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06-10-10, 12:30 PM
http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites1a.jpgAs a blogger and owner of multiple websites, it isn‚??t often that I personally have the need to make free webpages that aren‚??t hosted on my own webhosting account, or accessed from my own registered domain. However, as anyone who has become entrenched in the world of Web 2.0 knows, there are so many available resources that it‚??s sometimes difficult to remember all of the sites where you‚??re a member, or to keep track of all of the information you want to receive updates about every day.

I‚??ve previously covered 4 free websites (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-4-websites-to-create-free-websites-instantly/) where you can make a web page for free, hosted by the site where you create them. Additionally, if your intent is to generate a start page for yourself, Aibek covered a majority of them in his review of the top 12 start pages (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/12-web-based-startpages-compared-the-winner-is/).


All of the resources listed above are excellent tools for organizing your own online interests, but wouldn‚??t it be nice to have a resource from Google ‚?? the place where you get your email, handle your blog analytics (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/monitor-google-analytics-accounts-place-trakkboard) and read your RSS feeds? Aibek mentioned iGoogle in his list of start pages, but even iGoogle doesn‚??t have the sort of flexibility that lets you do anything you want with the page. You can add widgets and re-title a few elements, but that‚??s about it. That‚??s why I was very happy to discover that now, even Google offers a free website building tool called Google Sites (http://sites.google.com).

How To Make a Web Page for Free On Google Sites

Of course, if anyone could simplify the website creation process even more than most other free website creator tools, it would be Google. The nice thing is that your Google Site is tied directly to your Google account, so you never have to worry about remembering what the site was or the URL, just log into your Google account, go to Google Sites, and there it is.

When you first visit Google Sites and log into your Google Account, just click on ‚??Create Site,‚?? and you‚??re presented with a very easy form to fill out that will immediately generate your free webpage. Of course, the first step is to select the design. You‚??ve got several standard templates to choose from, or you can review the template library.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites1.jpg

You could also use one of the common templates, but I usually like to use templates that are as unique as possible so as to reduce the possibility of having a site that‚??s identical to someone else‚??s. Additionally, the templates offered by Google are not your run-of-the-mill website templates.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites2.jpg

If you want to have a project wiki website, there‚??s a template specially designed for that. If you want to have a family site, a school webpage, or even a professional website for yourself ‚?? there are templates for those purposes too. Each template has a unique design and features that are conducive to each purpose.

Even though I have a domain for my own name where I host a blog with updates from my online writing work, I don‚??t really have a professional website that collates all of my work, testimonials from clients and everything else into one easy to follow presentation. So, as an example website I‚??m going to use Google Sites to create my own professional bio page.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites3.jpg

Once you fill out a few details on the form for your site title and description and then click submit, your site is ready to go using the template you‚??ve selected. All of your editing and other tasks are located at the upper right of the page.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites5.jpg

Now, the cool thing about the Google Sites approach is that it‚??s configured like a content management system ‚?? so when you choose to ‚??edit‚?? the page, what you‚??re editing is just the content area. If you want to make any changes to the site template itself, you need to click on More Actions -> Manage Site, and then click on Site Layout from the left menu. This is where you can alter the left navigational bar and of course the site logo that, in this case, features your image.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites6.jpg

Adding or removing navigational sidebar items is fast and easy in this area as well. Add or remove pages, or include text or widgets into the sidebar right here in one place, and it takes effect across your entire site and all pages.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites7.jpg

Google has really done a fantastic job making it easy to customize and manage even large sites that have lots of pages. Of course, tools that you use all the time on your websites are built right into your Google Site, like Adsense. All you have to do is select to enable it.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites8.jpg

The thing that separates the useful CMS tools from those for kids is the ability to integrate it with your own registered domain. Luckily, if you choose ‚??Web Address‚?? in the site management area, you‚??ll find that you can use any domain that you like with Google Sites. Keep in mind that the site is still hosted at Google, but at least you can use any custom URL that you like, rather than the generic Google Sites URL.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites9.jpg

In the General Settings area, you can see just how integrated other website Google tools are into Google Sites. Just by pasting your Analytics ID, you can enable Analytics for the site (no need to copy and paste code into the footer of all the pages you want to track). Google Webmaster Tools verification is built right in as well.

For anyone who has ever wanted a monetized website with Google Analytics tracking, but never got around to it because it always seemed too complicated to integrate into your own website ‚?? with Google Sites, Google makes it an absolute breeze. Without further ado, here is the first draft of my own professional bio website called DubeWriter (http://sites.google.com/site/dubewriter/) at Google Sites.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/gsites10.jpg

Take a look and let me know what you think. Keep in mind that the site was created in under 15 minutes, using the tools provided right on the Google Sites CMS.

Have you ever tried Google Sites? Do you find it easier or harder to use than other free website creators out there? Share your opinions and insight in the comments section below.MakeUseOf has teamed up with zozi to provide you (and a friend) a FREE 7-day, trip to New Zealand. Sign up now! (http://muo.fm/zozigv)

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