Your family website needs to reflect your collective family identity as well as the spirit of each member. Structure your site accordingly. When you start building it, the site should develop naturally and easily. What are the goals for your site? Is it for communication? A family photo collection? Maintaining multiple schedules? Whatever your goal, put it in writing and get a physical idea of how it should look.
Use your website to let extended family and friends know what your family is up to. Forget the annual holiday letters, detailing all the stuff that happened over the past year. Can you really remember everything important at that point, anyway? A website can be updated every month or every week. Or you can just add things as they occur. It’s more fun than holiday cards and you can reach your whole network at once. Start by highlighting each member of your family’s interests and activities. Add some pictures and samples of school work and you have a living document of your family as life happens. If the hosting site or service you use for your website allows it, you can extend administrator status to extended family members, allowing them to contribute their updates and family news as well.
Scanning in and preserving family photographs is a remarkable gift for future generations. You can also collaborate with family to tag the photos you have with information about them. Start by organizing the physical photographs you have on hand in a system that is easily accessible and updated. As you scan, mark each file or photograph with the names of people in them, where and when the photograph was taken, what the document is related to and add any other notes you have on them. If you use a DIY website builder, you get photo editing capabilities so you can repair any damage the photos have accumulated with time. You can crop or correct color balance issues as well. Use the photo editing features and you can avoid having to purchase a more expensive alternative. Scan and save important documents, too. The use of acid-free paper delays deterioration of paper over time. But, that innovation wasn’t in use for photographs and documents until late in the 20th century. Any paper that was in use before that time has deteriorative acids in it and should be scanned before later papers.
Any project needs structure to be successful. That goes for websites, too. Decide early on what you want to accomplish with your site and what you want it to look like. If you create a framework, knowing what your end result is supposed to be, it becomes much easier to know where to start. And, if you can get your family members (kids too!) in on the project, it can be a fun way to spend time together. Having family members all over the country makes it seem impossible to stay connected. A family website makes that not only possible but easy.