The Ultimate Squarespace Guide for Beginners: Squarespace 101
(Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase, I may earn a commission)
Thinking about (or have already decided on) using Squarespace for your website?
Then you’re in the right spot!
In this Squarespace for Beginners Guide, I’m going to dive into:
- What Squarespace is & who it’s perfect for
- How to choose the perfect Squarespace template
- How to get started planning your design
- Overview of the most common Squarespace content blocks
- How to create a newsletter sign up for & start building your email list
- Landing page options & what they’re used for
- How to DIY your Squarespace website in a week
What is Squarespace?
Squarespace is a content management system (aka website builder) that allows its users to create a website without knowing the ins & outs of code.
Squarespace specifically is notoriously known for its ease of use, drag and drop options, and overall friendly user experience.
Other Website Platforms:
Squarespace isn’t the only platform available for creating a website.
Other well-known ones are WordPress (which this website is built on) and Shopify (perfect for e-commerce).
There are also Wix & Weebly, but being an SEO & Website Strategist, I never recommend those to my clients because of the way they’re coded. They end up being a bigger pain in the butt down the road.
All in all, different platforms are great for different people, it all depends on the features you need for your website, and how much control you want to have over the design.
Not sure which website platform is perfect for you?
Why choose Squarespace?
Squarespace is an awesome option for you if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution. Using Squarespace you can:
- Have control over your domain name
- Send email campaigns to your newsletter
- Create & edit your website
- Create sales pages and landing pages
- Sell physical products or digital products
- Not have to worry about website hosting or security updates
- Create blog posts
- Showcase your portfolio
- Schedule appointments
- Look at website traffic data
- Have access to 24/7 support
- and so much more!
Squarespace is the go-to if you’re looking for something that’s simple, design-focused, and user-friendly, but you aren’t too comfortable with HTML/CSS (website code).
Squarespace gives you the ability to tweak small-scale things, like text, images, blogs, etc, when needed. It also has built-in tools that allow you to monitor your website growth and traffic.
It’s perfect if you want something that is quick to launch and don’t mind utilizing a “website template” to get you there. (More on that below!)
Getting Started with Squarespace
After you’ve chosen to move forward with Squarespace as your website platform, it’s time to dive into all of the options at your fingertips.
Inside Squarespace: An Overview of the Squarespace Dashboard
Free Squarespace Website Templates:
Since Squarespace is known for its simplistic useability, it has a library of free website templates for you to choose from.
View Squarespace’s Free Templates here!
Every website template can be customized to match your brand or the look you’re going for. You have complete control over font choices, colors, and content areas (meaning you can create your page any way you want to!).
Squarespace’s website templates are there to give you a great starting point.
So when you’re looking at templates and trying to choose which one to roll with, choose one that best reflects the overall structure you’d like your website to have. (Don’t mind the fonts, colors, text, and images on the website templates! All of that stuff is customizable.)
With that being said, it’s important to know that: It doesn’t matter what the template has been designed for.
For example, if you’re looking at the templates and you see one that you like, but it’s designed for a restaurant, you can still use it!
You can use any of the Squarespace templates for whatever your business is because you’re going to customize all of the information in the template anyway, so don’t be distracted that one is “designed for a restaurant” or “designed for a non-profit”.
None of that really matters because you can customize any of the templates to match the look you’re going for.
Premium Squarespace Website Templates:
If you’re looking at Squarespace’s library of free templates and you’re like “meh, none of these fit the website style I’m aiming for” then you might want to explore premium Squarespace templates.
Premium Squarespace website templates are created by third-party companies, specifically for the Squarespace platform.
They typically cost anywhere from $100-$500 depending on the designer/company & template, but they have a “custom website” look without the heavy price tag (custom website designs usually cost $3K+).
And they truly make launching your website a BREEZE.
Premium Squarespace website templates also look a bit more professional because they were created by professional designers and they don’t have to be liked by a wide audience like Squarespace’s free library.
My current favorite company for premium Squarespace website templates is GoLive.
They have a ton of easy-to-use templates for all types of industries & niches.
Check out their template shop here and use code MARIAHMAGAZINE @ checkout for 10% off!
Choosing the Right Template:
Before you even think about creating a website, switching platforms, or refreshing your own site, you have to answer these three questions:
- What are the goals that I want to accomplish with this site?
- Who is my target audience/ideal client?
- What do I want them to do when they reach my site?
Let’s start with the first question: The goals of your site.
Do you want to sell products?
Do you want it to function primarily as a picture-driven blog? (this is best for photographers and bloggers)
Having a clear answer to this question is going to make answering the other two questions a lot easier.
Why do you want/need a website in the first place?
Question 2: Who is your target audience?
When you spend some time nailing down who your target audience is, you’ll be able to create a site that gives them the information and solutions they need.
This will also help you create a brand & write website copy that makes them say “wow, I’m in the right place” when they land on your website.
Question 3: What do you want them to do on your website?
This will help you figure out the call-to-actions on your website.
Do you want your website visitors to:
- Book a call with you
- Download a freebie
- Inquire about your services
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Get informed from your blog
If someone came to your site, and only did ONE thing, what’s the most important thing?
Answering this question will help you choose a template & create a website journey that turns strangers into customers, clients, and raving fans.
All in All: The great thing about Squarespace is, is that no matter the template you choose it will be three things: clean, modern, and simple. Another bonus is that changing your template is very easy and you can do it at any time….but to save yourself some time & energy, dive into the 3 questions above before making your choice 😉
Want more in-depth information about Squarespace templates?
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Squarespace Templates (written by Website Designer, Ida)
Once you pick your template it’s time to actually get to designing your site. Before you do this step, I would spend some time doing some research.
Take about an hour, and visit the sites of your competitors or other people in your industry.
Take note of how they are doing things:
- What pages are on their site?
- What kind of content is on those pages?
- Do they have a blog?
- Do they have a newsletter?
Take notes on the design and flow of their site.
This isn’t meant for you to exactly copy what they’re doing, it’s meant to remind you of the sites that you’re attracted to and why you’re attracted to them.
On this journey, you’ll also start to notice things on other people’s websites that you don’t particularly care for.
This is going to be extremely helpful when designing and maintaining your online presence that complements your brand and its personality.
This leads to the next great feature of Squarespace…
Squarespace is a “drag and drop” platform.
They accomplish this functionality through the use of “content blocks”.
Their content block system requires zero coding knowledge whatsoever (if you do have some HTML/CSS skills, they allow you to input your code in a “code block” and other places throughout your site).
Content blocks allow you to build your site to be exactly how you need it to be while working off of your template’s foundational aesthetics.
These are the most common content blocks that website owners use and what they can be used for:
The text content block is pretty self-explanatory: inside of this block is where you write and format your text. There are heading options, text-align, and list options to get you started.
You can add links in your copy, as well as quotes.
There are a few options when it comes to adding an image to your Squarespace website.
The first option is a basic image, which is exactly what it sounds like. Want an image to appear next to your text? Great! Use this block and drag it next to your text.
If you want to add more advanced image layout styles, Squarespace gives you the option of
When you choose an option, you’ll get to see what the design will look like in your editor. And if you want to change your mind, that’s super easy! You can open the image block and click the Design tab to switch it up and test the options.
One thing I want to point out for SEO is to make sure you pay attention to the Filename box when editing your images.
This is where you control the ALT text for your image…super important for image SEO.
Not sure what ALT text is? Check out this in-depth guide to making your images SEO-friendly!
Carousel Summary Block:
This is what you use if you want to display content from other pages, like products, events, or my personal favorite: related blog posts!
You have the option to display a complete list of your blog posts if you want to showcase your most recent ones, but displaying related ones is another option.
The best way to display related posts is to make sure that with every blog post you create, you either add it to the correct category or tag. This allows you to filter the carousels you make so they are related to the current post that that reader has landed on.
For example, whenever someone lands on a blog post dealing with SEO, at the bottom of the post is a carousel of other SEO related articles. This allows them to keep reading about the topic and keeps them on your site longer!
Spacer & Line:
Lines and Spacers are pretty simple to use and are necessary to give your readers a break from a bunch of text, add some white space, and separate things to improve the readability of your content.
After you get the basics of your Squarespace designing done, it’s time to start integrating your email management platforms.
If you’re a MailChimp user, Squarespace makes this SUPER easy.
Get Those Emails!
Squarespace has a content block named “Forms” (very original I know) and it’s very versatile when integrated with Mailchimp.
If all you need is a simple way for customers/readers to get in direct contact with you, then the FORMS block is exactly what you’ll use; but it’s also powerful when it’s used to gather email addresses for your newsletter.
You can integrate it with your MailChimp account, then depending on how you want to use it, you can have your readers input their information directly on the page, or have a pop-up or “lightbox” enabled.
Regardless of how you use the form, there’s an awesome feature that allows you to redirect users after they hit the “submit” button on the form.
If you’re using this form block for your newsletter, you can redirect the website visitor to a “Thank You For Signing Up” landing page, that thanks them for signing up, and shows your latest and greatest blog posts to get them to keep reading and hang out on your site a bit longer.
Speaking of landing pages, Squarespace has its own version of them called Cover Pages…
Landing Page Options:
If you’ve been blogging or in the online business world for a while, you’ve probably heard of landing pages and the power that they have.
Landing pages are GREAT when used correctly.
The great thing is that Squarespace has its own stripped-down variation of landing pages built right in, called ‘Cover Pages’.
Cover pages are simple pages that allow you to put a little bit of text, your social media icons, and a contact/sign-up button.
These can be very useful for freebies & content upgrades.
Here’s a scenario: say you send out a tweet that you have an awesome jam-packed workbook on how to increase your Twitter following and engagement that you know your audience would love…
You create a landing/cover page in Squarespace, write an amazing description about it and give people the option to either sign up for it right then and there or click a button to be directed to the long-form blog post you have about that workbook.
Having this information on a landing/cover page allows the page to be distraction-free so the chance of the user converting (signing up) increases because there’s only ONE action they can take on that page.
Another example: If you have a workbook on ‘Using Facebook Groups to Grow Your Business’ and you post about it on your Facebook page, whenever someone clicks on that link, they’ll be directed to that landing page specifically created to entice people to sign up for that workbook.
Want to learn other ways to use Squarespace cover pages? Check out this post by Kelsey: 3 Unique Ways to Use Squarespace Cover Pages
How to DIY Your Squarespace Website:
When it comes to creating a website, you typically have 2 options;
- Hire a professional website designer
- DIY your website design
If you fall into the #2 bucket and want to learn how to DIY your Squarespace website, I have the perfect solution for you!
Louise Henry created an easy-to-follow self-paced online course, ‘Website that Wows‘ that walks you through how to DIY your own beautiful and professional Squarespace website in a week flat (no tech skills needed!).
If you want to:
- Build a brand & website you love in a week
- Do-it-yourself even if you’re not a techie
- Get personal feedback from a pro every step of the way
- Launch your business on a small budget and start making money
Good news – you can! Website that Wows is a unique DIY system built to help you launch your beautiful & professional websites in as little as 7 days.
AND, YOU CAN GET $300 OFF BY CLICKING THIS LINK & SIGNING UP WITHIN 24 HOURS!
When it comes to website platforms, it seems like many people fall into one of two camps: WordPress or Squarespace. Each platform has some very redeeming qualities and some flaws, but no matter what side of the fence you’re on, if taken advantage of fully, your site can be wildly effective.
As long as you have a clear goal for what you want your site to accomplish, and what you want readers to do when they land on your site, you’re golden.
Not sure which platform is right for you?
Check out this in-depth comparison!