Do you remember GeoCities? Back in the mid-90s, it seemed everybody had one of these free web pages. And pretty uniformly, they all looked horrible, especially by today’s standards.
We all may have moved away from a basic GeoCities page, but the need for a quick, easy, and good-looking site generator has never gone away. Enter Google Sites, a free service that allows anyone with a Google login to quickly generate a useful and handsome site for free.
When Google unrolled their Sites service to the general public, they made a short video as an introduction to the service.
I spent an hour recently testing out the service by creating a page. You can find the result here. Feel free to explore! I included several pages, plus some embedded videos and other widgets. If you check the site activity page, you will see it took me almost exactly one hour to finish.
It was really simple! There was a good variety of themes to choose from, plus you can tweak the color scheme and logo image to your liking. Adding new pages was a breeze, and the sitemap was a cinch to update after adding a few pages.
When you create a new page, you can choose from a number of different page templates, such as a list or announcement template. You can insert a wide variety of different things in each page, such as a YouTube or Google Video, or a Google Calendar or document.
One final note for you Google Apps fans. Google Sites also supports multiple site maintainers, collaborators, and (if the site is private) viewers. This adds the same great collaboration capability that you get with Google Apps, but embedded in the site!
Share a spreadsheet or a document, and let select people add or modify it. Excellent for last-minute changes, such as soccer team rosters or concert tour dates that may change at the last minute, or something that is maintained by a person different than the primary site admin.
If you would like to see some example sites (which are admittedly more representative than mine), check out this list: