Friday, July 31, 2009

Making Web Pages at Google Sites

The screen capture above is actually stored on my brand new Google Site located at:

It does seem a bit slower to load in than pictures I have stored elsewhere for this blog on my "Passy World" privately run website. However the Google Sites storage is free, whereas my private site is not.

But let me just say in passing that the hosting and support for my private site supplied by has been nothing short of sensational, and certainly worth every US greenback dollar I've paid them!

Here is a good 3 minute video intro to Google Sites from YouTube,
(actually made by a member of the Google Sites team) :

And this is going to be a very video intensive post, because we now have four videos from Radford University in Virginia U.S.A.
(My old home state from a few years back).

Video 1 - Setting up a Free Google Website:

Video 2 - Adding Content to the Site:

Video 3 - Changing the Appearance and Sidebar

Note: The layout for Google Sites has changed slightly since this tutorial was created. In order to edit the site appearance, you must now click on the "more actions" tab on the top right of your homepage and then click on "manage site." Now on the left-hand side you will see the heading "site appearance" with "site layout," "colors and fonts," and "themes," listed under it. "Site layout" in this case is the same as "site elements" in the tutorial. The rest of the process is the same.

Video 4 - Converting to a Wiki-like Collaborative Site:

The layout for Google Sites has changed slightly since this tutorial was created. In order to share your site, you must now click on the "more actions" tab on the top right of your homepage and then click on "share site." The rest of the process is exactly the same as in the video.

These four tutorials will give you a very good grounding in making free web pages using Google Sites.

However, immediately below, there is also a PDF document that gives step by step guidance on exactly how to set up a Google Site for the first time. In this document we also explore using a Google Site as a document storage warehouse that can feed a Blog.

The PDF document used for the viewable iframe is actually stored on our "Passy World" Private site. This is because the same version of the PDF stored at our Google Site refused to work in the iframe, and only seems to be downloadable into Adobe reader on a local PC.

So this is the one part of our plan that has failed in our quest to use the Google site to totally feed this Blog post.

If you would like to have your own full size copy of this PDF, then simply click the save disk icon button on the PDF viewer, and you should be able to save it to your own hard disk.

Alternatively, you can download the full size PDF
from our Google Site location by clicking the link below:

Shown below is a typical education use of Google Sites, where a school teacher has setup a site for her students to use:

Open the full size version of the site by clicking this link:
Mrs Richau's Class

The following link is to a PowerPoint Overview of Google Sites that was obtained from and has been uploaded to our Google Sites page:

Download Google Sites Presentation as MS 2003 PPT

Note that we can only download the file from our Google Site, and that we cannot open it Online. This seems to be a characteristic of all of the files currently stored on our Google site.

Trying to embed an SWF Open Office version of the Google Sites Powerpoint onto this blog also failed.

IT SEEMS THAT SOMETIME AFTER EARLY JUNE 2009, GOOGLE HAVE PLACED THIS NEW "attredirects=0" SUFFIX ONTO THE FILE NAME OF ALL UPLOADED FILES. This new naming convention somehow stops the files from being linked to from any other web pages or Blogs. It makes the files downloadable only, and not at all viewable online. I have raised a Support Request with Google about the problems this change has caused, and I will update this post when I get a reply back from them.


Considering what can be done with Google Blogs, I was expecting a few more options and fancier templates than what is currently available.

The look and feel of a Google Site is more like a Wiki than a website. Perhaps this is the target market for the product, since Universities and other Education content suppliers seem quite eager to use Google Sites. A Google Site would certainly be a very good way to gather together reference materials for a class of students to use. (But not quite as nice looking as a “Wall” made in “Wall Wisher”).

However, if you have Photos in Picasa, and Presentations and so on in Google Docs, then Google Sites serves as a very nice integration tool indeed.

Personally, I would make a Google Site just to have free access to the 100MB online filing cabinet for my most referenced documents.

But what I find most disappointing is that the filing cabinet, with its direct URLs ending in
attredirects=0, can no longer be used to service my Google Blog, or any other web pages. This has all come about since Google started recently suffixing all the file names with the new "?attredirects=0" ending.

Google Sites are perhaps not the fanciest looking free web presence in town, but they are certainly very useful just the same. Each site has 100MB of storage, plenty of flexibility, unlimited pages, and it is totally free of any charges.

Big Passy Wasabi

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