in the basic subscription and put them into the "plus" subscription? Has anyone found this to be true? I'm up for renewal but seriously considering not doing it. I will find other ways..and that's fine with me. It's all about the challenge and travel anyways because we are never ever finished.

  8. It's nice to know I'm not alone. The new site is making me look for another home; it's the impotence of us who actually pay to use the site really sticks in the throat. We hand over the money and Ancestry does what it wants. If we dare complain, we stand the risk of being branded old fogies who can't keep up with new technology. It's not the technology we can't comprehend, it's the attempt by Ancestry to become more trendy. Welcome to genealogy lite.

  9. Can anyone suggest a suitable alternative to this useless "Upgrade". I'm totally over it. Hope they don't remove the old version.

  10. The New Ancestry is not geared to the serious researcher. My theory is that the Ancestry folks developed something for smart phone users to go fit in with the big advertising blitz Ancestry has been conducting, This way the casual, once in awhile, enthusiast will have a glitzy introduction to Ancestry and stay entertained when they get tired with Angry Birds! The genealogy craze will pass and the real researchers will be stuck with this stupid mess!

  11. Looks like its going to be Ancestry Lite. A product designed by computer geeks and art students with no interest in the subject. There's little evidence that genealogists were involved.

  12. If any "serious" researchers find another company that works well with trees, let us know. I will not be syncing my tree with them after "new ancestry" becomes mandatory. I agree with the comments above...ancestry light, not for serious researchers, and what a mess.

    1. Do take note of the report posted here that Ancestry.com has been owned already by a succession off for profit companies. A change-over in ownership is portending yet again! As I have read in other complaints to Ancestry.com (at the A.c facebook site), the reason we have circular framing around photos in our galleries is that the company that now owns the franchise is European, and it is the fashion in Europe to put circular framing around pictures, particularly portraits. -- I thought that Ancestry.com was something that was part of the non-profit status of the LDS church.

  13. When the "new" version came out, it was introduced for a trial run under "Classic" with the option to return to "Classic". How many folks opted to return to "Classic", and have continued to discover happily that "Classic" is what they see, and only what they see? -- And yes, I agree with Steven Howe and many others. Too many formerly serious programs of all sorts are being "dumbed down" for the convenience of people who like what I all "I-toys" and "smart toys", and would never even touch a real computer.

  14. I have been looking over several sites on the comments for the New Ancestry and I am seeing the same thing on each site, the negative outweighs the positive by an overwhelming landslide!
    I feel like I am in a board meeting as a presentation with all the color and glitz is presented , it looks good on paper but the functionality is missing.
    Yesterday I wanted to view wills. I could only view the new records on the new ancestry. I attached the first one and then attached it to all the children listed. It automatically gave a death date and every one of the children in turn now died in 1909. I attached another will which was presented for probate 19 Apr 1853. I see on the index it says 01 Mar 1851.I am thinking he died then or he wrote the will at that date. I went over and over that record and no where is the date 1851. Two places it is listed as 19 Apr 1853. I am spending all my time click click clicking and then undoing all the errors that go along with the NEW ENHANCEMENTS.
    Life Story feature seems to be a conglomeration of everyone who has the ancestor and I spent a lifetime separating 3 Jeremiah Jones' records with documentation to prove they were separate persons that had somehow been merged by others. Now my Life Story has them all mixed in again.. Yes they ave a feature that "I" can edit it but why should I have to take the time to undo something that I already undid and had my tree set with the facts.

    Old version I had gone in and given the exact day month year of the census so that I could look at a glance to see that my ancestor was alive on that date and perhaps they died that year but it was after said date. Gone on the new timeline.
    Legally we put our data on Ancestry and they have a claim to it, but they have taken years of our hard work and tampered with it. I cannot believe that the LDS Church which has promoted genealogical research for an eternity has come up with a program that has little function for a serious researcher and to add the Kardashian appeal. It is useless!

  15. I hate the changes. I realized today, when trying to attach an item doing a search, that it no longer gives you the date of birth/death or added info you personally added to that person to make it easier. I wanted to attach to Thomas Gordon. It listed about 5 Thomas Gordons. No dates behind the name or my added information like 7th G Grandfather. It just lists Thomas Gordon 5 times. No way now to identify which one you wanted to add the attachment to. There is no longer a search bar on your ancestor's profile page. I used that bar all the time. Now you need to go to your tree page and the bar is there. This site is no longer user friendly and I am sure the programmers do not do ancestry research. They have made a mess of it. I am one very unhappy customer and have been with them for 10 years or more.


  16. are there any new features that are usable or time saving?

    I have played with it for the last several days and I do not like it at all! Let us take a look at some of the newly enhanced features:
    Features of the NEW ANCESTRY

    1) We have dark colors which hard on the eyes

    2)We have circles around our ancestors photos which distract from the original features. I want my photos the way that I placed them online not with some circle cutting them off.

    3) We have historical facts and photos which clutter up the page (they maybe fun but if you don't want them you have to remove them - I have 30,000 ancestors!)

    4) Every time I add a new record or change something the timeline highlights and a pop up telling me it is saved, before I can continue. Valuable time wasted.

    5) The new Life Story is comprised of multiple trees who share the same ancestor. I painstakingly take the time to provide evidence for the facts I have and I get a life story with inaccurate information such as multiple marriages or wrong dates. Oh wait I do have the option to edit it but I have already done that and you want ME to take my time to undo the damage of this feature?

    6) New feature for when you find a new cousin and explore their tree. You have an added click to find out whose tree you have arrived at. I cannot find their index! Valuable time wasted with extra steps.

    7) Now you save a record and a feature asks "Does this record match the person in your tree? YES NO MAYBE. why would I add it if it doesn't? WASTE!!!

    8) New version when I add a will it gives me a new death date and if I add it to those mentioned in the will they all have that same death date. Be cautious!

    9)The name, date, place of birth death are all separated so now so it takes longer because you have to go to name separate from date separate from place to add that information.

    10)This is my tree and I am not presenting it to the board for approval so why do " I " need the records to be highlighted on a timeline every time I add something, etc. In fact I now have layers which I have to click click click is to get anywhere, and also go in search for my own notes. It's annoying and extremely time consuming.

    What would be functional are things that are simple and time saving

    1) when I find a misspelled surname on the census an option to change all the names at once instead of individually

    2) Index the 1850, 1860 & 1870 census so that we can add everyone at one time.

    3) When a parent dies and the next census comes with added children, make it so that they can be added to deceased parent rather than just UNKNOWN or the new step parent. Not to have to go back and attach them or add them individually.

    4) A feature like the old FTM to change all the formatting of the dates in one click to be uniform. I like to enter my dates like 11 Nov 1885, but some records are 11/11/1885 or 1920-02-27 and I have to go back and change what I originally had entered.

    5) What about clicking on the "Collections" Option only when needed. most of my research is USA and I have to click on the collections each time I search to avoid getting world records for someone who never lived around the world.

    6) I want to add records to multiple people in one step not everyone and every record separate.

    7) Bright crisp pages uncluttered pages

    8) keep it where we can attach a photo to an additional persons, without having to go into media and looking for it.

    You have all the records and I love that you keep adding them but
    What I am seeing is a lot of icing and very little cake!
    If I wanted a video game I would have purchased a video game!

  17. Terrible, terrible, Terrible. Ancestry was once a serious genealogy research website that worked well. I have been a world wide subscriber from its very early years. As a Professional researcher the site has now become a mess. We have now had this new site imposed upon us with no option or choice. What once was a research tool has been destroyed by none genealogists webmasters and new records are now impossible to find among thousands of hints or hits. I am stuck with it and will persevere to see if I can work with it. If not I too will cancel my subscription. The question I would ask the management is, With what appears to be so much criticism are they not going to sit up and take notice or watch the subscribers vote with their feet and leave in great numbers. I have yet to see a positive comment from any serious researcher about the new website.

  18. Let's hope we all have the energy to leave. I have three questions to ask of Ancestry are why? Why and why?

    1. Don't expect an answer. I've written 10 letters starting in June trying to make them see how hard this "improvement" is on many of their longtime, mostly over 65yr old members, I consider it form of age discrimination, they took our $$ & now are stealing product we paid for, they won't reply to a polite or somewhat angry letter, not even to say tuff luck lady.

  19. I've made many new friends, found long lost & distant relatives on Ancestry site, learned abt my Dad's lineage(never knew them) that I descend from long line of DAR / SAR lineage, found amazing historical facts & that my 23rd Grandfather killed my husband's 24th Grandfather (scary). I've spent appx 5hrs daily on my tree & looked forward to logging on ea day.
    I also paid abt 39.00/mo for membership over 10yr time frame(appx 4800.00) plus purchasing Ancestry membership for 21 gifts.
    Sadly, as of today, 12-15-2015, I won't be renewing my membership, 21 family & friends I hooked into site have either already cancelled or will when current membership expires. All over dislike of New Ancestry format.
    I'm 60+yr, had stroke & used Ancestry as tool to help regain use of many functions incl spelling, memory, hand coordination, etc. It took me over 6mo to re-establish my repetitive abilities on Ancestry. I'm too angry to start process again, particularly on butt ugly design that's user unfriendly, hard to read & navigate.
    Ancestry hasn't replied to 10 letters I wrote outlining why this change is so hard for myself & many others. Angers me to know they were glad to take my $$ but totally disregard any imput I & other's have made by not even taking time to flip me off.
    Maybe destruction of their bottom line will make them realize this happened to Coca-Cola, JC Penny's etc when they tried to reinvent the wheel while ignoring their cash in hand public's opinions.
    Does Ancestry actually think Lederhosen ad's will generate enough new members to offset those they'll lose?

  20. There is no sense in complaining because Ancestry is discontinuing their Family Tree Maker program and there will be no updated connectivity between Ancestry online tree and Family Tree Maker program.

  21. It's very sad to see what ancestry has become. They once had the greatest website for genealogical research on the internet with by far the best collection of records, but the move away from the classic site to the 'new' (and allegedly improved) site has been a disaster for their long-term user base. Ancestry may still have the best collection of records, but they are hidden behind a garish and dumbed-down user interface which repulses most serious and experienced genealogical researchers in an attempt to woo a younger mobile generation. It's been a very bad move on their part, which coupled with the withdrawal of support for Family Tree Maker and the increases in membership fees may I fear, in the longer term, spell the end for the company.
    I've been using ancestry for over 15 years but will not be renewing my membership and will be looking to move my family trees onto other sites that provide a more mature user experience such as FindMyPast or the free FamilySearch.

  22. It's very sad to see what ancestry has become. They once had the greatest website for genealogical research on the internet with by far the best collection of records, but the move away from the classic site to the 'new' (and allegedly improved) site has been a disaster for their long-term user base. Ancestry may still have the best collection of records, but they are now hidden behind a garish and dumbed-down user interface which repulses most serious and experienced genealogical researchers in an attempt to woo a younger mobile generation. It's been a very bad move on their part, which coupled with the withdrawal of support for Family Tree Maker and the increases in membership fees may I fear, in the longer term, spell the end for the company.
    I've been using ancestry for over 15 years but will not be renewing my membership and will be looking to move my family trees onto other sites that provide a more mature user experience such as FindMyPast or the free FamilySearch.

  23. Can anyone here suggest the best alternative to Ancestry please?

  24. I need one too. Just cancelled Ancestry after 14 years.

  25. I need an alternative too. I just broke up with Ancestry after a 14 year love affair. I am truly heartbroken and going trough withdrawal but I'll be dammed if they, like my pappy told me, are going to get my milk for free. I have worked so hard correcting census information and building a well documented tree with 35,000 people and over 120,000 attached records. Paid for DNA tests for 8 family members and made my work public. My tree is now private as well as my DNA and when I find another site I will transfer all of it. All these top dogs fall eventually but I think Ancestry has taken the fast track with their European takeover.


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