Google has launched a free, online tool, Page Creator.
It's a very simple website designer that works in your browser. While not a new idea, Page Creator has a zippy AJAX interface that feels like a desktop application. It offers a variety 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 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. It 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. If that's you, then it's worth a look. However, it seems strange that Google has created a cutting-edge, extremely interactive web service that lets you create really old-fashioned, passive websites.
Many other services, such as Yahoo's GeoCities, offer similar tools with 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.
It will be interesting to see if Google fleshes out the service – which is labelled as a beta – with more features. As usual with new Google initiatives, it's not entirely clear at this juncture why it's launching this service. (Google is 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 a lot of user-generated content.
It's typical of Google that Page Creator, Blogger and Google Base feel so separate and unrelated; only recently has Google begun to take steps towards integrating its services.