15/10/2018
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How to present your work – build a family tree website

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Have you ever considered creating a website to display your family history findings? In his latest blog, Paul Chiddicks takes a look at how to get started on a family tree website project.

Further to my previous blog earlier on in the year on the subject of “Will your family tree ever be complete?” I would like to expand on the subjects that I touched on in that blog, with a little bit more specific detail.

So lets start with presenting your research. I talked about a few ways that you can think about presenting your work, so lets take a look at one of those ideas now.

How to create your own family tree website

Firstly, there is no right or wrong way to do this. This is your work, personal to you and your loved ones, how you choose to do this is entirely up to you. All I am going to do here, in this blog, is to try and inspire you to get something down for posterity, sooner rather than later. If you wait until you think that your family tree is complete, you may never start a project such as this.

How you choose to present your work will be inspired hopefully by the things that you like to do yourself and also your work could be presented in such a way as to inspire other family members and younger children to get more involved. Remember, the youngsters of today are tomorrow’s genealogists!

One of the more obvious ways of presenting your work is via your own website. This could be solely a website based around your tree or it could incorporate blog pages as well. Think about how many people you can reach with a website for your tree.  A family tree website is a wonderful platform to showcase all your hard work and share with others your family story.

A family history blog pageBring the story to life

I am sure like many of us; you have found and made contact with distant cousins, maybe from around the world, thanks to putting your family tree online on sites such as Ancestry and FMP. So what better way to show off your work, than to present it in the form of your own family tree website? You can add photographs of your ancestors; include pictures of family homes, the schools that your ancestors attended.

You could include individual family biographies of your ancestors, include family stories from the Great War, the limit of what you include is only your own imagination. The beauty of a project like this is that it “grows” with your tree. As you expand what you know about your family, you can constantly update your website. Also include your contact details as you never know who might stumble across your website, maybe a new cousin!

Wordpress for family historyGet started in creating your genealogy website

There are numerous sites that can help you with your website design using templates and they are normally fairly straight forward to navigate round. 

Depending on what family history software you use on your computer, some do include a limited facility to build and host a website, it might be worth considering this option if you are not PC savvy.

If you want something a bit more advanced than this, maybe you could encourage a teenager to help with setting up your website, they might even take an interest in your tree at the same time!

So lets assume you want a website that offers more than the basic genealogy packaged websites, what are the alternatives?

You could go down the route of registering your own domain name and look at web hosting sites to store your content.  There is however a cost attached to doing this, but does that all sound a little bit too “techy” for you? If you don’t know your HTML code from your File Transfer Protocol then why not consider some of the free options that are available?

Wordpress genealogy websiteWordpress for family history

Wordpress is a free website traditionally used for bloggers, that has grown and is used by more and more people as a web hosting site as well. This allows you to design your own family tree website using pre-designed templates. There is enough flexibility in the design principle that enables you to completely personalise how your web pages look. You can upload media files, family tree biographies, reports and charts, in fact the options are endless.

Experiment with designs, colours and images until you are happy with how your site looks. Make sure you include a contact page to allow others to contact you. Consider the content and what you want to publish online, think about who you are targeting your website at; Family members, general genealogists and historians, or maybe a combination of the two.

The beauty of a website such as Wordpress is the ability to change and alter pages at any time so you are not stuck with one appearance forever.

You can also upload your family history pages directly into your social media feeds via quick and easy buttons, directly into facebook, twitter, google+ and Wordpress itself. 

Your main desktop also gives you an indication of how many people have visited your site on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so you can keep track of how many visitors you receive to your site.

I regularly use Wordpress to promote my family history stories and pictures and find it offers the simplicity and ease of use that I require, with the added advantage of being cost free. This site does have its limits and will not suit everyone.

This project, however, is all about what inspires you and drives you and is something you feel passionate about yourself. So whether you’re the techy type or more of an art and craft person, there is something for all of us to be inspired about when presenting our family tree work.

Just remember, though, your tree doesn’t just end with births, deaths and marriages, why not try to grow it in a slightly different direction?

Follow Paul Chiddicks on Twitter and his blog.

Researching the names: Chiddicks in Essex; Daniels in Dublin; Keyes in Prittlewell; Wootton in Herefordshire and London; Jack in Scotland.

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