Key Takeaways

20/20 HindSite Best Practices: A Resource for You

We developed this site as a resource, sharing our ideas and expertise on what we wished we had know and what we know now. We want you to walk away with the following five high-level ideas, or themes. These ideas were the framework for the development of this site and the ideas presented during the 2012 Google Customer Connect Conference.
  1. What are the most appropriate uses of Google Sites (as opposed to other tools the company might use).
  2. What are the capabilities and strengths as well as limitations and weaknesses of Google Sites from an enterprise perspective.
  3. How best to manage Google Sites within an organization, including features, tools and scripts, and workarounds.
  4. What strategies enterprises employ for training and adoption as well as integration with other enterprise applications. 
  5. How to approach communication, management and customization requirements based on organizational needs and YOUR staff's expertise.

Administrators and Management
  • Develop a collaboration road map that includes a comparison of tools, governance model focused around business goals, solutions Google Apps/Sites offers for workgroups, and user training and adoption.  
  • Be prepared to explain Sites in comparison to similar tools within the organization.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of Google Docs and Sites. Just because you are using Google Sites doesn't mean that all content has to physically reside there.
  • Understand features and functionality as well as limitations and potential workarounds. 
  • Anticipate exponential growth of Google Sites within the organization and develop training resources and management strategies. Because Sites are easy to create and use, important administrative tasks include managing Sites, monitoring usage, and developing workflows for removing inactive Sites.
  • Don’t have to buy infrastructure to put up a Site.
  • Understand limitations of administrator and management tools and use Marketplace tools, if permissible, within your organization.
  • Take advantage of Google Apps Scripts.
  • Participate in user communities such as Premium Customer Network, Knowledge Brokers, Regional Networks, etc. Exchange of ideas and resources will benefit what you can offer / deploy within your organization. 
  • Ability for Google Apps admins to have access to all sites (whether explicitly shared) helps in managing permissions, site development, and training.
  • Confusion exists when adding external collaborators to a Site. Develop documentation about how external collaborators set-up a Google Account, add services, and access a private Google Apps company site.

Owners and Developers
  • Ability to have multiple site owners. This helps to divide the development of a site across multiple people.
  • Easy to get started/set up a basic Google Site for team collaboration and information sharing without a lot of training.
  • Light-weight web-development tool.
  • Not meant to be a hard-core document management system.
  • Migration of content from one platform to Google Sites has been manual.
  • Important to plan what you want to do with a Site PRIOR to developing it. If you have the concept of what you want to do FIRST, then the development of a Google Site -- incorporating a variety of other collaborative tools -- is easier.
  • Ensure that sharing and permissions represent who should be able to find/view the Site. Permissions that are too broad can be just as bad as those that are too narrow when people are searching for content.
  • Page level permissions is useful by not completely intuitive. Many people do not realize you have to explicitly add individuals at the top level in order to customize permissions at another level within the site.
  • To make a site attractive and engaging takes exploration and development time to understand back-end layout, designs and theme functionality, gadgets, and Google Apps Scripts.
  • Ability to have "vanity" URLs for their Sites is useful.

Editors and Users
  • Online access anytime, anywhere.
  • Easy-to-use and to keep information up-to-date.
  • Simple search is a plus for quickly accessing a resource buried within a site.
  • One-stop access (if developed correctly) to a variety of materials that may include Site pages, Google Documents, Calendars, etc.
  • Page-level permissions opens up the ability for more collaboration within particular areas of a Site.
  • If you don't see any buttons in the Site, you only have view access.
  • There is no way to tell who owns a Google Site.
  • Want similar functionality across Google products. If viewers are permitted to add comments in Google Documents, similar functionality should exist in Google Sites.
  • Notification options are too noisy, not useful.
  • Limitations when used as a document repository.
  • Average user cannot implement workarounds (needs more out of box functionality).
  • Difficult to sometimes align images/logos and text.
  • Difficult to locate a Site if not explicitly added to it. If using Groups to manage access to Sites, the Site will not appear within "My sites in..." area.