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Creating a Homepage from Scratch

So you're ready to take your family newsletter/photo album/scrapbook into the world of cyberspace? Great! Yourfamily is here to help!

Some web-design tips from the pros:

  1. Start by graphing out your site on paper. It should look a little like a family tree or one of those organizational charts from work. At the top make a square representing the "homepage"--the main page that will introduce the site and give links to the internal pages. Several boxes drawn below the home page and connected to it with lines will represent the sub-pages of the site. Some of these may be linked to each other horizontally, but they should all be linked back to the homepage. Some of the sub-pages may have their own sub-pages, such as a photo-gallery page, or a separate page for outgoing links.

  2. Then figure out the categories you want to cover in your site. Here are some different ways of organizing a site:

    • Family members each have their own page, on which they can put a picture of themselves, display and write about their projects and hobbies, and have a personal e-mail link to themselves (this is a great way for kids to invite other young people with similar interests to correspond with them via e-mail), and out-going links to favorite web sites they would like to share with others. Don't forget that at the bottom of the page you need a link to get the visitor back to the homepage.

    • Each page represents a different aspect of the family's life, using categories like home, work, school, church or synagogue, recreation, and recent or upcoming events like trips, new baby, etc. It's useful to cover these in sub-pages of the web site rather than the homepage. This way you'll be able to update individual pages periodically but the homepage can stay the same, and won't become obsolete. Don't forget that at the bottom of the page you need a link to get the visitor back to the homepage. Also, in this type of arrangement, links to the family's e-mail addresses can be put on either the home-page or an appropriate sub-page.

    • Some families want to use their web site to highlight some of their most important shared interests. The subpages of a family into active sports might be "hiking," "kayaking," "snowshoeing," and "hang-gliding." A family with lots of cultural activities might designate their pages to show their involvement in "community theatre," "folkdancing," and "historical reenactments."

    • Some families are interested in sharing genealogical research with family members all over the world, and they post their findings on-line. Pages in genealogy-oriented site could be organized with each grandparent's name and heritage listed on a different page, and a separate page with a graphic image of the whole family tree showing all the descendants of the four grandparents.

    • An extended family might share its family history according to historical era (e.g. "the old country--Moshe and Sarah" "coming to America--Max and Sadie" "The move uptown--Morris and Sylvia" "the suburban generation--Mike and Susan" and "the yuppies--Matthew and Sybil" and "the babies--Max and Sadie")

    • More and more couples and families are developing a web site to share with friends and family a special event like a wedding. Each page can be dedicated to a different part of the celebration: the engagement and wedding plans, the prospective in-laws meeting for the first time, bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette-parties, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, reception, honeymoon.

  3. After you've figured out the basic layout and content categories for your site, you'll need to decide exactly what material will go onto the homepage and each subpage. It's a good idea to use a separate piece of paper to design each of your pages. Write out your text--try not to have too much--keep the writing short and sweet. Note if there will be pictures or graphics, (also not too many, and not too large, because the site will come up too slowly). Figure out what links need to go on each page: to your e-mail, to other pages within your web site, and external links to other web sites. Will your links be represented by highlighted text, by icon-buttons or both?

  4. If you want photo or graphic images in your site, you'll need to take them to a print or photo shop that can scan them for you and either put them on a disc for you to bring home, or actually put them on-line for you. Keep in mind that the smaller the graphic file the faster the site will run. It might be tempting to fill an entire page with pictures, but the file will be so large, no one will have the patience to wait for it to download.

  5. Now you're ready to do the html scripting. If you're not experienced at html, you'll probably want to use one of the short-cut programs that simplify the process of transferring your material to Internet-ready form. Remember, if you've got a well thought out sketch of your site, and all your content is organized your work will be much easier once you're in the html program.

  6. Once you've finished creating your homepage and it's "in the can," you have to put it on-line. Check with your Internet connectivity provider to see if this is a service they provide (many offer non-commercial web site posting as a part of their connectivity package).

Also visit Web resources for developing home pages

We wish you good luck in putting together a family web site, and if you have any questions or problems, feel free to e-mail us:

Family Homepages

Developing a Family Homepage

Long Lost Family

Videos, Albums and Taped Oral Histories



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