Long has there been discussion about which is better, Google Sites or SharePoint. Google aims to come out the winner, as it adds new functionality to Google Sites in the form of functionally designed site templates.
Google Sites Making a Comeback
To be honest, we thought Google Sites was slowly making its way out the door. But it appears that Google may be taking a greater interest in it than we thought. With the introduction of a set of site templates designed to get organizations or regular users up and running with a website as quick as snap, it is possible SharePoint may need to be on the look out.
Google Sites Templates
A new Google Sites Template Gallery brings you a number of template options, with each template including things like custom page layouts, links for navigating to each page, embedded gadgets, themes and more.
Google Sites - Site Templates Library
Each template contains different pages and widgets based on the type of template you selected. You can add, edit and remove pages and widgets to customize the base site template to your needs.
You can add calendars, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, images and other items to your, just as you would any other website. And if you have experience with Google Sites (or any Google App) at all, you know that you can set permissions at the site and/or page level. Now permissions are fine grained to the extent of some other systems, but you can say who has ownership, change or view only capabilities.
Templates are not just created by Google, but other third parties can create and offer their own site templates for you to use.
Here's an example of a team project website:
Sample Google Site Template
Better Than SharePoint?
So yes, it all looks good. Lots of nice templates to chose from. But does the addition of site templates push Google ahead of SharePoint? For smaller organizations it may have the potential, particularly if those organizations are using Google Apps. But for more, SharePoint still maintains a definite lead.
The best comparison to Google Sites is SharePoint Online. Both are web based services. But SharePoint offers a lot more functionality than Google Sites, especially when it comes to required features like document management, web content management, collaboration and security.
We outlined the functionality that comes with SharePoint Online, so we won't go through all the details again. Suffice it to say, there's a lot more there. And with the upcoming Office Web Apps, we should see tight integration with SharePoint online, reducing the need for the desktop version of Office, and moving users to a much more web centric world (if that's really where you want to go).
If it's the template capability that makes you think Google Sites is a better fit, then consider this: SharePoint offers 40 different application templates that you can choose from to get you started quickly as well. Granted most of these are business related, but that is what we are talking about here anyway.
A Step in The Right Direction
We aren't bashing Google Sites. This new site template capability is pretty nice and we can see a lot people liking it. But if you are looking for more control over content on your site, and tighter permissions, then Google Sites still isn't going to cut the mustard.
Finally, keep in mind that SharePoint Online isn't the only potential competitor to Google Sites. There are a number of small hosted solutions out there now (we know, we've covered a number of them), that add the same, if not more functionality than Google Sites as well. You may want to give those services a gander as well.