In this post, I will share a step by step guide for creating a basic website with google sites.
What is Google Sites?
Google Sites is a website builder platform from Google. It started out as JotSpot and was acquired by Google in 2006. In June 2016, the platform was completely rebuilt and launched as Google Sites.
It is part of the Google OfficeSuite for Business
On the surface, Google Sites works just like any other website builder platform. However, it is more suited for creating company wikis and intranets. In my opinion, it is not suited for building business websites.
However, the good part about google sites is that it is very easy(due to limited features) and it is free. So if you have never built a website in your life, then give google sites a try.
Lets see how you can quickly create a website with Google Sites.
How to Create a Website with Google Sites
Google Sites is a service provided by Google. This means that you will need to first sign in to your Google account or sign up for one if you do not have it. To get started, visit Google Sites and sign in or sign up for a free Google account.
After you log in, you are taken to the Google Sites dashboard, which is an almost an empty page. Here is a screenshot of the dashboard.
From here, we are going to follow the steps below to create a sample website in a few minutes.
Step 1: Creating a New Site and Adding a Name
The first step is clicking the “+” sign at the bottom right hand-side of the Google Sites dashboard.
You will be taken to the Create new site screen. At the top left, you will see that your site is untitled. Click on Untitled Site to add a name to your site. I will name this “My First Google Sites Website.”
Now that you have named your website, its now time to select a theme.
Step 2: Select a Theme
As of now, there are 5 themes available with Google Sites. Go to the left-hand panel, you will see three options – Insert, Pages, and themes. Click on themes and you will be presented with the available themes. I am selecting Level theme for the purpose of this tutorial.
As of now, the theme selection is very limited. There are only 5 themes available and the design is quite bland. Hey, but it is free!!!
Step 3: Selecting a Layout
After selecting the theme, we are now going to edit the layout of our website. Still, on the right-hand side of the screen, click on the Insert option.
Here, you will see options for adding elements like Text, Images, and Buttons on your web page. You will also see a collection of prebuilt layouts which can be inserted on your page with a single click.
There is also a collection of Google Services widgets like Sheets, Forms, Docs, calendar, etc.
Click on the element/layout which you want on your page and start editing.
Step 4 : Adding Content to Homepage
With the theme and the layout set, we are now going to add content to our website. At this stage, it’s an empty website apart from just the theme and the layout.
4.1: Edit Page Header
Let us start by editing the Page Header. Simply click on the Page header to edit the text content. I will name this page Home.
It is also possible to select different Header layout. I am using Banner type header for the purpose of this tutorial.
4.2: Edit Cover Image
To change the cover image, move the cursor to the existing image and select Change Image. Google Sites supports multiple image source.
- You can upload an image from your PC
- You can insert images from Google Albums, Google Drive, From Url, or from Gallery
- Google Sites also lets you search images on the web and insert them, all directly from the website editor.
For this tutorial, I am going to select an image from the gallery. After doing that, here is the new look of my website.
Note that I have edited the text and have uploaded a background image.
4.3: Adding Content to the Page
We are now going to add content to the home page. Since we chose a layout for our website, we have it already set for us. It is a 2 column section with Image on the left and text on the right hand side. Of course you are free to choose the layout of your choice.
I will simply click on the section to add the content. In the image section, I can choose between inserting an Image, a Youtube Video, Google Calendar or a Map. These are all applications provided by Google, a feature that gives Google Sites an edge over many other Site Building Platforms.
As shown below, I am going to add an image on the left-hand side block and text on the right-hand side of the block.
This is how my homepage looks after adding an image and text adjacent to the image. Remember that this is taken from the layout I selected.
When adding the text, Google Sites gives you a rich text editor. As shown below, you can change the text layout, bold, italicize, change alignment, add numbered or an ordered list and add links.
Editing text is quite straightforward. Simply double click on the text box and you can start editing.
4.4: Add New Layout
After this, you will most likely want to add more content. We will add another layout just below the one we have just edited above. To do that, you will need to click on the Insert option on the top right-hand side of this page and select a new layout. You will then repeat the same procedure above to add content to the new layout section.
After adding the new content, this is how my website looks. Note that you are choosing the layout that best fits the needs of your website.
You can upload images to display a team section. Of course, this is just an example, you may add a different section as per your needs.
4.5: Add a Footer
You can go on following the procedures above until your homepage has captured everything that you need. To finalize this page, we are going to add a footer to the page. To do that, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Add Footer button shown below.
You can add text to your footer and customize it to make sure that it looks exactly the way you would want it to. Here is my footer.
Congratulations, you have just created a basic homepage for your website.
Step 5: Adding a New Page
If you are not building a one-page website, you will definitely want to add new pages. To do that, click on the Pages option on the right-hand side of the page builder screen then click on the “+” button at the bottom.
Click on the “+” button then add the page name on the window that pops up. I am going to name this new page About Us.
A new page employing the same theme is created. Notice that you have a menu at the top right-hand side of the page showing the page names.
If you want to add a custom URL for this page click on the Advanced drop-down option on the screenshot above then type in your custom URL then click Done.
We are now going to repeat step 4 above to add content to the new page. Here is how the About Us page looks after adding content to it.
Add all the pages that you will need for your website by repeating steps 4 and 5 then go to the next step.
Step 6: General Website Management
Before you unveil your website to the world, you might need to set and configure some critical elements by clicking on the three dots icon at the top right hand-side of the page builder screen. Here, you can add a favicon, add a custom URL, change the site info settings, site analytics and even create a duplicate of the website.
Click on Add favicon to add one to your website. A favicon is an icon associated with a particular website, typically displayed in the address bar of a browser accessing the site or next to the site name in a user’s list of bookmarks.
Google Sites will allow you to upload a favicon from your computer.
If you have a custom URL, you can add it by clicking the Custom URLs option from the screenshot above.
By default, new websites can be viewed by anyone. To control access to your website, we are going to click on the add people icon at the top right-hand side of the screen.
This will open a popup window through which you can access settings. Here, you can;
- Choose to add other people to help in editing the website.
- Choose what happens when the website is published – here, you can choose to have anyone find and view the published website or have specific people view it when published.
Step 7: Publishing the Website
After editing your website and making sure that it meets all your requirements, the final step will be to publish it. On the top right-hand side of the screen, click on the Publish button.
A popup window appears that lets you type the site web address. This address will have https://sites.google.com/view/your-name format. If you have a custom URL, you can as well assign it here by clicking on MANAGE and typing in the URL.
Click on Publish when done. This website is available at https://sites.google.com/view/my-template-website
Pros of Google Sites
- It is fast and very easy to edit.
- Google Sites is free as long as you have a Google account.
- You do not need to have any web development skills to use it.
- It does not require you to install any software.
- Its integration with Google apps gives it an edge over other website builders.
- It is ideal for a newbie who wants to build a website for the first time.
Cons of Google Sites
- The site URL has to begin with sites.google.com/site/ not unless you have a custom URL.
- Google Sites has limited functionality compared to some of its competitors.
- Apps are only limited to Google Apps. Incorporating applications outside of Google Apps can often be problematic.
- It is not a good website builder for businesses due to its limited customizations.
- The themes are very basic compared to other website builders.
That has only taken us a couple of minutes and we have a website running without even writing a single line of code.
While Google Sites definitely lacks advanced features, it is easy and free. So if you are technophobic, give google sites a try, maybe it will prepare you to launch a professional website in the near future.