How to transition from classic to new Google Sites


If you’re a site owner or a G Suite administrator, learn how to upgrade your classic Sites to new Sites smoothly.

Google recently announced the transition from classic to new Google Sites will be completed by the end of 2021. Starting in mid-August 2020, when people access sites.google.com, the system will take them to the new Google Sites (sites.google.com/new) instead of the classic Google Sites (sites.google.com/classic).

If G Suite administrators and Google Site owners take no action at all before the end of 2021, then visitors will no longer be able to access classic Google Sites–a new, converted version of each classic Google Site will be available for site owners to review and then publish. See Google’s Transition from classic Sites to new Sites support page for a detailed timeline of the transition process.

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However, prudent G Suite administrators and site owners may take several steps today to transition from classic to new Google Sites. The steps detailed below will ensure that you not only preserve classic Google Site data but also support site owners through the upgrade process.

How administrators can enable new Google Sites

A G Suite administrator may control which people within their organization can use Google Sites. In most cases, I recommend that Google Sites be enabled for everyone within the organization. To enable new Google Sites, access admin.google.com with a G Suite administrator account, sign in, then select Apps, then G Suite, then Sites. Make sure the Service status is ON (either for everyone, as in Figure A, or for selected organizational units) and that both Site Creation And Editing and Users Can Create New Sites are checked.

SEE: Google Sheets: Tips and tricks (TechRepublic download) 

How administrators can prevent creation of classic Sites

A G Suite administrator also will likely want to prevent people from creating additional classic Google Sites (Figure A). As above, access admin.google.com with a G Suite administrator account, sign in, then select Apps, then G Suite, then Sites. Click (or tap) in the section Sharing Settings – Classic Sites, then click (or tap) the pencil icon next to Site creation. Select “Users At [your domain] Cannot Create Sites,” then select Save.

Figure A

Screenshot of Admin console settings for Google Sites, with arrows pointing to ON for everyone, NEW site creation allowed, CLASSIC site creation no longer allowed.

In most cases, a G Suite administrator will want to enable Google Sites for everyone. The administrator may choose to prevent the creation of additional classic Google Sites, while also allowing people to create new Google Sites.

How to review classic Google Sites

Go to the Classic Sites Manager to display a list of classic sites. For each site, the list identifies the site owner, the date the site was last edited, and the number of site views in the past 30 days. This list identifies exactly how many classic Google Sites you may need to convert, rebuild, or delete (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshot of Classic Sites Manager, with 3 classic sites listed.

The Classic Sites Manager helps you identify the status of classic Sites you may need to convert, rebuild, or delete.

You may export the displayed list of classic Google Sites to a Google Sheet. This data may help site owners or G Suite administrators track each site’s status during the review and conversion process. To export the list, scroll to the bottom of the Classic Sites Manager page, then select Export To Google Sheets.

How to preserve Google Sites data

Before you take any actions on these sites, I recommend you first export and preserve classic Google Site data. Go to https://takeout.google.com, choose Deselect All, scroll down the page to Classic Sites, select the checkbox, then scroll to the bottom of the page and select Next Step. You may then choose a delivery method (I suggest you choose Add To Drive) and modify the frequency, file type & size if desired–although in most cases, the default options for a one-time export make sense. Next, select Create Export. 

You’ll receive an email notification when the export is complete. This export ensures you at least have the core contents of your classic Google Sites before you make any changes.

How to convert, rebuild, or delete

For many sites, the Conversion Tool helps you streamline the migration from classic to new sites. 

Click anywhere in the row next to a site name, then select the Conversion Tool to start the process. 

If the system identifies any items that merit attention, it displays a warning. For example, classic Google Sites supported gadgets, page-level permissions, unlimited levels of subpages, and visitor comments, while new Google Sites allows embedded content, Site sharing controls, a limit of five subpages, and no support for visitor comments. See Google’s Compare new Sites & classic Sites support page for a feature-by-feature comparison of the two tools. Review the warning items and address any concerns before you continue.

In many cases, you may simply step through the conversion process (Figure C). Select the box to share the site with the same people, select Start. The system will create a draft version in the new Google Sites and send an email to you when the draft is ready. Review the draft content in the new Google Sites, make any desired changes, then Publish when ready.

Figure C

Screenshot of Conversion Tool with first "Start Conversion" step displayed, that explains a draft site in the NEW Google Sites will be created.

The Conversion Tool walks you step-by-step through the conversion process from classic Sites to new Sites.

Alternatively, you may choose to build a new version of a classic site. A rebuild makes sense when you want to modify or update the content from your classic site. This process is less automated and more manual. You’d need to create a new Google Site, then add pages and copy/paste or add content, as needed.

Of course, if you no longer need a site, you may delete it. On the Classic Sites Manager page, select the box to the left of the name of the classic Google Site, then choose Delete. Review the displayed message, then choose Continue to delete the site. As with the conversion process, you’ll receive an email notification when the selected site(s) have been deleted.

What are your classic to new Google Sites transition plans?

If you or people in your organization still use classic Google Sites, what are your plans to transition these sites? Do you plan to upgrade from classic to new Google Sites as soon as possible? And, if you’ve used the Site conversion tool, what has your experience been? Let me know how you have found the process of moving from classic to new Google Sites–either leave a note in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).

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