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Monday, March 10, 2014

Digging for the Date of Added/Updated Databases in New Search now Primary Search

One aspect I preferred in the "Old Search" experience was that information or details seemed to be more in the open. With "New Search" or as Ancestry.com started calling it today "Primary Search" those details seem more buried and require digging to find what should be visible.

Have you ever checked to see what database collections have been recently added or updated?

From the Main Search page in Old Search one would scroll to the bottom on the page and select the "recently added" link at the bottom of the right-hand column. From there you landed on a page (I wish I had a screen capture of this from Old Search), where you could see in one spot/list what had been added or updated to the website. Besides the database collection name, it clearly showed a graphic indicating updated or added AND gave you an actual date that this took place. So if you knew you last checked the list on a particular date, you could easily and quickly scan the list until you spotted that particular date. If needed, you could narrow the list by a particular country or show all countries at once.

Does New Search/Primary Search have this list? Yes, but it is not as convenient to use or to scan for updates/additions. Why?

Well, from the main search page you now have to click on the "view all in catalog" link at the bottom of the right-hand column. But this just takes you to the catalog page. So then you have to change the "sort by" from "Popularity" to either "Date Updated" or "Date Added."  What once was one list is now two lists!

Now as far as figuring out what is new or added since you last checked that requires more effort. Instead of a column in each list giving the actual date the addition or update took place (like in Old Search), Ancestry.com thinks you should roll your mouse over each database title. Then you have to wait for a pop-up bubble to appear giving you: the title of the collection, the date it was published, the date it was updated and a very brief line or two describing the database. This takes considerably more time having to wait for each pop-up to appear to learn the date. (And to be honest, I discovered this pop-up bubble by accident when my mouse slid off my lapboard one night.) Oh, the lists can be narrowed using location filters in the left-hand column.

To me as a user, if I am looking to learn what has been added or updated recently on the website SEEING the date added/updated is more important than seeing how many records are in each database or in what category the database was placed. Because the goal of my task is to learn what is new. Wouldn't logic say that date should be clearly visible rather than hid?

Yes, there seems to be "spacing issues" on the catalog page. But I suspect the information appearing in each column are values tied/coded to each database. My programmer brother says it is not that hard to re-program a column on one or two pages to "read" another value. (If it can appear in the pop-up bubble it can appear in a column and vice-a-versa.)

I have used the Ancestry.com Feedback (and an old survey a long time back) to point this and other things out. I just thought to share with other "Old Searchers" how to do what we did quickly and easily in Old Search days in the New Search/Primary Search albeit not as quickly and easily.

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