Friday, January 8, 2021

Small but Significant Changes at Ancestry.com

Ancestry is rolling out some new tweaks to their website that has everyone in a tizzy and I don't really know why, because in many ways they seem like an improvement to me. 

One of the changes was the removal of the clickable alphabet at the top of our List of All People. It allowed us to jump to surnames that start with any letter by clicking on the letter. I know the removal of this seems like a negative, but it's really not. What remains are two name search fields, one for first name, the other for last name. They were always there, and they always offered the ability to do what the alphabet list offered too, which I imagine is why the alphabet was removed - there is no point in having two different tools that do the exact same thing. You can still jump to surnames starting with any letter by simply putting that letter into the surname search field. But even better than that, the search fields offers way more versatility than the alphabet did, because you can also do the same for the first name field (shown above), and you can use more than one letter, so you can quickly bring up all "Mc" or "Mac" surnames, for example (shown below). I believe this was always an option, a lot of people just apparently didn't realize it.

The bigger change is in hints, clicking on a hint now brings up a side bar to preview the hint (shown below) instead of it loading a whole new page. People are complaining that it requires more clicks to confirm and attach the hint now, but that's just not true. In the past, you had to click on the hint, it loaded a new page where you could review the record, then you clicked "yes" to the hint being correct and it loaded the page that allowed you to edit the data you're adding, then you click "save to your tree" and you were done. That's 3 clicks.

It's the same now. You click on the hint, but instead of it loading a new page, the side bar pops up. Instantly, I felt this was an improvement because you haven't left the person's profile page, so you can still fully view and compare all their data, and sources, etc. You can click on Facts, Gallery, etc and the side bar remains up, allowing for a full comparison (shown below). In the past, the only way to do this was to right click the hint and open it in a new tab, which you can still do, but now there's no need. I always did this, because I generally want to refer back to the profile while checking a hint. Now, finally, I don't have to open a new tab, which is going to make my workflow much more efficient. 

Even if you didn't open the hint in a new tab in the past like me, the number of clicks is still the same. After clicking on the hint and the side bar popping up, you click "yes" to the hint being correct and it loads the page where you can edit the data you're adding, and then you click "save to your tree" just like before. That's 3 clicks.

So I'm really not sure what the fuss is all about. The changes either won't slow your workflow, or they will actually improve it. Give it a chance, you might find it works better.

2 comments:

  1. I'm on Ancestry.ca and still have the clickable alphabet, but agree with you, it really serves no purpose.

    As for the new style hints, it seems to depend from profile to profile which style I get, but again, I'm with you - it doesn't seem any more onerous than it was with the other system.

    I think right now with Covid, many people find any kind of change difficult to deal with.

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  2. Good tips and thank you for the analysis of these changes!

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