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Two Free Website Building Platforms Compared – WordPress VS. Google Sites

01 March 2009 Posted by in category: Internet tools with Tags , , , , , , ,

If you're thinking of setting up your own personal Website or blog, or considering using one as a collaboration tool for you team, using WordPress or Google sites must have crossed your mind. These two platforms has some overlapping abilities but they actually suit for totally different uses. Here is a review of WordPress and Google sites that will help you choose the right platform for your needs.

WordPress

WordPress logoWordPress is an open source blog tool and publishing platform. It is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world.

Google sites

Google Sites logoGoogle Sites is an online application for easy creation and sharing of webpages. It allows you to gather information (such as videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text) in one place and share it for viewing or editing with others.

Comparison

First time setup

you do not have to know code to use WordPress, but first time installation might be difficult if you do not know how (or have someone to help you) to create a database and use FTP. ‎ Google Pages First time setup is as easy as the day to day use, and include about ten mouse clicks. No code or behind the scenes files to move or change. Note that you can use WordPress.com, which is a service, just like Google sites (that means that you do not host it on your server). In this case, setup is as easy as in Google Sites – you only need to sign up.

Google Sites - create new site screen

Content management

in WordPress, authoring and file sharing are done form the control panel. So if, for example, you want to share a file, you will have to go to the control panel, upload the file and then add a link to it in the desired page. In Google Sites, on the other hand, you only need to go to a page and upload the file as an attachment or click "edit" to change the text. That feature makes Google Sites suitable for daily operations of documents and information management and WordPress for publishing of more carefully edited posts and pages.

Pages functionality

In Google Sites You can choose one of five types of pages – regular web page, dashboard, announcements, file cabinet, or list. Each of them has different functionalities, such as file uploading and sharing, overview of information, data listing, and information sharing (such as news, status updates, or notable events).WordPress offers only regular web page, besides the default page where blog post are published to (although you can build custom web pages using PHP).

Ease of use

both platforms are easy to use, but Google sites is easier for first timers since it is more intuitive. WordPress' control panel might require some accommodation until it can be used to its full strength.

WordPress - control panel

Design

with hundreds of themes available and the ability to change them (using code) makes WordPress based websites beautiful and flexible (examples: networksolutions, ridgewoodprep and biggovhealth). The exact opposite is true with Google Sites – only few pre-packaged themes are available, with limited changes possible to the layout and look of elements. That makes even Google's own example sites (Team project, Employee profile, Student club, Classroom) look simple and unprofessional, design-wise.

Extensibility

WordPress has numerous and ever growing number of plugins to improve the site's functionality, management, monitoring, design, and more. Adding them is easy, but might require you to use FTP, and for small number of plugins, to edit code. Google Sites doesn't have any extensions of that kind, but it is possible to embed content (video, Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, presentations, Picasa photo slide shows, iGoogle gadgets).

Collaboration

The key feature of Google Sites is its collaboration abilities. You can decide who can watch the site (Viewers), change it (Collaborators) or manage it (Owners). Collaborators and owners do not need to have a Gmail account to make changes, but will have to go through a short registration, to get a Google account (with their current email). WordPress collaboration abilities are much more limited. Although it allows similar levels of management privileges, its central content management and lack of pages functionality make it suitable for multiple authoring, but not more.

Conclusion

Although both platforms can grant collaboration permission, the ease of use in Google sites and collaboration abilities make it suitable for team work and collaboration; Its easy setup and limited design makes it suitable for small personal sites (but not if you're in the Internet business) or group participation like in friends club­ and the like. WordPress is great for "regular" websites thanks to its design, extensibility,‎ and also high level websites that requires code and advanced design and functionality. And, of course, it is a wonderful blogging platform. Look at the table below to see at a glance the differences between Google Sites and WordPress.

UseWordPressGoogle sites
Extended functionality with ‎plugins/gadgets or codingLimitlesspoor
Users can share files ‎XV
Messages and listsXV
Ease of useVV
Single-click page creationVV
No Coding requiredVV
FreeVV
non-blog content management ‎VV
Users can be invited to ‎collaborateVV
themes ‎VV (few)‎
Users can comment ‎VV (with ‎permission)‎
Beautiful designVX
Blogging abilitiesVX
Users can registerVX

What is your experience with WordPress and Google Sites? How do you use them? share it with us us in the comments.

39 Responses to “Two Free Website Building Platforms Compared – WordPress VS. Google Sites”

  1. Boaz Zemer 1 March 2009 at 1:48 pm (PERMALINK)

    This is an important post. Good job!

    Author
    • Name 1 September 2012 at 5:36 pm (PERMALINK)

      I’ve been looking for quite some time on the differences, thanks for sharing.

      Author
  2. eyal sela 1 March 2009 at 2:46 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks Boaz!

    Author
  3. Ranjeet Walunj 1 March 2009 at 8:35 pm (PERMALINK)

    I’ve been using wordpress for my blog/personal site and pretty much happy with it :-)

    WordPress gives me great control over what I want to do with my own site.

    Author
  4. eyal sela 1 March 2009 at 8:36 pm (PERMALINK)

    I Agree Ranjeet,
    This blog is WordPress based as well.

    Author
  5. Lital Avraham 1 March 2009 at 11:20 pm (PERMALINK)

    very nice! like it! :)

    Author
  6. eyal sela 1 March 2009 at 11:25 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks Lital!

    Author
  7. Ariellah 19 April 2009 at 7:01 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thank you for this interesting article.

    What would you recommend for a schools' web site? purpose – marketing, community, eleraning, collaborative.

    It it possible to embed moodle into Google site?

    How is Joomla compared to Google site?

    Author
  8. eyalsela 19 April 2009 at 7:12 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks Ariellah,

    well, it really depends…
    roughly, I would say that for ‎Marketing I would use a WordPress site (since you can design it). For ‎collaboration I would use Google sites (it was made especially for that). For ‎the community and elearning – it depends on what kind of activities you are ‎doing.

    I do not know moodle and do not have experience with Joomla, so ‎unfortunately I cannot answer these questions.

    Eyal. ‎

    Author
  9. Ariellah 19 April 2009 at 9:45 pm (PERMALINK)

    OK. Toda :)

    Author
  10. Sam Downe 19 April 2009 at 11:53 pm (PERMALINK)

    I use Google Sites for my Maths website, (http://www.neotsmaths.co.uk) – it's great for sharing worksheets, podcasts, pictures and news. I think it's fab, but I think its lack of user registration is a little limiting. I am trying to get the students to comment more on the Maths blog in this respect.

    Although there are a few themes, it is very customisable!

    Interesting article though – thanks!

    Author
  11. eyalsela 19 April 2009 at 11:57 pm (PERMALINK)

    Your site looks very well built…
    Thanks Sam.

    Author
  12. Nicko 23 September 2009 at 12:32 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks – this really helped decide what to recommend for an author friend – Nick

    Author
  13. file_cabinet_key 21 October 2009 at 11:17 am (PERMALINK)

    That's the great article! I just pass 'n read it, two thumbs up! ;)

    Author
  14. Jim 28 November 2009 at 6:40 pm (PERMALINK)

    Great idea for a comparison post! Thanks

    Author
  15. mfarney 6 January 2010 at 3:49 pm (PERMALINK)

    All and all, WordPress wins! I've been trying my hand with a WordPress theme and I realized just how flexible their service really is. I wouldn't have had so much liberty with Google, that's for sure.
    ___________
    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting

    Author
  16. Gilly Barr 4 February 2010 at 8:51 pm (PERMALINK)

    This post is great, and really saved me some comparing these products myself, since I want to start using one of them soon.
    You didn't mention hosting fees or limitations ???

    Author
  17. Gilly Barr 4 February 2010 at 9:04 pm (PERMALINK)

    and one more thing…
    I just wen to check out Google Sites, and it seems like they updated it with more layouts and plenty of more styles and themes to choose from. It seems like they have a them and template for any subject you could think of!
    I believe, that in the long run, Google will have stronger abbilities than WordPress, but only time will tell… :)

    Author
  18. Alex Johnson 22 May 2010 at 8:48 pm (PERMALINK)

    Very helpful information. I bookmarked this article. Thanks for sharing.

    Jessica S.
    http://nocostwebsite.co.cc/

    Author
  19. File Cabinet Key 11 June 2010 at 10:33 am (PERMALINK)

    I'm not finished read this yet, but it's so fabulous 'n I'll back again when I was finished my job :D

    Author
  20. Meridian File Cabinet Keys 17 June 2010 at 1:50 pm (PERMALINK)

    Bravo, Bros! keep going like this, more good info again.

    Author
  21. team building phoenix 8 July 2010 at 9:14 am (PERMALINK)

    Great post, Very informative..

    Author
  22. Liz 15 September 2010 at 9:16 pm (PERMALINK)

    This was written a year ago, do you still agree with what you said? Just wondering because I’m looking into a website for our small not for profit and things change really quickly.

    Author
    • Eyal Sela 15 September 2010 at 9:22 pm (PERMALINK)

      Good question.
      1. Google sites has become more powerful since then, and got better themes.
      2. The things about WordPress are still relevant.

      I should note that it my be more correct to compare Google Sites with WordPress.com, which is the hosted version of WordPress. This means that you don’t have to mess around with the server configurations (but you’re much more limited)

      Author
  23. Marjory Whittinghill 11 November 2010 at 9:38 pm (PERMALINK)

    Wow! For a nice and hunting yahoo for hours in this and i also as a final point found it listed here!

    Author
  24. Daniel 10 March 2011 at 5:49 pm (PERMALINK)

    just had to go through the same decision and after spending several days to work out all the several features, i came exactly to the same conclusions. unfortunately, i found your site only afterwards, but at least i am now even more reassured :-)

    Cheers!

    Author
  25. Hila 10 April 2011 at 6:08 pm (PERMALINK)

    Great article, saved me loads of time figuring out the differences myself
    thanks a lot!

    Author
  26. Ian 16 April 2011 at 4:42 am (PERMALINK)

    Thank you also, I’m working in two non profit areas and had used 1 & 1′s web site builder to get started only to find out that it is very poor + they charge extra if you use it to produce more than 25 pages.

    I’m now learning Drupal but having many of the self learn hurdles slowing things down. To get the content up for now I will give google sites a go after reading your helpful comparison.
    You have freed up some time for me to work on the important content.

    I’ve spent vast amounts of unpaid time on problems within cancer care, Thank you for this.

    Author
  27. Tormod 21 April 2011 at 9:20 am (PERMALINK)

    I’ve recently been messing around with weebly , googlesites and wordpress.com as these are the free webuilding platforms which offer free hosting. I find that googlesites seems to be good for quick and easy setup and sharing ,table formats, files and forms easily, However, the template is customizable but only so far . There is no access to moving around the navigation bars, you have horizontal or a side bar but being able to freely move this around is not an option. The content page only allows you a number of set layouts ( this in weebly is more customizable ), it doesn’t allow for example a two column layout in the ratio 75 %one side 25 % the other. Leaving public comments on the site also proves to be problematic and requires embedding (html comments box) into the site which then causes problems in other browsers. Google site however requires no CSS coding however weebly does if you want to make your template semi attractive and without a massive header .

    Weebly although flexible as mentioned above is fidgety, requiring some css coding and steady mouse clicking.

    Word press.com i haven’t much experience with but the first thing i checked was trying to embed my google calendar unfortunately it was not easy and i still haven’t managed to do it . From what i understand this type of thing is more suitable for wordpress.org . This requires webhosting though and isn’t as user friendly as the others.

    Anyways that’s my finding after hours of tinkering about

    Author
  28. Angela Kennedy 7 June 2011 at 10:24 am (PERMALINK)

    I used Google sites initially for First Class Water but soon got frustrated with its lack of flexibility, themes, plug-ins, SEO ability .. i found it a very constrained tool and really only of use to someone in need of an online classified ad. If you have the time WordPress is the premium product here.

    Author
  29. MD SEO 22 September 2011 at 9:32 pm (PERMALINK)

    Nice comparison article. I am a big fan of wordpress. I really dont like Google sites because it lacks flexibility, design, blogging capabilities and SEO. Today, wordpress makes even a beginner look decent with all the new themes out there.

    Author
  30. rahul chaudhary 14 November 2011 at 4:04 pm (PERMALINK)

    really nice comparison

    but for professional world(users in office) i would say it would be good to setup website using google as in cooperate world , almost everybody blocks the blog sites.

    if your viewers are not limited to tech guys then surely wordpress is good

    Author
  31. jose 12 April 2012 at 5:36 am (PERMALINK)

    creo que me convence máss empezar con worpress, gacias por la ayudilla.

    Author
  32. Scriptshaala 8 May 2012 at 8:34 am (PERMALINK)

    good things about google sites:
    1) Google will immediately index it.
    2) Analytics are easy to integrate, just feed a number, don’t need to paste code and all.
    3) Built to be mobile friendly.
    4) Will move to html5 and whatever is needed automatically, we don’t need to sweat the stuff.

    One huge BAD thing : cannot have keywords and meta descriptions for each page. Google’s algorithm penalizes this, and it is a great irony that Google’s sites do not follow its own site building best practices.

    I have built this site with google sites- http://www.scriptshaala.com

    Author
  33. Darren 17 July 2012 at 7:45 pm (PERMALINK)

    I too have built a business website with Google sites, and at the time of starting out I couldn’t have even told you what a keyword or meta tag was, now 2 years on and after self teaching myself all about SEO and various other things I understand the limitations of Google sites as mentioned above. Very easy to set up and use though and has served me very well. I know am at a crossroads where I am not sure what to do as I know my site needs drastic improvement behind the scenes and code wise. I need to improve SEO wise and I am not sure I can do this with my current site.

    Author
  34. shiv 9 August 2012 at 4:22 pm (PERMALINK)

    Nice Post thanks a lot

    Author

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