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How to take advantage of Google Sites updates to page layout, navigation, and forms

Google released a few enhancements to Google Sites in August 2018. Here's what Google Site owners and editors need to know.

In August 2018, Google made three improvements to Google Sites to make page creation faster, make some links more prominent, and make embedded Google Forms easier to view and fill. If you use Google Sites, here's what you need to know about each of these improvements.

Insert a Section Layout

Select one of six pre-configured section layouts to add placeholders for images and text to your page. Five of the six layouts include places for an image along with text, while the other layout features an arrangement of three images (one large image next to two smaller images).

The preset options save you page layout time. Before, you would insert an image, adjust the size, and then insert your text and adjust the size. And then repeat the process for every image and text block. These section layouts reduce this multi-step sequence to a single action.

The pre-configured layouts gently encourage Google Site creators to add images. None of the layouts offers a text-only option, although you may manually delete or modify any item in any layout.

Screenshot of new Google Site, with section layouts and button option shown on right, and an embedded Google Form on the Google Site page (to the left).

Updates to Google Forms include section layouts and a button component (see options on the right side of the page), and improved display of embedded Google Forms (left).

Add a Button

A button may help make an action or link more prominent than a basic text or image link. As you edit a Google Site page with the Insert menu open (on the right), the Button component appears above the Divider option (in the lower right portion of the page). Select the Button and you'll be prompted to add a title for your button—up to 120 characters—as well as a link. Your button can link to any web page, including another page on your Google Site.

You can control the size and placement of the button: Select it and drag-and-drop it anywhere on your page. Or, adjust the width of the button: Select the filled-in circle on the line around the button, then drag it to modify the width. If you make your button narrower than the title text of the button, you may see your truncated title followed by an ellipsis.

SEE: Google Material Design: A cheat sheet for professionals (TechRepublic)

The color of the button is determined by your theme: If you want a different color button, select Themes (in the upper right area of the Google Sites editor), then select a different accent color for your theme.

Embedded Google Forms improved

Finally, Google made several improvements to how embedded Google Forms display on different devices and screen sizes. Notably, when you embed a form, the system helps select an appropriate height and width within your Google Site. And when you insert a Google Form into your Site, the background color adjusts to minimize contrast with your site. (During a transition period in 2018, when you open an older Google Form to edit it, you may see a notice as it updates to the newer Google Forms format. Be sure to use the newer Google Forms format in Sites.)

Earlier Google Sites changes

The above features join Google Sites features added earlier in 2018. In April, Site editors gained the ability to add custom links to the navigation bar. In May, new Google Sites could be copied, so you could duplicate a new Google Site, then edit it. And in June, a conversion tool became available to eligible site owners that enabled people to move a classic Google Site to the new Google Site format automatically.

Your thoughts?

If you create or edit Google Sites, will the new section layouts save you time? What impact have buttons made as people navigate your Site? And do the tweaks to embedded Google Forms make data entry easier? Let me know what you think about these changes in the comments or on Twitter ( @awolber).

Also see

Written word "New" and arrows pointing to section layouts and button; Written word "Improved" pointing to embedded Google Form

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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