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Common Set Up Mistakes

Common Google Sites Template Set-Up Mistakes

 Avoid These To Create A More Professional Looking Website


If a Google Sites website template is not Set Up properly, it can look unfinished or amateurish, something no website owner wants. Instead, we all want our website to look professional and be usable by viewers, at the same time. While this article won't explain how to create a professional website, it will cover common set-up mistakes committed by actual users and provide website examples. Avoiding or fixing them will make your website look more professional and be easier to use.




"Example websites are provided for demonstration purposes only and not to pick on the websites. Be aware that these sites may be in the process of setting up their template or fixing the mistakes."





#1 Not Completing The Set Up Process

These websites are easy to spot. Template content still exists in the website, specifically "Customization" or "Set Up" instruction pages and links that come with the template. 

Example Sites

https://sites.google.com/site/soheilmatinitabar/customization

https://sites.google.com/site/ourbikeride/home


#2 Not Modifying The Site Name

Sometimes Site Names should be modified such as when there are problems like the Site Name is too long or the font too large to fit in the Header space, the font is not correct for the website's theme, the color and the contrast is wrong or the placement is wrong. Sometimes you just want to modify the Site Name to decorate or enhance the website theme.

Whatever the reason, it is a very easy modification to make and it can have a big impact on a website. The Site Name is the first thing a viewer sees or should see. The website's Site Name can be modified in size, font, color and placement. You don't have to use the Site Name settings that come with the template.

Example Sites

website: font size - https://sites.google.com/site/nonprofitwebsitetemplate/

website: font - https://sites.google.com/site/apartments1template/

website: font color - https://sites.google.com/site/3dleavestemplate/home


#3 Changing The Website Template Without Understanding It First

If you don't understand how a Google Sites template works, it can be hard to modify it but easy to break. Website templates can be modified by changing the base theme, replacing the template images,  changing the template "Layout" settings such as header height, website width and more and changing the template styles via the "Colors and Fonts" page. Before making changes, first understand what you want to change and how to do.

Example Sites

Changing The Template

website: http://www.pagodian.com/home

website: http://www.jobswedo.org.uk/news/newsitem2

website: http://www.thearcofaurora.org/home/media

original template: https://sites.google.com/site/nonprofitwebsitetemplate/

Changing The Font

website: http://www.thearcofaurora.org/home/media

Browse through this site and note the different font and font sizes used on this one page. It is hard to read and  inconsistent with the rest of the website.


#4 Adding Page Content Regardless Of  Available Space Or Content Balance

Page content should fit into its space and not spill out nor should it be out of balance with other content. The issue with balance is covered more in the next section. To help with this, Google Sites offers several page layouts that make organizing page content easier and lets viewers see the page layout sections as they work. 

Before moving around or adding page content to a template page, take note of the page's layout via the "Layout" menu at the top of the editor, the amount space each piece of content needs and the amount of space there is to work with. Make sure they will all work together. If it does not fit, change the page layout, re-size the content, create more pages or determine if there is a problem.

Example Sites

Too Much Content For The Space (Design)

website: https://sites.google.com/site/lykinssocialstudies/photo-gallery

website: http://www.a2datarecovery.com/contact

website: https://sites.google.com/a/maine207.org/father-s-day-5k/

Content Balance

website: https://sites.google.com/site/nextgenerationtots/about

original template: https://sites.google.com/site/childcaretemplate1/about


#5 Changing Font Size Alone

When the font size is changed, whether larger or smaller, the space needed for that text changes, too. Suddenly, a paragraph is using less, or more, space and is now larger or smaller than other content in the page. This can throw off the balance of the content, create empty white areas in the page and make it now look empty.

To maintain balance, make adjustments as needed such as possibly increasing or decreasing the font size, increasing or decreasing the size of other content (such as images or text boxes) or moving content around  as long as the content flow makes sense to viewers.

Example Sites

website: https://sites.google.com/site/nextgenerationtots/about

original template: https://sites.google.com/site/childcaretemplate1/about


#6 Using Page Images Improperly

Before adding images to pages, they should be properly sized and have a place in a page. Though easy to do with Google Sites, there are particular issues that will become problems when using multiple images on a page such as arranging them in a easy-to-read and pleasant order, sizing them all to the same size, excessive scrolling and balancing them with other page content.

It is best to use just one or two images in a page unless it is a photo gallery which has functionality built in to handle these needs or you know what you are doing. The less images used, the less problems there are.

Example Sites

website: http://www.penelopepear.com/about(mismatched image sizes and margins)

website: http://www.letterscribe.com/about (excellent example of a properly balanced & sized image)

website: http://www.ctconline.net/ (excellent example of a properly balanced & sized image)


#7 Using Logo And Header Images Improperly

The most common mistake that is made using these images is not matching the background color to the Header background color. In most cases this can be easily fixed by changing the Header background color to that of the Logo and/or Header image. If the backgrounds are of various colors then other means can be used. 

Example Sites

website: http://www.thearcofaurora.org/home


Tips

Create a test website template to test different base themes, Colors and Fonts settings, template images and so on before making final changes to the actual website template. Working in the actual website template for a consumer level Google Account, one with the address syntax "site.google.com/site/yourwebsitename", will increase the website's size and eat up valuable, limited space. 

Make template changes consistently across the template. If the content size is changed, set it for the entire site and not on a page by page basis. This produces a consistent looking, easier to read website.

Choose the right template for your website. This is the easiest way to create and set up a website template. Don't fight a template and waste time trying to make it do something it can't or that will look bad.

Try organizing the website content first if you don't have a design yet. Create all of your pages, organize each page's content, set up forms, create photo galleries and so on. Get it to functioning level, minus the design. It is amazing how attractive a website looks by just organizing the content. And, the content sometimes inspires a design.


Get Help

Set Up can be overwhelming. If you need help, contact me and I'll be glad to help however I can. The better your website looks, the better Sites SOS templates look and the Set Up process might be improved with your feedback.