Why use Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

Half typewriter and half laptop on a split yellow and blue background, symbolizing the transition from old to new technology—much like choosing between using Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word for modern document creation.

PaperStreet has been designing websites since 2001 and our senior staff since 1998.  During that time we have seen amazing advances in typography and communication.  

We have seen websites go from the sanskrit scrolls in 400 BC, to the printing press in the 1440s, to hot metal typesetting in the 1880s, to HTML in the 1990s . . . wait I can’t be that old. 

Let’s start again.

I have been designing websites for over 20 years now. When I started, Microsoft Word was the de facto document for composing text.  Its toolset for composing text and tracking changes were the gold standard (sorry Word Perfect). However, at PaperStreet we have moved past  Microsoft Word documents for our website projects.

We now require the use of Google Docs on all our projects. The reason is simple: just like the printing press was better than writing on scrolls, online collaboration tools are better than individual Microsoft Word files for web and content projects.  

Google Docs allows for real-time collaboration, a history of changes, track changes, auto saving, work from anywhere, offline work mode, exporting, file storage and more.  Most importantly, it allows us to stay organized and instantly see the most recent version of your website content. 

Yes, this is a change.  But it is for the better.  Below are 16 reasons why we will use Google Docs to run your website project.

Google Docs Advantages

  1. Collaboration – You can work together on the same document.  No more passing around individual Word files that can only be used by one person at a time.  This is a HUGE time savings.
  2. History – You can track document changes automatically and revert to any previous version of the document.  This helps in reverting to old formats easily. You may not use it much, but when you do, it will save your skin.
  3. Track Changes vs. Suggestion Mode – The biggest complaint we hear about using Google Docs is that only Microsoft Word can track changes.  However, Google Docs now has Suggesting Mode which is almost identical to Track Changes.  Default mode is Editing mode for all docs, where you do overwrite online any updates (of course you can revert via history).  But if you want to edit someone’s document and show your changes, then turn to Suggesting mode and you can create items for review, approve, etc. So, Google Docs is actually better for tracking changes because of its online collaboration abilities and ability to revert.
  4. Security – Google Docs by default are locked down to specific users. As needed, we can open them up to share by link status (meaning anyone with link can edit).  Remember, these are marketing documents, not legal documents that need full privacy. Anything you send for the website, will be online. Thus there is no need for full privacy.
  5. Auto Saving – The documents save in real time, eliminating the need to save your document. Word Docs typically do auto save now too but there is still a chance you may lose some changes.
  6. Less Confusion – With Google Docs, we know which is the most recent version of the content for your website, there is no more question of “which file is the best version”.  Put simply, our project managers can easily tell what document to use and give to our developers.
  7. Work From Anywhere – You can load documents on your phone, tablet, desktop and work easily.
  8. Work Offline – If you don’t have internet, you can still work offline and upload when you do have access.
  9. Cut / Paste – It is easy to cut/paste content from Google Docs into WordPress or your Content Management System (CMS)
  10. Easy Access – With a simple link you can see your data and pass the link to anyone you want to share your content with.
  11. Export – You can export to a variety of formats (even Microsoft Word and PDF).
  12. No Software – You don’t have to install software to use Google Docs.
  13. Comment – Adding a comment is easier in Google Docs and looks better.  You can also create tasks for individuals and start a discussion thread.
  14. Files – Easy filing as we store all your docs in our project folders for integration into WordPress and Basecamp.
  15. Upload – You can actually upload Word Docs and have them auto convert to a Google Doc. Note that there may be slight formatting changes, but if you draft in Google Doc these are easily resolved. 
  16. Saves Time –   You save time by using Google Docs because you no longer have to save files, email files, figure out which have been emailed or which is the current version.
  17. Saves Money – Since time is saved, money is saved.  Your website project is quoted based on the use of Google Docs and the time savings it allows.  If you prefer to use Microsoft Word files, let us know and we can set a budget. 

Google Doc Disadvantages

  1. New System – Yes, Google Docs is a new system. So you will need to learn how to use the tool. However, it is 95% similar to your prior workflow.  After 20 minutes of use, you will learn almost all of the controls and the time savings will be immense. Simply click on a link and you can start typing/editing/cutting/pasting. 
  2. Policy Lockdown – Some firms may have a policy of not using cloud storage for creating documents. However, this should only apply to client legal matters, not marketing pages that we are creating for a website.  Since our goal is to produce a website, the actual information will not be confidential once the site is finally live.  Thus, any privacy concerns are not really an issue and should be ignored. So if your firm has a policy on not using Google Docs, simply ask for a waiver for use in marketing documents that will ultimately be live.

Conclusion on Why We Use Google Docs

As you can see using Google Docs offers many advantages.  The main disadvantage is that Google Docs may be a new system for you.  However, learning Google Docs does not take much time or effort.

The combination of collaboration, track changes, easy access from anywhere and less confusion allows us to manage your web content more efficiently, resulting in a cost savings for your project.  For this reason, we are now requiring the use of Google Docs on all projects.

Finally, we are not beholden to Google Docs.  We actually like Office 365 online docs too and its collaboration toolset.  If you want to use that, then we may be able to accommodate you.  It’s just we have been using Google Docs for longer, so that is what we are partial too. The key is to stop using individual Word docs on a website project. 

If you have any questions, or need help with setting up Google Docs for your files, please let us know.  Help will always be given at PaperStreet to those who ask for it.

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