Posted by Crista Cowan on May 16, 2013 in Site Features, Website

Have you logged on to today and done any record searching? Then you probably noticed that we made some changes overnight to the search results page. This is part of our continued effort to improve performance on the site and the load time required for key pages. This also allows us to work towards better scalability of results and visibility of key features. The new look for these pages uses more modern techniques for styling that require less things to be downloaded to your computer and should load the page faster. (More pages on the site will be using these techniques over the coming months.)

Here is a side by side comparison of the changes we made:

Search Results Categories
The new design allows you to view and filter to categories with a single click.


Search Results Toggle Between Records and Categories
The new design makes the toggle between the record view and the category view of your search results more prominent – and it functions with only a single click.


Search Results Cleaner Design
Database titles are now in bold, making it easier to skim through your search results looking for specific records.

If you have specific feedback about the new design – what do you like, what don’t you like – please let us know by taking the survey available at the top of your search results page.


Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Google Twitter


  1. Reed

    The visual re-design is a big “whatever” for me. For the moment it’s less familiar and therefore a bit annoying, but I suspect I can get used to it.

    However, I am really annoyed that when I Command-Click to open a results link in a new window I get the new window AND the “results page” also changes to that window. This is a huge pain in the…neck…and serves no useful purpose for those of us that prefer to navigate quickly back to the results page.

    Please, please undo this aspect of the “improved” results page.

    Thank you.

  2. Ken Hinds

    I never use Global Search, so everything mentioned above is
    irrelevant to me. The changes have also been implemented on the
    individual database search results, so I can comment about that

    1. You got rid of the meaningless stars. This is an improvement.

    2. The font of the column headers is too small for me. I can make
    out what they say, but it’s not easy. Maybe bump them up a couple
    of sizes, and make them bold.

    3. Why oh why is there still no way to change the sort order?
    There are frequently times when I want to view the results in order
    by name or county, not by birth date. People have been asking for
    this for a long time. The code to implement it is really pretty
    simple. Why is Ancestry so reluctant to do this?

    4. Why oh why is there no way to jump forward several pages in the
    results like there was in Old Search? I am doing a one-name study,
    and often I will go through a database and pull out all the entries
    for people named Rigsby. Frequently this will mean going through 30
    or so pages of results. I can’t always get through all of them in
    one sitting, so I will come back later. In order to get to page 17
    where I left off, I have to click on the link for page 12, then
    click on the Next Page link five more times. Under Old Search, I
    would click the Jump Up 10 Pages link, then click the link for page
    17. Why are we limited to one or two pages on either side of the
    current page?

    5. There has long been a problem with the results from searching
    member trees: The birth state is not shown, just the county. Some
    branches of my Hinds family lived in Madison Co AL, and some lived
    in Madison Co AR. Seeing “Madison” for a birth place on the results
    list doesn’t help me. The marriage state and death state are shown.
    Why not the birth state? This problem doesn’t seem to occur in any
    other database.

  3. Charlene Cotton

    In the new display, “View Profile” automatically opens Maps. How do I turn off this function? If I want to see Maps, I will select that option. I want to view and Edit Profile, but cannot get past Maps to the Edit Profile and relationships page. Thank you.

  4. Jan Murphy

    What happened to the image previews for results in the US City directories and other directory collections? Being able to read a snippet of the entry made it much easier to pick out relevant results. It was the main advantage of using New Search over Old Search for me. I don’t understand why a search of an individual collection from the Card Catalog has to be dumbed down, in a misguided effort to make things more simple for new users. Every time you change the search I test the new results by searching for specific records I already know are here, and most of the time, the new search methods fail. Your search algorithms AND the way you present results need a major overhaul, not just an endless set of cosmetic changes that obscure the search results.

  5. Jan Murphy

    By contrast, results from the Massachusetts City Directories still have an image preview — but the search results only show the name of the person — NOT the YEAR or CITY.

    Who thought this would be more useful?

  6. Laurice Johnson

    I still use old search because new search is difficult for me to use. The results aren’t sorted and there are WAY too many of them. I always encourage people I know who are frustrated by the search results to try the old search – most find it easier and less confusing for them – especially if they are new to ancestry.

    That being said, I will TRY the new search once again, although I am not hopeful and expect that I will be back at ‘old search’ once again.

  7. Ken Hinds

    #7 Laurice and others: You will find New Search more like Old Search
    if you click “Advanced Search” and then click “Match all terms
    exactly”. Doing that removes all the obviously incorrect “matches”.
    I will never understand why Exact is not the default.

  8. Teresa Goodnight

    What happened to the “old search”? When I click on it, I now get what you were previously calling the new search. I could not use it and I don’t care that you made modifications to it. I liked the original design that did single line lists. It was simple and easy to sort through. And the tab style with records on one tab and trees on another was easy to use. I don’t like either of the views you are now forcing us to use. Please bring back the original list style searching for your long-time members who prefer it. Make a link somewhere with the “Original experience”. I just can’t use this new style. It doesn’t bring up the right records or display them in any form that I can understand. I liked looking through one hundred lines on a page, not this messy looking thing. If I want to see the record I’ll click on it. Don’t show me here. I hate this.

  9. BEE

    Teresa, I’ve always used “old search”, and it still looks the same to me. I do try now and then to use “new search”, but I just can’t stand it.
    Of course, every time I do, I’m worried that I won’t find my way back to the far more “comfortable” – in my personal opinion – “old search”, although I have to hunt a bit to find where to switch back.

  10. Dottie Hulett

    Leave well enough alone. If you cannot add more reference material (new reference sources) LEAVE IT ALONE. We don’t have time to adjust to the difference in display when we are “desperately seeking Susan”.

  11. larry surles

    Do you not think that a 15% increase in the price of a basic subscription is a bit excessive? There has been no significant improvement or better service to justify it. Disgusting after being a customer for a long time.

  12. Aubrey

    I don’t see what the huge fuss is about in either direction (good or bad). Watch some of the You tube videos put out by and you’ll find out a whole lot more about how to search for the information you want to obtain. No reason for the uproar.

    As for the 15% increase Larry, I have yet to see it… I just renewed.

  13. Jan Murphy

    Why can’t search results be grouped by time period? Fold3 (formerly Footnote) does this. I just searched for a Civil War ancestor through the military records portal that has been promoted because of Memorial Day. If a user is searching for a service member, especially if they are following a lead from a census record, they will be interested in looking at the results from a particular war. ALL global search results would be greatly improved if they could be filtered or sorted out by chronology, but the military records would be a great place to start.

  14. Lisa Redden

    As an earnest researcher who has been using Ancestry for many years and who especially likes to network with competent researchers of common ancestors or family lines, I am VERY disappointed by some of the changes made by Ancestry.

    The feature has been taken away to be able to see *who* has attached a particular record to a particular person in their Ancestry tree from the original records screens. (Yes, I am aware there are other ways to find common researchers on Ancestry, but it is now much more cumbersome and definitely not a direct approach.)

    The reason of “improve[d] performance on the site and the load time required for key pages” is nonsense! It may help Ancestry, but it definitely has not helped me or other users who are accustomed to this feature.

    I’ve already made my concerns about this change known to Ancestry through a number of avenues, left to feel my complaint doesn’t matter, and being told the decision was that of Ancestry’s management and programmers.

    I will certainly be spreading the word to fellow researchers whom I network with who use Ancestry to make their complaints known to Ancestry as well concerning this particular change. If feedback is what matters, I will keep making attempts.

    Change is fine and dandy when it does not take away valuable features and functionality or add unnecessary steps. In this case, the change is not favorable.

  15. Elizabeth O'Donnell

    I only use old search and if that changes I will have to seriously think about my subscription. Change for change sake does not work. If you are doing this to keep the programmers and admin people , just get rid of them. They write code. THEY DO NOT SEARCH!

  16. BEE

    Sorry to complain, because I have found so much information, but
    as I search in vain for some families, I get something like this for a “hint”:
    Someone BORN 1846 in MAINE, DIED 1911 in NEW HAMPSHIRE of parents born in MAINE:
    HINT: Someone with the same LAST NAME and middle initial, but different FIRST name “born abt 1848 in NEW YORK of parents born in SCOTLAND, living IN NEW YORK, and is a WIDOW on the 1930 census, meaning this is her married name, whereas the person born in Maine in 1846 is the woman’s maiden name! – huh?? How can this happen? NO! Don’t tell me! I would probably be told that if I were using “new search” it wouldn’t happen? I’ve been writing on these blogs for I don’t know how long – as a “senior” who is self-taught on the computer, but very good at finding documents that others couldn’t find, especially poorly spelled and transcribed “ethnic” names, “old search” has served me well, and unless they remove it entirely {don’t even think of it!} there is no way I will switch to “new search”. I keep trying it, but I hate everything about it!!

  17. M Derby

    This new way of entering and editing information is not user friendly! Why do you have to fix something that isn’t broke. I agree that change for change sake does not work. Having to go to the profile page to enter information is frustrating and time consuming. It takes long enough to do the research so why add extra time to do the entering and editing of information.

  18. Sharon Rensberger

    Please tell me where to find the ‘old search’, meaning the original format. It was straightforward and I could search for specific facts, such as a Miller in Shelby co., IN in the year 1880. The new format is very cluttered and confusing to me. I have a college education and have been using Ancestry since 1996. Please listen to us older users and give us the option to use the ‘Old Search’.

  19. BEE

    Sharon, I don’t know if the “old search” I’m using is the original format, but it looks the same as what I got used to and have been using since I joined ancestry.
    If you click on “Search all Records” – because I’m in “old search”, it says on mine – “Go to New Search”.
    As I wrote previously, I keep trying “new search”, but I just hold my breath each time I want to get rid of it, hoping that the “Go to Old Search” message is still there.
    I’m sure they’ve changed different things, and who knows how much support it’s getting, but as others have commented, it’s far more “user friendly”. I hope this helps.

  20. Cat Bitner

    This new search is not helpful! Public Member Pictures can’t be accessed, England & Ireland records are coming up instead of US records, the Stories & History are bringing up results based on the first name of the person instead of the last name, Search keeps asking for more info on the person (it apparently needs you to put in manually the info that was on the left in Prior Search.). When this all started this morning I was hoping it was a software problem, but after calling I was told this is what you get! These changes are like going backwards to the late 1990’s when the Internet search process was very basic!! I always tell people this is a great place & worth the money, but I believe my opinion has changed. I will not recommend again & probably will not renew!

  21. Toni

    At the moment I am not paid up so I can’t click a census I’ve saved to my person and be able to view it. You are not playing nice. On the other hand, I’ve learned to save everything to my computer so that I can look at it again any time I want to. I’ve only been doing this about 3 years and even in that short amount of time I see this site going backward. I had planned to renew last year but not now. Maybe not ever. The more “features” you invent, the less likely I will be back with my $$$. Be careful how many of us you alienate. New sites are coming on line all the time. There is no reason for us to stay here if searches become meaningless.

  22. Jackie

    Idiots. No regard for what your customers want or need, whatsoever. Improvements … that is a joke. You listen to what we ask for? That is a laugh. Every ‘improvement’ you make is totally useless and makes it worse for everybody who actually uses this service. And we pay plenty for it. Imcompetent boobs running the place.

  23. Diane Ruane

    Why is it telling me the new search is no longer supported in Internet Explorer 7 and that I need to update to a version that is supported. I am using Internet Explorer 10 with Windows 8. This shouldn’t be a message I am receiving. Anyone else getting that message?

  24. kathy



  25. CDM

    I have been using Ancestry for years & have not had a problem. I loved the Old search. I have tried using this search & HATE IT!!! Sorry, I have tried & now I can’t find crap. LOL!! I am hoping we can still use the old search? If so Please let me know ASAP!! I feel the new search gives way to many results. I understand about u guys trying to improve but for me its just not working. I am & have been a paying customer for years now & I am hoping either we can pick Old Search or this ones gets better.

  26. CDM

    After I posted my comment above, I found the Old Search! YEAH!!! Don’t get rid of it 🙂
    Thanks again

  27. Jackie

    Message#25 Diane … I get the same thing … update from Internet Explorer 7 when I am using version NINE right now.

    They messed up the viewer and now will force us to use the ‘new and improved’ one everyone hates. They messed up the search and made it harder to use or to find anything. And half the time it goes offline, hints don’t work, or you get messages saying to update your browser that’s already updated. The problem with Ancestry is the tech staff, because obviously none of them ever actually uses Ancestry to try to work on a tree. They like to try to make things look different, but, in doing so, screw everything up and ignore what their paying customers want. Personally, I think they should all be fired. But, they are really good at collecting lots of money from us and overcharging for bad service.

  28. BEE

    Is anyone else having this problem? My tree says there are 13 “hints”, but there aren’t any! “There are currently no People hints”.
    This has been going on for about a year and a half? I keep sending the problem to tech support, some of it gets cleaned up, but then it slowly starts up again.
    Is it just me??????? and of course, I totally agree with the comments on “old search” vs “new search”.

  29. Trevor Thacker

    Diane (and for anyone else experiencing the “Internet Explorer 7” message when using IE 10), We are aware of that issue and we’re working to address it right now. In the mean time, we would suggest the following suggestions to remove the message:

  30. Jim Herr

    I am finding the new search results easier to navigate through. But there is something else I would like to see. On many census records, it is possible to see a list of everyone else on a page, and i have found individuals that I was looking for this way. But I would like to see it expanded. What I would like to see is the ability to input some radius of distance from where that census page is, and get a list of everyone matching a last name (or other criteria) within that distance to get a possible list of candidates to consider a closer look at. This would be very useful in the situation where a wife’s last name is known, and not much else. If you could then ask for a 5 mile or 10 mile radius and find all individuals with that same last name it might generate important clues. I find in the earlier days that the people in a family for the most part did not move very far from the parents.

  31. FHC Librarian

    2:37 pm

    For some unknown reason I didn’t find this blog until today. Perhaps because I don’t use “New Search” so I’m less interested is how they are messing it up. After reading all the posts, I realize all is not well with “New Search.” I thought I was one of only a few people who still use “Old Search” and find it much more efficient. It is better suited to finding badly transcribed records, giving enough other information for the user to judge whether a crazy record could be just a victim of bad transcribing. It also displays all records in a neat efficient fashion, that allows for a quick perusal and weeding out the stupid unrelated results. Computers are great and I would never get as far as I have if I had to rely on taking trips to other places to search records. But one thing computers can’t do is know all the facts about human nature and history all at once, and make a good value judgment on whether a record is pertinent and worth looking at even if it appears not applicable.

    For too long now, Ancestry has been adding more clicks to get to what used to be fast and efficient. They are also spreading information or results out so that one has to go through several pages, therefore increasing the time spent on the site with less satisfactory results. The human interface suffers through all these useless changes. I have been a subscriber for more than 10 years and I see very few, (almost none) changes that are really useful to the true researcher. Great for the name gatherers who do not check what they are doing. I’m getting more hints to trees that are really dumb! Of course I have to look at all hints because you never know when there is a jewel in there. Mostly a waste of time. It used to be good. Perhaps that says something of the lack of quality trees that are now being created, which of course is not Ancestry’s fault. They will take anyone’s money. They are after all, a business. The amount of money spent on radio and TV ads gives witness to that. I hear and see these ads all the time.

    I’m totally convinced that management and the programmers are not genealogists. They may have a vague idea of what genealogy is, but they are clueless about what we face when doing real research. I don’t think they have any idea about the problems we have when we have “brick walls.”

    Every once and awhile I check out the “New Search” especially when I have a serious problem. I have not found the new search is my answer. If fact it comes up with less records than I have already found in “Old Search.” New search is more time consuming with excess useless frills, which I’m sure just keeps programmers employed.

    Since Ancestry is not spending any time or money on “Old Search,” I will keep using it because they are leaving it alone and not screwing it up and it gives me the fastest best results. I’m a person who demands documentation of my names and facts so I neither use the trees for citations nor do name gathering.

  32. BEE

    Thank you, FHC Librarian for writing. I also use “Old Search” almost exclusively.
    I give “New Search” a try once in a while, but just can’t stand using it.
    I felt maybe I was being too “old fashioned”, and not “with it”, so your comments make me feel more “competent”.
    I’m also a “neatnik” with my trees. Maybe it’s my imagination, but one tree in particular seems to wind up with information I don’t remember adding. Last year, I went through the whole tree and eliminated any “unsourced citations”, “Search Records – Ancestry Family Trees” and clicked “delete citation”.
    I also try to be consistent with how locations appear – town, county, state, etc. so when I go through my “list of all people” and see odd things, I wonder how they got there!
    Also, I’ve been plagued for over a year with “hints” that aren’t there, but there seems to be no permanent solution, so maybe it’s just me!!

  33. BEE


  34. BEE

    Email “Upcoming changes to the search experience on” with survey arrived 2:08pm Thursday June 27 asking for “input” – Friday, it’s a done deal?? Didn’t like “New Search” when it started, don’t like it any better now.

  35. FHC Librarian

    Well I guess a few people have received Dick Eastman’s free newsletter and now know the bad news. Ancestry wants to dump Old Search. I have already expressed my opinions on that and I did the survey. I also sent extensive notes where th opportunity was available.

    I had to call Ancestry to get the survey. But for those of you who don’t get Dick’s newsletter, here is the addy of the one that has the article:

    You may have to sign up for it. Read all the comments at the end and add your own. I have no idea if Ancestry will get them. Dick’s newslettler does keep folks up to date on things genealogy and new technology. He also has an expanded version for a small fee.

  36. Barbara Bennett

    Could someone please tell me why we need a ‘New Search’ when the ‘Old Search’ is great, easy read, doesn’t take hours to go through the results. It’s easy to go through a hundred lines, a hundred pages is too much. If you put as much time and money in the Old Search as the New…you would have one kicking web site.
    I’ve been trying the New Search all I can say is; it takes the pleasure out of my favorite hobby.

  37. BEE

    Thank you FHC Librarian for that link. I’m so glad to find that “old search” is still there! I thought that it was already gone. Hopefully, my post on the latest blog will send more people here to comment on the subject.

  38. FHC Librarian

    8:12 pm

    I guess I will continue to post to this and any other blog I can find regarding the Ancestry site. Pardon me if I am redundant.

    I know Ancestry says only 2% use Old Search. FYI: All Family History Centers use only New Search. Old Search is not available, and neither are the trees. You also can’t create a tree on the site. This is called the Library Version. Our local Public Libraries use that as well as many genealogical societies. That would tilt the percentages! I don’t know how it is for non-paying users. I pay every year and yes, it is costly. I still say I get good value for my money.

    Ancestry is going to change more than the search tool. The image viewer and the way one saves a record to a person in the trees is going to change. I’m paying more attention to these planned future changes and Ancestry does ask for your feedback. Folks are just going to have to dig in and write reasons about what you do/don’t like and why. It isn’t enough just to say, “Keep Old Search” and “Keep the Basic Viewer.” I know it is hard for some people to write and explain all this but it would be better if we try. I post a lot and it is time consuming. Mostly I write in Word and then copy and paste. It would be easier to verbalize everything, but it may not be practical from Ancestry’s point of view. It would be more time consuming and costly. They are a business and the bottom line is to make money. I do think they overdo the commercials on radio and TV. That is NOT cheap!

    I notice more trees on Ancestry are name gatherers and I notice more mistakes from tree hints. That is not Ancestry’s fault but the lack of experience of newbies. We all know one must document your sources for accuracy. Suggest alternate names and other details when you get the chance. Most of the previews have this option before or after you actually look at a scanned record. Eventually they will get added if they are logical, such as corrections for bad transcriptions. There are enormous amounts of bad transcriptions in all records.

    Watch the videos and try New Search so you can express your opinions and feelings intelligently. You can do it. You are the experienced users who know all the tricks. Continue to use the Old Search if that is your preference, but Ancestry needs feedback on the reasons why. I like the smooth, fast, concise, less clicky, more pertinent results I get from Old Search and will use it until they offer something better, or I croak, which may come sooner : <).

  39. Denise McDonald

    I have been a long time customer of and have found so much information for my tree. I have always raved about your product. However, I am not happy with the new search. Records that should come up on the first page don’t appear when all the correct search criteria is matched. It pulls up people with totally different names! I don’t understand what has happened. You make us have to search page after page when the document should be in the top search results. I am very unhappy with this change and have noted on facebook genealogy groups that this is a major problem with researchers. I have never thought I would change from, but unfortunately unless these issues are resolved, I may be forced to make this change. People are looking elsewhere. I think should heed your users’ opinions and actually do something about it.

  40. Donna Harris

    The new search changes have their benefits; however, please consider an age-old request and allow for SORTING THE COLUMNS in the search results!!

  41. TLP

    I have been a member of Ancestry since its inception. Due to the fact that they did away with the Old Search, I am letting my subscription lapse. I will be deleting my tree with over 3,000 people on it. I was thinking about signing up for DNA through Ancestry, but will now go to another company. That is how much I hate the New Search. It is time consuming since a basic search brings up thousands of irrelevant hits. The layout is confusing. I have to constantly go in and uncheck certain details that ANCESTRY thinks I should search for. I can no longer find ANY of my corrections on my own family members where the transcribers erred. 10 years…. Gone. And to top it all off, THEY DO NOT CARE. They do not respond to Emails and they do not care! Goodbye

  42. Kathy

    The new search results are very difficult to read. The person’s name is not highlighted and I have to search for it on the page. That takes so much time and is annoying at the same time. I do not like it at all.

  43. Mika Jackson

    This new search with the sliders is a joke. It doesn’t work. I am running out of time and energy with this and am pulling my tree

  44. bonnie monsour

    Since 2001 with ancestry. I am not getting what I paid for in January of 2014 OLD SEARCH OPTION (THE EASY WAY) YOU DID NOT EVEN TELL US IT WAS ELIMINATED MARCH 7, 2014. IT IS SNEAKING IT IN ON US. THAT IS NOT GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.
    Old Search vs New Search Too many times to edit. I have to go back and forth and try to find out what the system want. THE EDIT OPTION SHOULD BE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RESULTS PAGE.




  45. Misty Pinette

    This new search is a nightmare have not been able to do anything since the change. the old search was just fine. I have been a member since 2003 and it looks like I wont renew if you dont get back to the old search.

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