Family Website: How to Choose the Right One

Laptop with family photos and hands

A family website is often the end goal for many of our photo organizing clients. We’re often asked which ones we recommend and what to look for.

I’ll share a few thoughts here on three popular family website platforms to help you decide which is best for your needs.

When looking for a family website, there are several factors to consider.

The first step is to determine what you want the website to do. Some families want a website that is simply a way to keep in touch with relatives. Others want a site that can act as a central repository for all the digital family photos, news, and information.

Once you know what you want your website to do, you need to decide on a platform. When selecting a platform, consider your needs and the needs of your family. Keep in mind:

  • the number of people who’ll use the site
  • the type of content you want to share
  • how much customization you need
  • how much technical knowledge you and your family members have

Most providers offer a free trial. This way you can play around and get familiar with their site and how it works before committing (which we always recommend). Some even work collaboratively. A few of our favorite options are below.


If you like organized folders, sub-folders, and galleries that are organized by time, people or topics, check out SmugMug. If you’re okay with just a large photo repository, Flickr could work. Both are subsidiaries of the same corporation, but use different approaches to storing images. SmugMug provides secure storage for thousands of photos and video files (video limitations: up to 20 minutes long or 3GB in size). Your family website is completely customizable, and can showcase your photos like a professional photographer’s – which makes sense, since SmugMug is popular with pros.

Your family website on SmugMug can house and categorize your entire collection. Also, your site is private. Even if you’ve given links to others or shared a password, it won’t show up on a Google search, so you don’t need to worry about strangers viewing your photos. SmugMug also has a free app that works with iOS and Android phones.

Permanent’s mission is to help preserve the past, just as their name implies. They are an excellent platform for interacting and sharing pictures and videos with family and friends. They preserve for people, not profit.

Their main focus is preserving digital archives now and for future access. Permanent’s tools and features are straightforward and effective. They are privacy-focused and as per their manifesto, “a trusted platform for individuals, families and small organizations that provides a secure and private environment to build and share archival quality history with family, friends, colleagues and the public, at their complete discretion”.

They offer a one-time only payment, which is preferable to monthly subscription fees. However, you’ll want to do your color correction, image editing and adding metadata to your digital files prior to uploading. Permanent is focused on best archival practices and integrity.


Collectionaire makes it easy to create custom collections of diverse media, such as family photo albums, home videos, audio recordings, journals, documentaries, paintings, etc. For example, a user can add images, videos, and art projects to a child’s collection; create a legacy tribute to a lost parent; or compile all of a family or group of friends’ most memorable events.

Collectionaire is a distinctive because it aggregates and curates personal collections. Users do not have to create from scratch, but can choose from existing content on various other platforms, such as Permanent or SmugMug. This encourages collaboration and contributions to shared growing family histories.

In the end, it’s important to choose a  family website site that will be safe and appropriate for your needs. Be sure to read the reviews and compare features (ie. recognizing searchable existing tags, the ability to add keywords to uploaded files, etc) before making your final decision. Ask friends and other family members for suggestions, too. Let us know how it goes!