Beyond Blogging - Google Sites

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Syllabus for class taught by Devin Ashby, of FamilySearch. Presented at the BYU 2010 Conference on Computerized Family History & Genealogy.

Google is a wonderful resource. There are so many products and services provided by Google, and most all are free! The purpose of this class is to introduce Google Sites, a tool that will allow you to create Web sites and secure group wikis. If you have some good electronic content, it is easy to build a family Web site to share your knowledge and let others share what they know. The scenario portrayed here is a suggestion for how to build a Web site so you can get your family history online.


Start now to gather electronic content of all your family history. One of the best ways to preserve family history is to make multiple copies of all your information. For example, if you have a written family history in a drawer, scan it or type it as a text document to preserve it.

Tricks and tips:

Audio: An audio file is a great way to preserve history. You may have a song an ancestor wrote or have a tape with an oral history. Find these recordings, and convert them into mp3 files or burn them to a CD. An easy tool to use is Sound Recorder, which comes with any PC. Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, Sound Recorder.

Images: Scan your photos and convert whatever you have to digital images. In addition to photographs, there are other images worth preserving, such as census and vital records, certificates, letters, etc. These pieces of history should be digitized as well. If you don’t have a scanner, you can take your photos to Staples or Office Max, and pay to have it done.

Text: Make your history or story an electronic document by using Microsoft Word, Open Office, Google Docs, or any other kind of word processor. Once your history is a text file, you can easily save it, e-mail it, or publish it. You will need to decide if you want your document to be done in a Word processor or scanned in an Adobe format. If you don’t have a scanner or word processor, you can take your document to Staples or Office Max and pay to have it done.

Video: If you have dozens and dozens of family history videos on VHS, digitize them, and make them video files (.wmv, .mpg, .avi) or burn the videos to CDs or DVDs. One way to do this is to copy your VHS videos to your video camera and then load them to your computer using Windows Movie Maker. Note: If you are running Windows 7, you will need to download Windows Live Movie Maker online. Don’t worry…it’s free. If you choose, you can pay to have this done at Inkley’s, Walgreens, or another place. You could also make your own family history video.


Make sure you have enough audio, images, text, video, links, etc. for a great Web site. You may choose to organize your electronic content by family line, such as Robinson, Humphrey, Johnson, etc. Keep in mind what the user will see. A Web site with good variety is a Web site worth revisiting. The example below will help give you an idea of what to include for the Thompson family line.

Thompson family:
• Audio: Frank Thompson life history.mp3, John singing around campfire.wma
• Images: Thompson 1900 U.S. Census image.jpg, Marsha’s marriage certificate.jpg, William’s journal entry.jpg
• Text: Thompson cemetery records.doc, Grandma Jane’s autobiography.doc
• Video: Family reunion 1985, Family nativity 2002


Once you have electronic copies of your information, you are ready to upload it to the Internet. Uploading audio and text files is easy. Link to a few slideshows and a few videos and create a couple links, and you have yourself a Web site.

Audio: There are a few Web sites that will allow you to upload your text in order to convert it to an mp3 file. Once your text has been converted, you can listen to it online, or you can put it on your IPod or mp3 player.
How do I start? Google Voice,,,

Once you have your images ready, you need to decide what photo tool to use. Picasa is Google’s photo tool. It allows you to edit, find, and share photos. Picasa Web albums let you store your photos online, and if you have a Blogger account, the photos from your blog will be stored online automatically. You’ll have 1G of free storage, and you can even add captions to your images. Several YouTube videos discuss how to use Picasa. 

How do I start?, Flikr, and Photobucket are other photo-sharing Web sites.

The easiest way to put this information online is to copy it directly into a page or upload it as an attachment. Google Docs is another option for putting your text online.

Google’s YouTube lets you post video content online for free. In fact, every minute, 15 hours of video is uploaded using YouTube. One great thing about YouTube is it helps you make video files of your family videos. This makes it much easier to store and distribute than old VHS tapes, and these days most digital cameras have a video function, so it’s easy to upload videos.
How do I start? or


If you make it to step four, you are good to go. Now all you have to do is create and customize your Web site and upload your content. Google Sites will let you create Web sites and secure group wikis. Anyone can add file attachments, information from other Google applications, and free-form content. Google Sites gives you 100MB of free storage. You can pay for more storage if you want to upgrade. Keep in mind that most of what you put into your Web site is stored elsewhere. By linking to each item, your Web site doesn’t have to store all the information. If you have trouble getting started, a few videos on YouTube will take you through how to set up a Web site.

Highlights of Google Sites:

• Single-page creation with no HTML required
• Google’s search feature is built into the site for quick searching
• Unlike a blog, it’s easy to load documents
• No advertising
• Settings for accessing and sharing

How do I start?


Here are two ideas for making a good Web site even better. It’s easy to get lost in a new Web site, so why not make an introductory video? This will help the user navigate his or her way around. Want to know what’s happening on your Web site? If you do, use Google Analytics to see what people are up to.

Jing: Jing is a free tool that will let you build Web videos and do screen shots of your Web site.
How do I start?

Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a free tool that will let you monitor the traffic on your Web site. You can customize and run reports and e-mail them as well.
How do I start?