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The Scottish Government’s official genealogy web service has undergone a revamp, with costs for accessing statutory index entries scrapped
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A brand-new version of ScotlandsPeople ( scotlands people.gov.uk) has launched online. The revamped genealogy website – containing millions of digitised records held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) – boasts an improved search facility and enhanced user interface, designed to be accessible on a range of devices.
While the price of purchasing pay-per-view credits has increased (now £7.50 instead of £7 for 30 credits), users are no longer charged for accessing statutory index entries to birth, marriage, death, Old Parish Register (OPR) and Open Census records. Crucially, all credits, saved images and searches from the old site are still available to users when they log in.
The website has been designed by tech firm CACI, which won the contract for running the service after NRS’s existing deal with Findmypast ended in 2015. Despite being scheduled for Monday 26 September, the launch was delayed by two days, as developers wanted to ensure that the site was completely ready.
“By putting the user at the centre of the design, NRS and CACI have been able to create an easy-to-use site that delivers fast and accurate search results,” said CACI Chief Executive Greg Bradford. “We hope users agree that the new site delivers a richer and more seamless customer experience.”
Although the website eventually launched without any major issues, a number of customers took to social media to highlight teething problems. This included reports of record images not loading properly, as well as a glitch within the OPR index that meant the ages of certain individuals were displayed as ‘131’.
In response, ScotlandsPeople shared links to a ‘known issues’ page ( scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ technical-help/known-technical-issues), where updates regarding maintenance work will be posted. Unlike the previous incarnation of the site, all customer service queries will be handled in-house by NRS staff.
Early reviews of fh the websiteb f from withinh theh professional genealogy community were generally positive. Chris Paton, who runs the popular GENES blog ( britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk), said that while he initially believed the new site might “sacrifice the PC experience for the tablet experience”, the NRS had found a “happy compromise”.
However, another leading researcher, who did not wish to be named, expressed concerns about what the new site might mean for the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh and its five ‘satellite’ branches across Scotland, which use a different computer system.
“I am a bit worried that, in a nutshell, the website does not give the remote user what is available in the
We hope users agree that the site delivers a richer and more seamless experience
ScotlandsPeople Centres,” they told Who Do You Think
You Are? Magazine. “That would not be a concern in itself, as with the old website that was the case too.
“However, the plan is for the current in-house system to be replaced by the new website. If major changes and additions are not implemented, then that will not be well accepted by the regular Centre users”.
In response, a ScotlandsPeople spokesperson said that it was “still early days”, but they were working to ensure that users would get the best service regardless of where they carried out their research. “No matter where people are in the world, they can log on and investigate their family history,” they told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.
“We are listening to feedback and will continue to develop [the website] further so that in the future, customers both at our ScotlandsPeople Family History Centres and at home know that they are getting the best and most authoritative service possible.”
The recently relaunched ScotlandsPeople website