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Stay in Touch with Friends and Family

Stay in Touch with Friends and Family
--Design a Family Web Site--

For busy families that want to stay in touch, a family Web site is a perfect solution. Sharing news of graduations, promotions, sports awards or dance recitals is easy with a simply-created and maintained family Web site.

"Creating a Web site that reflects your family’s spirit and lifestyle can be wonderful project for the entire family.   Every member can make a contribution," says Jay Rinaldi of The New England Institute of Art Web Design & Interactive Media department.

According to Rinaldi, most Internet providers offer Web space. Accessing that Web space depends on your service provider.  For example, one Internet provider has an icon called "My Site." Once you have located your Web space (call your provider if you can’t locate it using icons), you can begin to build pages.

To do that, Rinaldi recommends a Web site editor program such as Microsoft’s FrontPage, Adobe’s GoLive or Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. These programs offer templates for design; all you need to do is fill in the information or images you want to use.

Now the fun begins. To find the right personality for your Web site, look to your family for inspiration. "Where does your family gather when they’re together? Is it in the kitchen because everybody likes to cook? Or the game room to watch sports?" asks Patricia Huettel, a member of the Web Design & Interactive Media faculty at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

If the latter is true, Huettel says build on that theme, and create a "roster" of players or family members, starting with mom, who Huettel says, "is usually the quarterback." Similar ideas can work for families that like to play boardgames or musical instruments together.

She suggests you try for a simple, clean design on your Web site, with a good mix of visuals and text. If you have photos from last year’s holiday gatherings, make sure to include them. Add links to a child’s school events, sports team calendar or other clubs that reflect their interests. Consider including children’s writing samples or artwork.

For visual images you may want to use, Alex Buffalo, an instructor in the Web Design & Interactive Media department at The Art Institute of Washington, suggests making sure you are using the proper resolution. "Sometimes a photo looks great on your computer screen, but when friends or family print a copy, the image is blurry," says Buffalo. Since friends and family are likely to be using different computers, and some slower than others, proper resolution can get a bit tricky. Usually the Web design software you use will offer guidelines. Buffalo also recommends checking out freehomepages.com or setupsite.com. Both offer free tips for Web site design.

After completing your Web site, you must upload your URL; after you have finished that, your provider will help you complete a "file transfer protocol" or FTP. Once this last step is done, you’ll have your Web site address to share with friends and family.

It’s worth the effort you put into it. After all, says Huettel, "this is your opportunity to share your family’s joys and triumphs with the ones you love, and bring everybody closer throughout the year."

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