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Find My Past New Website

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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby DCA » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:44 pm

Sorry Mr/Mrs Editor, but a little bit of research would have shown this is virtually the same statement, almost word for word that the CEO issued when this whole mess kicked off a week or so ago.

Try asking:-
If it is designed as an improved service, why are so many customers complaining?
Where is the evidence of "a great deal of consultation and research"?
Why provide million more records and then make it more difficult to search them?
It is clear that the GUI has been designed without the search facilities previously offered, so why say they have "not transferred smoothly".
Feedback is being sent to the forum, but comments are not being dealt with at all, let alone "as quickly as possible". (Interestingly there are now comments appearing which suggest some posts are being deleated by FMP - I suppose that is one way to deal with them !!)

In other words, FMP are ignoring the problem in the hope that it will go away.

Please, please, please do not rely upon press handouts. Do a bit of digging for the sake of all of us genealogists out here.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:09 pm

DCA wrote:... It may be AdrianB38's rule to do what he is told by FMP, but it is not mine.


Projects work in a specific manner - if a Feedback site is provided and is not used, then the Project will record success - whether you like it or not. If the Feedback site contains hundreds of non-specific complaints, then those non-specific complaints will be discarded as having no useful data. Take an example that's just gone up: "Give us back the functionality of PDF files, saving/printing essential to researchers". No detail about which screens are affected. (No, please, don't guess what they are. Programmers need details). Oh, and the person had so much faith in their complaint they recorded their name as "Anonymous".

DCA wrote:... I am sorry but I just don't accept that the old site cannot be brought back...

Perhaps you could point out which post claimed it couldn't. I said it won't happen, not that it can't - because it could. I also said that sooner or later the old platform would grind to a halt.

DCA wrote:... there are now comments appearing which suggest some posts are being deleted by FMP...

Or the submitters can't find their Anonymous inputs in the middle of the Anonymous inputs all saying the same... Commentators need to provide detail.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby Jon Bauckham » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:39 pm

DCA wrote:Please, please, please do not rely upon press handouts. Do a bit of digging for the sake of all of us genealogists out here.


To be fair to Sarah, she was only posting the result of a quick email exchange with FMP afternoon - not a conscious attempt at investigative journalism. I look after the news section both online and in the magazine, so it's my responsibility to follow this up more thoroughly.

As I said before, the original story couldn't repeat anything other than press release spiel for the simple reason that the website hadn't launched at the time.
I've now left Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Please contact wdytyaeditorial@immediate.co.uk regarding any forum queries.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby Yartin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:54 pm

AdrianB38-

People have raised specific issues but they haven't been addressed. It would be very easy if FMP explained how they envisage the site to work when complete. The reality is the search system is the very problem with the new site and it impossible to see how they can change it as it appears inherent to the concept of the site design. Good searching is having a page where several parameters can be entered (and adjusted if necessary for further searches), bad searching is globalising everything and constantly having to refine searches to achieve an objective. The latter requires a lot of page loading and reloading, is time consuming and very primitive. This has already been highlighted and no one at FMP has yet said that this view is incorrect.

The next problem is layout. Instead of concise lists being displayed, that can be quickly scanned by the human eye, much of the results pages consist of empty white space and simple searches result in a myriad of pages, each having to be scrolled, with big fonts and wide spacing. Census transcriptions are not displayed as written in the original, being incomplete and based around the target rather than the household. Parish events are lumped together with BMD registrations and though these can be filtered one cannot hop from baptisms, to marriages or deaths in one click, as previously. Even then, results are displayed in the manner as described above. Censuses years cannot be located and moved between as quickly, nor can a search be done on address or piece and folio number. Birth parishes are no longer searchable.

Census images can as yet only be displayed using a Chrome browser. Well, at least not by Internet Explorer, and Chrome is the recommended browser. This is Google kit and there are good grounds for believing that FMP have a tie-up with Google which will always give preference to this browser and their products.

Newspaper articles can no longer be saved as images nor in my experience printed, as the function will not work on my PC at least.

These are just some of the faults I discovered spending about 10-15 minutes on the site. All these facilities existed on the original platform, so where does any improvement come into it?

These problems have all been brought to the attention of FMP, either on their feedback forum or directly. None have received any satisfactory response, most no response at all. Even the Head of Customer Services accepted in a mail to me that the new FMP doesn't work in a manner beneficial to me. And to hundreds of others, I suggested to them.

Even accepting some issues may be resolved, why was this incomplete, badly designed, appallingly trialled product launched in such a state? And why remove a working product before the new one has even rudimentary functionality?

Finally, the fact that comments are anonymous is a complete red herring. Not only are they still valid (and still ignored) but one has to give an e-mail address to register the comments. The only anonymity is between posters, not with FMP.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:51 pm

"People have raised specific issues but they haven't been addressed" - indeed, but there's also a lot of non-specific issues to hide the specifics.

"Good searching is having a page where several parameters can be entered ... bad searching is globalising everything" - well, yes and no. The essential problem is that multiple parameters on a screen dedicated to each collection requires a new search screen and logic for each new collection. It's simply not viable. Equally, you can't make a census enquiry screen work for a marriage enquiry. Somewhere there is a sensible medium. But I would dispute that "the search system is the very problem with the new site". The loss of so many bits of functionality mean I'm not capable of deciding whether the new search system is even close to the sensible medium.

"The next problem is layout. ... big fonts and wide spacing" - absolutely agree with you. I'd like a qualified Web UI designer's comment on this, because it's as shocking as Ancestry's New Search for profligacy, with the resultant loss of payload under the "fold" (that's geek-speak for the bottom of the screen). Is there any Web-usability legislation reason for this waste of space? Is it a result of a (poor?) attempt to build screen accessible from mobile devices?

"nor can a search be done on address or piece and folio number" - part of the appalling loss in functionality. Why, I'd like someone to ask FMP (hint, hint!) was the system implemented on so many users when half the functionality was missing? Was that missing functionality identified? Was it quantified in terms of how many people used it how often? What feedback was taken from the pilot users who've been on new.FMP for some weeks? Was it actioned?

On the other hand...
"Census images can as yet only be displayed using a Chrome browser. Well, at least not by Internet Explorer" - but I've just brought up an series of 1841 to 1871 plus 1911 in IE 10. (I can't confirm IE11's usefulness since it fouls up Outlook). There's a lot of "X" doesn't work on the Feedback site that I don't agree with - e.g. someone claimed browsing to previous/next record doesn't work in the Westminster PRs. I said that it did for me! What I wonder is whether there's an element of the site's speed (which can be appalling) chopping off outputs and people assuming that they're not there permanently.

"All these facilities existed on the original platform, so where does any improvement come into it?" Absolutely no improvement! Foot-shooting of the first order. But I also feel FMP are not getting over their point of scalability issues and the necessity to do something sooner or later.

"the fact that comments are anonymous is a complete red herring. Not only are they still valid (and still ignored) but one has to give an e-mail address to register the comments" No - I can't accept that - if you want to be taken seriously, sign in with your FMP id and own up to your comments.

"...why was this incomplete, badly designed, appallingly trialled product launched in such a state? " Absolutely. The old joke of project management is that "The 3 parameters are functionality, budget and timescale - and which two do you want?" I see no reason why timescale could not have been sacrificed.

Yartin - I think I agree with most of the rest that you said.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby Yartin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:37 pm

AdrianB38

"indeed, but there's also a lot of non-specific issues to hide the specifics."

People are venting their frustration. I am absolutely sure that many specific issues have been raised outside of the context of the forum as well as inside. I doubt very much FMP are not perfectly aware of the issues. It is as important to see the scope of people's displeasure as for them to regurgitate the same basic problems. A simple statement from FMP about what they are trying to achieve would be helpful. So far everything seems to be just chaos. Did they really think they could turn things upside down overnight and just rely on their PR briefing to wing it through?

"The essential problem is that multiple parameters on a screen dedicated to each collection requires a new search screen and logic for each new collection. It's simply not viable. Equally, you can't make a census enquiry screen work for a marriage enquiry. Somewhere there is a sensible medium. But I would dispute that "the search system is the very problem with the new site". The loss of so many bits of functionality mean I'm not capable of deciding whether the new search system is even close to the sensible medium."

FMP have managed with different search screens thus far, so why is it not viable? Not viable in which way? There is no sensible medium, I'm afraid. You, like they, seem to be looking at matters from a designer's perspective, not a customer's. I disagree with you fundamentally on this point. Constant refining is not a practicable way to do family history research for an experienced researcher, certainly. It is slow, cumbersome and to repeat, primitive. FH research requires moving between records quickly to make comparisons. Not possible on the new site. Any system requiring successive filters is never, ever going to be user-friendly. The crux of this is that a system that worked was already in place for the key records, e.g. census, BMD, parish, immigration/emigration and possibly military records. Though new data is always welcome, the above categories are essentials to good FH research. Losing efficient functionality on these datasets to assist in acquiring new records should not be a trade off. As I have suggested to FMP, why don't they retain the old website style for these key records and let those that want access to more records use the super-duper all-inclusive new site? The answer is probably because the key group are the most popular ones and they wouldn't get anywhere near the amount of subscribers for other record classes. So in effect those who want the basic records are going to be used to subsidise those that want new records added. I think the customer should be given the choice.

"Census images can as yet only be displayed using a Chrome browser. Well, at least not by Internet Explorer" - but I've just brought up an series of 1841 to 1871 plus 1911 in IE 10. (I can't confirm IE11's usefulness since it fouls up Outlook)."

I agree that not every, "I cannot do", comment bears scrutiny but here is a quote from a specific query I had from FMP on 29 March. The problem was not intermittent for me, I can assure you:-

" I am sorry that you haven't been able to view these records.

We are aware of this intermittent issue that is affecting a small number of customers, we will look at this in due course but it’s not likely to be fixed within the next few days.

As you may know, you can view the images without problem using the Chrome browser.
I hope that you'll be prepared to use that browser as it will allow you to fully utilise your membership."

"No - I can't accept that - if you want to be taken seriously, sign in with your FMP id and own up to your comments." Sorry, Adrian38 but I cannot accept your stance. It is absolutely irrelevant whether people publish anonymously or not in the context of their concerns. Why do you need to know who says what? I only use your tag on here to be clear about the points I'm addressing. It matters not a jot to me who you are, where you live or what you think except in respect of these issues. To repeat; FMP have access to that information should they be interested. That's all that really matters.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby Margaret Hirst » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:28 pm

The main problem that I see with the FMP fiasco which is the new search engine, is the apparently total lack of response from the company to the concerns voiced by many people. "If you post details of a problem, someone will respond" - no they won't.

I rang FMP after several days of not being able to make any searches whatsoever. I was asked what the problems were that I was having. "Not being able to make any searches". "What did you do exactly and I will replicate it". "I filled in the form with names and set it to search, but always the little arrow just went round and round, and then it went round and round some more, and I left it for ages and when I came back it was still going round and round". "What name did you use?" "What does that matter? the fact was that I couldn't make a search". "Well it could be problems with your cache or browser". Why?? I can reach other websites easily, I clear down my internet history etc every time I log off. I have no other problems. Are you telling me now that FMP will only work with "some" ISPs?

So I was given a 2 month FOC extension on my subscription. I said that I would give specific feedback on the Feedback Forum on how I found the search, as I did finally manage to get into the site and make one.

I did enter some feedback. It was not positive. I was not Anonymous. I have a name and a valid email to contact me on. Have I received any feedback? I have not.

I have to agree with the submission re the not-new statement from Annelise van den Belt. See below for a copy and paste from the FMP website at FMP (this site will not allow me to include the URL) which was published 26/03/2014 - ie ONE WEEK ago. Not a dicky-bird from her since.

Published
26th March 2014
A personal note from Annelies van den Belt, CEO at findmypast
announcement

As you know, we are currently moving all our members across to the new findmypast site. We hope you have received our emails detailing the exciting new features on our new site, but I want to also take this opportunity to update you.

The new findmypast site is designed to provide you with an improved service. We did a great deal of consultation and research and have now put the technology in place to be able to provide millions more records, a more powerful and accurate search, and a better user experience. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback, but we also acknowledge that there are some fixes still to be made. We recognise that some of the features you rely on most have not transferred smoothly, and we are working hard to resolve those issues as quickly as we can.

I want to thank you for all your valuable insights and your patience. Please do continue to send your feedback to us via our Feedback Forum or by clicking on the light bulb icon on the site. All comments will be recorded and dealt with as quickly as possible.

On behalf of everyone here at findmypast, thank you for your expert insights and your continued support.

Annelies

Please feel free to direct any comments or queries to our feedback forum.

Just a couple of questions:

1 - where is the positive feedback? In light of the overwhelming negative feedback, I would have thought that FMP would have been wetting themselves with excitement to produce some really good examples of this positivity. Not a sausage. I actually asked the girl at FMP when I phoned how many positive responses they had had, but she said she wasn't allowed to tell me - she wasn't even "allowed" to tell me whether there had actually BEEN any positive responses.
2 - why wasn't the new system run alongside the old system? Oh, yes of course it was. For several days after the implementation of the new system, I was still using the old system. My PC always kept me logged into the site, so I never had to sign in and thereby be re-routed through to the new system. However, when I used my laptop one day, I had to sign in and then, of course, got through to the new abomination. Unfortunately, this then knocked me off the old system on my PC.
3 - who actually developed the new system? Was this in-house or was it a consultant company?
4 - who were the people who were consulted during the development period and who evidently (according to Annelise) gave it the thumbs up - nobody seems to be admitting it was them and nobody seems to know anyone who did it.

I am all for changes in computer systems - WHEN IT MEANS AN IMPROVEMENT. I have worked on computers since the late 1980s. I have gone through numerous upgrades, and been a computer trainer. I have used a large number of very complicated systems. I have been a computer auditor and analyst. In my ever-so-slightly professional opinion - THE NEW FMP SEARCH ENGINE IS RUBBISH.
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby DCA » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:43 pm

Many thanks to AdrianB38 and Yartin for their posts. They were interesting and informative and I am guessing that they are both "techies" to some extent and therefore have a better understanding of the technical issues of website design and construction that the average FMP user.

As interesting as the technical debate is, please can we not loose site of the fundimental issue here.

Many hundreds, if not thousands, of people have paid many thousands, if not millions, of pounds to Find My Past for a genealogy research service which suited their requirements and in most cases, seems to have been considered better in many respects than any of the competitor offerings. There was probably many technical reasons why the platform on which it was based needed a revamp, but it worked for the customer. If FMP knew that the old site was unsustainable, and would have to be downgraded, they should have told subscribers that before taking their money.

Instead FMP has unilaterally removed the service which people have paid for and replaced it with something, which a growing number of customers find, unfit for purpose. This is not good business practice, in fact some may call it fraud, as customers have paid for one thing and have been given something else far less valuable.

Having made this fundimental error, what do FMP management do? Instead of apologising, explaining their actions and responding to the critiscisms, they have battened down the hatches and are not responding to any complaints or queries whatsoever, be they technical or genealocial. Even when the press enquires, they simply re-issue a regurgitated statement by their CEO, made over a week ago before the s*** hit the fan and leave their front line staff to deal with individual telephone calls and emails.

The FMP management team are not stupid, so why are they behaving as if they are?
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:57 pm

Yartin wrote:... A simple statement from FMP about what they are trying to achieve would be helpful. ...

There are plenty of simply statements on the Feedback site such as promises from the Project Manager about them (re)introducing items X, Y or Z.

Yartin wrote: so why is it not viable? Not viable in which way?

If you carry on adding records and adding collections, the risk is that eventually everything grinds to a halt. That's why it's not viable carrying on, on the same platform.

Yartin wrote: You, like they, seem to be looking at matters from a designer's perspective, not a customer's.

Sorry Yartin but unless it can be designed, it won't work.

Yartin wrote:"No - I can't accept that - if you want to be taken seriously, sign in with your FMP id and own up to your comments." Sorry, Adrian38 but I cannot accept your stance. It is absolutely irrelevant whether people publish anonymously or not in the context of their concerns. Why do you need to know who says what?

Because there are people at the other end. It's called psychology. If the complainant can't be bothered, then guess what...
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Re: Find My Past New Website

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:02 pm

DCA wrote:Having made this fundamental error, what do FMP management do? Instead of apologising, explaining their actions and responding to the criticisms, they have battened down the hatches ...


Totally agree - somewhere in here there is a massive failure of Project Management, compounded by the PR bunnies and their relentless (unfounded) optimism.
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