Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

FamilySearch: M-boxes and Landing Pages

A very recent Blog post by Jeff Hawkins is entitled "M-boxes and Landing Pages." Hmm. I had to look up the meaning of the term "M-boxes" because I could guess what was meant but wanted to make sure I was on the right track. From Wikipedia here is the definition:
mbox is a generic term for a family of related file formats used for holding collections of electronic mail messages, first implemented for Sixth Edition Unix. All messages in an mbox mailbox are concatenated and stored as plain text in a single file.
That doesn't seem to be exactly what FamilySearch is talking about here. So, I searched a little further. Looking a little further, I found yet another definition on the Managing eCommerce website:
Omniture™ (now Adobe™) uses this term to describe a part of a web page that can be controlled by a host of its online business optimization tools such as Test & Target and its offspring Omniture Recommendations. An mbox is marked by: 
1. surrounding any piece of HTML code (including an empty string) between an opening DIV tag with the class of “mboxDefault” and its closing counterpart, 
2. and immediately following it with a call to Omniture’s proprietary “mbox.js” javascript function called “mboxCreate” with the first argument being the name of the mbox, later used in determining which mbox to fill with what content.
I assume that unless you are a programmer, most of what is in this definition would need even more extensive definitions. Essentially, as I understand it, an mbox (without a hyphen) is a part of a web page that changes depending on the user and also depending on what the website wants to "sell" or optimize at any particular time. What this means to a user of is that the boxes on the startup page are going to appear or disappear randomly depending on the seasons, time of day or whatever criteria FamilySearch wants to implement that day. Google, Amazon and others use the same type of function (but not the same function) to customize advertising.

Of course, this creates a whole new issue in trying to teach people about Now we have to make sure when we show our startup page that we explain that what they see may be entirely different. In fact, the page could change for the same user from minute to minute. Here is a screenshot of a portion of my present startup page showing the "mboxes" and remember your experience may vary:

The areas inside the red box as indicated by the arrows are the mboxes. So not only do we have a slide show in the main box, but changeable boxes below the slide show.

Now, to me, this is normal and not at all confusing. What I have found, however, is that many, especially older users are confused because the page may appear differently every time the go there. Oh, well, more to support, I guess.

Now, the second part of the blog post talks about the landing page. That is nothing more or less than a special page linked to each of the mboxes. Usually, you will have to click past the landing page to get to any portion of the website. Got all that? There will be a test.

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