Google Sites is Google’s website creation tool and is a key part of G Suite for Education. Google Sites helps students and educators to efficiently create websites that work equally as effectively on a whole range of device sizes – from smartphones to desktop computers. Some examples worth checking out of sites created by educators for their students are ia.geographyalltheway.com [a site I created to support my IB DP Geography students as they complete their internal assessments], revision.geographyalltheway.com [an IB DP Geography mini-site that is still in development] and geogalot.com [a website for MYP Individuals and Societies and IB DP Geography by the talented Ellena Mart].
1 Where to find Google Sites
Google Sites can be accessed from the ‘waffle’ if you are in your email, calendar or Drive. Organizations may have set up an URL for direct access – for example at the International School of Geneva sites.ecolint.ch will get you there. Sites you create can also be found in your Google Drive.
2 ‘New Google Sites’ versus old Google Sites
‘Old’ aka ‘Classic Google Sites’ are on their way out! If you are creating a new site today you want to be using ‘New Google Sites’.
3 Why are you creating a website?
Before you start a frenzy of clicking and typing it is always worth taking a few moments to reflect upon why you are creating a website. The reasons why will impact the sharing options you choose and the structure you may use. Is a Google Site the best choice for what you want to do? If you want to build a blog style site – you may be better looking at Blogger.
4 Who are you creating a Google Site for?
This is an important question because it impacts how you share the site. The easiest way to share it to have a completely public site – this means there is no need for users to log in etc. However, a public site means that your work is public and accessible to all. This is a great way to collaborate! Changes made to a Google Site are not available to the users until they are ‘published’ – this allows you to easily have an editorial team (this can just be you…) working on the site and only publishing it when it is ready.
5 How is your website going to be structured?
This part of the process is best mapped out on a piece of paper or using an online tool such as LucidChart. How will a user navigate the site? If you wanted a user to find a certain resource/lesson/piece of information – how would they get there from the homepage of the site. The easiest way to give the site a clear structure is to use a series of pages and then have sub-pages ‘below’ them.
6 What is going to be the address of your website?
Every website has an ‘address’ – otherwise known as the site’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator). If you are an educator at the International School of Geneva your site’s address will be https://sites.google.com/ecolint.ch/the-name-you-choose-here. ‘the-name-you-choose-here’ has a 30 character maximum. If you want a more ‘individual’ address this is possible and best done after a conversation with your ‘Technology for Learning Coordinator’.
7 How are Google Site pages structured?
Each page has a ‘Header’ where the title of the page goes and behind which an image can be added. The easiest way to manage these images and find them easily again is to store them in a Google Photos album. You will see in INSERT pane in the column on the right of the page that you have a choice of six different layouts to help you easily structure the page. You will also see the wide range of things that you can insert into the pages of your site. Once items (text, images etc) have been inserted they can then be moved around by clicking on the item and then waiting for the cursor to turn into a compass rose.
8 How do I make my Google Site look like I want it to?
The look of your Google site is controlled through ‘themes’ There are currently six to choose from – each of which have a number of colour choices and text styling options. When you add an item to a page such as an image or text – you can change the colour of the background. It is not the full design options that you might get from some other services – but the huge ease that comes with Google Sites easily outweighs that issue.
9 Will my site look differently on a phone versus a laptop or tablet?
Preview allows you to see what the page will look like once it is published without the actual need to publish it. One the preview page you will see the option to preview your page on a smartphone, tablet and computer. The dynamic resizing of your site is one of the super useful features of Google Sites. Gone are the days when everybody uses the Internet on a computer!
10 Are there any shortcuts I should know about?
One of the best ‘shortcuts’ is double-clicking on the pane and using the ‘shortcut circle’ that pops up to add items. Other keyboard shortcuts for Google Sites can be found here.