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Pimp your Google Sites for better collaboration

Will Kelly shows us some applications available in the Google Apps Marketplace that can help you get more out Google Sites.

In the world of enterprise collaboration, Google Sites is often seen as a collaboration platform lacking in features and security when compared to other platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint. While this might be true in a default installation, applications are starting to appear in the Google Apps Marketplace that can change all of that.

Here are some applications that can help you "pimp" your Google Sites so your organization can use the platform to its fullest potential.

Cloudlock DLP - Enterprise class Apps security

One of the objections I've always encountered about Google Sites is the lack of enterprise class security. I took advantage of the seven-day trial of Cloudlock DLP - Enterprise class Apps security and found a Google Sites security solution that is easy to implement and feature rich. While you can use it to secure other elements of Google Apps, I'm going to focus on how you can apply it to Google Sites security.

Cloudlock DLP lets you pimp out the security on your Google Sites with strong security tools such as data loss prevention and the capability to detect and remediate sensitive data exposure based on content/context aware security policies.

Even better, it supports auditing and compliance for Google Sites which is make or break in many organization's internal collaboration platforms. You can also use it to enforce acceptable use policies to meet data privacy regulations. When it comes to audit time, you can generate audit reports that detail access from internal and external users, privileged users, and data owner actions. Additionally, it gives your Google App Administrator a bi-directional view from security policy down to the end user on the site.

Cloudlock also provides visibility and control over all data in the Google Apps domain. When it comes to Google Sites, you can search by keyword for sensitive content, change permissions, transfer ownership while maintaining a full audit trail of all the actions. Figure A is an example of a Google Sites report from Cloudlock:

Figure A

Cloudlock DLP

Cloudlock DLP is easy to implement, economical, and fills a critical gap in Google Sites security and compliancy. I definitely recommend at least taking a look at the trial if you are seeking a security solution or if your organization needs better security over Google Sites to meet compliancy standards.

Simplebooklet.com

The IT technical writer in me likes parts of Google Sites for publishing but realizes that the formatting and publishing options are quite limited. Simplebooklet.com, a free tool, aims to change all of that with a wizard driven content creator that has one click publishing directly to Google Sites. A free version is available on the Google Apps Marketplace. Figure B shows an example of a Simplebooklet.com template for a brochure:

Figure B

Simplebooklet.com

This is a good tool if you want to make internal corporate information a bit more user friendly on your internal Google Sites. While it's a bit on the simple side when it comes to features, this could work in its favor when repurposing content from documents and presentations to posting on Google Sites and when you want end users to perform the task.

Site Copier for Google Apps

To really pimp out Google Sites inside any mid to large enterprise, you need to be able to replicate sites quickly and effectively. Site Copier for Google Apps is a free app that allows you to copy individual Google Sites off domains to your Google Apps domain. This app is handy for consolidating domains during a rebranding or merger.

Using Site Copier for Google Apps supports Google App Standard, Business, and Education Editions but you have to be the owner of the sites you are copying. Figure C shows the simple interface of Site Copier for Google Apps:

Figure C

Site Copier for Google Sites

Ecwid Store for Google Sites

Perhaps the ultimate way to pimp out your Google Site is to add ecommerce support. While Google Sites might be traditionally considered as intranet sites more than commercial sites, some organizations do use them on the public Internet.

Ecwid Store for Google Sites is a free ecommerce solution that you can plug into an existing Google Site as a Google Gadget. Payment processing is handled through Google Checkout. It's an AJAX based Google Gadget with support for drag and drop.

It is a SaaS-based ecommerce solution that takes away all of the back-end setup and configuration which makes ecommerce out of reach for some individuals and smaller operations. While at first, I had a hard time thinking of using a Google Site for ecommerce, I came to see Ecwid Store for Google Sites as the ultimate pimp for Google Sites because it puts ecommerce in the reach of side businesses and individuals seeking another source of income. Figure D shows an example of Ecwid Store for Google Sites:

Figure D

Ecwid Store for Google Sites

Is it time to pimp your Google Sites?

From initial launch, I've always ranked Google Sites as an underutilized resource inside the enterprise but sometimes it was with cause. When you pimp out your Google Sites using the apps I profile in this post and other apps found in the Google Apps Marketplace, you learn you really can roll your own solution at little or no extra cost.

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About

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

3 comments
AZEducator
AZEducator

Google Sites enables me to teach the required, CIS105, without expensive textbooks or exams. About 100 students per semester enroll in my 5 sections of the entry and core course. Each student has a Google Site as their portfolio, and they demonstrate competencies through pages in their portfolio. At the end of the semester, they have a body of work they can be proud of. I purposely have them set it up outside the .edu domain and attached to their own account, so that it belongs to them. My own site functions as a textbook, albeit an agile one, for the most part, under my control. I pride myself in teaching up to the minute stuff, and my site enables me to link as soon as I read or see something I want them to know. I teach Agile vs Traditional system development. This model is very representative of Agile System Development, with all its strengths and weakness. We just switched to the Canvas learning management system and it interfaces like a charm. Made assessments so much easier. What more can I say?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have been using Google Sites, but in a very limited capacity. Have you found a good use for Google Sites in your enterprise? What additional tools did you use to boost Google Sites?

AZEducator
AZEducator

Tried to use SimpleBooklet.com and it will not let me install from my personal account and only the domain administrator can install it on my work account. AGILE NOT!

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