4 Simple Steps to Creating a Squarespace Website

4 Simple Steps to Creating a Squarespace Website | Jessica Colyer

Have you ever sat and thought to yourself, Gee, I should probably have a website… but don’t know where in the world to start? Relax, I totally got you. Many moons ago I was in the same boat. I had a freelance photography and video gig going and I knew that in order for others to see the work that I’d done, I was very much in need of a website. Nothing fancy, just an online signpost that basically said, “Hey, this is me, this is what I do, contact me here.” What I didn’t realize was that I was opening up a can of awesome that would keep unfolding for years to come - and that can of awesome is called Squarespace.

If You Build It They Will Come

To quote the Field of Dreams movie there, it’s sorta kinda true. While a website won’t guarantee a flood of traffic your way immediately, there won’t be any traffic or attention by potential clients if there’s nowhere for them to go to. Nowadays a website is like a calling card. We don’t swap business cards as much as we used to, we swap URLs and Instagram handles. A website is like your extension into the outside world, and it’s how people can find you from anywhere. 

The reason I use and recommend Squarespace is because it’s an all-in-one platform. Everything is included and it provides all you need to get off the ground from mailing lists, analytics, commerce services, domain registry, hosting, and even some 3rd party deals that just so so so good. (GSuite and Acuity Scheduling, anyone?) So now that I’ve laid out the importance of building the site in the first place, I want to break down the 4 simple steps to creating a Squarespace website. 

1.) Lay the Foundation

While it can be tempting to want to race to the finish with building your site, I’d encourage you to sit down, grab a piece of paper and jot down the ideas you have.

What do you want it to look like? How do you want it to feel? Which aspects are most important to you? What’s the domain name going to be?

Before you even set out to build anything, making sure all of these foundational elements are in place will save a lot of time later on. In this step, you can also create your account on Squarespace and secure a domain. If you don’t know which domain you want to use yet, that’s totally fine. You can skip that step and still create your account and build your site with a 14 day trial.

Create your account on Squarespace

Secure your domain

2.)  Choose Your Template

Next you’ll be able to choose a template to start with for your site. Fair warning here, this step of choosing a template can be one of those things where it’s easy to get sucked in with curiosity and wanting to try them all on. It’s just like clothing shopping, and that curiosity is great, but can also waste a lot of time.

I’d highly recommend to just pin down what the main aspects of your site need to be and determine what features are “must-haves” and what are the “no thank you’s” and then choose a Squarespace template that is most suitable to that. Keep in mind that not all templates are created equal.

If you’re setting up a blog, Montauk or Bedford are great templates to start with. If you’re interested in an online shop try Galapagos, Supply, or Brine. Squarespace makes it easy to decipher what templates would be a good fit for which category by their tabs on the left hand side of the template selection page.

 Choose Your Template

Template Comparison Chart

3.)  The Site Build

Now for the fun part! So by this step you’ve got your template, your account, and you’re ready to rock and roll. The setup is going to consist of digging into your template’s backend to arrange pages, set up page names, urls, and getting your site ready to take on the world.

Squarespace’s builder function is known as WYSIWYG, which stands for “What you see is what you get.” So unlike other platforms such as Wordpress, you are able to make changes on the backend and at the same time see the exact changes you’re making on the frontend by getting a preview of what the live site will look like as you make those changes. Pretty sweet, right?

The editing process behind the scenes with Squarespace involves building with what are called content blocks. So those content blocks can be anything from text, images, video, embedded files, summery blocks to display blog posts or shop items, and more. The sky is really the limit when it comes to what you can do with your pages. And to design fonts, colors, site styles and more, you’ll visit the ‘Design’ tab.

A great order and rule of thumb when you’re going through the setup is to start with the basics and then move outward. (and some of these can be omitted, for instance if you aren’t using a blog or sidebar.)

  1. Adjust your blog settings (Settings > Blog > Post URL format > %t) and also adjust comment settings.

  2. Configure your main pages and navigation (Plus select your homepage)

  3. Go through page by page and assemble the content with content blocks. (Pages can be duplicated, so if you have multiple pages where you’d like the same or a similar layout, that’s an easy shortcut!)

  4. Configure your sidebar. (If you have a blog.)

  5. Set up your connected accounts such as mailing lists, contact forms, and social media accounts.

This is a very condensed and easily digestible list of how to progress through the Squarespace setup process. However there’s no experience quite like getting in there and learning the tools hands-on, so I’d highly encourage you to jump in with the building and take things one step at a time. Pretty soon, you’ll have a lovely, polished website that’s ready to get to work for you.

4.) Purchase your Plan

There are multiple pricing plans available based on what you’re looking for out of your site. If you’d like to have an online shop, they have business and commerce plans for that. If you’re looking for just a simple setup, there is also the personal plan as well. So the final step in the Squarespace build process is to simply purchase the plan that fits what you need, purchase your domain name, and to publish your new site to the world, which is super exciting! 

Choose Your Plan: Settings > Billing & Account > Subscriptions

Let a Designer Build it For You

At this point you might be thinking, alright, all of this sounds great and all, but when am I ever going to have time to do all of this and make it look good?

While I believe that anyone can learn to build a website, I totally understand that sometimes it’s so much better to have someone craft a creation for you. Kind of like how dinner just tastes better when someone else has made it! DIY is amazing and everything, but only if it’s enjoyable! So that’s why I offer Squarespace design services for folks looking for a crisp, clean design that just plain works without any other tech headaches maintenance hassles down the road.

As a designer, I always work 1:1 with each client to find out exactly what is needed and what they’re looking for in a website. Plus, I love to deliver the added bonus of providing resources on how to maintain the site with tips and techniques that help move them forward. I think of it as less of a website design and more of a dream vision launch plan.

I love to work with people who…

  • Want a website that simply works.

  • Have a passion-fueled idea for a blog or business and just need help launching it.

  • Might be new to the online space but are super excited to dive in!

  • Are looking to launch a service-based business online.

  • Need a place to display their creativity or story (wedding websites, blogs, portfolios, etc.)

  • Have a Squarespace site already, but would like to take it to the next level.

  • Are looking to work with someone with expertise in the online publishing field.

  • Have zero time to spend on all this tech stuff and just need some help already!

If any of the above strikes a chord with you, I’d love to invite you to check out my full page of Squarespace design services. I only have a limited number of projects that I can take on at a time, so if you feel drawn to my style and design and you’d like to work with me, I’d love to hear from you!

Simplicity with Squarespace

I truly hope this post has helped you feel more confident in tackling your website build. With a step-by-step checklist, it makes things go so much easier, smoother, and more straightforward. Creating a beautiful site with Squarespace is so do-able, which is why I absolutely love the platform and recommend it to everyone.

I’d love to hear from you

Have you built a site with Squarespace before? What are your thoughts on the platform? Are you stuck on any part of the DIY process right now?