In almost every home there is a closet with a box of letters, journals, photos, and papers that are at risk of being lost, damaged, or forgotten. And within almost every organization there are archives containing history that can't be searched. For Kindex founders and cousins Kimball and Cathy, it was their grandparents' records that inspired them to build an indexing app that solves the problem of at-risk or inaccessible records. When partner Joshua Wiscombe joined Kindex, he brought with him new inspiration to engage the youth in the record gathering through a mobile app. As a result, Kindex rescues history through a collaborative indexing app anyone can use, no matter their age or experience. No longer exclusive to large archives or family history groups, Kindex brings digital archive and indexing tools within reach to any person, family or group who owns records.
What it does
With Kindex, anyone can 1) gather records into a single digital archive, 2) transcribe and tag records, and 3) search and share their archive. The following account types address the varying needs of individuals, families, and organizations:
MyKindex—an individual, private digital archive with basic gather, index, and share tools (Release December 2016)
Kindex Family—a family digital archive where records are added and indexed by a family or community. Features include a unique url, a collaborative record gathering and indexing tool, and a family website for customized content and social media engagement. (Release January 2017)
Kindex Projects—a customizable indexing tool for organizations such as historical societies, genealogical organizations, libraries, archives, and other private collection owners. (Release Spring 2017)
KinSnap app—A record-gathering app that will streamline record digitization and upload directly to Kindex. Includes gamification features to increase youth engagement. This app, coupled with Kindex-hosted record gathering events, will change the face of record gathering and create a new generation of Kindex users
How we built it
Our goal from the beginning was to make indexing easy, engaging and exciting for users of all ages. We began developed Beta version that became FamilySearch Certified in early 2016. Since then, we continue to develop our core software, and will launch MyKindex Accounts in December 2016.
Challenges we ran into
As we wrestled time and again with possible solutions to our challenges, it became clear why Kindex was a unique SaaS product in the family history market: we were developing not only a digital library, but a companion transcription tool. Indexing presented many challenges when considering user types, user skill levels, and the many record types (documents, volumes, images, audio, and video). The necessity to interact with powerful databases like FamilySearch also added a level of complexity to our development. Despite the enormity of the software we’re building, we are always reminded by each other—and our users—that simplicity sells. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to providing a simple, engaging, and fun user experience.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are very proud of our lean, hard-working team. We have sacrificed countless hours to build Kindex. This record rescue is bigger than all of us. The symbolic need keeps us going, even when we feel like giving up. Generations from now, someone will discover their history because of a Kindexed record, and we believe that is a worthwhile accomplishment.
What we learned
Building Kindex is a continuous learning process. Every day it seems we wear a new hat, or discover a new insight. We began as a designer and a writer, and have now become entrepreneurs, marketers, negotiators, boom operators, bill payers, researchers, historians, actors, photographers, screenwriters, archivists, record hoarders, and developers. We dream of user interfaces. We wireframe at 3:00 a.m. We roadmap for hours on a diet of bottled water and Pringles. We have made mistakes. We are constantly iterating. We have tasted success, and we know there is still so much more to learn.
What's next for Kindex
Spring 2017 will bring the release of Kindex Projects, an indexing tool for private collection holders who require custom solutions. We will also be continuing development of the KinSnap mobile app, to accompany the launch of Kindex-sponsored record-gathering events for youth.