How we’re doing (part 2)

In part 1 we looked at the stats of the Sommerer Family website, but I mentioned that that’s only one way of looking at how a website is doing. It turns out that getting people to use a family website is not the easiest thing in the world. I’ve spoken to many people who have started a family website, but stopped after a month or two.

I think that what most people don’t realize is that the decision to have a family website is actually a family decision. It’s usually not a formal decision, and maybe it’s usually not even a conscience decision. Let me explain what I mean.

It only takes one person to decide to setup a website for a family. But unless you have a certain number of family members who come to the website and participate, it eventually seems like a lot of wasted effort to the person who started the website. The family website gets less and less attention until it eventually dies. It probably dies with a fair number of people who still come to the site regularly, but didn’t really get involved beyond that.

I don’t want you guys to think I’m complaining. Rachel, Sam, Christina and I knew what we were getting into when we started this. And really, we all (as a family) have made a pretty good start of it. We have roughly 180 people in the family and 32 of us have registered on the site (registering is only necessary to view addresses, birth dates and such). There are 18 people who have commented at least once and nearly a dozen people who have submitted something to post on the site.

The truth is, it’s hard to get people to say something on a website. People have a tendency to think that other people don’t want to hear what they have to say, or that what they have to say isn’t important enough to type out. They come to a website regularly, but no one knows that they do. In technogeek these people are referred to as “Lurkers”. They lurk on a website, but never make their presence known.

Verily, Verily I say to you, there is more joy at SommererFamily.com over 1 lurker who submits a comment than over 99 registered users.

How are we doing? I’d say we’re doing a lot better than most family websites. But we’ll have to make a decision about whether or not we want to have one. In this case, we vote with our keyboards. If we want a family website, we have to make comments.  Not long comments or deep comments. Just comments.

A website is all about communication, and communication is a two way street. People are coming here to hear what you have to say. If you’re not saying anything, they will quit coming.

6 thoughts on “How we’re doing (part 2)

  1. I enjoy our web site so much, Please family let’s not let it die! I would love to hear from all my nieces and nephews, about what they are doing and about their children. and grandchildren.

  2. Well here’s a thought….I had gotten the impression that the site was about past memories and such,which is good to hear old stories and things but maybe it would be good to add a current catagory. So when someone has their children and grandchildren home for a special occasion then can snap a picture and sent it in with a comment about the occasion. I think a current picture section would be a good thing to encourage participation for those who dont own any old pictures. I would enjoy seeing what the extended family is up to through out the year! But you may feel like if they dont come in the first place another catagory might not help either …I dont know. Sarah is very excited about grandmas diary. I dont thinks she has commented but am glad it is there for her to find out about her family. Thanks so much.
    As you know I comment, Ithink you weekly update through email is a good outreach. Hopefully your plea will not fall on deaf ears…. We dont get together as an extended family over the thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and I would like to see pictures and hear about everyones holidays. Come on people……

  3. I encourage you to give more time for the expected results. There will be light use sometimes and heavy at other times. This site is simply wonderful. I enjoy it so much and the information under tools and the other links is so helpful….don’t get discouraged!

    • We’re not discouraged. Heck, I think we’re off to a pretty good start. I just want everyone to understand that having a family website is a group effort.

      Lots of family websites start off well and then sort of disappear. I’m trying to be a little proactive and let people know up-front that for a family website to work, you have to have people who are willing to contribute. Contributing comments is every bit as important as writing articles and keeping things running.

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