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Listener question: ‘How do I set up a private website only my family can see?’

There are plenty of ways for friends and family to stay in contact during the pandemic, but when it involves many people, it can quickly become overwhelming. Not everybody is on social media, and we take for granted that most people seemingly know how it works. Tap or click here for five signs your website is outdated.

Kim received a question from a listener to her radio show on the best ways to stay in contact with a large family. Social media, in this case, wouldn’t do the trick, and instant messaging won’t fulfill the other needs the listener had.

“What is the easiest way to keep up to date with everyone? We would also like to archive and share family photos and stories handed down. We also have quite a bank of genealogy research completed on both sides of the family,” Judy from Topeka, Kansas, asked. Keep reading for the best solution.

Why a private website is the best answer

For this scenario, Kim’s recommendation is a private website that only family members can visit. Since it will host genealogy research and family pictures, it will need to be locked down. Most website builders allow you to put a password or login system in place. This ensures only intended visitors can reach it.

One of the easiest ways to create a website, whether for personal or business use, is through builders like Squarespace. As Judy’s family ranges from “barely managing web surfing to IT geniuses,” it shouldn’t be a problem to get things set up.

Squarespace has made it rather easy to get going. After selecting what your site is about (for Judy, it would be “Personal & CV”), you can set some goals. If none of them apply, just hit the Skip button at the bottom.

After completion of the questions, Squarespace will show you a couple of options for templates. You can still change the topic at the top to see other options, so don’t feel limited by the immediate selection. Our recommendation for Judy would be to pick Blog as the type and then Community & Non-profits as the topic.

When you have found the one you like, you can preview it to see all of the core functions. Or you can dive straight into it by clicking on the Start with button.

Security on a family website

Squarespace allows you to set up a site-wide password for security and block content from prying eyes. This is done by clicking on Settings and then Site Availability from within the Home Menu. Select Password Protected in the drop-down menu and you’ll be all set.

“You can hide your site behind a password to prevent it from being publicly accessible. While your site is password-protected, visitors need to enter the password to open your site,” Squarespace explains.

There is just one thing that needs to be kept in mind with this option: there is only one password. Everyone uses the same password to access your site’s content. So you must make sure that it remains within the group.

You can try Squarespace through a 14-day trial period. After which, it costs $12 a month (if billed annually) for the Personal plan. For Judy’s purposes, the Business plan allows for unlimited website contributors and costs $18 a month (if billed annually).

This will allow all of her family members to log into the website’s dashboard to upload content, create blog posts and share family photos.

Other popular website builders that you can try are Wix, and Weebly.

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