Google Sites is a really easy-to-use and completely free website builder. However, its limited features make it more suitable for basic digital notice boards rather than full websites. If you want a website you can be really proud of, I recommended a few alternatives below, which offer more tools and features.
Google Sites Makes Things Simple but Has Lots of Limitations
When it comes to tech giants, few can compete with Google. They’ve mastered the search engine game, provided the world with their own personal assistants with Google Home, and even revolutionized the road with a self-driving car. But the real question is, can Google create a good website? Enter, Google Sites, Google’s website builder.
Google Sites is a free and straightforward solution if you’re looking to build a basic website. And, if you have a Gmail account, you can sign straight into your Google account and get started building your website. There are two versions of Google Sites, Classic and New. The New Google Sites has fewer features than the Classic version, and Google is planning to phase the Classic version out eventually.
As a website builder, Google Sites is very limited, so you’re likely to find yourself looking for a more suitable long-term solution. For a free alternative with better customization options and overall functionality, consider using Wix. You can read our expert review to learn more about Wix’s features.
Use Templates in Classic or Themes in New Google Sites
If you want to use a pre-designed template for your Google Sites website, you’ll have to use the classic version of Google Sites as the new Google Sites no longer offers templates. Instead, the new Google Sites provides a selection of six themes that provide different design styles.
In Classic Google Sites, you can choose from over 30 templates, but there’s no support for mobile responsiveness, so your website won’t display well on smartphones and tablets.
Classic mode templates are organized into six categories, ranging from business templates to templates for non-profit organizations. In addition to templates, you can also choose from over 50 themes for your website.
The theme controls color schemes, fonts, and backgrounds. So, for example, you can choose a notebook theme for a personal blog and make your content appear to be written on notebook paper.
In the new Google Sites, themes are more basic, but give you more control over the theme appearance. You can also customize the theme colors, using a pre-defined palette, or using the color-picker tool to use custom colors.
New Google Sites Lacks the Classic Version’s Features
Considering that the New Google Sites is designed to be an improvement on the Classic version, it’s surprising to find that many of the features included in the Classic Google Sites have been removed from the New version. As Google Sites is constantly being updated, some of the more advanced features may make a return in the future, but currently, the feature list is very basic.
The New Google Sites uses a simple drag-and-drop interface, with the ability to add text, images, code, and files from your Google Drive. You can, of course, also add content from Google products, including Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Charts.
In Classic Google Sites, you can add ‘gadgets’ to your website, such as PayPal buttons, via the More Gadgets option. In the New Google Sites, you have to generate an embed code in PayPal and use the ‘embed code’ feature to create a PayPal button on your website.
While Google Gadgets offers some useful tools if you’re using the Classic version, many of them are outdated. Also, anyone can create a gadget and make it available in Google Gadgets, which means that the quality of the tools is not reliable.
The embed code function in the New Google Sites may be a more complicated means of adding functions to your website, but it does allow you to achieve some of the same things. For example, you can add a chat feature to your website by using ManyChat to create a Facebook Messenger bot and embedding the code on your website. Website builders such as Wix offer easier means to add extra features to your website, however.
The New Google Sites offers six different layout options that you simply drag across onto your web page. This means that you can have multiple layout sections on a single page, which is an improvement on the Classic Google Sites, where any layout changes affect the whole page.
The layout options in the new Google Sites are more modern compared to the dated appearance of layouts in the Classic Google Sites. You can drag the layouts around on the page to change the order of sections, too. While this feature is useful, the layouts are limited compared with more advanced website builders such as Wix.
Image Search in New Google Sites
When you click on one of the + icons in an image layout section and click Select Image, you’re able to perform a search on Google images. What makes this tool even more useful is that Google automatically limits the displayed images to those that have been licensed for reuse. This means you can safely use these images on your website without worrying about copyright infringement.
There’s no doubt that building a website with Google Sites is simple. While the Classic version is somewhat less accessible, the New version has parred website building down to the bare essentials. If you’re already familiar with other Google products such as Docs and Sheets, you’ll have no difficulty building a website with Google Sites.
Like other popular website builders, the New Google Sites uses a drag-and-drop editor that couldn’t be easier to use. The tools available are all located in the right-hand panel, and you can drag content around on your pages until you achieve the look you want.
Click to Edit Text and Images
When you have the sections on your page laid out as you want them, adding the content is as simple as clicking on the sample text to edit it. Likewise, for image blocks, simply click on the + icon to add images from your computer, your Google drive, a URL, or search via Google Images.
You can also edit the backgrounds for specific sections of your website by clicking on the section background icon on the left-hand side of the section. The options depend on the theme you’ve chosen for your website.
Simple and Familiar Interface
Google Sites is designed to be easy to use, especially if you use other Google products. If you already have a Gmail account and are signed in to your Google account, you can get started right away. Once you’ve created your first website, you can easily return to it via your Google Drive.
The interface works in the same way as all other Google products such as Docs, with the same sharing options found across Google’s suite of office solutions. This makes it really easy to collaborate with others on your website design.
There are no complex features to learn how to use on Google Sites. The Classic version lacks the simplicity of the New version but is still intuitive and easy-to-use. Google has simplified the process of building a website to make it similar to creating any other kind of document or slide in Google.
If you’re unsure where to start when building your first website with Google Sites, you can take a brief tour that takes you through the key features. Tips will often pop up, highlighting a new or useful feature, such as the option to control who can view the published version of your website.
When you’re done editing, simply click Publish on the top right-hand corner of the interface. Select a web address for your website using either the free subdomain option or a purchased domain name (custom URL).
Google Sites doesn’t have a customer support team that you can contact if you encounter a problem. However, there is an extensive collection of support articles that can help you resolve issues or discover how to use certain features.
Articles in the help center are organized into categories: Get Started; Create; Edit, Share and Publish; Analytics, Accessibility and Troubleshooting; and New Sites vs. Classic Sites. Articles are usually step-by-step, so they are very easy to follow. If you don’t want to browse through the topics, you can use the search box to find articles relating to the issue you’re having.
Google Sites is free to use, but there is a paid Business version, that’s found in G Suite. The interface of the Business version is identical to the free version. The only benefit to paying for it is that you may have priority access to updates and new features before they’re released in the free version.
People tend to forget that google sites is made to integrate with G Suite which makes it a powerful website builder. Using forms and sheets are just the start of what you can incorporate into a site. Server security built-in and back up from Google makes it more secure than having to host your own site. Costing at the most a basic G Suite license it compares favorably against other platforms. Its a perfect choice for small to medium business so give it a try.
Sure, an infant could use it but only if it had the patience to do so. Google sites is unbelievably slow, have a terrible design and work horrendously with images. This needs an update DESPERATELY. I have to use google sites for my school and I haven't met a student who can stand how bad these are. I'd only recommend it if you have literally no other option.
I tried to make a fun website, but every time I added an image, it would change the font color and make it harder to read, and wouldn't let me change it back no matter what I did. I got very frustrated before I gave up because it was just impossible to do anything right on that website.
Google sites is the best thing I have ever used to create a website it is really handy and always works well I would suggest using this instead of wix or other site genorater's Its for free really really good try ity out for free really really suggest it
Google Sites: Free, Simple, Lots of Features, and more! Google Sites is Google's Website Making platform. It is used by thousands of people. It is free. It is constantly updating. It is also amazing. GoDaddy, it costs money to take off the watermark and the same with Weebly. Google Sites is much better.
As a free website builder, Google Sites takes the hassle out of building a personal website. It’s great for testing out how drag-and-drop website builders work, but its features are really too limited to work as a permanent website solution. The classic version is outdated, and the new version is so stripped back that you’re only able to create the most basic of websites.
You’ve got nothing to lose by trying out Google Sites, especially if you’re a complete beginner. You can build a website in ten minutes, and it would work well for a community group or a basic digital notice board type of website. For anything more sophisticated, you’d be better off trying a free plan with Wix, which works in the same way as Google Sites but has many more features.
Ari is an experienced copywriter, editor, and digital marketing consultant. A creative at heart, Ari has 14 years’ industry experience and always aims to keep abreast of current trends and developments. He lives in the UK with his three beagles Zeke, Hope, and Sandy, who always make life interesting.