Hello – my name is Ian Tester, and I’m findmypast’s product manager. I wanted to let you know about a fundamental change we’re about to make to the way findmypast.co.uk is organised, which should make it a lot easier for you to find and search the millions of new records we’re adding to the site every month.
Findmypast has grown an awful lot since we last designed the way the records are organised. We’ve added millions of records that don’t fit into the main categories of births, marriages and deaths/census/military/migration/living relatives and, at the moment, they are often either being wedged into a section where they don’t really fit, or being put into specialist records.
This doesn’t make it easy for you to discover and use some of the fantastic historical records that are regularly being provided by our record partners. You’ve probably also noticed that we’ve significantly upped the rate at which we put new records online – and the number of records we are adding each year is increasing all the time.
So the site is already beginning to burst at the seams and there are lots of very exciting new collections on the way that deserve new sections to accommodate them. We’ve spent several months working with our members to find a set of categories that will allow us to make room for the new records and make better sense of the records that are already online. Many thanks to the hundreds of you who have taken the time to complete surveys and participate in research sessions to help get us to this point!
The result of all this hard work is that in the next month, you’ll begin to see some changes to the site. The first one is that the main record categories across the blue navigation bar at the top of the site will all come under a single new category: “Search records”. Within this category, you’ll be able to choose from a range of sub-categories of records, just as you can now. The new sub-categories are very similar to the current ones in many cases, but you’ll notice a few new ones as well.
- Life events (births, marriages and deaths) – this will be very similar to the current BMD section and will continue to contain our millions of parish records
- Census, land & surveys – as well as our best-in-class England & Wales censuses (including our complete 1911 census), this will include fabulous new records, including historical electoral rolls
- Armed forces & conflict – our comprehensive military collections will live here
- Education & work – with fantastic school and merchant marine records on the way, we need a new sub-category. You’ll also find some gems currently buried in the specialist section
- Institutions & organisations – covering workhouses, hospitals and more, you’ll also find some fabulous new court records in future, as well as records that are sprinkled across other sections at the moment
- Travel & migration – is very similar to our current migration section, but has some lovely new international records on the way
- Living relatives & directories – this will give us room to expand the directories that we hold, way beyond the current living relatives directories
These new sections are designed to be as futureproof as possible, so you’ll also notice a few more new sub-categories appear over time as new records come online. A fringe benefit of creating more space on the blue navigation bar at the top of the site is that we’re making room for some very exciting new tools, including what we hope will be one of the best “saved records” tools available.
Obviously it’s hard to imagine these changes before they go live, but let us know if you have any thoughts on this approach.
We’re very excited to be making such a large-scale improvement, especially as it has taken lots of time to test and refine the new sub-categories so that they make sense to our members. Keep your eyes peeled for other improvements in the coming months – there’s a pile of exciting new features in the pipeline, as well an awful lot of exciting new records…