14 April 2014

Style over substance at Findmypast

Let's not sugar-coat it, the introduction of a new site at findmypast.co.uk has caused uproar among subscribers. They are cancelling or threatening to cancel subscriptions in droves.

To their credit the company has a forum where clients can express their views. It has attracted lots of adverse comment. "Improve features to bring in line with the old site" was showing 2,524 votes and 1,884 comments, many of them very pointed, when I wrote this. "Improve census 'household' view"  got 953 votes and 163 comments followed by "Broader selection of BMD, parish records, including images."

Would it really have been that much more expensive to keep the option of using the old site while adding new resources to the new one only, so weaning subscribers over while also improving the operation of the new site? Improvements are now underway or promised. I doesn't take a marketing genius to appreciate that when you're forced to change you have a negative attitude compared to when change is voluntary.

Could it be that the background of the new CEO, who has no previous experience in the family history business, has something to do with it? How did she take account of the fact that clientele is weighted to older folks who often adapt less readily to change?

Annelies van den Belt has been CEO of Findmypast for less than a year. A 31 August 2013 article in The Guardian summarized her background:

Van den Belt has spent the last five years heading Sup, the Russian online publisher that bought blog network LiveJournal, which earlier this year merged with rival Rambler. 
Van den Belt, who has held a string of senior digital roles at media companies including Telegraph Media Group, will join DC Thomson's digital division Brightsolid. 
Brightsolid is being split into two subsidiaries with van den Belt taking the role of chief executive of the online publishing business, BSOP, home to genealogy websites including findmypast.co.uk and genesreunited.co.uk.
I currently subscribe to findmypast.com, but if it were not for the access to newspaper collection I would be hard pressed to justify the subscription. I might be tempted to subscribe to findmypast.ca if it were nothing but a front. Go there and  you'll find the default search is for Ireland. None of the major Canadian databases are available.


AlisoninVancouver said...

I agree with everything you say. The loss of the household transcription for the censuses is particularly annoying. I actually find myself using Ancestry instead, which is amazing. Previously I used FMP because it gave the whole family transcript

Anonymous said...

Hi John

Thinks have not improved much since you wrote your blog. In fact certain areas are much worse. Could I suggest an update from you on this matter?

Kind regards