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Free Website Builders Group Test: Google Sites

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User of Google mail, Docs and Google+ will be right at home with the company’s own website builder technology. Needless to say, it follows the same kind of theme that the rest of the Google family offer, which for some can either, be a blessing or a curse.

Google Sites

Google Sites

The obvious advantage to using a Google engineered site is, of course, the ability to integrate all the other Google products into one site. If you’re looking to create a collaborative site for your family, then Google Sites would be an ideal place to start, where you can include Google Calendar, Maps, Gmail, Docs and YouTube. However, for a standard publicly viewable site, Google Sites lacks the pizazz of Wix or Weebly.

“Once the content is on the page, there’s not really a lot manipulation you can do”

Signing up is easy, especially if you already have a Google login in some form or another

Signing up is easy, especially if you already have a Google login in some form or another

Signing up is easy, especially if you already have a Google login in some form or another, and the initial creation of the website requires very few steps: pick a template - Blank, Classroom site, Soccer Team, Spring Floral Wedding site or browse from the millions of sites already created by Google users. Then name your site, which automatically fills in the site location. Select a theme, of which the selections are quite basic and laughable when compared to the previous two website builders we’ve looked at. Finally, enter the captcha and click the ‘Create Site’ button.

 
The obvious advantage to using a Google engineered site is, of course, the ability to integrate all the other Google products into one site

The obvious advantage to using a Google engineered site is, of course, the ability to integrate all the other Google products into one site

The whole process shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes, but when you factor in the browsing of the template gallery and the fact that, annoyingly, Google doesn’t auto-check if your site location name has already been taken, and then the process may take slightly longer.

Once you have your new site up and running, you're left with a very basic interface that does little to offer any encouragement or help. The buttons available are unmarked, but a mouse over will reveal them as Edit Page or New Page, with a More button that expands to include various settings for the likes of access permissions, AdSense, Templates, Attachments and so on. The editor function is very bland and offers a little less than what an average word processor is capable of. There is the ability to drag and drop content from other web pages or your computer, but once the content is on the page, there’s not really a lot manipulation you can do with it.

 
Basic Themes in Google sites

Basic Themes in Google sites

To be honest, you could be forgiven for comparing Google Sites to one of the many free website builders from 20 years ago, with its uniformly dire themes and very little control over the size and placement of page elements.

However, if you insert one of the Google products, then you're offered a slightly more advanced editing feature set, although not by much. Splitting the page into columns or inserting tables is easy enough via the menu in the top left in editor mode, and you can access and edit the HTML behind the scenes, should you need to. In addition, you can opt to add Google’s AdSense, which will enable a selection of appropriate adverts in a sidebar in a vain attempt to earn you money when someone clicks on the links - which, let’s face it, isn’t going to earn the average user anywhere near enough to retire on. And there are the thousands of Google Gadgets that can be added, most of which are, admittedly, fairly useless.

 
Good for Google apps but a poor place to build a website

Good for Google apps but a poor place to build a website

In conclusion, Google Sites offers a nice place to dump your Google content or share the odd picture, but for building a decent looking, functional and semi-professional website, then you’re better off looking anywhere but here.

Details:

·         Price: Free

·         Manufacturer: Google

·         Website:

·         sites.google.com

Scores:

·         Quality: 5/10

·         Value: 6/10

·         Overall: 5/10

 

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