Every platform has their pros + cons.
Different platforms are great for different people, it all depends on the features they need for their website, and how much control they want to have over the design.
Not sure which website platform is perfect for you?
WordPress is one of the most loved platforms out there for websites, but coming in a close second is Squarespace.
If you’re looking for something that’s simple, content focused and user-friendly, but you aren’t too comfortable with HTML/CSS, Squarespace could be the perfect platform for you! It gives you the ability to tweak small scale things when needed, and you have access to tools that help you monitor your website growth and traffic.
Squarespace is a great platform for those that want something that is quick to launch and gives them all of the features and analytics that they need. It has a handful of features and capabilities that are very beneficial for bloggers.
Before we get into that, I want to talk about what Squarespace doesn’t have.
All of Squarespace’s themes are included. This is great for someone like me that can be a little indecisive when choosing a theme and wants to do a little test driving before deciding on one theme. It also allows you to get to know the different themes and what they have in common and allows you to realize the certain features that you don’t like.
Speaking of themes, let’s get into the themes that Squarespace offers…
Squarespace offers themes for pretty much everyone: restaurants, bloggers, musicians, engaged couples, photographers, graphic designers and other small businesses. There are a TON of themes, and they all have their own “template families”. In these families, there are parent themes and “child” themes. A parent theme is simply the “prototype” or master theme. This parent theme then has many child themes that are different in appearance but have the same overall foundational structure. This works great if you have a certain type of parent theme that you’re attracted too, but don’t necessarily want to use that specific theme.
For example, a lot of bloggers (like me!) use the Montauk theme, which is a parent theme. However, if you’re looking for a theme slightly different that Montauk, but with the same features and setup more or less you could use the Om theme.
Squarespace just released this side by side comparison chart for their templates.…it’s freakin’ amazing.
Choosing the Right One:
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? And 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, graphic designers, fashion and food bloggers)
Having a clear answer to this question is going to make answering the other two questions a lot easier. So many bloggers start their website without a clear focus on the present and future of their brand which causes them to have to either completely rebrand or risk having an inconsistent presence. The great thing about Squarespace is, is that no matter the theme you choose it will be three things: clean, modern, and simple. Another bonus is that changing your theme is very easy and you can do it at any time.
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Popular Theme Choices:
Pictured Above: the Pacific Template
Some users recommend Pacific as being one of the most customizable themes. Two things I like about Pacific are: their full bleed banners and their stacked index pages. Index pages are particularly useful when it comes to creating sales funnel like pages. Index pages make it easy to separate content and make a long form web page that you can add a signup button or a payment button at the end of.
Skye & Haute:
Pictured Above: the Skye Template
If you’re a fashion, lifestyle, or food blogger, these two themes are going to be perfect for you. Skye’s magazine grid style is perfect for photos of food with vast amounts of colors and depth, while Haute is perfect for fashion bloggers that enjoy detail shots of their wardrobe along with full body shots.
Montauk & Five:
Pictured Above: the Montauk template
Out of all of the Squarespace templates, I know so many bloggers that use Montauk or Five that you would think that they didn’t offer any others! What these two have in common is their simplicity and their vast ability to customize. Over at Hued Design Studio, we use Five simply for this reason. I found Montauk to be one of the easiest to customize and felt like I had full control over exactly how my blog looked.
My Favorites for Bloggers: Five, Montauk, Rally, York & Pacific. The more I work with other small businesses and bloggers on redoing their websites or creating one from scratch, the more I gravitate towards the Montauk and Pacific themes.
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 some of your favorite bloggers in your niche. Take note of how they are doing things: do they have pop-ups? Multiple opt – in forms? Landing pages? 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 find out some things that they or others in your niche do 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 it’s personality.
Squarespace is what I like to call a “drag and drop” platform. They accomplish this functionality through the use of “content blocks”. Their content block system requires zero coding knowledge what so ever (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 templates foundational aesthetics.
These are the most common content blocks that bloggers use and what they can be used for:
Text & Image:
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.
The image block is pretty simple too, but it has one feature that you need to make sure you pay attention too:Filename. This is one of the places where you get to take advantage of Squarespace’s SEO capabilities and take care of your Pinterest captions all in one swoop. If you’re a Pinterest user (if you aren’t you should go do that now. Like right now.) this is super important: whatever you put here, will show up as the caption when someone pins that image directly from your site. So please don’t name type: “woman-in-coffee-shop.jpg” here.
A good rule of thumb and this is what I do, I copy the first couple of sentences of the blog post and paste it there. I make sure the first paragraph of every blog post is super jam packed with SEO long tail keywords and I make sure that it immediately tells the reader what the post is about, so I can use it as the filename no problem.
Carousel Summary Block:
The carousel block has a whole host of functions: it can be used as a way to quickly to simply display a group of photos, or my personal favorite: to display related posts!
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 current post that that reader has landed on. For example, whenever someone lands on a blog post of 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 break from a bunch of text, add some white space, and separate things to up your content’s readability.
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 like me, 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 this is definitely your guy; but I find it to be so much more useful when it’s used to gather email address for my newsletter. I integrate it with my MailChimp account, then depending on how I want to use it, I can have my readers input their information directly on the page, or have a pop-up or “light box” enabled.
Having a light-box enabled is how I generally use it, since this allows me to have the reader be redirected to a “Thank You For Signing Up” landing page, that shows my latest and greatest posts to get them to keep reading and hang out with me for a bit. We don’t want people to read one post then close their tab right? This is the perfect way to keep them for a little while longer.
Speaking of landing pages, Squarespace has their own version of them called Cover Pages…
Houston, We’ve Landed!
If you’ve been blogging for a while, or spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve probably heard of landing pages and the power that they have. Landing pages are GREAT when used correctly. I love them.
The great thing is that Squarespace has its own stripped down variation of landing pages built right in: 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. I find these to be very useful for social media specific content upgrades.
Here’s a scenario: say you send out a tweet that you have this super jam value-packed workbook on how to increase your Twitter following and engagement that you know your audience (or really anyone running a business) 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.
I love make these cover pages very specific to the social media platform that the reader was referred from.
Another example: If you have a workbook on Facebook groups and you post about it on your Facebook page, whenever someone clicks on that link to be directed to that landing page that has a description tailored specifically for Facebook, then that reader will be more inclined to sign up for the workbook.
When it comes to website platforms, it seems like many people fall into one of two camps: WordPress and 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 + easy to follow flow chart!