Here’s an example with two sentences:
- A creates in meaning order sentence word.
- Word order creates meaning in a sentence.
Which one makes sense? The second one, of course. Arranging the words in alphabetical order turns a coherent seven-word sentence into a puzzle. Unfortunately shared items in Google Drive, while directly linkable, are inherently difficult to organize within Google Drive itself. Every time you log into Google Drive or one of its subfolders, the order (and even file names) of shared documents is likely to be different. Google assumes you can just search for the documents you need, but that isn’t always as simple and intuitive as you might expect. (The sarcastic website Let Me Google That For You exists for a reason.)
A Google Site can provide some desperately needed structure and meaning for your help documents or “how to” guides. Don’t just share these documents, or dump them in a loosely organized Google Drive folder; organize your documents with a well-crafted Google Site.
The Google Apps Learning Center provides an excellent example of a Help Site. Links to help-pages are grouped by topic, with items clearly marked for both beginners and administrators. The site also includes many explanatory videos, which can be useful for people who prefer to learn by listening instead of reading.
Google Sites is fantastic intranet-building tool, to use a term from the 1990s. Unlike tools from that era, though, Google Sites doesn’t require any complex configuration. There are lots of templates available. Editing pages is nearly as simple as editing a Google Doc. Click to edit, then add your content. Since this is a Google Site, each Site also has a Search This Site box that lets users do exactly that.
A Google Site can be made as public or private as the owner of the site desires. A site can be shared much like a Google Doc: with the world, with people at the organization, or restricted to specific users.
With some planning, a Site can serve as the organization’s central point of reference for policies and practices. The HR folks can use a Google Site to replace the outdated employee handbook. The Accounting team’s section can include up-to-the minute travel policies and reimbursement rate information.
Site owners can control page-level permissions within a Site. A page containing network configuration notes could be restricted to your tech team. A page with instructions for using a projector in a conference room might be accessible to anyone. The Marketing and Sales teams can use a site to provide product information to the public, while also providing restricted-access pages containing details of the latest quarterly incentive program.
A Site works well for publishing information, not discussion or blogging. The latter two functions are better served by Google Groups and Blogger. Sites works reasonably well for basic filesharing, as well. For example, on a single page you can provide both the instructions needed to fill out a PDF form and the PDF file itself.
Of course, Backupify preserves the Sites your users create: they’re backed up as part of the regular backup process. So when a user accidentally deletes pages or a Site, Backupify can easily provide you a copy of the lost data.
Give a Google Site a try the next time you have several documents to share. A Site can help provide the structure users need to successfully find the information they require. Just as word order creates meaning in a sentence, a Google Site can create meaning by providing structure for multiple documents.
How have you used Google Sites at your organization?