Saturday, December 11, 2010

What's Next for Google Sites?

It has been quite some time since the last significant Google Sites upgrade.  That upgrade made possible the horizontal navigation and drop down boxes that users had been clamoring for.

Google's Last Big Upgrade: Horizontal Navigation and Dropdown Boxes, but that was so long ago...

So, what is Google cooking up next for us?  Visit the Google Sites forums and you'll see a lot of speculation, and I've summarized and accumulated that information here for you.  Ultimately, Google's direction for Google Sites will determine priorities and we'll analyze the trends Google is promoting.

Trend: Intranet
Google, it seems, has been targeting businesses and schools for aggressively.  Google renamed their Google Apps Premier Edition to Google Apps for Business.  Evidence that they want to reach an audience that will pay for their product ($50/user, actually).

Recent webinars like, Improving Team Collaboration and Productivity with Google Sites, tailor the suggested use of Google Sites to intranet, project-type websites.  Will this trend mean Google Sites will become more practical and less aesthetic?  Really, Google has even scaled down their Google Groups aspect to encourage this intra-firm use of Google Sites.  All this doesn't bode well for the web designer use, although Google has a knack for balancing the multipurpose design.

Speculation: Page Permissions
A popular request on the Google Sites suggestions forum for some time, page permissions are an excellent idea to expand both the uses of a intranet website and a public internet website.  What meant by page permissions?  Basically creating a login ability for varying levels of access throughout a website.  For example, a members and guests sort of permissions format.  The current, owner/collaborator/viewer format is unsatisfactory.  Will Google implement such a suggestion soon?  We all hope so.

Trend: Google Apps
Google Sites has been the sort of side-kick to the Google Apps line-up.  Google certainly is trying to promote the use of Google Sites within the Google Apps complex.  It is one of their "core apps" after all.  Therefore, it would be unexpected for Google to cease making important upgrades to it.

Speculation: Embed Google Groups
If the two shall meet, Google Groups and Google Sites, there would be much rejoicing for an essential forum option.  An announcements page just won't do it.

Google Groups, They're revamping it, but couldn't they just incorporate it?

Great Ideas for Improvements:
  • Navigation could support images more so than just transparency.
  • More Fonts!  There are around six right now, it's hard to be more unique.  At least allow for them eh?
  • Flash Options - We all love to see the stylish animated banner/header on websites.  Could this be implemented?
  • Column Widths - It's been mentioned on the forums, the ability to adjust how wide you columns are in page layout.  Two equa-distant columns is boring and the sidebars are too narrow.
What would you like to see next in Google Sites?  Please comment below and share your hopes and dreams.
 
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