Ancestry.com: New Search and International Updates
Posted by Diane
In yesterday’s Ancestry.com bloggers meeting, held at the National Genealogical Society conference, leaders of several parts of the
company talked about what the company’s been up to and goals for this year.
A lot of numbers were tossed out, which the company uses to
understand which Ancestry.com databases and features you use most. For example, after member-to-member messaging was moved
onto the site (so instead of just sending an e-mail to another user, you send a
message that’s stored in the person’s in-box on the site), members sent 25
percent more messages. Responses increased 35 percent.
Some interesting stats involved the new search interface vs.
the old one. Use of the two is evenly split, with longer-time members sticking
with the old interface and newer members favoring the new interface (I have to
wonder if they just haven’t discovered the old search yet). “Old-search
searchers” do an average of 37 searches a day, and “new-search searchers” do an
average of 21 searches per day.
The guy in charge of developing a newer new search, Tony
Macklin, was frank about what’s wrong with the new search (this is from my
scribbled notes, so it’s not a direct quote): queries don’t always return
consistent results between the two platforms, you get too many irrelevant results,
browsing by place is too difficult, and the individual database search
templates aren’t as customized (Macklin uses the old search for individual
databases). His examples were coupled with user comments.
He said changing the search interface without changing the
actual search was a mistake, and the goal is to eventually bring together the
best parts of both platforms.
Content-wise, Ancestry.com has grown to 8 billion names. Family
trees recently passed the census as the most-used data set.
Some upcoming additions include the WWII “Old Man’s Draft”
for Illinois, newspapers from 30 new cities, Jewish records with two new yet-to-be-announced
partners, Navy cruise books, pre-1850 city directories and vital records.
In a large reception Ancestry.com held last night for
conference attendees, senior VP Andrew Waite said the company is aiming for a balance
of 30 percent upgrading current collections and 70 percent adding new ones—but
that this figure has been more like 50/50 during the last few months.
Ruth Daniels from the UK office talked about negotiating digitization agreements in other countries, where records may be
widely dispersed at state and local repositories, and laws and cultural
attitudes differ around who should have access to records. For example, public
access laws make UK records easier to acquire; Italy’s decentralized archives
make things more challenging there. The just-released German
telephone directories and records from the London Metropolitan Archives,
launched in March and still being added, are two successes.
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events
Friday, May 15, 2009 9:28:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)