Getting Started with Squarespace

Image via Unsplash.com

Image via Unsplash.com

Seriously, it's this easy. 

Ready to have a professional looking website? Today? Good. Let's get started.

01. GET A DOMAIN/URL

Already have a domain? Fantastic. Skip this step.

Need to find and buy your URL? Squarespace has you covered with domain search and purchase

Search for the URL or domain you're considering. Squarespace will let you know if it's available (the cost per year) and will suggest alternatives as well. 

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I have suggestions for choosing your URL elsewhere on the blog. They include keep the URL short, go with the .com ending, and research similar URLs (and purchase them if possible). 

The domains/URLs available via Squarespace will be the same as those available with other companies. If for some reason you want to purchase a URL outside of Squarespace (maybe you haven't decided on the platform yet), I recommend Google Domains

Squarespace has fantastic resources on domains:

02. CHOOSE A TEMPLATE

This is your design base. It's sort of like choosing what type of cake you want—vanilla, chocolate, or funfetti—before choosing your frosting and other toppings. 

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Some things to know and look at,

  • You're not committed to this template forever. You can change at any time (for free).
  • Choose the template that looks most similar to the look and feel you want for your site. 
  • Take advantage of Squarespace's filtering categories to narrow your choices (it can be overwhelming otherwise!).
  • Look at the template on a mobile device. (Squarespace offers a mobile preview, but I recommend interacting with the template on your personal device as well.)
  • Review the "customers using this template" section (scroll down on the template's detail page to find it). This gives you ideas on how you can customize the template to your needs/brand.
  • How much and what you can customize varies by template. If you have specific questions or details you need to know, check out the in-depth template guides by Squarespace before you select one. 
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If you're really not sure which template to start with, I recommend starting with Bedford. Just look at all the example sites—this is a versatile template! It can be used by a photographer and insurance agency. It's an incredibly flexible base. 

03. GET YOUR BASIC CONTENT IN PLACE

We'll dig into more substantial customizations in another post, but here let's just get the basics done. 

Your Squarespace editing menu is in the left-hand column of your website. This is not visible to the public, but only to you when you're signed in to Squarespace. If you toggle over the upper left-hand corner of your website you'll see the arrow option indicating you can open or close your menu. 

Get your website name and description in the right places.

Go to Design > Logo & Title

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Make sure the website or business title is correct in this space. Add a tagline, if applicable. If you have a logo already you can upload it here. Squarespace can help you create a logo if you don't have one yet. But, you don't need a logo in Squarespace. If you don't have one, the title of your website will display in text (which you can customize).

Go to Settings > Website > Basic Information

Give your website or business a short one to two sentence description. Select the appropriate website type from the drop down. Hit Save in the upper left-hand corner of the menu and then go backwards using the menu's back arrow. 

Choose the name and type of pages you will have in your website. 

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Each Squarespace template loads with demo pages in place. You can delete these by clicking on the trash can to the left of each page name. Or you can use that demo page as a starting point for your site by clicking on the gear icon to the right and selecting Create. Change the Navigation Title to the name of the page you are creating. 

You can add new pages by clicking the + button in the upper right-hand corner of your Pages menu. Give your page a name within the Page Title field. Squarespace offers you a number of starter layouts to make page building a little easier. Select a layout that works best for your page.

You can drag and drop a page to reorder it within the menu.

Change the text and photos within each page. 

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Once you have the correct pages for your site in the correct order. Click on each page one-by-one. Your Pages menu will still be on the left-hand side. The right-hand side will be sample content from the demo page or sample content from the starter layout you selected. Or, this page will be entirely blank if you chose a new page and blank layout. 

Hover on the page and a black menu bar will appear that says Page Content. Select Edit. Now you can click within the text and change it. The text options (bold, italic, left-aligned, etc.) look similar to most word editing programs. Change all visible text on the page to what you want it to say for your website. Click Save in the black menu bar near the top.

Change all photos to your photos by hovering over the photo and selecting Edit. Click Save.

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If you have at the very top of your demo page it may be a Banner image. Hover on the page and select Banner to remove or change this image.

Here are some fantastic help guides from Squarespace on editing within pages:

04. GO LIVE WITH YOUR WEBSITE

Obviously, we can get really into the weeds before we go live. We could do a lot more customizing your site, but this is just a bare bones starting guide. So, if you've got your URL, your template, and your content in place, then it's time to go live!

Go to Settings > Website > Domains

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Make sure that the Primary domain is the URL you purchased for this website or business. Squarespace also has a built-in URL that is often something like "your-site.squarespace.com." This is your behind-the-scenes URL, but you want to make sure the "yoursite.com" is marked as Primary. 

Go to Settings > General > Billing & Account > Billing > Upgrade 

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Up until now you've been working on your new Squarespace site for free. You have up to 30 days before you have to give them any credit card information. When you're ready to go live, though, you need to select a subscription plan for your website. Almost all of my clients start on the Personal Websites plan (even businesses). That basic plan limits you to 20 total pages and has a higher transaction fee for shops, but it's nearly identical to the Business Website plan. There are two additional plans for eCommerce sites—if you're selling a lot of products read the details carefully, but I usually advise going with the less expensive plan first.

Select the plan you need right now and you can upgrade at any time (if you need more pages or start selling enough products). 

Once you complete your transaction, your site is live!

Here are some Squarespace resources on billing and primary domains: