Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Search: Exploring The New Ancestry


It has now been some time since I updated my ancestry.com account to the new format. I was a little hesitant to do so as I felt I was just starting to really get a handle on the old site. Besides, what would I really get out of the new format if I wasn’t able to find everything that I wanted? But, not having the time that I used to have to comb through the digital volumes that I once had and getting tired of the constant requests to upgrade, I finally just decided to go ahead and make the change. After all, the constant promotions promised an enhanced experience far superior to the supposedly antiquated site that I had been using so let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Well… there isn’t much difference between the old site and the new one. At least, nothing significant that I have noticed in my occasional browsing through files, searching for documents, and skimming across the vast family tree that I have constructed. While I can clearly see the shiny new layer of digital shellac, where is the revolutionary change in functionality? It was really a letdown when the new site was laid out before me on the computer screen.

With that said, there is one minor feature that I particularly enjoy but it isn’t anything that will rock the genealogy world. While I am constantly cognizant of the world and sometimes local events that took place during the lifetime of my ancestor, ancestry now has those historical reminders integrated into each family member’s timeline. And I have to admit that it is helpful from time to time having those simple reminders clearly displayed on the screen.

Other than that, I haven’t come across anything that is making things easier or more interesting… of course, my family history is already deeply fascinating so it would be hard to enhance that. At the same time as the update were occurring, ancestry.com kept making more and more collections available for search… these have been more useful than the prettier package that the website is now offering. This is what made me think, what if they put their money and effort into making more documents available rather than redesigning the website? How much more data would we all have access to? What could we have already discovered?

That is, first and foremost, where the focus should always be not on how fancy the site looks but what information the site contains. So I ask ancestry.com to spend those membership dollars on data not on spit and polish. After all, the reason why we give you our hard earned money is to learn more about our family not the fanciness of the page framing the digital document.