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Websites keep family posted

October 31, 2005|By By Andrew Edwards

A Newport firm creates Web pages that help people stay in touch with distant relatives.Perhaps the Internet is the new family room.

The Family Post Inc., a Newport Beach company, introduced a line of family websites Oct. 19. Using templates with locally inspired names such as Newport Nouveau and Laguna's Gallery, the Family Post sells websites that can be tailored to individual families.

The company sells its Internet services from its own website, of course, and, through December, it will also operate a vending cart at Newport Beach's Fashion Island, Family Post founder Michael Sawtell said.

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"We're an Internet company, but since we're an Orange County, Newport company, what better place to introduce our product," Sawtell said.

The idea to start the Family Post clicked when Sawtell was working on a website for his own family. Sawtell, 47, and his wife have a 14-month-old daughter named Skylar.

The Family Post collects a customer's family photos and creates a website around them using a set of electronic building blocks that include visual designs and music. The websites also include a message board for family members. Sawtell views his company's service as a way for family members separated by distance to keep track of children's baseball games and other activities.

"You have Aunt Mary in Florida. You have grandparents in New York. They want to know what's going on," Sawtell said.

Once built, a family's website can be updated from home with new photos or messages. Lyra Pitzman, Family Post's business development director, demonstrated how to add a new picture to a website. The process is similar to attaching a photo or document to an e-mail. New pictures can be added by selecting an option to insert a photo and then choosing the photo from an electronic directory.

"An 8-year-old could update this," Pitzman said.

Once made, updates appear on the sites instantaneously.

"It's all real-time. You don't have to wait for a day," Family Post operations director Bob Grant said.

Sawtell also pointed out that Family Post websites can be secured, which means customers can prevent Web surfers outside of the family from stumbling onto the websites while using a search engine.

The company's website is www.thefamilypost.com. Its vending cart at Fashion Island is near the Pacifica Restaurants area of the shopping center.

* ANDREW EDWARDS covers business and the environment. He can be reached at (714) 966-4624 or by e-mail at andrew.edwards@latimes.com.

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