Google Sites

When I first wanted to make a genealogy website I was intrigued by the fledgling Google Sites but was quickly turned off by its then many limitations (I think this was when it was in its early infancy) and migrated over to Rootsweb.  I got a freepages account and liked it at first but the WYSIWYG editor and indeed the wholes thing soon got overwhelming by how clunky and un-user friendly it seemed everything was.  I shouldn't complain because it was free and it was/is very generous of Rootsweb to give this web space out.   But... I've gone back to Google Sites.  I've been impressed with what Miriam has been able to do with her Google Site for online historical directories (a great resource by the way!) and it took about two minutes to see that Google Sites has come a long way from its early days.  I created a site and in two days have been able to accomplish what had been taking me two years to do on my freepages site.  Here are some quick  pros and cons:

  • PRO: If you have a Google account, it is super easy to get your site up and running - literally, one click.  If you don't have a Google account... wait, why don't you have a Google account?!
  • CON: Once you pick a template you're, for the most part stuck with it, though you can change the themes.  Be wary of some templates like the "Family" one.  I originally used it and try as I might, I couldn't get rid of the "Our Family" banner at the top.
  • PRO: It is very easy to create and edit pages and the whole thing requires ZERO knowledge of HTML and coding.
  • CON: Going back to the templates and themes, they aren't super impressive.  I begrudgingly picked the "Branches" theme and while I like the graphics, the vomit green color scheme isn't my first choice (you can change the background color, but I wasn't able to totally get rid of the green).
  • PRO: It is just as easy to change pages and remove them as it is to create them.
  • CON:  Your options when it comes to fonts seems to be pretty limited.
  • PRO: No obnoxious ads unless you want them, a rarity when it comes to free website options it seems.
  • CON: "" will be the beginning of your URL and there doesn't seem to be any way around it (though I think it is a small price to pay for free web space).
I have found Google Sites to be very easy to work with and best of all, no hair pulling or banging your head against a wall!  There are about fifty more pros I can think of off the top of my head but the ones above are the biggies (for me).  Oh, another big pro?  You can make your site invitation only and control who does and doesn't see it.  If you are interested in creating a Google Site, check out some of the videos here.


  1. Hmm - intriguing. Are you going to use the Google Site to showcase your family research as the Rootsweb site currently does? I've thought of doing this but am wondering about taking on another big project. (BTW, my husband is working on that CW reading list - he just gets carried away a bit on the subject.)

  2. I'm hoping to transfer all my Rootsweb information over to my Google Site and just use that in the future. Yeah, it can be a big project but I'm only putting a limited amount online (just enough so people can find it and want to contact me) which is keeping it from becoming overwhelming.

    Tell your husband thank you from me, I really appreciate it. I'm worried I gave him too tall an order (I'd forgotten how broad a subject the Civil War is, lol). Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania- those are the main states I'm interested in if he wants to just focus on those.

  3. I just discovered Google Sites last week and have been going a little crazy creating sites for just about anything I can think of!

    I would love to create a site to share my family tree and collaborate with other researchers but I'm wondering what the best way to go about it is. I just looked into the Rootsweb option and wondered if that might be the way to go instead. After stumbling upon your post, I'm thinking Google Sites again. Any advice on where to start?

    BTW, I love your blog! I'm so glad I found it today.


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