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Google Sites Tutorial & Best Practices

Ah, Google Sites: A G Suite tool that, for too long, has been undervalued and sometimes even unknown. Now, more than ever, businesses are needing a way to make sure information that was once communicated throughout the physical office is easily accessible by those who need it, while still keeping the data itself secure. Think company intranet (including HR policies), departmental website, training site for newly hired employees, or even an individual portfolio. With so much of the world 100% remote, we can't stress enough the usefulness and necessity of a strong intranet. And not only that, it should be easy to set up and update as you organization continues to go through changes (unlike what we've heard from SharePoint users). We're going to show you right here just how easy it is to set up a site like one of these.

Note: Google Sites lives within Google Drive, which houses a number of other useful tools. Before starting to build your Google Site, have a clear plan of what you're trying to communicate:

  • If your content mainly consists of text and images, consider creating a Google Doc that has a Table of Contents, for easy navigation.
  • If your content mainly consists of Google Drive files, consider using the Workspaces feature in the Priority area of Google Drive.

For everything else, let's get customizing it in Google Sites!

Do you need to address conversion from Classic Sites? This guide doesn't go into that. But here is some helpful Google Support documentation!

Step 1: Gather your resources.

Before starting to build your Google Site, begin gathering all of the various pieces that you are planning to include in it. Here are some ideas for content to include:

Google Docs, Sheets,
and Slides files

Docs-sheets-slides

Make sure that you have configured the file sharing permissions so that the people who will be viewing your Google Site also have access to the files.

Google Forms

forms_512dp

If you are including a form that people will need to submit more than once, make sure that you have enabled the settings to allow this:

  • General settings: Uncheck the box for “Limit to 1 response.”

  • Presentation settings: Check the box for “Show link to submit another response.”

Images

Organize your images into folders or subfolders, to make it easier for you to locate them when you are ready to insert them into your Google Site.

Shared Calendars

Google Calendar Icon

Make sure that you have configured the calendar sharing permissions so that the people who will be viewing your Google Site also have access to the calendars.

 

Step 2: Organize your content.

On your Google Site, you’ll be able to arrange content in various layouts, and also organize it into different pages and subpages. Before starting to build the site, it can be helpful to sketch out your vision for it on paper (or in a Google Doc)!

Here are some questions to help guide you through the content organization process:

  • Which content is most essential for your colleagues to see when they first open the site?
  • Which content should be separated onto different pages throughout the site?
  • Which pages should be grouped together in the site’s navigation menu?

 

Step 3: Create a new Google Site.

  • From Google Drive, select NewMoreGoogle Site.
  • Insert the title of your site in both of the areas that are highlighted in the screenshot below:

Google-Site-Title

Step 4: Begin adding content.

On the right side of Google Sites, the Insert menu will allow you to quickly add in text boxes, images, and content from Google Drive.

When you scroll down along the right side, you’ll be presented with options to insert additional types of content, including buttons, calendars, maps, and charts.

As you continue to add in content, explore the various formatting options that are available to you. For example, in the screenshot below, clicking on the Normal text drop-down menu will open up options to modify the formatting of the text.

Quick tip: Insert a text box to welcome your colleagues to the site!

Google Site - Add text box

The Layouts section gives you the option to insert content through the use of pre-defined templates. In the empty boxes, click on the + icon to add in different types of content, such as a calendar, an image, or a file from Google Drive.

The screenshot below illustrates an example of how a layout might look before and after content has been added.

Google-Site-Before-AfterQuick tip: If you are adding a calendar into a small space, use the Agenda view to more clearly display it.

Step 5: Change the theme of your site.

On the Themes tab, you’ll find different options for changing the look and feel of your site, including various color palettes.

Additionally, you can change the favicon of your Google Site, which is the small icon that appears in your browser’s tab bar when you are viewing the published site. 

Click the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of Google Sites, and select Edit favicon.

Google-Sites-Edit-Favicon

Click Select, and then follow the prompts to upload the image for your logo.

 

Step 6: Create additional pages and sub-pages.

To add a new page, click on the Pages tab, and then click the + button at the bottom of the screen.

Give your new page a descriptive title, and click Done. Once the new page has fully loaded, click back to the Insert tab to begin adding content!

To add a subpage, click the three vertical dots next to the page where the new subpage will be created.

Google-Sites-Subpage

Next, select Add subpage.

Google Site - New subpage 2

Give your new subpage a descriptive title, and click Done. Once the new subpage has fully loaded, click back to the Insert tab to begin adding content!

You’ll now be able to see your new subpage listed underneath,

Quick tip: Use the outline that you created in Step 2 to help you determine where to create new subpages for your Google Site.

Step 7: Advanced Components and Embed G Suite Items

Banners - If you want to announce something new to the Site or that you just want to draw attention to, create a banner. This will be a bar at the top of the Site. To set it up, go to the settings gear and Announcement Banner section. 

Google-Sites-ComponentsBelow the Layouts selector on the right column when editing your Site, you will find a list of things you can add in that are saved in your Drive or part of your G Suite Account.

  • Embed Calendars, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Charts, etc.

  • Collapsible text

  • Table of Contents

  • Image Carousel

  • Button

  • YouTube Video

 

 

Step 8: Add collaborators to help you build and edit the site.

 

Just like with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files, you can share your Google Site with your colleagues so that they can work together with you to build and edit it.

To add collaborators, click on the + Share button in the upper right corner of the screen.

Google-Sites-Collaborate

Enter the names of one or more colleagues, and then select the level of access that you’d like them to have:

  • Can edit the site
  • Can view the published site

Make sure to click the Send button to save your changes!

Quick tip: Only give people editing access if you need them to be able to modify the content of the site. Unlike Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, Google Sites does not currently have the ability to view the revision history of a site and revert back to an earlier version.

Goolge-Sites-Collab

Step 9: Preview your site.

You’re almost done! As you are putting the finishing touches on your Google Site, previewing the site will show you how it will appear to other viewers.

To enter into preview mode, click on the laptop icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Google-Sites-Preview

From here, you can click on the icons in the lower right corner of the screen to see how your site will appear when viewed on a cell phone, tablet, and computer. If there are any elements of your site that do not appear to display properly on smaller screens, you can resize them and then preview again before publishing the site.

To go back into editing mode, click the blue X in the lower right corner of the screen.

Google-Sites-Editing-Mode


Step 10: Publish your site.

It’s time to share your site! Publishing your site will make it visible to other colleagues within the organization.

First, click the Publish button in the upper right corner of the screen.

Google-Sites-publish

Next, make any changes to the recommended web address, or feel free to keep it as is.

Google-Sites-address

By default, your published site will be visible to everyone within your organization’s G Suite domain. If you would like to change this so that it can only be viewed by specific people, click on the Manage link to change the viewing permissions.

Finally, click the Publish button! To view your published site, click the drop-down arrow next to the Publish button, and select View published site.

Google-Sites-Live

This will open your Google Site in a new tab, where you can see the web address that can be shared with anyone who needs the link to access it. If you need to return to editing mode from this view, click on the pencil icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Google-Sites-final-image

Important Note: Although Google Sites automatically saves all of the changes that you make while you are editing the site, these changes will not be reflected in the published version of the site until you have clicked the Publish button again. Make sure to click the Publish button whenever you would like your changes to be visible to the viewers of your site.

This will open your Google Site in a new tab, where you can see the web address that can be shared with anyone who needs the link to access it. If you need to return to editing mode from this view, click on the pencil icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Additional Resources

And there you have it! But we don't have to stop there...Cloudbakers has also created a few examples of Google Sites to help you see what they can look like and do. 

Visit the resources below to learn even more about Google Sites!


New to G Suite? Cloudbakers is here to help! Whether you're at migration stage or trying to get your team to adopt the platform, we'll meet you where you are. Reach out to our experts at care@cloudbakers.com.

Originally published on May 28, 2020

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