Google Sites is a great tool for creating simple websites.
If you are an experienced user, you should know about these advanced features of Google Sites.
These advanced tips are helpful for classroom teachers using Sites for student projects and district administrators who are concerned about maintaining consistent visual branding for community-focused sites.
Here are four important advanced features for Google Sites!
Design a custom theme
Up until recently, Google Sites only offered five different themes. Not any more! As of September 2021, you can design your own custom theme!
The new theme creator gives you control over every aspect of your Google Site: buttons, fonts, colors, backgrounds, and more!
There are a LOT Of options, but the simple theme-builder will guide you through the most important elements.
The new theme builder is handy for school districts that want to use consistent colors and branding for class web pages.
Note: at this time there is no way to share a custom theme with someone else. If you want to make your theme available for another site you need to make a copy of the site or publish it as a template.
Force a copy of a Google Site
If you are an advanced user of Google Drive, you probably know about the “secret” trick to force someone to make a copy of your Google Doc, Presentation, etc.
This URL trick also works with Google Sites!
Note: forcing a copy of a Google Site is a little bit different than what you may have done with Google Docs, Slides, etc. See the instructions below!
This strategy is ideal for teachers who want to provide students with a wire-frame into which students can add their own content.
When you give students a site template, they don’t need to spend time creating pages and building a theme, they simply add their content to the site structure you have provided.
Force a copy of your Google Site by changing the URL
- Create your site and add content.
- Edit the URL of your site to include /template/preview after the Site ID
- Share the modified URL through Google Classroom, email, etc so that users can use your Site as a template.
Note: Google Sites does NOT support the /copy URL modification
Assign a Google Site through Google Classroom
Google Sites is a part of Google Drive which means you can turn a Site into a Google Classroom assignment.
Use Google Sites as an assignment in Google Classroom:
- Create an assignment in Google Classroom
- Attach your site using the Google Drive icon
- Select “students can edit”
- Post your assignment
These instructions are ideal for setting up a whole-class group project. I recommend that you provide each student a specific task or page to avoid editing conflicts.
Note: at this time Google Sites doesn’t support the “make a copy for each student” option. If you want everyone to have a copy, I recommend that you use the “force a copy” trick explained above!
Publish a site to your district’s template gallery
The URL trick above is ideal for teachers who want to share a project template with students.
Your district may be interested in providing teachers and students with an official template for a class, department, science fair, or club website.
Creating templates for these types of sites will help your district maintain consistent branding and site layout across your organization.
If you want to make a Google Site available to your entire organization, you should consider publishing it to the private template gallery.
Google Sites offers a template gallery just like Docs, Slides, and Sheets. You can view the template gallery by visiting sites.google.com.
In addition to the templates provided by Google, your organization can create an internal template gallery.
Note: your IT administrator controls who can publish resources to your Google Workspace template gallery. If the instructions below don’t work for you, you may need to request access from your IT department.
How to publish your Google site as a template:
- Build out your Google Site – add whatever layout, theme, branding, and content you want to use as the foundation for this site.
- Visit the Site template gallery – Click on the template gallery and then select your domain templates.
- Submit your site to the template gallery – Look for the upload template button. If you do NOT see this button, you may not have permission to submit templates. Contact your IT admin for details.
Once your template is published (it may need to be approved by your IT admin), others can begin using your design.
Send users to sites.google.com and tell them to look through the domain template gallery
What are your advanced tips for using Google Sites?
These are my favorite advanced features for Google Sites. If you have other strategies, drop me a comment! I would love to hear suggestions.