New Google Sites Tutorial

Getting There

Still using our dear friend the "waffle" . . . at present the Sites icon is the same.

You will see a "New Google Sites" option under the left-hand menu.

The new Google Sites interface

The first thing you are greeted with when visiting is the new-look Google Sites landing page. From here, you can create a new site or open an existing one. The New Google Sites does not presently include access to your old site, but most students will like the new tools better and be ready for a new site.

One new "trick" is to find the "New Site" button--it is down to the lower right.

After creating a new site, you are launched straight into the site builder interface. Unlike the classic Sites, you don’t need to select a site name and URL first. I feel compelled to advise you, however, that "Untitled Site" is not a reflection of your gifts and talents.

The menu on the right-hand side is where you will spend most of your time. From here, you can insert text boxes, images, content from Google Drive, YouTube videos, Maps, Google Calendars and more.

We will not have the separate editing tools for the website navigation/appearance and content (text, video, slides) anymore, so that will please most students.

From the Pages menu you can add or remove pages and create sub-pages. These appear in the site menu on the top right corner of your site. You can choose to change this menu to a sidebar style navigation.

You can customize your site’s appearance using one of the pre-configured themes. At present, there are fewer choices than in the "Classic" Google Sites. However, I think the expanded memory and easier navigation make up for this--it is a good trade-off given how creative you are as students. You can still create the font and color effects you like in Google Drawing and Google Docs and insert them into your site as images.

Here is an example of what a new Google Site can look like after just a few minutes:

Publishing and Permissions

The blue "Publish" button gives you the option to allow only visitors with Richland 2 Google accounts to find your page, or anyone on the web. I still recommend limiting the access to Richland 2 users and showing your family your website progress from home by signing in using your Google account.

One important detail to consider is if you are embedding items from Google Drive onto your site, those items must be set to can view; otherwise, the visitor sees the "request permission" box.

Classic versus New Google Sites

  • Drag-and-drop site builder interface: The new interface makes it much quicker and easier to put together a site. Teachers particularly liked the ease with which embedded content can be resized (just click-and-drag) and the flexibility in arranging content (no more fixed columns!).
  • Real-time co-editing: Multiple people can now simultaneously edit a Google Site in real-time, seeing each other’s changes live. This functionality works just like Google Docs. You will still want to be selective about who you give editing permission to, however. I do ask that you include me as a teacher (either view only or with editing privileges) so I can see your progress and help you with any dilemmas.
  • Automatic optimization: Any site built in the new Google Sites will automatically be optimized for the device it is viewed on – including desktop, tablet and mobile. This is a big improvement from the classic Sites, which only had a basic (and often unsuccessful) setting to adjust sites for different screens.

What’s still available but easier to use

  • Embed any of your own content from Google Drive, including Drawings (you still must create a PNG or JPG if you want to use an image as a banner, however). The content file must be set to "anyone at Richland 2 can view," or "Anyone on the web can view" in order for visitors to see it, however.
  • Embed content from YouTube and Google Maps.
  • Separate pages for different topics.
  • Horizontal and vertical navigation menus (now very easy to use without the extra steps that frustrated students).
  • Custom header image. Using the header dimensions of 1,000 pixels (horizontal) by 250 pixels (vertical), a 4:1 ratio, will give you proportions and details that will look good on most screens. Header images must still be in PNG or JPG format, so please remember the intermediate step of downloading a Google Drawing into you downloads folder on your ChromeBook or Google Drive, preferably with a memorable name.

What’s missing that we would like to see

  • Existing Student Google Sites cannot be transferred to the new Google Sites platform. However, Google engineers have said this feature will be introduced sometime in 2017. Classic Sites will remain available for at least one year, until early 2018. Students can have their Classic Site open in one tab and their New Site in another and rebuild their site quickly.
  • User-created templates in Classic Sites allowed teachers to design and share website layouts and examples for their students. For now, this is not an option, but Google engineers suggest sharing an example site in view mode then allowing students to build theirs from "scratch" in a new window or tab will help the student learn to use the new tools with more confidence.

The Seminar Video and Slides