Genealogists are starting to see Ancestry.com‘s the new “slider” feature on its search results pages, which the company is rolling out to members as a way to quickly broaden or narrow search results.
I ran a search as normal for my great-great-grandfather Henrich Seeger, who was born in 1852 in Germany, and lived in Cincinnati. Here’s what the sliders on my search results page looked like:
Once you’ve been upgraded, you’ll see up to four types of sliders in your search results:
- First and last names of the person being searched
- Birth and death dates and places
- One “Any Event” fact (such as Lived in, Marriage or Military)
- One residence location
If you don’t enter one of these terms, such as a birth, you won’t see a slider for that term.
Dragging the sliders adjusts the filters applied to your search terms. The further right you drag each filter, the narrower your search. In the rightmost position, the slider sets the associated search term to Exact.
As you drag the slider, a little pop-up window tells you how narrow that search term is. For example, when I dragged the Birth date slider two spots to the right, a window popped up to tell me the filter was set at +/-5 years (which would find records with birth dates between 1847 and 1857). Had I gone all the way right, the popup would say “Exact.”
Then you would click Update to apply the new filter.
You also can click the Edit Search link to bring up the Advanced Search screen (I cropped it in this screenshot), so you can adjust your filters manually:
The advantage of using the sliders is that it’s supposedly faster and easier—you don’t have to take the step of opening the Edit Search screen to adjust filters. I also see how the visual the sliders provide could help users understand how filters narrow or broaden a search.
I’ll probably still use the Edit Search window over the sliders. It’s just as fast and easy for me, and I like to see all the search options laid out. For me, the sliders aren’t a big improvement, they’re just another way of doing things, although I do think they visually clutter the screen.
On the other hand, I showed this new feature to my husband, who doesn’t ordinarily use Ancestry.com but does appreciate the pursuit of genealogy, and he thinks the sliders are cool.
This update is being coupled with limiting access to the “Old Search” experience, which Ancestry.com announced last June would happen. I’m seeing a fair amount of upset among Old Search fans on social media, for example, in this post from the West in New England blog.
Ancestry.com says it is enhancing the “Category Exact” mode, which is intended to simulate the Old Search experience. See instructions for using Category Exact to simulate Old Search in Ancestry.com’s Help Center.