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Google Sites FAQ for Beginners

First time using Google Sites?

No idea what's going on?

Don't worry, it's easier than you think and if you get stuck why not use one-shot support for Google Sites help or training?


  1. What does ‘Google Sites’ mean?

    Google Sites is a free service from Google which lets you create, edit and share websites. It is entirely web-based - you create, edit and share your website(s) entirely online using the Google Sites editor.



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  2. What is a Google Account?

    A Google Account is the account you use to access anything under Google’s umbrella (e.g. Gmail, Google Apps, Youtube, Blogger...). It must be linked to at least one e-mail address, which may or may not be a Gmail e-mail address.

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  3. Where does this fit in with ‘Google Apps’, ‘Gmail’, ‘Google Docs’, ‘Google Drive’ etc?

    ‘Google Apps’ is an organisational and productivity suite for your business or education. It includes e-mail and access to a number of Apps (Drive, Sites, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Google+ etc.) for each user.

    It is charged per user per month, and as well as the e-mail and Apps functionality, Google Apps also contains substantial administrative tools like creating organisation groups or changing an individual user’s privileges. 

    With a regular, non-Apps Google account, you can still access most of the functionality of the Apps themselves (including Sites), with a few differences and restrictions (such as amount of data you have access to)

    See our Google Apps FAQ for more details on Google Apps

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  4. Who can use Sites?

    Anyone! It’s free! All you need is a computer, a web browser, and a Google Account. You can share editing access with anyone else, too - See the FAQ on collaboration.

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  5. I’ve never made a website before - is this a good place to start?

    Yes, with a couple of caveats. First - Google claims that with using Sites you can create a web page as easily as you would a written document or a spreadsheet. This is true to a degree - for very basic things it’s easy. Entering text, making basic tables, changing the style of text in basic ways, inserting pictures - this is all quite intuitive and you won’t need any web development background to to this.

    But for some actions which you would easily be able to do in a text document (e.g. positioning a text box or picture to float in a custom position on the page, making your text a custom font or colour, or altering a table’s border thickness) you will find that these options are not readily available in the Google Sites editor. These, and other actions that are available in editors using programs such as Dreamweaver, are not available in the Google Sites editor - they can be done! ...But you will need to learn a bit of basic HTML and CSS.

    If you're particularly interested in tables, you should look at our advanced tables how-to.

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  6. What is HTML? What is CSS? What about Javascript and other programming languages?

    First, let’s be clear - if you’re a Sites Newbie, put Javascript or anythine more advanced far from your mind. HTML and CSS are computer languages used to format and style content on a webpage. You can use them in the HTML Editor to alter your webpage further than you can in the basic page editor.

    Javascript and others are programming languages to create advanced objects like slideshows, forms, or games which can then be integrated into a webpage, but this is advanced stuff that you almost certainly don’t need to be using.

    HTML and CSS, however, are relatively simple, and you don’t need to spend time learning everything - a few basic concepts from each will help enormously in making your Google Site beautiful and unique. See our Sites how-tos for more information on this.

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  7. Can I make fancy, visually stunning websites without any HTML, CSS or Javascript?

    No - if you really want a nice-looking public webpage, you’ll need to learn a little bit of HTML and maybe some CSS. You probably won’t need any Javascript, though.

    This is not to say you cannot create perfectly functional and not-at-all ugly sites without them - Google Sites offers many templates to help people afraid of coding create a reasonable-looking and -feeling website without any programming knowledge at all.

    Additionally, with Google Sites it’s really easy to do some otherwise very fiddly tasks - like making sure your navigation bar has all the right links and that the fonts are the same on every page.

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  8. What are the limitations on the number of sites, pages, size of attachments etc?

    The number of sites you can create is always unlimited - however, unless you have Google Apps for Business you can only create 5 sites per week.

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  9. Can you give me some examples of professional looking, unique, highly-functioning websites made on Google Sites?

    You’re looking at one! (this website has been created in Google Sites). However, there are a number of other sites that Steegle has been involved in that we’re proud to show off:

    http://www.steegle.com/websites/

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  10. Google always seems to be upgrading its editing tools (like for Docs, Sheets, Gmail). Is a major overhaul coming for Sites, too?

    You never know with Google - but if something big is in the works, they’re not ignoring the small stuff in the meantime. Recently, for example, editing site layout and sharing pages has been changed.

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  11. Why not use Wordpress or other tools, like Joomla, Wix, SharePoint etc.? Don’t they have more powerful editors?

    What Google Sites provides simplicity, reliability and ease-of use - You can easily create websites that run fast, and are accessible worldwide.

    The number of features available is somewhat limited, (meaning you don't have to worry about them complex stuff). Sites also provides easy integration with other Google Apps like Google Docs. Yes, there are other tools that do do a lot more than Google Sites but this naturally makes them more complicated to use and configure.  Additionally, there are a number of issues you may have to contend with if not using Sites, like hosting - Google takes care of this for you. And this does not even take into account that Sites is free and , if you’re an Apps user, it’s incredibly useful for collaboration purposes (see next questions)

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  12. How easy is it for me to collaborate on making a website (e.g. with my team or my subordinates)?

    Really rather easy - you can easily invite anyone with a Google Account to be able to edit/share the whole site, or just individual pages. You can take advantage of Google Groups, too, to enable a particular group of people access to a subset of pages within the website.

    If you have Google Apps it’s easier, as you can take advantage of Groups within the organisation (e.g. the accounting team), and you can create rules for certain types of users (e.g. you can set all Administrators to be able to edit any website on the domain)

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  13. How can I make sure my colleagues don’t delete my pages, or make the site public without my say-so?

    Firstly, make good use of Sites’ sharing and page permissions to choose carefully who can edit what pages, or sets of pages. If someone can edit a page, they can delete it.

    However, unless someone is determined to delete a page permanently, you can usually recover that page in the site management tools. 

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  14. So how can I make my site’s address look like ‘www.website.com’?

    The answer to this can be found in the regular Google Sites FAQ

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