Google Sites is a free website building that allows someone to quickly create and publish a website using drag and drop features. It a few themes (fonts, colours) and layouts. The result is a layout that is easy to read and organize.
New vs. Classic: Google updated Sites in a significant way in 2015. The classic site had more of a traditional feel with the ability to create side menus and some other features that are no longer available in the New program. You can access either option, and if you built a site using the Classic program, you have the option to upgrade to New.
Start a new Site
There are several ways to start a new site:
From the address bar: https://sites.google.com/new
From the address bar: sites.new - creates a new site
From the Google Grid - click on Google Sites
Where is your site?
When you create a new site, you will be asked what name you want. If it's available, it's yours. You will still need to use the sites.google.com prefix as an address, unless you pay to have it as part of a domain that you register.
If your site is located within your school domain it will be at sites.google.com/schooldomain/yourname
If your site was created using a personal Google account, it can be accessed at sites.google.com/view/yourname
Make sure that you are on the NEW Google Sites. The templates and layout will look clean and modern, compared to the old sites.
You can choose a template to start with or a blank site.
You can change the header background to an image or colour. If you want to customize your Header image, Alice Keeler offers a template for Google Draw. You can also watch the Tutorial: Design a Website for Free tutorial below (she uses PowerPoint).
From the Insert menu at the side, drag text, image, gallery or other templates. You can also add a variety of media.
You can expand and contract elements that you've added to fit within grid lines that show up as you drag.
There are limited text options for headings, smaller text, etc. as well as colours. There is no other way to colour text at the moment.
Backgrounds can use either pre-formatted (again limited) options or images.
Unfortunately there are no borders.
You can add various Google Tools to replace certain elements. Embed a Google Form as a Contact Form. Use Google Sheets or a Google Doc with a table to create a table.
Page Headers - New Google Sites - from Steegle: https://www.steegle.com/google-sites/how-to/page-headers
Spencer Campbell has a series of tutorial videos, linked off of https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_4breIU5KzWnoy-TxGdspCS2UibhwzkBb27n2kK8pLY/edit . He also has 101 Examples of Google Sites Websites (For Educators) that you can check out for ideas.
ISTE 2017 - Creating Digital Portfolios with Google Sites
Tutorial: Design a Website for Free
How to Make a Class Website with Google Sites - New EdTech Classroom