8+ Google Sites Examples for Inspiration

Google Sites Examples

So you’re considering Google Sites as your website builder, and you’re looking for Google Sites website examples for inspiration and confirmation that you’re making the right choice.

Google Sites is Google’s free website builder software that it offers as part of the G Suite of Drive, Email, Hangouts, etc. It’s a template-based website builder, which means you have a set of templates that you can customize to a certain extent.

It makes nice designs incredibly accessible for DIY-ers while leaving the heavy-lifting (AKA hosting, functionality, coding) to someone else.

I wrote a full review of Google Sites here. It’s free, even for everyday users. If you are logged into your Google Account, you can start a Google Site here.

But before we dive into examples of what Google Sites look like in the wild, there is one thing to keep in mind when you’re evaluating a website platform: it’s not just about how the websites look. The functionality matters too.

Think of it like buying a car. You have a make / model in mind, and you’re probably looking to see them drive by on the road to see how they actually look. However, you also care about how they operate. Does it accelerate well? Does it have the hauling capabilities you need? How is the gas mileage?

Looking at a website platform should be done in the same way. We collected the following Google Sites examples not just to show you how they look, but how they can function so you can be sure you have a website that fits both the style you want and the functionality you need.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgement as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

General Website Example

Let’s start with a general round up of solid Google Site website examples. We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability.

Again, Google Sites works incredibly well for DIY-ers who want an easy-to-use website that they can throw up on their own without having to worry about the inner-workings, and who aren’t worried to much about adding any frills. However, be aware that with this comes trade-offs (i.e. you give up some control, functionality, customization, design capabilities etc.)

Keyingredient

KeyIngredient

Keyingredient’s website is a great example of how much content you can include on a Google Sites website, and how you can organize it. For websites that need to categorize content (like this recipe website, blogs, news sites, or portfolios) the card layout is an easy way to organize and showcase your top content without making the page overwhelming.

The website also allows visitors navigate directly to the content clicking on the image, which takes you to a full page on that specific recipe. If you’re needing a straightforward visual design with basic click-through functionality, use this example for inspiration.

Education Website Example

Education websites are a great way to provide course information, have a live syllabus, or even create a community for your class. Here’s a great example of what you can do with a Google Site education website:

Mr. Rees’ Social Studies Classes

Mr. Rees Social Studies

This social studies website is a great example of how you can use Google Sites to organize information for students.

Check out the detailed menu on the side that breaks down lessons. Students have access to notes, instructions, and assignments all in one place for each lesson for each class. It’s an organized and efficient way to keep resources all in one place.

Photography Website Example

Photography websites are all about the portfolio of work. When looking for a Google Site example to serve as inspiration for your photography, pay special attention to the layout options for your work. You want to be sure you’re showing off your photos in a creative way without sacrificing the user experience (AKA fast photo load speed, easy to navigate, high quality images, etc).

JSVFOTO

JSVFoto

When you have multiple segments in your photography portfolio, organization is key. This Google Sites photography website example is a great example of a clean, organized way to display your portfolio categories while also implementing an overall navigation that encompasses other areas of your work (i.e. reviews, novels, etc.). If you’re looking for a simple design that has a lot of versatility in showcasing your work, this website is a good one to follow.

Church Website Example

Church websites are all about telling people about your congregation, beliefs, and helping visitors feel welcome before they ever step in the door. Here’s a great example of a Church website build with Google Sites.

Morton Park Hall

What stands out about Morton Park Hall’s website is how clear the navigation is. It’s incredible easy to find information about what they believe, how to find them, and even to contact them. This site hits on all of the core functionality a church website should have, and organizes it intuitively, making it easy for newcomers and current congregation members to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Here’s a related post covering *only* church websites.

Business Website Examples

A strong business website showcases your services, gives customers the opportunity to contact you, and builds social proof. Visitors should be able to know exactly who you are and what you do when they land on their site, and should be able to easily navigate to what they’re looking for from your homepage.

PCS

PCS website

What stands out about PCS’s website is that while it uses a typical grid-style layout that most Google Sites use, the brand colors and icons make this website look and feel completely unique. This site is a great example of how to take a simple website layout and make it look polished and professional without having to create something entirely from scratch.

Flanders Hotel Bruges

Flanders Hotel Bruges

Flanders Hotel Bruges’ website is another great example of a business website that uses a simple design to look polished and professional. Notice how they use their awards to build credibility as soon as you arrive on the homepage. This, combined with high quality photography of the hotel and Bruges helps the hotel position itself as trustworthy and the right choice for visitors in the area.

Petits Gâteaux

Petits Gâteaux is a great example of a Google Sites website for a local business. Notice how the header image includes the logo and a scalloped design, giving the overall site a unique and fun feel without having to create and entire custom or complex site. We also loved how this local business included high quality photos of their pastries right on the homepage, giving customers an idea of what to expect right off the bat.

Personal Website Example

Personal websites are exactly what they sound like… personal! Whether it’s a resume / portfolio website you use to get booked or a blog you use to create content, this type of site is all about getting your personal brand online and owning your space on the Internet. Personal website should be easy to edit, manage, and customize.

Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber

With personal websites, it’s easy to get caught up in showcasing your personality and creativity. And while adding in some flair is fine, you don’t want to sacrifice clarity in the name of creativity. Andy’s website is a great combination of both. Featuring his tweets on the homepage is unique, and the clean layout makes the site easy to navigate. If you’re looking for an easy way to put your work, experience, and thoughts out into the world, this layout does the trick.

Next Steps

At the end of the day, choosing your website platform goes far beyond design. Why? Because all web pages are made of HTML & CSS with a few scripts thrown in. This means that any website template can exist on any good web platform.

What YOU want to focus on is the design elements and functionality that are available on the platform you’re choosing.

If you feel like Google Sites fits the design and functionality needs you have for your website, you can get started with Google Sites here.

Not sure if Google Sites is a right fit? Explore other good website builders here.

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Namesilo Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Namesilo Review

Namesilo is an ICANN-accredited domain registrar who boasts cheap, easy, and secure domain registration and management. They have been around since 2009.

See Namesilo’s Current Plans & Pricing.

Does Namesilo hold up to their mission of being a cheap and easy-to-use domain registrar? We recently tried them out. Here’s our full Namesilo review with pros, cons, and alternatives.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Namesilo

Here are some of the advantages that I found using Namesilo over their direct competitors in the domain registration industry.

Variety of TLDs

Now that ICANN allows more top level domains (TLDs) outside of generic .com/.net/.org, website owners have to make sure their domain registrar has all of the variations they need (especially if you’re buying in bulk). Namesilo offers a ton of TLD options that go beyond generic domains.

NameSilo TLDs

Transparent Pricing

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a domain registrar and having to hunt for pricing information. Namesilo is 100% transparent with their pricing. Their domain page as an extensive list of pricing for all of their available top level domains (TLDs), and has it broken down by discount levels (you save when buying in bulk).

NameSilo Pricing

Namesilo also stands behind its promise of no hidden fees, service upsells (features like WHOIS Privacy are included), and no renewal upcharges.

In a space where pricing policies can be, well, less straightforward than website owners may want, Namesilo’s clarity and transparency is refreshing.

Namesilo also competes well with other registrars in terms of value. Their domains are on the slightly more expensive end across most TLDs, but their renewals are on par with most providers like NameCheap or Hover.

Upsells

Upsells aren’t inherently annoying or bad. But so many domain registrars make the mistake of bombarding customers with direct sales tactics that they do become annoying.

Namesilo is not one of these domain registrars. They do have some complementary products available, such as hosting, but they’re kept in the background. You can add them from your account homepage, but at no point are you bombarded with pop-ups or forced to navigate through upsells while trying to buy a domain.

Cons of Namesilo

There are a lot of Namesilo reviews online. Most are either super-negative or super-sunny and wonderful. I try to balance and find the actual disadvantages of a company… and who those disadvantages would apply to.

Everyone has different needs & goals. Your goal as a customer is to be aware of those and find a company that matches your goals. Here’s some of Namesilo’s downsides.

Design & Branding

Trust is a huge factor when buying a domain (or any other website product). You want to know that whoever you’re doing business with (and giving your credit card to) is a legitimate company who is going to stand by their offer.

Trust comes in many forms — word of mouth, reviews, years of existence, etc. — but it also comes via design and branding. If a business doesn’t look particularly trustworthy based on their website design, it leaves you wondering.

While we didn’t have any issues with Namesilo in terms of purchasing a domain, their website design and branding does leave something to be desired. They haven’t quite kept up with the times, which makes the company almost look fake.

There’s also no About Page, which makes actually learning about the company difficult. We dug around a good bit, but couldn’t find information on how they were founded / where they’re based without doing additional research online. If someone is going to be holding the online keys to my business – I want to know that they are legit.

Additionally, not only does the design look outdated (which inherently gives the website an untrustworthy feeling), but it also makes the site difficult to use.

The information is cluttered, which makes it hard to find exactly what you’re looking for and navigate to a best next step.

Namesilo calls to action

Again, the design doesn’t need to be full of bells and whistles. It does need to be up-to-date and useable, however. And in these two areas, Namesilo leaves much to be desired.

Onboarding / Domain Management

With all software, there comes a part in the registration process where you wonder what’s next. How the provider guides you through that set up process is called “onboarding” — and it’s something Namesilo is lacking.

There’s no real outline of how to set up your domain or website. During the checkout process, you’re given configuration options… but if you don’t know what those are / how to set that up… it’s confusing.

NameSilo Checkout

This confusion is only further exacerbated when you actually log in to manage your domain. Check out the account homepage:

NameSilo Domain Manager

There’s so much clutter that it’s difficult to tell where to go to actually manage your domain. How do I actually set it up? Where do I go to find that information?

If you’re experience in buying and setting up domains, this probably doesn’t matter to you too much. You can poke around enough to figure it out. However, if you have no domain management experience and are looking for more guidance or even a platform that’s more intuitive, Namesilo doesn’t deliver.

Complementary Products

It’s important to remember that a domain is not a website. It’s not email or any other service. It’s merely your address online. It helps people locate where your property is by telling browsers/email/etc where to go to get whatever it wants (website files, emails, images, data, etc).

If you want to setup a website, you’ll still need to get hosting or a website builder / ecommerce provider that provides hosting.

While Namesilo offers some complementary products (like hosting), they do not take an all-in-one approach like other domain registrars who include hosting, website builders, ecommerce, etc.

And while I personally prefer to separate my hosting and domains to provide an extra layer of control & reliability in addition to cost savings, many website owners prefer to have them bundled for convenience.

If you’re looking to have everything in one place, Namesilo might not be for you.

Next Steps

If you…

  • Want discounted domains for bulk registration
  • Don’t need a ton guidance on how to set up / manage your domain or can manage it yourself with an intuitive platform
  • Want to save on domain registration renewals

…. NameSilo could be a good choice for you. Go sign up for NameSilo here.

However, if you’re…

  • Have no experience getting online
  • Need detailed steps on how to set up / manage your domain
  • Want to keep your hosting separate from your domain
  • Want a smoother domain regsitration proess

… there are better options out there for you (I use NameCheap). You can take my domain registrar quiz to help you narrow down which might be best for your needs.

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Credit Sesame Review: Free VantageScores From TransUnion

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What Is An Issuing Bank?

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The Best Alternatives To Fundbox

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What You Should Know About Giving Credit Cards To Your Employees

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Credit Karma Review: Free VantageScores From TransUnion And Equifax

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The Complete Guide To Home Equity Loans For Business Purposes

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How Much a Website Costs Per Year Explained

Website Costs Per Year

So, how much does a website cost per year?

Wait for it…. it depends. 🙂

But yes – “it depends” is not helpful at all.

The Short Answer to Website Costs Per Year

Annual website cost = domain + hosting + software + labor + annualized upfront costs

  • Domain costs range from $9 to $15 per year for a .com or .org
  • Hosting costs range from $60 to $240 per year for shared web hosting
  • Software costs range from free to $100 per year for backups & security to much higher
  • Labor costs range from free to thousands of dollars
  • Annualized upfront costs are how you want to budget upfront costs like design & themes

I highly recommend “annualizing” your upfront costs because that is a big consideration in how you want to approach actually building a website.

If you use a “hosted website builder” like Wix, Weebly or WordPress.com, then you’ll be paying all these costs in a single bundled subscription price. Your annual costs are elevated, but predictable.

If you build your website a la carte with self-hosted WordPress (even if it’s with a “builder“), then you can control a lot of your costs and get access to a lot of features that a hosted website builder might take away (e.g., actually having a custom domain or SEO features).

The Long Answer to Website Costs Per Year

But here’s the thing, your annual website costs really do depend on your choices & goals. I’ll break down how much a website should cost, and what variables you can play with to make sure your costs fit what you want to get out of it.

Consider a few websites that I have personally been involved with.

Website #1 cost $0 upfront and now costs $8 per year to maintain. It is a single page and written in HTML/CSS that I wrote. It lives on a Google Cloud account with a $300 promo credit with my low-traffic website generating all of pennies worth of traffic every year. It runs on a custom domain name that is $8/yr to renew. That’s it.

Website #2 cost $20 upfront and now costs $0 per year to maintain. It is a personal photo blog that lives on WordPress.com. I bought a nice premium theme at the beginning for $20. Now I keep it on a free *wordpress.com subdomain with limited ads & links to WordPress.com in lieu of annual fees. That’s it.

Website #3 cost $120 upfront and now costs more than $1500 per year to operate. It started with a free WordPress theme and a year of shared hosting plus a custom domain. Now, it requires a VPS server with secondary backup & security software in addition to premium software plugins and a small budget for a few hours of developer / designer time.

Website #4 cost $300,000 upfront and now costs $30,000 per year to operate. It started with custom branding & design in addition to extensive custom development and deployment to dedicated hosting (now moved to cloud hosting). It also requires monthly staging for software updates, in addition to technical maintenance, and a extensive suite of 3rd party plugins for email, A/B testing, etc.

So there’s a lot of factors involved in website costs. But that’s not a reason to throw up your hands and just say that “it costs what it costs” – or worse, get started on a project and have to quit after a year because it’s more expensive than you wanted the project to be.

Let’s look at the factors individually, how they work, and how they add up.

And while we look at each factor, I’m going to use an analogy that has worked well for readers in my other post about ecommerce. I’m going to compare building a website to building a house since most people are somewhat familiar with what goes into living in a place.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

To start, begin imagining a hosted website builder like a townhome in a gated development. You have more control & say over your house than a Facebook page (a hotel room in the analogy), but a lot of things are taken care of with a Homeowner’s Association or Condo fee. A self-hosted website will be a detached single-family home in a neighborhood. There’s no recurring HOA or condo fee, but you are responsible for everything.

Domain Costs

Unless you want your website as a subdomain on someone else’s domain, then a custom domain name is the one critical cost variable for your website.

In our real estate analogy, a domain name is like your street address. You technically don’t need it…unless you want people to be able to find your house / website.

Thankfully, an annual domain does not cost that much. Even if you maintain a WHOIS privacy add-on, a .com domain should not cost more than $12 per year from somewhere like NameCheap which specializes in cheap long-term renewals.

In fact, many hosting companies will usually bundle a free domain for a year with the purchase of a hosting package. And other domain companies like GoDaddy will do very deep discounting (though will be more expensive at renewal). Some hosted website builders will bundle a domain name as well.

Either way, you really only need one, unless you have strong reasons to buy extras.

I’d budget $12 per year for this annual cost.

Hosting Costs

Hosting is where your actual website files live. Whether you are bundling with a website builder or self-hosting on your own hosting account, it’s a cost that you can’t really get away from.

In our real estate analogy, your hosting account is like your land / property. You not only need it, but it can dramatically affect how much of a headache / cost your website is.

Think about land in the real world, sure, there is plenty of super-cheap or even free land…but it usually has some tradeoffs. The land might be distant from highways or it might not have the best neighbors or it might not come with water or electricity.

Hosting is the same way. You can get super-cheap hosting for your website. But you will generally get what you pay for. In fact, paying for a good host can make a lot of your other costs much, much cheaper.

Many hosting companies include domain names, drag & drop tools, high-touch customer-support, and security / backups that take pressure off your domain, software, and labor costs.

For example, the host that runs this site (InMotion Hosting) has WordPress plans that are a bit more expensive than typical web hosting plans. But they come with a subscription to JetPack (speed, security & backups) in addition to high-touch support and a drag & drop design tool.

InMotion Support

 

And plenty of other hosts offer similar setups (like SiteGround, Bluehost, and others). But, of course, the extras can only go so far since hosting costs will likely be your single largest annual cost. Thankfully, it’s also a cost that will generally only rise as your number of visitors rises (and so, presumably, your ability to pay for it).

For a good shared hosting plan, I’d budget $120 per year.*

*Note that many self-hosting plans allow multiple websites on a single account. If you have several websites, then self-hosting makes your per website costs even less. And again, for a hosted website builder, this cost is bundled, but is per website no matter what.

Software Costs

Software is what you’ll use to actually build & operate your website. Now, technically, you don’t need software to build a website.

In our real estate analogy, your software is what makes your actual house. It’s the framing, plumbing, electricity, roofing, drywall – the actual pieces that make the house.

You can hand-code HTML / CSS files and upload to your hosting account for no costs. I’ve done that before. It can be useful. But…almost all website owners (and visitors) want the interactivity, ease of use, versatility, and management functions of modern website software (just like you could cut down trees to make a log cabin…or you could have a house).

Website Hosting HTML Files

There are also a lot of 3rd party software that you might want in addition to your actual website. Think about the costs for email marketing software or design costs / themes or specific plugins (like ecommerce). Sometimes these costs are even greater if you go the hosted website builder route, since sometimes they won’t have native features. You’ll have to add them via a premium app.

For software, you could do $0 per year…but I’d recommend adding in at least $100 per year for backup & marketing software.

Labor Costs

Every website requires time, thought & expertise to actually build & operate. This factor is where you’ll encounter a massive range of costs that is totally up to you.

In our real estate analogy, labor is literally who builds & maintains your property. Do you want to hire an architect or build off pre-made blueprints? Do you want to hire as things come up or have someone in charge of everything? Do you want to outsource cutting the grass or just electrical issues?

If you are self-hosting your website, your software will take care of most of the “bones” of the website, but you’ll still be in charge of choosing an off-the-shelf design / theme. You’ll need to run software updates. You will have access to support via your hosting company, but some things will be out of their scope & expertise.

If you go the hosted route, you’ll have labor pre-paid for that will take care of all the maintenance…but a lot of the design choices will still be up to you. Think of it like an interior designer – most everyone does it DIY…but you can also tell who has spent the money to hire everything out.

I’ve written a guide to hiring a web designer and a marketing consultant, but I also have a guide to building a minimally viable website. There’s a lot of way to budget – all depending on your goals & expertise. I personally do most everything DIY, and spend very little on labor to maintain my website.

But last year I also paid $100 for someone to remove a hack from a client site. I paid $50 for a few image designs. I’ve also paid $500 for a custom plugin. The costs can widely vary, but it’s important to think through your ideal budget and the “what if X happens” budget”.

Annualized Costs

Annualized costs are upfront costs that you smooth out over the course of a project to get a sense of true annual cost.

In our real estate analogy, there are going to be a lot of things that you purchase upfront for a house…that you use but don’t pay for year after year even though they will need to be replaced at some point. Think about your appliances, your roof, your HVAC, etc.

With a website, your annualized costs will mainly be things like a prepaid hosting bill (most hosting companies give big discounts for multi-year commitments), a premium web design or theme, a premium plugin purchase, setup costs, course subscription, etc.

Whatever you have budgeted to spend upfront, I’d recommend smoothing that out and combining it with your annual costs so that you have a good sense of the true cost of your website project.

Sticking with a commitment is usually a mix of good habits and good expectations. I’ve seen too many good website projects start and fizzle because expectations were set too low or too high.

Adding your total website costs will help you back into what your commitment will actually require.

Adding up Total Website Costs per Year

Now, let’s talk about adding it all up. The formula is pretty straightforward. Take all your costs and add them up.

For a small blog project that is self-hosted on WordPress, you’d likely end up with –

  • Domains = $10
  • Hosting = $100
  • Software = $100
  • Labor = $0
  • Annualized = $10 (for 5 years)
  • Total Annual Costs = $220 per year

For a small ecommerce store on Shopify, you’d likely end up with –

  • Domains = $15
  • Hosting = $0
  • Software = $400
  • Labor = $200
  • Annualized = $35 (for 5 years)
  • Total Annual Costs = $650 per year

But here’s the thing. Your costs won’t just vary based on your plans, but also based on what happens.

In large organizations (like the US Army), they refer to “scenario planning”. It’s where you map out several scenarios, determine what costs go with each scenario, and assign probabilities.

It sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It just means that you need to come up with a range of costs depending on what actually happens.

For the small blog project, there’s a scenario where you find out that theme editing is quite easy and you don’t need a premium theme upfront. There’s also one where your site gets hacked and you need to pay Sucuri to clean it for $100.

For the small ecommerce store, there’s a scenario where you really need custom shipping rates and have to upgrade from Basic Shopify, thus increasing your software costs. In another scenario, you get the ropes of installing apps & editing designs, so you don’t need to hire anyone to setup the store.

Add up your range of website costs – you’ll be able to figure out what the project is worth. And what you want to get out of it.

Next Steps

So the true answer to “how much does a website cost per year?” really is… “it depends.”

But there is a way to breakdown your costs with your goals and your resources.

Thinking through your own costs can set the right expectations and set you up for success.

Learn how to find the best web host here and how to find the best website builder here and the best ecommerce hosting here.

Explore my other explainers here. If you found this post useful – do please share 🙂

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What Is A Convenience Fee?

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