Sites Product Update: Better Theme Application and Domain Branded Templates
September 4, 2023 Google Sites updates to the behavior of custom themes, expanding the branding and customization capabilities inherent in the themes panel to better equip end users and administrators.
Improving How We Brand and Customize Themes
Since this is on a rapid rollout over the next fifteen days starting from September 5th, 2023, we can only deduce so much from this announcement until we have the ability to test it. However, the verbiage on the Google Sites team post gives us the idea that we can "expand" the use of templates considerably.
Currently we can import themes, which changes all sorts of settings like fonts, colors, sizing, images and more. It looks like this update will break down some of the limitations where we saw changing themes fall short. It appears we can now exercise greater control on the page layout, including custom site width and frames.
Here are some of the expanded capabilities hinted at:
We see the text automatically realigns, or justifies, based on the chosen theme.
The header was previously aligned center, then aligns left and perhaps the bounding box for the text was modified
The first content proper heading "Welcome new hires who start this Summer!" starts as left aligned, but then shifts to center and therefore might be just a simple heading paragraph spacing change, though we can't be sure.
What we don't see here is a look at editing the custom theme, so we don't know all the additional settings added to this panel. As an active designer of new templates, I can't wait to dive into the changes.
Google Sites to Keep Pace with Google Drive
Google says, "these features enhance brand consistency across an organization", which is very true. We see a level of consistency coming across Workspace products, specifically Google Drive. The blog post calls out Google Slides and Forms, which in some ways has introduced advanced features still lacking in Sites (GenAI comes to mind for making images and backgrounds). This Google Sites release seems a bit more polished and significant then updates past. Let's hope this trend continues.
Overall there is a greater concern for customization and branding, stylistic control which improves adoption and has everyone feeling Workspace is comfortably familiar.
What Else We Learn from the Announcement
The preview icon is different. It now has a desktop and phone instead of laptop and phone.
Cymbal is the fake brand by Google used across Google Drive products for demonstrating.
Curious little up carrot symbol to the right. Maybe aids with repositioning content blocks.
The top editor page layout margins ruler bar goes curiously missing
How This Impacts Google Workspace End Users
Apply the custom domain template to any existing site for an instant application of on brand features and guidelines.
Seems like this is the easiest way to give new site creators an advantage for implementing a branded Site.
How Workspace Admins & Partners Can Use these New Features
Users can browse all the templates and themes offered in your company's template gallery. You can configure which default templates and themes appear directly in Google Slides, Forms, and Sites for a user, based on the organizational units and groups that the user belongs to. You can add and manage these company templates and themes in the Google Admin console.
When you upload a document to use as a default template or theme, the published version that appears in Slides, Forms, and Sites is a copy of the source document.
For Sites, users can access only a single template from the lowest organizational unit.
Supported editions for this feature: Business Plus; Enterprise Standard and Enterprise Plus; Education Plus
Analyzing the Included Gif Image
Here is some content used on this demo:
Cymbal Health Summer Newsletter Global Edition
Welcome new hires who started this Summer!
Welcome to the team. Starting a new job, here's resources to help you make a smooth transition.
Orientation, Your Manager, The Company Intranet
Fun pictures of new team members
Using the published domain theme
We have here a internal company newsletter which really does look great after the domain theme import action. It is informative to the "Cymbal Global Team" apparently. This Google Site is definitely outlining an onboarding experience for new employees as well. Good to see the focus on intranet solutions.