Google Page Creator Review

Review of Google's Online Web Site Builder / Wizard and WYSIWYG Editor


Review of Google Page Creator (Free Online WYSIWYG Website Builder)

by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com
Written: 31 May 2007

Google Page Creator is a free Google service that allows you to create a website using an online web creation wizard together with an online What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) web editor. The pages are published and hosted on Google's web servers free of charge. At the time I wrote this, it works only with Internet Explorer and Firefox (which is to say, browsers like Opera and Safari are not supported.)

Note that like all reviews, this article is specific to the version of the Google Page Creator that I used. Google probably improves their online web builder all the time, and some of the features and flaws mentioned below may have changed by the time you read this. You can find the date I reviewed the service above. I should also mention that the Google Page Creator is currently marked as being in beta testing at this time, which means that it is still under development and that Google does not consider the service ready for general use.

Update (7 August 2008): it look like Google Page Creator is no longer accepting new sign-ups for the Page Creator service.

Getting Started

It's fairly easy to get started. If you don't have a Google Gmail account, you'll have to sign up for one. With that same account name and password, you will be able to log into the Google Page Creator. You should choose your Google Gmail account name carefully, however, before you start, because whatever name you select for that Google account will end up as part as your URL. For example, if you select some-silly-name-just-for-fun@gmail.com, your website's URL will become http://some-silly-name-just-for-fun.googlepages.com/. There's no way to change this in the site settings. In view of this, you might want to create a new Google Gmail account just for your Google Page Creator website even if you already have a Gmail account, so that you don't inadvertently attract all the spammers in the world who have figured out that every page with a ".googlepages.com" suffix implies a Gmail account they can spam.

A related issue to not being able to set your own URL for your Google Page Creator website is the more serious problem that you cannot associate your own domain name with the site you're creating with this online website builder. This is more problematic than it may appear to some, since it means that you are totally dependant on Google Pages' continued existence for the life of your site. If your site becomes famous, and you need to move somewhere else with more facilities (or if, perish the thought, Google Pages should close), you will not be able to do so without losing your URL, your current customers and your current search engine ranking. You'll have to start from scratch again. This inability to upsize your site once it becomes successful, to my mind, rules Google Pages out as a web host that you can use as a beginner to start your business. It is a place where, at best, you can use to experiment with designing websites. Once you're serious, however, you need to get your own domain name and move to either a commercial web host or a free web host that allows you to host your own domain.

Designing Your Website with Google Page Creator

Verdict

As an online WYSIWYG web builder, the Google Page Creator looks very promising. It has a simple, uncluttered interface that makes it easy for newcomers to quickly get their website published. Users can easily benefit from the selection of web templates and standard layouts to easily create their site. The programmers appear to have put in some thought into the usability of the editor for the new webmaster, automating things that normally confuse them, such as automatically creating a TITLE tag from the user's own title for the page. Other aspects of the service also show the same consideration given to usability - for example it is an easy matter to add a link to another page and create the page that it links to without having to worry about filenames. The web builder automatically takes care of building the correct link to the page.

All in all, I would say that this free web service is useful for the novice who wants to create a simple website for fun. It provides most of the rudimentary facilities for creating and publishing a website, and for the most part, makes the process simple. Among its shortcomings in the web design aspect is the inability to add things that many websites typically need, such as an ecommerce shop (shopping cart) or a feedback form. However, you can probably get around this by using external script hosting services for such facilities. A more serious shortcoming is the inability of Google Pages to host your domain name for the site you create. This means that you will not be able to use the Google Page Creator if you are thinking of starting a simple website that you hope will grow in the future.

Copyright © 2007 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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