You can create your own website if you are one of the almost 2 billion people worldwide who have a Gmail account. Google Sites is a website builder from the big Google, along with their free web-based tools. Google Sites, just like their office suite, is great for creating simple, publishable projects.
This guide will show you how to make a project using Google Sites. We’ll create a fully functional website together that can be used for personal or professional use. We’ll then take a look at the alternative websites builders and other templates from Google Sites.
Step by Step Instructions for Your First Google Sites Project
You can get your first Google Sites project up and running in just a few hours. This demonstration will show you how to create a page from scratch. It can be used to present a project to your school or job. Also, I will be using the new version (new Google Site) — don’t forget to switch to the classic Google Site mode when you have the opportunity.
Register for a Google account and let’s start building a site!
Step 1: Open Google Sites
First, you’ll need to go to Google Sites. It’s easy.
Step 2: Next, open the Google Sites Support Page.
Open Google’s support site for Sites in a separate tab. It is a searchable database that provides information on common issues and questions you might encounter when using Sites. This makes it an invaluable resource.
This support page is curated by Google and provides clear, concise answers to basic questions that may arise.
Step 3: Create Your Website
Click the big “+” icon at the top left of Google Sites’ main page. It will open a template for your first Google Sites website. This will open a template that you can use for your first Google Sites site.
Take a look around the site and get familiar with the sidebars and menus. All of these will be used later to modify, save changes, publish your website, and many other things.
Step 4: Select a name for your website
A website is nothing without a name. You’ll find a box in the upper left corner that says “Untitled website” in your browser. You can edit the name by clicking on it. This is the name your website will be saved to on your Google Drive. You can change it later if necessary.
Step 5: Select a Theme
You’ll find three options near the top of your right sidebar: Insert Pages and Templates. Click Themes.
You will see six stock themes pulled up by Google. Each theme has a name that is appropriate: Simple, Aristotle Diplomat Vision Level and Impression.
Each theme is composed of a combination of a font, several colors and some graphic design elements. Click on each one and see how your website changes. Don’t think too much about it. Just choose the one that grabs your attention the most.
Once you have found a theme you like, adjust its colors by using the drop-down menu. There are five color options available. However, you can click the paint bucket icon to the right of the fifth to select a custom color scheme.
There are three font styles available for each theme. These font styles can be found in a drop-down menu below the color options. You can click on the link to try all three styles. You can make any changes later, so there are no wrong options.
Step 6: Modify the layout, then add text and images
It’s now time to choose another option from the right-hand sidebar: Add.
You’ll be doing the bulk of the “building” of your website. This includes changing the layout, text and images. This is also where you can find the most options. Did you remember when I said that Google Sites support pages should be kept open? This can be really helpful.
Let’s first change the text on your screen. It says “Your Page Title”. Click anywhere in the text and a blue box will appear around it. A toolbar will also pop up above it. To erase the text, use the backspace key and replace it by “My First Project”.
Let’s add a new block below the one we have. To make it look like a real website! Click on the Layouts link in your right sidebar. It has one picture of a mountain. This will create a new template under your main header.
You can see the “+” sign in the circle. Click on the plus sign to add an image. Click on Select image to open the Upload, Select Image and From Drive menus.
Another dialogue box will open with four options at the top: Google Drive by URL, Google Image Search and Photos. Let’s assume you don’t already have a picture in mind. Click Google Image Search.
Find the image you like by searching for your favorite animal (I chose a duck). A blue bar will appear beneath the image when you click on it. Click Insert to load the image from Google Images directly into your website. Scroll over the image to see if it isn’t loading. Grab one of the blue balls at the corner. You can drag the image by clicking and holding.
Add some information about your animal of choice. You can do the same as for the header by clicking on the text boxes to the right of the image.
Step 7: Add more pages
You have now created your first functional web page. Congrats! You’ll need to add some pages to make it a truly blue web website.
Go back to the right-hand sidebar and click on the last option: pages.
The page that appears will almost be blank. After all, we only have one page on our site.
Look down to find the blue + sign nestled within a white circle. To add another page, click on it. You’ll be asked for a new page name. I chose “More Animal Facts”.
Boom! Now you’re back at the beginning of another page, which looks very similar to the one that you just finished. You can navigate to the Insert section in the right-hand sidebar and follow the steps on the new page.
It’s worth trying out different layouts. You can delete any that you don’t like by hovering over the image and looking for the trash bin option to the left. This is the delete key to remove anything from your page.
You can also start logging into Google Sites from this section. Scroll down in the Inject section to see all the options you need for creating a website. These include a table of contents and navigation menus, dividers, image carousel, placeholders, and even the option to embed a YouTube video directly onto your site. These functions are described in detail on the page of the Google Sites support guide.
What if you need to make some changes to your homepage? It’s easy: Click back to pages in the sidebar and then click on your homepage. This will allow you to navigate between pages and make any changes as you go. Links to pages that you have added will appear in the upper right corner. It’s pretty neat, right?
Step 8: Publish your site
Once you are satisfied with your product, it is time to publish it on the internet. Click on the blue Publish button at the upper right corner of your screen.
You will be presented with a dialogue box that allows you to choose the URL where your project should live.
If you need something accessible, but is not a branded public project, you can just use the default domain that Google provides – sites.google.com/yourproject – it’s not super-brandable, but it works.
If you intend to use this website on the public Web, with branding, click the Manage button next the “Custom Domain” description to purchase a unique domain name from Google Domains (review), or connect it to an existing domain at another good registrar such as Namecheap and GoDaddy. A custom URL will be created for you to share with others.
This site is available for demonstration purposes only.
You’re done when you click the last “Publish” button at the lower right. To view the results of your efforts, click on the arrow located to the right side of the large blue publish button.
Google Sites Templates
It’s a great way to learn how to use all the features of Google Sites. If you want to quickly get a website up and running, there is a better way. Use the templates provided with Google Sites.
To get started, return to the Google Sites homepage. However, don’t click the “Blank” template. Instead, scroll to the right and look for the “Template Gallery” button. Click on it.
You will see a variety of pre-made websites, broken down into different categories such as “Personal”, Work”, Small Business, and Education. You’ll find many tailor-made options within each category to meet your needs, whether you need a portfolio or a website for your restaurant.
It’s fun to create Google Sites from scratch. However, it’s much faster and easier to use a template.
Google Sites Tips and Tricks
As a parting gift, I would like to share some tips and tricks that I have learned while working with Google Sites. Here are five of my favorite Google Sites tips and tricks, in no particular order.
- Google Sites can be used with Google Classroom. You can link your Google Site directly to your Classroom website if you are an educator using Classroom to distribute assignments.
- Google Drive is your best friend when it comes to uploading photos and videos to your Google Site. You can create a single folder that contains the name of your website project and any other materials you may need. Each image and text box has a drop-down menu that allows you to upload from Google Drive. This makes it the easiest way for you to stay organized.
- Before you publish, make sure you check the box that says “Request public search engine to not display my Google site”. By doing this, your website will only be visible to the people you have given the exact URL.
- You don’t have to use the stock templates to create the page you want, but you don’t want to spend the time creating it. A few people also sell their custom-made Google Sites templates.
- You can use the Insert section in the right sidebar to pull forms and charts directly from Google docs, and then turn them into a presentation similar to PowerPoint.
This is it for today folks! Drop us a note if you have any questions or need help while creating a Google Site.
Check out my Google Sites Review, my collection of real Google Sites cases, my overview on Google’s Business Email Pricing, my guide to building a WordPress website, and my review of the top website builders.