Creating a Family Website

Home & Family, Technology, Traditions
on November 14, 2004

Kristin Nelson gets current news from her seven siblings as soon as anyone posts the latest on the family’s 4-year-old website. They plan family reunions, chat online, and share pictures of new babies and vacations via their home computers.

“We’re close, but we don’t see each other often,” Nelson says. “There’s no way, financially, that I could call all of them, and how many of us really write letters anymore?”

The mother of three, who lives in Cedar Lake, Ind. (pop. 9,279), says family members in Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah, all regularly visit the interactive website.

Nelson’s family tried two free Internet sites with Web page templates and stuck with (which charges $29.95 a year for the minimum service and more for extras) because it was easy to use.

“I think the key is everybody using it,” Nelson adds. “There has to be one person who is disciplined about making regular entries so that everyone has a reason to visit the site.’’

Peter Drinkwater, product manager at MyFamily.Com Inc., agrees. “A lot of people start a site and it doesn’t get going. If one person posts regularly, even a little note, people come,’’ he says.

Families who want an interactive site for multiple users should consider a service set up to provide that, Drinkwater says. But someone who simply wants to post pictures and family news for others to look at might check with their Internet service provider, since many offer free Web page space and tools to easily build a home page.

Drinkwater and Dan Gookin, author of Buying a Computer for Dummies and other technology guides, both say setting up your own interactive sites for multiple users requires more technological savvy, although Web publishing software can help.

“It really depends on what you want,’’ Gookin says, suggesting beginners check Web page guides. He recommends The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing a Web Page, by Paul McFedries.

“The question is how much time do you want to spend on it?” Gookin says. Compare the software or free pages to what’s available through an interactive site (many offer a free trial), then test drive it before committing to one choice, he says.

Nelson says there’s no doubt the Web page has strengthened her family ties.

“It’s really been a blessing,’’ she says.