When I first ventured into the freelance consulting business, I had to watch my budget. Back then (in 2007), Google was very generous in providing a cheap domain name registration and just launched Google Apps (which is known as Google Suite now). For US$10 a year, not only could I get a domain name registered, I was given a suite of web apps that were great for a start-up consulting business like mine. I had, three domain names registered and did up all three websites using Google Sites, slc2u.org, powerof3consultants.com and slc4u.org.
In fact, you do not need to register a domain to use Google Sites, anyone with a gmail account has access to, and is able to publish his/her own website using Google Sites. It is just that, without your own domain, you will need to rely of Google’s assigned domain, something like, https://sites.google.com/view/testing-new-sites/home which is not easy to remember and hence not great for business usage.
Google Sites Classic was simple but functional
Although “Classic” was not as flexible as WordPress (that has to be hosted by a web hosting company and costing a lot more), if you compromise a bit, you will be able to live with its shortcomings and utilize its many features (which are free!). “ Classic”, though a bit fiddly , does have many useful features, among other things, it allowed a website to be created, mapped to my domain relatively easily. It did not like “scripts” to be inserted but if you are just needing a simple website to do business with, “Classic” will do. There were also a lot of “gadgets” created by users that conferred greater functionalities to websites created using “Classic”. Sadly, many of these once powerful gadgets have now faded or no longer functional.
Revamped Google Sites to replace the aging “Classic”
Just over 10 months ago, on Nov 22, 2016, Google announced a full revamp of the Classic Google Sites )”Classic”). A TechCrunch article infer that “New Sites” “is now a product people will want to use. It finally feels like a modern applications and not like the last vestige of Google’s old and forgotten design principles.”
As I was content with “Classic” for the past 10 years, I did not bother to check out the “revamped” Sites till now. It is not “scientific” of me to take TechCrunch’s words for the truth and thus I spent some time tested “New Sites” out.
Test driving “New Sites”
As my web hosting deal for one of my domains hosted with Mochahost will end in November 2017, I had decided, a few days back to migrate this domain name mapping back to Google Suites and what better time than to test drive the “New Sites”. Though “New Sites” has many user-friendly features, I had discovered that it was more rigid in many ways compared to “Classic” and decided to revert to “Classic” to hold the landing page for my domain name. Nevertheless, I had set out to give the functionalities of “New Sites” a good checking over.
To show how the functionalities of “New Sites” work, I had to bring my readers from this blog (hosted by WordPress.com) to my “New Sites” hosted by Google Suite. Readers will see for themselves what I meant when they visit my test site.
I suggest that my reader visit my test site first then return to this article to see if you agree with my take on “New Sites”.
The Good of “New Sites”
- Very easy to use.
- Integrate almost seamlessly with other apps in Google Suite (Sheets, Docs, Slides, Calendar and Form) and other Google’s apps such as YouTube, Maps etc..
- Dynamic adjustment of image size.
- Ability to put text box anywhere and mix this with images easily.
- Each section / segment of a page can have its own background colour (but only yellow) or image.
- Via “Embed URL” you can create a “frame” in your website and embed another web page so that your users will not need to navigate away from your site.
- Much neater looks and feel compared to “Classic”.
The Bad of “New Sites”
- The ease of use of “New Sites” does come with a price…. Editing flexibility and functionality are curtailed.
- You have virtually no choice of fonts (well you can choose only three each from the six themes available). At least “Classic” gives me 6 different front & I can apply any font to any section independent of each other.
- You cannot change the colour of the text font or highlight your text.
- Captions for images are not integrated into the image and you cannot use a different font for captions
- A lot of functionalities of “Classic”, especially to do with domain name settings etc. are either missing or hidden from users when you are using “New Sites”.
- No choice of whether you want sitemap or not.
- Features of “Classic” such as using a page as a Web page, Announcement, List, or File Cabinet are missing, restricting its use. Announcement is especially important as some use it as a news page or even blog page.
- No “gadgets” available, thus I could not for instance RSS this blog to my websites if I migrate to “New Sites”.
- Sites are now stored with Google Drive and not their own dedicated storage under Google Sites (sites.google.com) as in “Classic”. If like me, you have thousands of files in Google Drive, organizing files for “New Sites” is that much harder.
- And the list goes on…..
Who/when one should use “New Sites”?
Because of the ease of use of “New Sites” coupled with its almost full integration with Google Apps, “New Sites” will be great for situations where one will need to put up a website quickly.
For example, a lecturer or teacher will be able to put up a site to share with her/his students images, links and even full Google Docs / Sheets. A social group can easily embed a Google Form in “New Sites” for instance to let members register for an event. “New Sites” is also very useful when a company’s usual website is suddenly nonfunctional (DOS attacks or problems with the web hosting company) and an emergency site has to be put up.
Should “Classic” users migrate to “New Sites”?
TechCrunch mentioned that Google may want all “Classic” users to migrate to the “New Sites”. Will I be willing to do this? At present, my answer is ABSOLUTELY NO!
Well not until all the existing domain name handling and editing features of Google Docs (or at least the old “Classic”) can be made available to users of “New Sites”.