Tuesday, 29 April 2014

5 tips for getting started on a new Google Site

Google Sites are a quick way to create, share and publish private or public websites. They have a huge number of uses in the classroom and wider school. When creating a new site, there are a few things that are good to know how to do.

Tip 1: Choose your URL (web address) carefully

The URL (web address) of your site cannot be changed after it is created. If you are planning on re-using your site over different school years, avoid including a year in the URL. However, the site name can be edited, so you can include a year in this and change it when required.

For example, your site name might be ‘Year 12 2014’ and your URL https://sites.google.com/a/<yourschool>/year-12

Tip 2: Change the location of your navigation menu

Google Sites can display the navigation menu on the sidebar (vertical) or top (horizontal) of the screen - or both. A horizontal navigation helps give your site a more professional look, and provides more space for content. Check out the difference below.

Sidebar navigation

Google Site with sidebar navigation

Horizontal navigation

Google Site with horizontal navigation

To change the location of your site’s navigation:

1. Click the Cog button > Edit site layout.
2. Click Sidebar to turn it off.
3. Click Horizontal navigation to turn it on.

Google Sites edit site layout options

4. Click Close to exit editing the site’s layout.

Don’t panic if some of your menu items do not immediately show in the new horizontal menu. See tip 3 below to get them back!

Tip 3: Edit the contents of the navigation menu

When you add a new page to your site, you also need to add it to the navigation menu. Follow the steps below to add pages.

1. Click the Cog button > Edit site layout.
2. Click the area where the horizontal navigation menu is to edit. The Configure navigation box opens.

Google Sites area to edit horizontal navigation

3. Click Add page.
4. Select the page you want to add to the menu.
5. Click OK.
6. Use the arrows on the right to move the position of the page in the menu. You can also make a page a sub-menu item of another.
7. Repeat steps 3-6 for each page you want to add.
8. Click OK when you are done.

Tip: You can also change the style of the navigation buttons in the Configure navigation box.

Learn more in the Add and edit the horizontal navigation bar help article from Google.

Tip 4: Remove the page name on the home page

By default, the name of each page is displayed at the top of the page. While this may be useful on some pages, it is usually unnecessary on the home page. Follow the steps below to remove the page name.

1. Click the Cog button > Page settings.
2. Untick Show page title.
3. Click Save.

You can repeat the steps above on any page that you do not want to page name to display. See the before and after pictures below to see the difference.


Google Site with page name


Google Site with no page name

Tip 5: Change the theme, colours and fonts

The look and feel of a Google Site can be customised completely using themes, colours and fonts. Follow the steps below to make changes to your site:

1. Click the Cog button > Manage Site.
2. Click Themes, Colors and Fonts in the left-hand menu.

Google Sites themes, colours and fonts menu

If you want to change the overall theme of the site, select a new theme from the Base theme drop-down. You can see a preview of the theme before clicking save, so feel free to experiment until you find one you like.

You can also customise the look of individual site elements by changing colours, fonts and adding images. Click the name of the element (such as Content area) on the left and then select the item you want to adjust (such as background, page title, headers and text).

Learn more in the Change your site's layout, theme, colors or fonts help article from Google.

These five tips should help you make a great start with Google Sites. If you want to dig deeper, Simplify Solutions offer a range of training options for schools.


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