This is another in the ongoing series of Google experiments I’ve been doing over the past several weeks…
If I were starting out on this RandomConnections venture now instead of several years ago, I might be doing things very differently. Given the number of resources available on Google, I’m not sure I would have bothered with a separate hosting service. So, I decided to give the idea a test.
For several years I’ve been keeping the website www.GeoPackrat.com. I had set this up as convenient web address to give to teachers for my handouts on Google Earth. I just had the URL through GoDaddy.com, and had it redirect to some web space on one of my district servers. It came time to update the site, and I thought it might also be a good time to move the content off of our school servers and onto something a little less tied to my place of employment.
I started by getting a GMail account in the GeoPackrat name. This gave me access to all of the rest of Google’s services, including Google Docs and Google Sites. I then went into Google Sites and set up the basic pages I would need. I picked a template I liked and modified the banner graphic to match what I needed. The end result looked like this:
I also decided to try some of the other features on the site. For my list of resources I created a Google Spreadsheet and embedded it into the site. That way I could update, organize, and alphabetize my list without having to edit the site itself (not that it’s hard to do.) I created a file cabinet page, one of the standard features of Google Sites, to hold all of the Google Earth files I had created. Instead of linking to MS-Word or PDF documents for my handouts, I linked directly to documents stored on Google Docs. Everything’s contained in a nice little package.
I like the overall look and feel of the site much better than my old website, and I think it’s easier to use. Editing is super simple, and doesn’t require an HTML editor or FTP access to my server. All I need is a browser to maintain my site. I’m sure there are some components that just won’t work, but if I ever have to design another simple site for someone, I think this is the way I’d go.