Google announced today that they were opening up their online web site, Google Sites, to anyone who wanted to have one. Previously this service was only available to companies using Google Apps
or to people who wanted to host their websites with Google but still had their own domain. Now, any registered Google user can sign up for a free website, prompting some to call it "Geocities 2.0", naming it after the ubiquitous free website provider of the mid-late 90s. Google Sites
offers an impressive array of features for people who don't want want to spend too much time worrying about the more technical aspects of having a site. Google Sites carries a burly set of features, including:
* WYSIWYG Editor
: A WYSIWYG page editor for those who don't want to bother with HTML
* Google Analytics
: One click installation of Google Analytics to record site statistics
: A variety of different pre-loaded themes for the design-phobic
: 100 MB of space for your site (you get 500MB if you already have a Google Apps account)
: A sites.google.com URL
In addition to this set of features, Google Sites makes it easy to collaborate on web sites, in a similar fashion as Google Documents
. It is easy to designate certain users who are allowed to edit the site and to share editing of the site via email. It is also possible to make the site private and only accesible to those whom you designate.
At the low, attractive cost of free, Google Sites will be an excellent option for small businesses, educators and other folks who need to put a website up but don't want to deal with more complex, costly web hosts.
It is interesting to note that at the time of this writing, the biggest limitations to Google Sites is the inability to place Google Adsense ads on your pages and the lack of RSS on sites hosted with the service. According to the Google FAQ
, the latter option is one being worked on for the future.