Everywhere I look, findagrave members are talking about the the completely revamped site that will soon replace the site users have known and apparently loved. Change is hard—though perhaps even harder for a group of people generally interested in history and genealogy.
The complaints most often tossed about are: “I don’t like the look”, “Don’t change what isn’t broken”, “There’s too much white space”, “I can’t find [insert name of function, tool, etc.”, “I don’t like to scroll”, and “I can’t print everything the way I used to.”
As a web professional myself, I know all too well that when it comes to aesthetics, you can’t please most people. Someone will always complain about color choices, for instance. In most instances, the new site increases the contrast ratio, which means for most people the text is easier to read. This new site also actually has white space, instead of unused space. This also enhances readability and the ease with which one can scan a page. Scrolling and auto-loading of content as you move down the page isn’t some new fangled thing—it’s the norm in most cases. Most website statistics show that people do indeed scroll. All of the tools are still there, they have just been moved into different groupings. And printing—oh my! Websites are not meant to be printed. That doesn’t mean you can’t, but web design is not print design. Not all digital mediums are meant to be printed to paper, and there are a ton of ways to access the things you might want to print. Try printfriendly.com or export data to excel.
The old site is indeed “broken”. It uses outdated code that has most likely become a burden to manage. The site isn’t responsive and is so slow that it can take an inordinate amount of time to upload a photo. Add onto that having to upload one image at a time, over and over.
So, what do I like about the new site? That’s easy!
- The use of actual white space to increase readability.
- The ability to upload more than one photo to a memorial at one time.
- The fact that the new site is responsive—it doesn’t matter what device I’m using. If I’m on my phone I don’t have to utilize an app to access the site and I don’t have to zoom to see anything. If I’m on a laptop or desktop, I can resize the window and it adjusts to my screen. This allows me to have two things open side-by-side, even on a laptop.
- The duplicate memorial check that occurs when creating a new memorial. If the software detects a similar or same name already in the cemetery you’re adding to, you’re alerted and given the option to double check before proceeding.
- The revised edit processing system, including the ability to see a note from the memorial manager when they’ve declined an edit.
- A better way to search my own memorials other than by first and last name only.
- Clear naming conventions for urls throughout the site, such as /memorial/123456/name-of-person instead of /cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=abar&GSmid=47041892&GRid=153022832&
And, I’m sure the more time I spend working with the new site the more things I’ll find. Unfortunately, I’m hearing from people that they plan to stop contributing because the site is changing. It seems like such a shame to stop participating in a volunteer activity that you enjoy because you think a website has too much white space or won’t print the way you’d prefer. I really hope those having a negative reaction will at least spend a fair bit of time working with the new site. Who knows, you might just find something you really like about it!