Sunday, June 01, 2008

Google Sites Open Doors To All

When Google bought Jotspot last year, I assumed they'd be using that technology to enhance their own web-site creation service Google Page Creator. But no, what emerged was a new product called Google Sites but access was restricted to Google Apps users. Bit of a bummer as that meant you had to be signed up to their paying service to get this.

Google Sites
However, they've relented and opened up Google Sites to all Google account holders. So, if you're looking for a service that lets you create and customize web pages with no knowledge of HTML, then it's definitely worth a look. Okay, there are loads of free, web design and hosting services out there already so why choose Google Sites? Well, it's aimed at groups or "teams" and not just individuals.

Your "team" can quickly gather a variety of information like videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text, etc. in one place and easily share it for viewing or editing and you can open it up to your entire organization or the world if you want to. It's kind of like a wiki but Google don't mention that word at all and I'm happy about that as I'm not really a fan of wikis. It's ideal for families, interest groups, project teams, clubs, play-groups or even small business intranets.

Sites is a bit more structured than a wiki and that will probably suit the less technical people they're aiming it at. As well as being able to customize the interface to suit the group theme, you can choose from a growing list of page types like web page, announcements, dashboard, list and file cabinet. You can also embed rich content like video, Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, presentations, Picasa photo slide shows and iGoogle gadgets into any page and you can upload file attachments. However, while Apps Premier users get 10GB of storage space, I can't see anywhere what the limits are for normal Google account holders. The wording or their blog says you can securely host your own website and add as many pages as you like for free but I suppose, now that it's open to the world, we'll soon find out what the limits are.

As stated, Google will host your content for free and your site gets published online, if you allow it, to but if you want to use your own domain name, then you need to upgrade to a Premier account. I'm pretty sure this is Google's answer to Microsoft SharePoint for the masses and closer to what Windows Live Spaces should have been so I think we'll see that service evolve along the same lines as well.

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