Results page redesign
My account has been used for testing the new results page redesign. I have had to live with the changes for more than a week, while still trying to do my work. The interface has drastically changed, and not in a good way. The current design took years to perfect. In this new design, everything that was meticulously developed over those years has been completely thrown out and the whole page has been redesigned from scratch. The development of this new design has been made without understanding the needs of the genealogists, but rather from a consistency and look and feel perspective. From a non-genealogist perspective, this new design seems modern and consistent with other current websites. However, this new design does not consider the needs of the genealogist. Far too much space is put into every design element, which means that a genealogist cannot easily glance at a page to spot the information they need. Every time a person has to scroll, that is time wasted as well as repetitive movement, both of which put unnecessary strain on the user. The bar at the top of the screen, which includes the edit button takes up far too much space for the content that is provided.
I have also found serious flaws in the user interface. During the time that I have been unwittingly forced to beta test this new interface, I have been focusing on census records. The interface for the census records contains a serious flaw. The household members section is a critical portion of the results for the census. The standard version contains all of the household members, including the person that the record is for. Being able to see all of the household members together in one glance is critical to allow the genealogist to understand the order of each person within the household as it appears on the census. This is critical information. The new test version does not show the record member in the household, just all the other household members. This eliminates a key piece of information.
Additionally on the census screen, the addition of the drop down sections for the household members might seem clever to the developer. I have been a web developer and know the thrill of adding a new feature that seems exciting and clever. But this is really extra baggage in loading the page that is unnecessary and is not able to fully capture all of the details. If I want to see information about the other people in the household, then I'll click on that person and bring up the new page. The drop down could theoretically do the same thing, but it adds a lot of extra coding and also milliseconds to the page load. Having the fastest turnaround time possible to load the page is far more valuable to a genealogist than clever tricks like this. In fact, even worse is that it will confuse people that are not tech savvy, who just need a simple way of doing things in order to remember how to complete the task. I have run into several genealogists who keep step-by-step instructions for how to get around in finding and reviewing records. Adding fancy features just complicates and confuses people like that, without adding significant improvements that are useful for the advanced genealogist.
In addition, the whole screen has been changed in a way that makes it much harder to do a job that you may not be aware that is needed. Many genealogists use another program to create their family tree. Ancestral Quest is the one I use, but there are many others out there like Family Tree Maker. Best practice for genealogists is to create sources for every record that they find. Sourcing can be done in many ways. The current version of the results page provides a section that says "citing this record". This section is designed to allow the genealogist to copy the citation and paste it into the source citation in their genealogy tree program. The source and citation sections are standard components of the GEDCOM file format for transmitting genealogical record information between users and genealogy programs. Whenever I create a source citation, I also copy the information from the results page and paste it in the text section of the source. This allows me to have a copy of what I was referencing. It allows me to go back and review the source without having to open the webpage again. It also is important if there were ever a time when that page disappeared or if changes occur to the page, which is common for Findagrave results especially.
The newly redesigned results page that is currently being tested has significantly altered the page in a way that eliminates many years of refinements. Please rethink this change. Do not force this onto us as users. Please beta test this and get feedback from users before thrusting this design on us and walking away. At least allow us a chance to be involved in the redesign and show you what you are missing. This is a massive change. The needs of the seasoned genealogist are not necessarily obvious to a developer, just as with any other workflow. Please let us show you what you are missing. Let us beta test this interface in a way that you are willing to understand our needs and make changes to reflect our needs. You have missed the mark in some critical areas with the current test version.