To achieve these goals it is critical for the site to be attractive and to have meaningful content that allows the reader to hang out at your site and absorb information.
Furthermore, it may entice those relatives that are not prone to sharing, to actually do so, thereby enhancing the quality and quantity of your content.
Here are two examples of the content of different Family History websites. Just open each of these links and check out the Tabs across the top underneath the website title, which demonstrates the different types of content included in each site:
Website Example 1
Website Example 2
So let's discuss what are the important elements of a Family History Website and why they are important.
You Must Have Great Stories - So Make your Blog Posts Sing
Even though you are writing a non-fiction story - use fiction techniques.
The worst thing that you can do is start your story like the following: "Eva McGillicudy was born on August 4, 1833 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of James and Sarah."
Who wants to read a story that starts like that? Even though dates and location research is a large part of family history research, just spitting out this information and focusing on this information in your story is in a word - BORING.
So what triggers a good story:
- A happy ending to a difficult set of circumstances
- A newspaper article
- A photo
- An accomplishment by an ancestor
- An activity that would be frowned upon - such as a murder, or a theft, or other criminal activity by your ancestor
- An interesting occupation, or a patent or discovery by your ancestor. Some of these occupations may indeed be "frowned upon" such as prostitution or rum running.
For some examples of stories please go to one of my Family History Websites - Braunhart Mania
The most important thing to a memorable family story is to have fun with writing it - be funny - use sarcasm - make it interesting to your readers.
Gotta Have Photos
Some of the photo galleries are hosted within the site and some take the reader outside the site to commonly available photo album storage sites, such as Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, etc. All of them have pros and cons. The following link is a comparison of some of these sites.
- Comparing the best ways to store your photos online - Find out which photo-sharing and storage site best suits your needs with this deep dive into the top online photo services.
The links below are some actual examples of photo presentation in family history websites.
- Braunhart Mania - Shoah Records - In this example the photo gallery includes both photos and document images and the gallery is built in to the website
- Picasa Web Albums - Braunhart Family Album - In this example the author included a link in his family history website to an online photo album housed by Google's Picasa. This is what a Picasa album looks like.
- Pointer Family Photos - Here is a completely different example where the author has used a totally different technique for embedding her photos - so the visitor can click on the selected photo and it is enlarged right on the same page.
Artifacts and Documents - Give your readers lots to look at
But why not make available census records, or immigration and naturalization records? Or you may have special collections. In the example below click on the link and hover over the "Artifacts" tab and you will see the authors presentation of the aforementioned documents, but also special passports and other artifacts.
Artifacts and Documents Examples
Again - the more information that you can make available to your readers the more successful the site.