Google announced the introduction of Google Sites as part of Google Apps. This is a nice addition to the free suite of Google Apps services. Here is a brief introduction to Google Sites:
It’s an online application that makes creating a team web site as easy as editing a document. You can quickly gather a variety of information in one place — including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and gadgets — and easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their entire organization, or the world.
Google Sites is very similar to an application that Microsoft began offering in its Office XP suite, SharePoint Team Services. An excellent tool for creating team websites and also company intranets. Microsoft offered two flavors of their SharePoint services, the SharePoint Portal and SharePoint Team Services. The Portal version aimed at large enterprises was a full document management system, much beyond the scope of Team Services. Since its original release the two versions have merged into the one current system, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
Team websites are useful tools for different types of groups. They offer a portal website to share information and to collaborate on projects. The primary value of Microsoft’s SharePoint services has been its integration with their Office applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). For this reason it was initially released as a part of the Premium version of Office and now includes Office in its name. Microsoft has continued to extend the accessibility to SharePoint documents from directly within Office and better facilitating this in Windows Vista and Windows Mobile 6.
Google Sites helps round-off Google’s suite of office applications. It offers easy integration of Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentation files, together with your Picasa images and Google or YouTube videos. Its a nice offering for the price, FREE, but as with their other office applications they are very simple and limited versions to their rival equivalent from Microsoft.
I was very disappointed in the available themes and page layouts from Google Sites . The sample sites that Google gave look like they were designs taken from a 1998 website competition. Making them look at least more visually appealing, using modern Web 2.0 designs, could have made the service come across as a modern and fresh idea.