Personal Website Options: Google Sites vs. Legacy Web Hosting

Last Updated: 12/02/2013

We often get asked by students, faculty, and staff what options they have for personal web sites (you can also read about the web services available to groups - departments and administrative units). Let's look at the available options.

There are two services - Google Sites (the preferred solution) and Legacy Web Publishing (usually a weaker option unless you have experience with HTML).

Google Sites

This service is part of the Google Apps for Education package; in our catalogue of services we file it under Messaging and Collaboration because most of the apps in the package focus on collaboration. Google Sites are no exception - they integrate seamlessly with other apps such as Google Drive and Google Groups.

To create a Google Site, go to http://sites.google.com and log in with your username@colorado.edu  and IdentiKey password. You don't need to apply for anything or wait for it to be created for you - it is the only web service OIT offers where you could be creating and publishing your sites right away. If you have used Google Apps before and found them easy you will probably find that Google Sites are equally accessible and easy to work with. Your storage quota for all your Google documents (Docs, Drive storage, sites, etc) is 30 GB.

OIT has provided you with several CU-Boulder branded templates for your site - it can have the visual identity of CU-Boulder, but it won't have a colorado.edu address. If that is critical to you, you might have to use Legacy Web Publishing instead.

The advantages of Google Sites are immediate availability and ease of use. The disadvantages are the lack of a colorado.edu address and the need to commit to using Google's proprietary standards - if you ever decide to migrate your site out of Google Sites into another platform, it might be tricky.

Legacy Web Publishing

This is our oldest web service, and understandably the most basic of them as well. We provide you with space for your HTML code on one of our servers and you use an FTP client to upload your code to your folder. Using the service is not as intuitive as Google Sites - you have to be able to edit HTML code (i.e. have the knowledge and tools to do it) and be able to use FTP transfers (which agains requires some experience and and FTP client). Additionally, you have to apply for a legacy account and then wait for it to be created for you (the wait is usually 2-3 business days).

This basic service still has some advantages - you do get a colorado.edu address, and you can use open standards (HTML / CSS) to create your site, which means it is easy to migrate it to another host or another format if necessary. You can download an HTML template with CU-Boulder visual identity for your legacy site. For simple sites that don't change very often, this is still a very good solution. An example of a site running on the legacy platform is the SPSC Data Center site.

Next steps

We hope you have a better idea about web services available to CU-Boulder individuals now. If you need us to help you make a choice, please ask for a free web consultation. We can also show you how to get started in Google sites, or help you plug your content into the HTML template for you legacy site.