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FamilySearch Employee Responding to Search Page Feedback

edited September 28 in Suggest an Idea

Thank you all for the extensive feedback we have been getting on the results page. We know this is a beloved page at FamilySearch, and we are working very hard to make a good experience for all of our users. We are reading your feedback, and trying to further improve upon what we have created. I want to address a few of the changes we've made, and why we've made them, as well as share some insight as to the extensive testing that has gone into these new pages.

First, we went to a lot of lengths to make sure all of the features you enjoyed on the old page are still there on the new page, but many of them have changed. Here's a quick overview of where you can find some of those features:

  1. Selecting one (or more) collections as a filter: Previously while on the search results page, there was a tab that said "Collections" from there you could check which collections you wanted to search in and apply the filter. This feature has been moved to the section labeled "Filter Results", there is a small button called "Collections". When selected a side panel will pop out with all the same features as the previous version. We have added new features to help you in your research here as well. Now you can search for a specific collection and select it quickly by using the search bar at the top of the side panel. This change was made to make the collections filter work right alongside all of our other filters. Now all of our filters are together in one place.
  2. Search for records in a specific place: Previously on our search page, you could enter a country and state/province to restrict your results to only show records from those places. On the new search page, this is still available under the "More Options" button. When the panel comes out the location search option is in the same place as the old version, except it's not open by default, so you can find the button that says "Location" under more options and the text fields of Country and State/Province will allow you to enter that same information. Similarly, the "Type" button right next to "Location", will allow you to choose what kind of records you'd like to see, for example, Birth Records. This change was made because our data shows that this search was used less often than other features, and often brought back too few results for our users.
  3. Exact Searching: Previously on our search page, there was a little check box next to most search fields on our form. They were unlabeled but were used to search exactly on that field. On the new page you can access this feature by clicking "More Options", and at the bottom of the side panel, enabling the toggle labeled "Show Exact Search". When enabled, you will see the checkboxes next to each field. We know this is an extra step from how the old version works, but we made this change intentionally because the exact searching checkboxes greatly reduce the number of results our user gets, and commonly creates a bad experience. You can often miss out on relevant records if this feature isn't used prudently. It is a helpful feature if you are familiar with how it works, but it can be detrimental if you do not. So to prevent our non-expert level users from having a bad experience, we added the extra step.

A few other features have moved as well, but if you have any trouble doing something in the new page that was in the old one, reply to this thread, and I'll try to let you know how it works in the new page. We want our expert users to also have all the power they need in doing complex searches, and we introduced a number of new features we think you'll love.

  1. Filter by Race (find it under the "Filter Results" buttons)
  2. Filter by Sex (find it under the "Filter Results" buttons)
  3. Finding a collection to filter by typing the collection title's name (Select the "Collections" button under "Filter Results", there's a search box at the top of the side panel to type the collection title)
  4. User Preference (Under more options, click the "Preferences" tab)

• Data Sheet Layout - This is an entirely new way to view your search results. Each piece of information is shown in its own column in the table of results, you can also customize the datasheet layout and select which columns you are most interested in seeing.

• Display Information - You can choose how much information you would like to see about each search result in the table. Default is similar to what we've always had, but you can select "All Information" and you will see additional information on the record like Sex, Race, Residences, and Age. Or choose Minimal where you will see less information per row, but you will be able to see more results on the page at a given moment because the rows are condensed.

• Translation Options - Choose between whether you would like to see what was on the original record, in the original language the record was written in, or see the record information as FamilySearch has interpreted and translated it to your preferred language.

There are also several other new features that will help you find the record you are looking for more efficiently.

I hear a lot of feedback asking to go back to the old search page, and I want to be straightforward in why that is unlikely at this point. We have done extensive testing of this new page from a lot of different types of users, as well as gathering feedback to best understand the needs of our users. Some users are experts, others it will be their first time doing family history work, and we want to make sure each of you has a good experience. The new page has shown that it provides a better experience in these tests. While the page was in Beta we have also been measuring how successful users are at going from the first page to the results page, to attaching a record to the tree. Our data tells us that our users are doing better and are being more successful on this new page despite having to deal with the learning curve. As listed above we have built-in new features and kept all of our old features with this new page. It has also represented many many hours of our expert development team creating these new pages. For these reasons, it is unlikely that we will simply go back to the way that it was, BUT with that said, we will be looking to improve this new page further and listening to feedback from our users as we do so.

In regards to the simple search that just has the 4 fields at the top, vs the "More Options" search, again we have found that our newer users are less intimidated by all the options of our old page, and prefer the simpler search. Those 4 fields (First Name, Last Name, Place, and Year) have been found to be the least likely fields to bring back a "No Results" page, while still providing some level of detail to narrow down your results. Again all the additional options you have come to love on the old page will be found under the "More Options" button.

In regards to performance or speed, we have also done extensive testing on the time it takes to load the page, and have concluded that load times should be reduced by ~30% in comparison to the old page.

I know it's a big change, but it's an important one that we currently believe is in the right direction that allows our expert users to still have all the tools they need to be effective (and adding some new ones) while making the page simpler and less intimidating as we invite new users to learn more about their family.

One last request, I'm happy to respond to comments (As my time allows, this isn't my primary responsibility), but please be Specific, Constructive, and Kind on any feedback you have. Happy Searching



  • I am very pleased with the new look and layout. It is very clear and seems much more readable to me. It is intuitive to use and loads quickly.

    I do wonder if people are seeing the same display that I am. For instance, one person would like the search button at the top. My search button IS at the top on my PC and two different tablets.

  • @KinCityKitty: Hats off to you for taking on the #1 most common surname in the United States. I know the feeling of too many search results. Some of my project surnames are common enough that I definitely want less not more.

    I would love a preference setting to make my default Exact/Not Exact. Great idea!

  • Thanks Herb,

    This is something I discussed with the team today, and we should have a fix out soon so this should work better. In the meantime, if you make sure you enter a country before selecting the state, it should still filter your results.

  • @Fredelas from reddit, knock on wood, but the collection-specific search pages (such as appear not to have changed (yet). Those still have the "relationship to head of household"-type unique search fields.

  • This page will likely be updated in the next couple of months as well. While the general look and feel of those pages will be updated, the UI will stay much closer to the current layout, with the more advanced search form being the one open by default on collection-specific pages. There aren't (nor has there been) any plans to remove functionality, and the new version of this page will retain all unique search fields to the collection.

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