Recently, Google released a brand new version of Google Sites.  Over the last few weeks, I have had the pleasure of working with teachers and school districts from around the country to create amazing websites for their classrooms, clubs, and curricular departments.

Where Google Sites is a very easy application to learn and quickly get up and running with, many are having issues understanding some of the publishing settings and how collaboration works.  Let’s take a moment to dive into Google Sites to fully understand how to share your new website with your audience.  

Understanding How Google Sites saves your work

Google Sites, much like every other Google application has an autosave feature that will backup your work every second or two.  This is a flawless feature that allows you to have worry free website editing.  At the current time, there is no revision history, however if you are working in your website for a period of time, you can use the back arrow or hit “Command (or Control) Z” to go back in time and fix any mistakes.  

Google Sites Publishing Bar
Google Sites Publishing Bar

Adding Editors

Instead of a traditional blue SHARE button, Google Sites has a familiar button of a person with a plus sign.  In this screen you can do “some” of the traditional actions that you find in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Google Sites Add an EditorBy adding a name or email list, you can add another account as an editor of your website.  If you are familiar with how other Google Apps work, this is a great feature and collaboration between two editors works very easily.  There is one feature missing from here which is the ability to add someone as a “view only” member of the team.  I honestly feel this is a missing feature as many teacher would like to have a non published website and provide access for their students to see any unpublished work.

But, what if you want to have someone check out your work that isn’t published?  Just above in that same section you can toggle your website to the traditional options of:

  • On – Public to the web
  • On – Anyone with the link
  • Off – Only specific people

Google Sites Link Sharing OptionsThis is, of course, a great way to have anyone look at your unpublished website, however, because you are not adding someone specifically, they need to have a copy of your link in order to see it.  The website does not appear in their sites.Google.com area.

Choosing The Right Link To Share With Your Audience

Here is where website creators are having the most difficult time.  In order to make your website go global and shareable with your audience, you must first hit the blue PUBLISH button and create a unique name for your website.  If you are creating on a non-school domain your website will start with “sites.google.com/view/?????,  if you are creating your website on your school domain it will look like “sites.google.com/yourdomain.com/???

Google Sites Create a URL

After publishing, you will see an arrow to the right of the blue PUBLISH button with three options.

  • Publish Settings – This menu option brings you back to your publishing settings where you can adjust the privacy of your website.
  • View Published Site – This is the key menu option that takes you to your public website based on the website address you setup when publishing.
  • Unpublish – This menu option will unpublish your website and “remove” it from the world wide web.

Google Sites Publish SettingsIt is important to understand that your website does NOT need to be unpublished while you are editing it.  After you hit the publish button, you website will simply take 3-4 seconds to publish any changes you make to the live website.  You can then go back and make as many changes as you want, for as long as you want and your users will NOT see those changes until you again hit the blue PUBLISH button.  As stated above, your website will automatically save every few seconds, but this will NOT affect your live site until you hit the publish button once again.

What should I NOT be doing when thinking about publishing?

Many web developers have been making one key mistake when it comes to their publishing settings.  They are using the actual URL (web address) of their EDITABLE website and giving this out to their students and users.  This web address might look something like this:

Notice at the end it says “/edit”???

Google Sites Wrong Web Address

What is actually happening in this situation is that website creators are sending their students the EDITABLE version of their website and this of course, allows students to EDIT their teachers website.  

Is that the only mistake when it comes to publishing?

Another thing that web developers are doing is opening up their sharing settings to the world.  Remember from above, you have a blue PUBLISH button and then you have the button with the person that allows you to add editors.  Several people are by accident changing their editing settings to “On – Public to the web.”  This makes total sense as it is what you would generally do with a traditional Google Doc.  However, in Google Sites, this is basically saying … ANYONE THAT IS IN THE WEBSITE IS NOW A FULL EDITOR OF THE WEBSITE.

I think I understand …. What should I do to publish my website?

Here are my recommendations when working with the new Google Sites.

  1. Only use the person/plus button when you want to make someone else an EDITOR of your website.
  2. When you are ready to make your website go “live,” hit the blue PUBLISH button and name your website something unique.  
  3. When giving out the website to your website ONLY use the link that looks readable.  
    1. sites.google.com/view/??
    2. sites.google.com/yourdomain.com/??

What do you think?

Where I wish this process was much simpler for the non-techy people out there, I hope this blog post shed some light on this situation.  

What do you think of the new Google Sites?  Are they working for you?  Do you have any feature requests? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have been creating Google Sites of your own, please leave some links below. I’d love to see what you are up to.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,

    THANK YOU for this article. I’m doing this for a volunteer team and I want them to VIEW the info, but not have the ability to EDIT the info. How do I do that? It seems I select the “On – Anyone with the link” option, however it states that anyone with the link can edit (without giving you the view only). Is there a way to do this? Did I miss something? Thanks in advance.

    Cynthia

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for checking out my post on Google Sites and for leaving a great comment/question. Unfortunately, there is no “view only” option in Sites without making them an editor. Google apparently doesn’t see the need for someone else to visually see an unfinished product. I’m hoping this changes sometime in 2017.

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