What is the Best Squarespace Template to Start With?
We’ve all seen those rom-com movies where one of the main characters has a “let’s try on all the clothes!” kind of moment. But in terms of your website, you don’t have to try on all the templates before you find the right one! And in fact, I’d highly advise against it (time-waster alert!)
To help you save time, I’m sharing the best Squarespace templates to start with based on what you’re looking for with your website. Let’s dive in!
Let’s Avoid the Grass is Greener Syndrome
There are two types of extremes out there in terms of Squarespace templates - those who have no idea which one is right for them, and those who have tried them all on and still can’t decide which is going to be best.
Squarespace’s templates make it easy to switch between one or the other, because they’re all free! They’re all just built right into the platform, which is incredible! But also that ease of switching makes it easy to succumb to a case of “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome and flip back and forth between templates if you tend to be curious and indecisive (ahem… sooo guilty of this!)
Not All Templates are Created Equal
Each template is not created equal. Not every template is going to have every feature. For instance, some templates do not feature blog sidebars, while others do. Some templates will not feature a built in related posts feature at the bottom of blog posts, while some do.
Also, each Squarespace template is divided up into families - which means they share the same underlying code structure and functionality. This can help tremendously when switching templates, because switching to another template with the same underlying code structure will help if you want to keep some of the same features or have custom CSS applied, for example.
To get a better understanding of the features that came with each template and the comparisons between them, check out this helpful comparison chart.
1.) Best Template for Bloggers
If content is king for you and you’re highly focused on written content and blogging as the central point of your brand, my top pick is Hayden with honorable mentions being Montauk and Rally.
The reason why I’ve chosen Hayden (as well as the other honorable mentions) for bloggers is because of the ability to have a sidebar and also the ability to feature written content and blog pages really well.
But what the Hayden template does differently (which is in the Bedford family, so all of the Bedford family templates will do this) is that it has a really cool feature where a folder is displayed in a vertical menu layout. I love this feature, because it means that your readers can easily choose the topics they want from a menu at the left. Nifty, huh? Here’s an example.
Hayden also features a sidebar option (which for some bloggers is essential) and really gorgeous imagery and banner blocks that can feature all your best photos from branding portraits, to product photography, and beyond.
2.) Best Template for Services & Shops
If you sell goods and services, you may be wondering what Squarespace template is right for this area. The truth is that any Squarespace template has the ability to be an ecommerce powerhouse, which is great! But because services and products are the main focus here, my pick for the best template to start with is the Brine template with honorable mentions being Galapagos and Indigo.
If you’re interested in a blog to accompany your shop, each template can help you there - and both Galapagos and Indigo feature sidebars (Galapagos can have one on all blog pages, while Indigo only on blog posts), however Brine does not. (Quick note: Galapagos does not feature thumbnail images on the blog post list if “ excerpt” is selected, so custom CSS would be needed if that is a deal breaker.)
Indigo features a minimal header menu option and a streamlined look as part of the Skye template family. It’s an all around whimsical, fun template that is super eye-catching.
But in this race, Brine (and anything in the Brine template family) is the true winner here with the functionality and features to carry any type of business longterm. Beyond Brine are its template family members I’d also recommend for shops which are Foster and Jaunt.
3.) Best Template for Photography or Wedding Websites
If visuals are your thing and creating a proper showcase to tell a visual story is vital to your game plan, I have a few templates in mind that I’d highly recommend. The first pick for photography portfolios is Wexley, and my first pick for weddings is Sonny. Honorable mentions are: Wells and Anya
Both of these templates feature an image-focused feel and the ability to just start building without much extra customization. Actually, a version of my first portfolio site was built on Wexley and I loved it because it really helped showcase my work.
Wexley also features a sidebar on the blog, which is great for photographers who also want a blogging feature with a sidebar.
Sonny is beautiful for wedding announcements and websites because of the ability for the template to help tell a story with bars and index pages that are scrollable for miles. Total eye candy!
Sonny is also in the Brine template family, which means it has loads of functionality beyond the use of a wedding website. Photographers, you may love Sonny as well!
What is my template’s family?
Want to know what family your template is part of? This is helpful to know if you’d like to stay within a template family but could foresee switching templates in the future (since switching is much easier within the same template family!)
What is the Best Squarespace Template to Start With?
If you’ve read this far and are still unsure about which template would be best for you, maybe you’re on the fence or are planning on having a blog, shop, and a portfolio (you high-achiever you!) I would highly recommend any template in the Brine family.
Rally (from the Brine template family) is the template I currently use and I totally love it. The Brine family templates have endless customization options, scrollable index pages, are able to feature content blocks on top of banners (yasss!) and are basically just like the perfect templates to serve all kinds of niches and specialties. It’s no wonder the Brine template family is the largest on Squarespace!
However, I will say that Brine templates can come with a bit of a learning curve and aren’t the quickest to set up. It has more of an intermediate template structure, which is why so many other templates in that family exist to make the process a little quicker and easier to achieve exactly the look you want in the least amount of time. (Like Sonny, Foster, Rally, etc.)
Brine family templates also don’t come with a sidebar (womp womp…) but in a future post I’ll be talking about a plugin that can change all of that (yay!).
And the no-fuss setup award goes to…
For a classic blog setup with a clean minimal layout that only takes minutes to set up, that award goes to Montauk. Because the Montauk template has less customization tweaks to go through, it takes a fraction of the time to set up and get that classic blog look (with a sidebar option) which is totally swoon-worthy. For new bloggers and veterans alike, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Choosing the Right Template Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain
If you’re feeling indecisive, something great to do is to make a list of the top must-haves for your website, whether that’s a shop, blog page, mailing list signups, etc. What is the top priority? Then, list out the things you'd like to have, but aren’t necessarily priorities, like a certain blog list layout, or long scrollable index pages, etc.
Get really clear on the mission that your site has to serve your audience, your business, and you. Give your site a job. And then from there, choosing a template from that clear space should be much easier.
When it comes to choosing templates and all the beautiful options that Squarespace has, I will say that also… sometimes adopting a rom-com style clothing montage with template swapping is just plain fun. (Cheers!)
I’d love to know…
Have you settled on the perfect template or are you still in decision mode? What were the factors that led you to pick the template you have now?