Google Sites Review

When Google produces something, you can be sure that it will be expertly engineered, lovingly crafted, and almost inevitably free, and that is certainly the case with Google Sites. Another addition to the already impressive Google website suite, this simple template-based web builder is an often overlooked but fairly impressive addition to the Google roster.  As with most Google sites, you log in with your Google account; then, you are brought to a fairly blank screen, somewhat reminiscent of the Google Drive layout with fewer things on it. It’s admittedly a little off-putting to see so much blank space, but you can at least easily determine how to get started.

EASE OF USE

This is difficult to judge since the site is not very intuitive, but it does have extensive and easy to access documentation powered by Google’s search functions to find answers to your questions. It’s fairly simple to create a new site and have it on the Internet in minutes, and there are plenty of templates to choose from, as well as a blank one that allows you quite a bit of flexibility to build the kind of site that you’re looking for.

That being said, there are no explanations of what you’re doing on the page you’re looking at. It’s not as clear as I think Google would have liked it to be that when you name your website, it creates part of the URL, and the options are laid out in a strange fashion. They would have been better filling some of the copious white space with instructions. While seasoned developers and Google users will have no problems, people who are less experienced should be ready to overcome a bit of a learning curve and spend a few hours just playing around to get acquainted with the format.

BUILDING

Once you get the hang of where things are and what they mean, creating a website is easy, especially if you use one of the many templates they have available. It’s as simple as naming the site and choosing how you want it to look. Adding things to the page is remarkably easy in the editor mode, especially since other Google site integration, like YouTube and Drive, is available. Again, one of the best things Google does is integrate their stuff together, so you can really leverage that with their site builder and get the most out of varied media. As I mentioned above, the editor is not always easy to use immediately, and it helps if you spend some time actually working with it and playing around before trying to sit down and create a serious site, but it does make sense after a little bit of experimentation.

HOSTING

There isn’t a whole lot to say about hosting. When you build a site on Google sites, it is automatically hosted at sites.google.com/site/[sitename]. It’s free and done automatically. There are options for being able to take the built site and host it elsewhere, either by taking the resulting HTML and images or just pointing your purchased URL there, but ultimately this is just simple, no-fuss free hosting.

MARKETING

Google is not in the business of providing powerful tools to grow your company. Google in the business of providing basic tools for everyone to use. What that often means is that you’re on your own for things like marketing. That being said, it’s very easy to be able to adjust Meta tags and work on search engine optimization with these sites. They give you the access and power you need to position them well for good online marketing, they just won’t do it for you.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

You can expect the same high level of customer support on Google Sites as you do with the rest of Google. Almost all questions can be answered by simply searching their forum for people who have had similar problems or looking at the numerous guides that they have provided to walk you through things. If you have any problems that the answers are not immediately available to, there are several outlets for you to ask your question and receive a timely response.

About the only thing they don’t have is a call-in customer service number, but honestly it’s not necessary since most questions can be answered with a simple query in the search box.

PRICING

It’s free. Google has been consistent since their inception that they want to keep their products free whenever possible. The drawback to this is that it’s not very powerful for businesses unless they are just getting started or don’t need a whole lot of heft to their website, but the upside is that it’s easy to create a professional website in a matter of minutes when you need one if you’re not ready to jump head first into the online world. This is a starter website, but you lose nothing by trying it out.

THE GOOD

There are plenty of options for a free service, which allows you to get a website up and running very quickly

THE BAD

There isn’t a lot of power behind these websites

AND THE UGLY

The design is not very intuitive, and Google would have done better to provide an introductory tutorial

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