Google Sites

http://sites.google.com/

Overview

Another Google App, beta version. It's a structured wiki intended to make web site creation and modification easy for the masses. Plays well with other Google apps and easily accommodates pictures and video.

Access and Permissions

This is how you control access:

googlesites01.jpg

This is how you manage permissions:

googlesites02.jpg

Ease-of-Use

No need to know HTML or CSS. In fact, you cannot modify CSS if you want to. The tool supports five types of pages - web page, dashboard, announcements, file cabinet and lists. Announcements work well as blogs.

Cost

Free up to 100 MB. 100 GB for Google App users.

Fit with University

The U is inking some kind of agreement with Google. What that means, I'm not sure. Watch this OIT page for updates. Because it's highly customizable, you can use the University's logos and color scheme.

Pros

It's highly customizable. Not only can you change fonts, background colors and images, but you can position elements with some precision. I like that you can create a site hierarchy with folders and a drill-down metaphor. This is great for sites that serve as online references. It's searchable, of course. Want to keep tabs on changes? No problem, you can get alerts when a page or the site changes. Of course it interacts well with other Google apps, like Google Docs and Google Calendars which you can embed right in your page.

Cons

For all it's customization, Google apps still have that Web 1.0 look to me. Notables negatives from it's Wikipedia entry:

  • Non collaborators cannot add anonymous comments. (Not necessarily a negative.)
  • No RSS feeds for site updates. (Wow, that's a big negative for me.)
  • No data export or backup functionality. (So if you go down this road, you'd better be committed to it.)