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FamilySearch Launches Changes to its North American Website

Record search changes were implemented a year ago but now feature prominently on the homepage

FamilySearch’s North American website home page now prominently features research tools instead of an account login. Screenshot from FamilySearch.org, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Kaitlyn Bancroft, Church News

The most prominent feature of FamilySearch’s North American website was previously a login page. Users first signed in, then began researching their family trees.

But now, the homepage puts the search feature front and center. And as soon as users enter family information, they are connected not only with FamilySearch’s records, but with their own family tree.

Jim Ericson, FamilySearch’s North American marketing manager, said the new search feature has been available for about a year, but the North American website only began showing it so prominently about a month ago. It’s currently in a testing phase, routing half of users to the old home page and the other half to the new one.

The goal of the new home page is to reach people who are less experienced with family history research, Ericson said.

“So the new homepage is for those [people], before they sign in, to become familiar with FamilySearch and what FamilySearch has to offer,” he said.

And so far, it’s working. Ericson said in the last month, the new homepage is outperforming the previous homepage in terms of user engagement and account creation.

“The functionality of the overall experience really hasn’t changed,” he said. “What we’re hoping is that people can fulfill their purpose in approaching FamilySearch more quickly and that [this] positive, joyful experience will encourage them to continue longer and to make additional discoveries over time.”

Ericson said the North American homepage changes came about as FamilySearch administrators considered how family history research differs widely based on where someone is from.

FamilySearch has tested tailored homepages in a variety of countries, Ericson said, finding that “[the] customized approach, including featuring collections that are more relevant based on the populations we’re reaching, has improved effectiveness in getting people to engage and to create accounts.”

In North America, the most relevant search collections are typically government, religious and other types of indexed records, Ericson said.

Next steps for the North American website include directing all traffic to the new homepage and highlighting record collections that represent a variety of demographics.

“[So] we provide a different experience based on the western orientation of how to start a family tree,” Ericson said.

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