A second toe in the web

Alicia Crane WilliamsWhen I started my experiment of creating a web page about seven months ago, I advised everyone not to follow my advice and not to expect quick results. Good thing, because as of this writing, I have just managed to publish a website with one page!

Back in February I found the procedures and information that I needed to wend through in order to create a web page far more complex than it had been the “old days,” when I had successfully created a website with Network Solutions, so I let the project linger while attending to more urgent and/or fun things.

When I began gearing up for my second attack on the problem, I realized that I was facing a situation very similar to beginning genealogy! So much to learn – so much to learn about what to learn! I did briefly consider having someone else do the website for me, but, well, where’s the fun in that? I began looking for websites that provide educational articles, blogs, etc. for neophyte website owners.

I’m still looking. There are plenty of sites selling particular programs and/or services, and articles about “what” to put on your website, but a good educational site with a “Websites 101” course, not so much. Next, I turned to my Kindle. Again, lots of books tied to specific programs, so I decided on one that deals with the free program Joomla (Stephen Burge, Joomla!® 3 Explained, Your Step-by-Step Guide, second edition). Joomla advertises itself as one of the easiest to use, and the manual was actually comprehensible to me, although definitely this is something one has to do to really understand.

My new web host is SiteGround, which includes automatic uploads for web design software, including Joomla, so I went ahead and loaded it. Joomla’s website includes user forums where I can learn more, although topics such as “Offline Template Override not working” tell me I’ve got a lot further to go in learning the lingo.

However, between the book and blind playing around, I have one page up tonight.  If you go to www.newenglandfamilies.com, you will at least see a photograph of the Williams family – my father’s father (standing in the middle in back row), his nine siblings, and their parents. With luck, by the time you’ve read this, I will have more online (having read the whole book). This is my personal family genealogy site where, eventually, I expect to publish all my ancestors! But remember, no promises about how long that will take.

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

8 thoughts on “A second toe in the web

  1. I’m sending you all good wishes and the courage to keep pursuing building your new website, Alicia! Please keep us posted on your progress and the techniques you find effective.

    I started doing research before personal computers and the Internet, and my family bought our first home computer very very early, in 1979! I slogged through the years of growing content online, adopting newer and newer hardware as expensive machines quickly became too old and slow to keep up. Yes, what a steep learning curve! Like you, I designed websites for myself and companies I worked for. There were more resources available, as you wrote, and everyone was learning together.

    Now, just a few years later, I’m finding not only is everything different and incredibly more complex, everything has been monetized — it is all done by businesses wanting to sell services, not by “amateurs” — and the predominant attitude seems to be not so user friendly. So I dropped out of website building and maintenance. But Alicia, you are inspiring me to jump back in!

  2. Alicia,

    You’re so brave! And I’m impressed by the clean look of your front page. I haven’t had the nerve to jump into webpage design, though I’ve been in the computer “business” since the early 1970s, when we ran around with rubber bands around our wrists and used punch cards. I had access to the first PCs at work, so didn’t buy my own until I left that employment (at a university computer center) in 1990. I knew about web access but didn’t need it then, so that PC didn’t have web connection. Five years later, I exchanged it for a computer that did, and was off and running with email and searching the Internet for genealogy. But creating my own webpage didn’t occur to me. Thanks for showing us it can be done!


  3. Doris, thank you. I never actually used punch cards, but I did start with the mag card. I think I got my first PC around 1985?ish, with of course DOS. But I also had the IBM Displaywriter that did all of the real work. That cost me $8,000 in 1982. Never earned a fraction of that back, but it produced some nice work.

    1. I remember teaching secretaries who were having their beloved IBM Selecretrics taken away and replaced by PCs. They feared they’d lose their jobs if they couldn’t make the transition. They would have, too. I taught small classes of 5-6 to use DOS, and it was so satisfying–for us all–when they discovered they could figure out that crazy system. Then we went on to Word, and that was even easier.

      I don’t remember what I paid for my own PC, but it wasn’t as much as I paid for my laser printer. With WordPerfect, a much better word processing system than Word, and with a really good, intuitive manual, I could create professional looking documents with ease. WP no longer seems to exist, and I dislike Word. I now use ODT, but it’s not as professional looking. The laser printer is long gone, and “upgrades” don’t look nearly as professional as that printer I got rid of 15 years ago did! With Windows 8.1 I can’t scan anything; Microsoft is promising that Windows 10 will scan beautifully, but I’ll have to buy a new printer/scanner to do it. It’s hard to keep up with new technology!

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