I’ve had to create a number of websites at work recently, so a post on which tools I’ve investigated and pros/cons of each would be useful…

Google Sites

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Limited ability to change templates, alter CSS
  • No posts from non-members (need to be allowed in Google Apps) so can’t be used as blog, for example.
  • For non-standard content, it is completely reliant on iframe widgets, which don’t get included in the search and can be hard to manage.
  • Confusing way of setting up a domain name site – need to create a Google Apps account for that domain, rather than adding it to a master domain (so redd-net.org is actually its own domain, rather than being in the odi.org.uk apps account, making it harder to edit).

Google Groups

  • Not a fully featured site, however allows you to have basic ‘pages’ in wiki format and a mailing list, so can often work instead of a site.

WordPress

  • Blogging platform primarily, though does allow for pages.
  • Templates limited to nav at top, sidebar on right, and content on left.
  • Limitations on widgets – for example, only one Delicious widget at a time, meaning I needed to use RSS feed widget instead (which baulked at Delicious feeds and needed to be fed through FreeMyFeed in turn!)

Squarespace?

  • Easy to create a very good-looking website within a couple of days, integrating video, audio and more.
  • Beautiful templates to choose from, and a lot of control over the look and feel.
  • Not free, however, but monthly hosting can be cheap.
  • The content types available (blog, forum etc.) work well, but there’s no way to integrate other items a la Google Gadgets.

Weebly?

  • Don’t know yet – these are the next ones to try out
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