Over the past few years, I’ve been building static websites from starter CSS frameworks such as Bootstrap and Foundation, and then writing a bunch of custom HTML code. I switched to Google Sites to build static websites because it is faster and reliable than building a custom website. The new Google Sites was launched in 2016 and it makes it as easy as working in a Google Doc, which improves my development velocity and reduces future maintenance cost.
Pros: Fast, Easy, Free
Fast. The most precious resource is my time. Finding a tool or technology that makes me achieve the goal faster is better. The new Google Sites makes it really easy to get started, set up a layout that looks reasonably good, and comes with out-of-the-box responsive design.
Easy. On the technical front, the reliability of Google Sites is the reliability of Google. And Google is very reliable and dependable. After setting up the website, I don’t have to worry about spiky volume to the website or maintain the hosting web server. It allows adding in a custom domain to keep my website’s branding. The outputted website has HTTPS security without having to go through Let’s Encrypt or another 3rd party certificate provider.
Free. When I host a website on 3rd party vendor, it costs money to do the hosting. With Google Sites, there is no cost to adding a website.
Cons: Limited, Migration
Limited. As with all tools designed for the basic use cases, there are some limitations in the feature set that prevent me from converting all my websites. In one of my websites, I have a page that runs a custom React webapp. Google Sites does not have a way to run custom webapps: it was not designed for Single-Page Web Apps, which is an advanced use case. The webapp I am running is a contact form, so a workaround is to embed a Google Form that will email me.
Migration. I have a particular website that’s been set up over a few years and has a specific URL structure. Since Google Sites imposes its own URL convention, the website is not easily convertible while maintaining stable URL links from search engines. I would have to manually add in each page and set the URL to match them, the creation process would be manual, and not all the URLs would have an equivalent especially if they had an extension or are linked pictures.
Summary: Adopt Google Sites
Before I start a new static website project, I’ll think about the investment time to maintain the website the effort it is required to host on 3rd party vendor. In consideration of the time and effort, I will prioritize choosing Google Sites to reduce the future time and effort required to maintain the website. It’s okay about the trade-offs for new projects, maybe I’ll keep the old websites where they are for now.