Google Sites is a drag-and-drop website builder, which automatically gets it some usability points from us. And the interface matches a lot of other Google apps, so anyone who’s used a Google product before should have no trouble navigating menus or finding the tools they need.
Google Sites also makes the build process easier with its pre-built section templates. All you have to do is drag a section template onto your page, then fill in the images and text boxes. Themes are also easy to navigate since the platform can automatically apply new themes to your existing site without you losing any of your content.
We also like that Google Sites syncs with your Google account. That gives your site complete integration with a number of Google apps, so you can easily incorporate docs, forms, and more on your web pages:
- Your Google email account (Gmail)
- Google Drive
- Google docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Forms
- Google Maps
- Google Photos
- Google Calendar
You can even access Google Analytics directly from your site management page. That way, you can track users’ site experience and see which search engines customers are using to find your page—all in one place. That’s definitely an improvement over builders like WordPress (which make you add a plugin to access your Google Analytics account on site).
That all sounds great, so you may be wondering why we knocked our usability score down to a three. Well, Google Sites also has some huge negatives going for it.
In classic Google style, Google Sites strips down your options to the bare bones—all in the name of simplicity and ease. The result? It’s extremely difficult to find the customization tools you need, which ultimately makes the simplicity of the platform more frustrating than helpful.
We also have to harp on the custom domain situation again. If you want a professional domain, you have to go to the extra trouble of buying it somewhere else (then juggling a hosting plan). And then you have to jump through hoops to connect that custom domain to your Google site. All in all, it’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth, considering how easy it is to get a custom domain on other builders.
TL;DR version: Google Sites is really easy to use if you don’t want to change anything about your template and you’re okay with using a non-custom domain. But if you want a completely custom site, Google Sites’ simplicity winds up being a huge barrier to creating a website your business can actually use.