If you’ve decided to take Google Sites for a spin and create a free website, you’ll need to know the ins and outs. Here, we’ll walk you through the basics of using Google Sites: the navigation, features, and settings.
Like other Google applications such as Drive, Docs, and Sheets, you have a simple main screen. At the top you have templates and at the bottom you have your files.
Using a template gives you a jumpstart for creating your site. Select one at the top or click “Template Gallery” to see the entire collection. You can also start with the Blank site option.
Once you choose a template or the blank option, the site-building screen will appear, and it should look familiar to you. It’s structured the same basic way as other Google applications.
On the top left, click the icon to return to the main Google Sites page or the text to name your file.
On the top right, you have several icons. Starting on the left, you’ll see Undo, Redo, Preview, Copy a Link, Share, Settings, More, Publish, and your profile icon.
On the right side of the screen are the tools you’ll use to create your website. You have three tabs for Insert, Pages, and Themes.
- Insert: Add page elements like a text box, image, table of contents, calendar, file, and more.
- Pages: Manage the pages for your website. You can add a page or subpage, duplicate a page, view the page properties, or hide a page from the navigation.
- Themes: Whether or not you start with a template, you can change the theme of your site anytime. Choose a theme to change the appearance, fonts, and colors.
At the top of your page, you have spots for your website name, the page title, and an image.
- Click the “Enter Site Name” text to name your website and click “Add Logo” if you have one to use.
- Click the “Your Page Title” text box to title the page.
- Click the header image and choose “Change Image” and “Header Type” to change these.
For most of your page building, you’ll use the Insert tab on the right. You can create a page in minutes using these features:
- A selection of layouts
- Text boxes
- Embed options
- Collapsible text
- Table of contents
- Image carousel
Plus, you can insert items from other Google applications including YouTube, Maps, Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms.
If you want to arrange text with media like images, you can pick one of the six layouts to help you position your items. Simply click a layout, and it’ll pop onto your page with placeholders.
If you prefer to arrange your items yourself, click any item at the top or bottom of the Insert tab to place it on your page.
After you place items on your page, you’ll be able to configure them. For instance, if you click to insert a button, you’ll immediately give it a name and include a link.
Or if you add a Google Calendar, you’ll pick the calendar to display and then choose to show things like the title, navigation buttons, and calendar view by clicking the gear icon in the toolbar.
When you insert page elements, whether using a layout or freeform, they reside in sections. Sections are outlined in blue when you select an item inside. Then on the left of the section, you have additional options.
Use the drag handle to move the section up or down. Or use the toolbar to choose a section background, duplicate the section, or delete it.
As you know, there’s more to creating a website than just building the pages. You can adjust the navigation, add a custom domain, or use an announcement banner. Click the gear icon on the top right to open the settings.
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Use the options on the left to choose the navigation position and color, add brand images, use an info icon and anchor links, set up a custom domain, connect your Google Analytics ID, and create an announcement banner.
When you’re ready to push your site out, whether to the masses or to a select group, click “Publish” on the top right.
If you did not set up a domain in the settings above, you can do so here by clicking “Manage” under Custom Domain. Otherwise, your web address will begin with
http://sites.google.com/view/ with your website name after the slash.
To adjust who can view your site, click “Manage” next to Anyone. To keep your site away from search engines, check the box at the bottom. Hit “Publish” and you’re set!
While there’s much more to learn about the features and settings available in Google Sites, this introduction should get you off to a good start! And if you’re interested in additional options, take a look at these other website builders.