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Building A Site With Google Sites

I recently built out a site for a local tax firm, Cahill, O’Kelly and Associates using Google Sites.  I’ve already talked a bit about using Google Sites for your web presence, but I wanted to share a bit more about my experience.

The reasons I chose Google Sites over something more flexible was pretty much based on what I determined was best for the client.

  • the client is not super technical and was wary of a website
  • I wanted the client to be able to update the site so they wouldn’t have to pay me to
  • they were not super picky about design of the site, so were willing to pick from a template for look and feel
  • site was small and functionality desired was limited (brochureware)

All of these added up to doing something that was quick, cheap, low risk, and easy.  If any of these decision points had been different, then Google Sites would have become a less attractive choice.

Good things about Google sites

  • easy to get going
  • easy to integrate with all of googles other services (analytics, webmaster tools, google forms, etc)
  • lots of templates to choose from
  • hosting is free

Things that suck about Google sites

  • the footer links are out of your control
  • some of the templates require photoshop knowledge to customize (background images)
  • no easy way to roll back changes to your site
  • some of the admin UI is clunky
  • scrolling around the look and feel customization page was difficult

Tips for developing on Google Sites

  • make sure your customer fits the profile mentioned above
  • educate your client on the limitations
  • make backup copies of your sites before you do big look and feel changes.  That way you can manually view the differences and roll back if needed
  • get to know google forms, as that is the only way to do interactive forms that I found
  • be prepared to spend some time tweaking the layout
  • be prepared to do some training on how to edit the site

All in all, Google Sites is a great solution for a certain type of client.  Consider adding it to your toolbox if you do site development.