Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GoogleSites: Creating your first page

After a long wait, there is finally a Google wiki and web publishing tool: GoogleSites. This replaces and extends Google's earlier effort at online web publishing (the old system was called GooglePages). I'm guessing that GoogleSites is going to be a very useful tool for some of my online students, particularly those folks who are either living abroad or who might be doing their work on multiple computers and/or in Internet cafes. So, I'll be writing up some tips here, explaining some of the nice features available with GoogleSites.

To get started, you will need a Gmail account which gives you a log-on you can use for all the Google services online, including GoogleSites.

Then, go to the GoogleSites address: Sites.Google.com

Create new site. You will start by clicking on the Create New Site button.

Name your site. Next you will be prompted to give your site a name. You can type the name you want (with upper- and lower-case letters, spaces, etc.) in the box, and then Google will try to guess what you want the website address to be (eliminating spaces, punctuation, etc.). You can make changes to the website address, or accept the suggestion that Google gives you. Optionally, you can add a brief description to the website. Then, you can choose a template - but don't worry: you can always change the template later. When you are done, fill in the "captcha" challenge at the bottom (to prove you are not a spambot!), and Google will then create your site for you.

Editing and adding pages. You should now see the homepage of your site, ready to fill in. To start editing the page, you will click on the Edit button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. To add pages to the site, use the Create Page button which is next to the Edit button.

Edit the page. When you click on the Edit page button, you will be able to edit the two different portions of your page: the Title Bar, and the Contents area. The editor gives you the standard features you expect, such as the ability to format your text with bold or italics, change the font, insert links, etc.

Creating links. In the spirit of being a "wiki," the Google Sites editor expects that you are going to be making links from one page of your website to another. So, when you highlight a piece of text and click on the link icon, you will be prompted to create a link to some other page in your website:

So, in order to create a link to an external website, you need to first click where it says Web address:

This will change the editing screen, giving you an option to insert the address of the page you want to link to, along with an option to open the webpage in a new tab of the browser.

Inserting images. To insert an image, click on the Insert menu on the left side of the screen, and choose the Insert Image option from the drop-down menu:

You will then be prompted to browse for and upload an image. This is definitely the best option to choose! Although it is possible to remote link to an image on someone else's page, it is much better to save a copy of the image to your computer, and then upload it here to GoogleSites. That way, even if the other person's webpage disappears from the web, your image will not be affected. Just make sure you also include Image Information to credit your original web source!

Save. When you are done, make sure you click on the Save button in the upper right-hand corner to save your work!