Does a cemetery really need a website?
Yes, your cemetery really does need a website. Luckily for us non-coders, website creation is easy these days. You just need to be able to interface with whatever software you decide to use, more on different programs below!
What kind of information should you include? Very basically, the website should include the following:
- Location — preferably with GPS coordinates or address. Make finding your cemetery as easy as possible. And don’t forget the parking directions!
- A brief history. Include important dates, how the cemetery was developed, and interesting people who are buried there.
- Do you still accept burials? Include information on plot purchasing and funeral arrangements so people have an easy reference for the information.
- A map. A plot map will help people find their ancestors or other graves they want to visit while there.
If you have this list down, consider adding more information! Some bonuses might include:
- Burial records. This is especially helpful for cemeteries that have a lot of historic burials. Have your records been digitized? If not, apply for grant funding to help your modernize your records.
- Want to go more in depth? Consider adding a walking tour to your website, all it takes is the time to write. Most of the below softwares make it easy to switch from computer to hand-held device so a visitor could use their phone to access the tour.
- Be creative and have fun! Take advantage of the fact that web development is mostly time these days. Have some great stories? How about a newspaper database about your cemetery? A photo library that people can add to? You know what might work well for your community.
How do you create a website easily?
- Find a software you like. There are lots of free options available! This site is made using WordPress.com, so it is one of my favorite website development tools. Some other options: Wix, Squarespace, WordPress.org (yes, there is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org), Weebly, and GoogleSites. All have different features so do a little comparison to see which one you prefer. There are plenty of free options which would work just fine for your site though if you want a more professional appearance, you may need to purchase a domain name.
- Consider buying a domain name. This is not necessary and does require some financial investment. Most website will allow you a free domain name that has their company name in web address. For example, this site could be thepublichistoryofcemetery.wordpress.com, but since I purchased a domain name, it’s simply publichistoryofcemeteries.org. A domain name gives your site a more professional appearance.
- Still need help? Ask a local school or university for a student intern. Most students will have some familiarity with website development and could be a great resource for you.
Try it out and see what works best for you! A simple website with a good phone number to call works if you want to go as simple as possible!
In Oregon? Check out the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries grant opportunities! They will help fund your website creation and development!
Check out this website tool comparison list for more information!