GooglePages: Even my Grandma would want to edit the HTML

Tried out GooglePages this morning. Like so many other web-based offerings, it has “beta” under the logo. It’s not beta…it’s in a pre-alpha stage.

l say this since I’ve been deeply involved in Web-based tools for years — both desktop and hosted. From hand-coding HTML in 1996 to using PageMill, NetFusion, FrontPage, Dreamweaver, GoLive and other WYSIWYG tools, I ended up at arguably the leading edge, most robust content management/portal vendor (Vignette) during the dotcom heyday. I know high level tools and GooglePages isn’t one of them.

In addition, I’ve invested a tremendous amount of time on the small business side with my bride’s company and others. So I’ve learned a great deal about the toolsets available for individuals and small to midsize businesses…and this tool isn’t yet ready for anyone but the least skilled among us. It also creates incredibly pedestrian looking pages. It’s not useful since the non-savvy can’t even create navigation for the pages they create!

Why didn’t Google look at CityMax, Bigstep, or even Yahoo before releasing this product? CityMax in particular is also a brain-dead-simple page creation offering, but they have forums, ecommerce (including digital downloads), site creation (i.e., navigation to pages), and much, much more. I haven’t recommended CityMax, though, due to one fatal flaw: no staging and production which means the second you save a page it’s live.

That was the only feature of GooglePages I liked. Not only the ability to create pages and then publish them (staging and production tiers), but there was rollback capability (i.e., unpublish). Alas, that was the only thing I found useful.

Just like my initial and ongoing reaction to GoogleTalk (“…and they delivered this piece of _____ why?”), my reaction to GooglePages is the same. I wouldn’t even recommend this to my 11 year old son, since there are so many other simple, yet much more functional ways to build pages and sites. It is so crystal clear that left-brain engineers designed this tool and probably didn’t even have a cup of coffee with someone who understands web or graphic design. Just look at the templates if you don’t believe me.

I understand Google wants to be in the game (and probably has a multi-year roadmap for GooglePages), but they’ve embarrassed themselves again by releasing something so basic, so rudimentary, and lacking so much functionality that even my Grandma would want to edit the HTML.

Read more here, here and here.

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  1. sr on February 23, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Google — welcome to 1997

  2. Chris Koehn on February 26, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Citymax, huh?

    Is that site really worth anything? I ask because I have free, eternal hosting there. What the heck is it, and should I be taking advantage of it?

  3. Steve Borsch on February 26, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    Check it out…free demo and all. It’s a very high level, newbie web site/ecommerce offering. Super simple and pretty useful, but troubling latency (all their demo sites load slooowly and images don’t parse).

  4. Chris Koehn on February 27, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Seems pretty interesting. I had a free lifetime registration given to me in exchange for a gmail invite; back in the day when those were highly coveted…

    I think I might look into using it to sell my photography or something. I’ll have to peruse some of the other citymax user sites for some inspiration.

  5. Kurt Schroeder on March 28, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    I guess I disagree with you. I started programming web pages while GOPHER was still being used, and I don’t think the service is too bad. They give you lots of free space to put pictures, movies, songs, or whatever, and they let you design ad-free pages with no obvious sign, save for the URL, that they were created with some free tool. I guess the only major suggestion I would have is that they add the ability to password protect pages. Other than that, why rip on it? They don’t say it can do all kinds of complex stuff, so why do you write about it like they did?

  6. Steve Borsch on March 29, 2006 at 12:08 am


    If you read my blog for any length of time, you’ll see that I rarely “rip on” anyone or any offering. It’s easy being a critic…tougher to do and deliver.

    That said, Google is a $6B revenue company with a $112B market cap, which means they’ve got resources to do AMAZING things. GoogleTalk was not amazing and most in-the-know felt it was AOL instant messenger circa 1998.

    Google buys Blogger over two years ago and there is basically ZERO change in the offering. GoogleMaps is amazing. Froogle is worthless. What has been done with the Picasa acquisition? Amazing stuff with Google Earth and I love it.

    So even a company with huge resources doesn’t hit a home run each time. I point out and laud the amazing on my blog…so feel like I can and should point out the stuff that is yawnsville. Especially when I’m literally stunned with something that is so minimal and useless that it doesn’t even have a link navigation method for a hierarchical menu structure (i.e., a site structure with navigation).

    Lastly, I think strategically and am looking at page layout and delivery as being just one piece of the puzzle Google is assembling. At some point, Google may offer multiple offerings as building blocks, glued together with Googlepages. Of course, 100mpg cars and magic global warming fixes will happen someday too.

  7. Edgar on April 26, 2007 at 11:16 am

    You’re so VERY right, but now I’m stuck with the damn googlepages page, what should I do?

    Port it into a Citymax page?

    Can I just do that?

    What about some program that allows me to do some HTML editing the good’ol way, editing it on my PC and uploading it into my googlepages site?
    I’d just need to get into the pages level somehow…

    Can you help?

  8. Edgar on May 8, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Did the right thing, and done a re-vamp on my googlepages site:

    Don’ know if it turned out any better, but pedestrian, it is no more.

    …And the tons of garbage that editor fills the pages with?

    Endless streams of !

    To all the other desperate googlepages victims, there’s this Freeware HTML cleaner:

  9. jamie tucker on June 26, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Well, it serves it’s purpose for us.
    It is an easy way to snag a priceless URL.
    Google LOVES itself, look at the way YouTube ranks ?
    Word is, when Google “see’s it’s own page, it shoots UP in the rankings.
    I did my page in 1/2 an hour, spent the rest of the day fixing a/c units in Tampa.
    Hey, for the little guy, like me, Google Rocks!

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About Steve Borsch

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.