Another dot in the blogosphere?

Second impression of the new Google Sites

Posted on: June 10, 2017

About a week of intensive creating with the new Google Sites interface have left a few more impressions on me (read my first impressions).

The create and edit interface has less obvious but useful drag-and-drop features. I discovered one when I brought page elements together to group them.

Drag and drop to create nested navigation links.

I found another when I wanted to create nested items (a sub-menu; see screencapture above) in the navigation bar. I only had to drag-and-drop page titles so that they stood alone or were associated with one another.

It was also very easy to embed Google-hosted elements, e.g., YouTube videos, GDrive items. I could either insert by URL or select from the item bar on the right of the editing interface.

Embed GDrive elements.

However, there was no proper embedding of non-Google elements, e.g., Padlet, AnswerGarden. I use those two alternatives because Google does not offer the equivalent of these tools.

Inserting (not embedding) non-GDrive elements.

The lack of proper embedding of these elements in Google Site pages means my learners cannot use them immediately. They have to click to open them in a new browser tab first.

The editing interface sports a “Publish” button to save changes, but there does not seem to be a publish reminder. As the page editing is WYSIWYG, it is easy to click away in the navigation to another page and start editing the latter. I have not determined if there is some sort of auto save when jumping between pages or if changes are not saved when doing this.

The new Sites seems optimised for desktop editing only. Trying to load new Sites in a mobile browser results in this message (see screencapture below).

New Google Sites not editable in phones or slates/

The old version of Sites could be edited on a phone or slate. While this was not ideal, you could make changes in a pinch.

The new Google Sites is slick and relatively simple to use. But its walled garden approach to its embeddable resources reduces some usability. Its coders might cite security as the main reason for not allowing embeds of non-Google ecosystem elements.

The recent GDocs phishing attempts showed how vulnerable sticking with a popular moniker can be. Perhaps the compromise in usability is a tradeoff for user safety.

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