Type in Ancestry Beta into Google and you’ll see LOTS about the new look of Ancestry.com. You’ll see a post from Dear Myrtle, Lisa Louise Cooke, Randy Seaver, etc. I’m adding my voice to many who have already chimed in but I feel like you can never know too much about a much-used website when they change things around.
My first impression is a good one. I like the way everything looks! Then again, I am the type of person who enjoys moving her furniture around every so often to get a new look. It’s refreshing. And that’s how I feel about the new look – it’s refreshing and seems clean.
Pedigree View/Home Page
This is relatively the same except for font and color changes. The leaf looks a bit bigger as well but really, there are no big changes in how the pedigree/home page is viewed, at least in how I use those screens.
Here is where quite a number of changes have happened.
- The historical insights are kind of like History Lines, which I’ve mentioned once before. These highlight historical events that happened during your ancestor’s life that probably made an impact – like the World War II draft, or the Americanization of immigrants in the early 1900’s. When you click on a historical insight, you’ll be brought to a page with more information and more pictures. I love this new feature as I feel this is often overlooked when people look at their family in history.
- This also includes family events like when a parent, child, or spouse dies. This is a wonderful feature! Having that in the list right up front might make certain things your ancestor did more clear.
- The World War II draft cards that are on Ancestry.com I use as a source for birth dates. The problem then is that the historical insight for the World War II draft is placed on his birthday, not the day he actually filled out the card. So, for Arthur Almy above there, the historical insight about being drafted in World War II is listed at 1885, not 1942 when he actually filled it out. I have yet to find a way to edit this (but did comment on that to Ancestry so I hope this changes!).
Overall – I really enjoy this! I think it’ll help people understand their ancestors a lot more with this new feature.
- Clicking on a fact shows you where the source came from (see picture below) and vice versa, clicking on a source tells you what fact it supports (see picture below). This is a wonderful feature!
- You can turn off the historical insights and family events from both here and the lifestory pages, which is nice, but I doubt I’ll do that.
- It takes some getting used to. The edit button is now in the top right corner as well as the search button. It will get easier as I play around with this more though.
- Adding sources and repositories look to be about the same as before. I say this as a con because putting in new sources isn’t very genealogy-citation friendly. The form is mostly for published items, not unpublished (which is what genealogists usually use) and you can’t format it yourself – you have to fill in the blanks that Ancestry has for you. This can be nice for those who aren’t sure what to cite but are citing something (always appreciated!) but I feel like it leaves out too much to be a good citation.
I really like the way this is set up! You can see all your pictures and stories at a glance, which you could before as well, but this now includes items like the census records, city directories, draft cards, etc. that you’ve also added from Ancestry.com’s databases.
This hasn’t changed in functionality, just in the way it looks.
There are smaller changes here:
- The search forms now automatically begin with the advanced search, which you can hide. I always used the advanced search form anyway so I like that it’s one button click less
- Tabbing between fields is easier now
- The layout seems cleaner and easier to follow
Other than that, searching seems to be as before. The layout is a bit better, as mentioned, and that’s a plus. But overall, the functionality is about the same.
My conclusion? After two days of playing around with it, I do have to say I like the new way it looks! I think the historical insights and the new lifestory timeline are wonderful additions. I hope some of the bugs will get cleaned up (like not being able to change when a historical insight happens on the lifestory) before they push it out to everyone, but so far I like the new changes!
Anyone else tried the beta version? If so, what did you think? Comment below!