Google likes making it easy for you to use and work on their platforms. The more eyes on their properties, the stronger its position becomes.
This extends past the popular Search and Maps applications, and includes Drive, Docs, and Sites.
The last item may not sound familiar, but has been around for a while. Sites lets users make simple websites using a free tool from Google.
Designing and hosting a website has many components and can be a complicated exercise for a non-tech person, and the aim of Google Sites is to allow users to create simple pages which can be shared with others.
We took Google Sites for a quick test drive to see how it works.
“No technical skills are required and you can collaborate with others to create and refine Sites, just like other Google Docs,” Google says about Sites.
This is accurate, as creating a site is essentially producing an online Google document – You right click in your Drive and select Sites from the drop-down menu, as shown below.
The Sites interface is simple and lets you build a site with a basic block design and the ability to insert text, images, and links. The layout of the blocks on your page can then be edited, or laid out from pre-made templates.
The top of the design page lets users edit their header, insert a background image, a title for the page, and design elements like underlining the title.
Six page themes were available when we tested Sites and these affect the font of the title text and how it is laid out. You colour scheme can also be edited from the Themes section.
For out site, we kept it a one-pager, but users can add new pages or sub-pages to their project if needs be.
Another cool feature of Sites is that it integrates with Google Drive and other services, so you can add documents from your Drive, YouTube videos, Maps, and more quickly.
The screenshot below is of a page being built using Sites.
Not for serious websites
Once you have designed your site, you can preview it before publishing. The preview menu shows you what the site will look like on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
The publish function then lets you post your site to the Internet, with it hosted like a document would be in Google Drive.
Users can select a custom URL for their site – which is structured as “sites.google.com/view/yourwebsitename” – and choose who to share the site with. This includes whether other users can edit the site, and whether the site can be seen by search engines.
Google states that Sites is aimed at tasks like displaying internal company documents to staff or sending event invites to colleagues, friends, and family – as opposed to hosting a complex online platform.
This is evidenced by the dedicated “Published Site Link” button, which copies the site’s URL for you to send on.
Google Sites is a nifty tool and if you want to impress your friends with an online invitation to your Star Wars fan event, for example, you can go from zero to a published site in minutes.
Check out our test site here, which took 15 minutes to put together.
The video below also provides a quick overview of Google Sites.