Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Google Apps and the Wonder that they are

Generally I've used Google Apps for mail and shared calendars and little else. I have, however, been asked to play with them to host a website and I've found them to be truly excellent in what they can do. Firstly a few tips:

  • If you want your www.yourdomain.com to point to your Google Apps site, make sure you set up the "sites" page to something like sites.yourdomain.com and then create your Google site and point it to www. via DNS. A CNAME DNS entry will take care of this.
  • Make sure your DNS is nice and tidy for all of this to work properly.
  • When creating your site, if it's the site for everyone to reach don't forget to make it public.
There is a great range of templates and options for configuring your webpage and I urge you to play with them all. I've found many amazing different options for working with the site and the ability to easily use Google Maps and embed other things like shared calendars is terrific.

I've also found the response times from the Google App servers to be less than what they advertise. Today it was indicated it would take up to 3 hours for a change to complete and it was done in about 20 minutes. 

The email and calendar aspects of Google Apps are excellent, much like the Gmail offering from Google. I have a lot of documents floating around my Apps account and find that sharing this info with my wife works brilliantly. She is relatively tech literate and that makes it even easier. I've found with some of my clients who are not technical in any way, that Google Apps are intuitive and easy for them to work with. The interface is clean and very usable with being intimidating.

About the only gripe I have is that I like to have my Gmail and Apps accounts open at the same time in the same browser and it doesn't like that. Perhaps its more my work process there than Apps so I don't hold it against them.

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