Google's latest: Page Creator

I checked back--and Google Page Creator is indeed live, at least at the moment. It's a very, very simple Web-site designer that works in your browser. That's not a new idea (CoffeeCup did something along the same lines years ago), but Page Creator has a zippy, AJAX-y interface that feels like a desktop application. It offers a bunch of themes and a few different page layouts. And it does a nice job of eliminating the need to know anything about Web authoring. (You can edit in an HTML mode if you really want to, but mostly, you work in a WYSIWYG mode that saves everything to the Web automatically.)

Page Creator puts your site at a yournamehere.googlepages.com URL, offers a maximum of 100MB of space, and only creates simple, static pages without flashy features, interactivity, or structure. So it's best suited for folks with extremely basic needs who want to get something on the Web with a minimum of fuss--but for that, it's worth a look. But it's a bit strange that Page Creator is a cutting-edge, extremely interactive Web service that...lets you create really old-fashioned, passive Web sites.

But a jillion other services--like Yahoo's GeoCities, the granddaddy of personal Web publishing for the masses--offer similar tools with scads more features, albeit with less slick user interfaces. Like a fair percentage of "Web 2.0"-type services, Google Page Creator may be more interesting as a technology demo than for what it actually lets you accomplish.

(Anyone remember when Google did a very few things, like the search engine itself and Gmail, but did them spectacularly well? It's now doing many, many things with erratic results. Let's hope that its next step isn't to do an infinite number of things badly--a road that any number of growing technology companies have taken, sadly.)

It'll be interesting to see if Google builds out the service--which is in labeled as a beta (surprise!)--with more features. As usual with new Google initiatives, it's not entirely clear at this juncture exactly why it's launching this. (It's not putting ads on the pages, by the way.) But between this and Blogger and Google Base, it's obvious that Google wants to provide a home for lots and lots and lots of user-generated content. They're presumably got a grand strategy in mind there somewhere...even if they're not talking about it yet.

It's typical Google that Page Creator, Blogger, and Google Base feel so separate and unrelated; only recently has Google begun to take baby steps towards integrating its services. Right now, Yahoo is doing a vastly better job of building a bevy of services that feel like they relate to each other, although, come to think of it, GeoCities is still sort of an island unto itself.

Side note: The Page Creator online help refers at one point to pages living at Pagetastic.com. Which is probably a glitch, since everywhere else, it talks about them living at Googlepages.com. But the test page I created is, indeed, also available at Pagetastic.com--even though that domain's WHOIS record says its owner is a company in Boise. Odd...

(Update: The Boise company, Data Docket, appears to be the registrant of record for a number of Google-related domain names. Not so odd after all...)

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Harry McCracken

PC World
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