Creating a Squarespace website: your first steps
You have big dreams and ideas for your business…but maybe not the website building skills to make those visions a reality.
Fortunately, learning how to use Squarespace to create a website is easier than you think. Squarespace boasts several attractive, professional-looking templates and intuitive design tools that can help you build a website from scratch.
Start by registering a domain name
With any website build, you want to choose and buy a custom domain for your page. A .CA is a good choice if you want to show customers that your website is proudly Canadian. And as of December 2019, you can register .CA domains through Squarespace!
After your domain name, sign up for a Squarespace account
Click the “get started” button on the Squarespace home page.
From there, you have the option to answer a few basic questions about your website’s overall purpose. This can help Squarespace recommend a few templates for you. When searching through and sampling Squarespace templates think about what you’re trying to create.
- Is this an online store or a simple informational website for your business? Will you be blogging?
- What look and feel are you going for and what sorts of features and functionality do you need?
Check out our full breakdown of things to consider when building your own website.
Remember – all Squarespace templates can be customized to suit your own style and brand – and can be adapted to fit many different purposes.
Simply browse and search for a template that catches your eye. Once you’ve found a winner, click “start with [template]” and you’ll be prompted to create an account.
This is also where you decide what sort of account you’d like – whether that be a personal or e-commerce account. Monthly/annual Squarespace pricing and plan info can be found here.
Organize and optimize your site’s content
Before you dive into your template of choice and start experimenting (we know it’s tempting!), do yourself a favour and ensure your content’s organized and in good shape. You’ll thank yourself later.
Start with writing out and editing your copy for each page. This can be done in Word or a Google Doc for quick and easy reference.
Remember: It’s always better to catch an embarrassing typo in your copy or fine-tune a blog post before you get into the nitty gritty details of a web layout.
As for your images, do a bit of pre-work to ensure they’re properly renamed and sized for your website. Give your images names that make sense with the content on your page. This tells Google what the image (or the surrounding content) is about and helps with your search engine rankings. Resizing your images (and decreasing file sizes), meanwhile, ensures your content loads quickly for a better user experience. Aim for file sizes around 500 KBs.
Start adding content to your Squarespace site
Now that you’ve prepared the ingredients, creating the meat and potatoes of your Squarespace website is done through a simple content management menu, called “Main Navigation” that serves up the following tools:
Add new pages
Start with creating a first page for your website. This will bring up a menu allowing you to add a blank page – or a number of other, more specific, ready-made items like albums, image galleries, blogs and more.
Once you’ve added a new page, browse layout options for the page and click the one you’d like to start with. Enter a page title – like “About Us” – and press “Enter” to save. Remember - you can also start with a completely blank canvas and build up your pages from scratch.
Edit pages and add your own content
Now that you’ve got a basic layout for your page it’s time to add in your own content. To do that:
- Double-click any placeholder image or piece of text to start editing and adding in your own content.
- Squarespace lets you add new “blocks” simply by dragging and dropping them into position. Blocks can include items like text boxes, images, embedded videos, audio players.
- Start by clicking “edit” in the top-left corner of the page, hover your cursor over where you want to add the block and click again to drop it into position.
- All blocks can be clicked, dragged and moved around the page. To ensure your page layout doesn’t get too jumbled, Squarespace provides built-in guide boxes that show you where you can position and add content.
- If you want to delete a block, hover over it with your cursor, click the trash can item followed by “yes” to confirm.
Pro tip: If you’d like to quickly and easily upload multiple images to Squarespace in one go, use a gallery block instead of a single image block. With gallery blocks, all your images upload at once – which makes moving (and deleting) a single block a smoother and quicker process.
Another pro tip: For pages with similar layouts, you can use the Squarespace “duplicate” feature to preserve the same basic look and feel. This allows you to layer in new content without having to recreate each and every new page from scratch. To duplicate a page:
- Hover over the name of the page within the “Pages” menu in main navigation.
- Click the gear icon, scroll down and then click “duplicate page.”
You can also click and drag to re-order your various pages and set a home page through the “Pages” menu in Main Navigation.
Set your styles
Another important step is to set up the “styles” for your site. This includes elements like your colour scheme, fonts, buttons, banners and more.
Think of your template as the overall framework, and styles as the fine-touches and details that can help give site that personalized touch. Plus, if you set up your styles from the beginning, you’ll ensure that all your pages and content have a more cohesive and professional look and feel.
From the main navigation menu, click “Design” and then “Style Editor.” If you’d like to edit a piece of content on your page – like text – simply hover over it with your cursor and a blue outline will appear. You’ll then be able to make a range of adjustments within the Style Editor menu.
Publish your Squarespace website creation
Squarespace doesn’t have a “publish” button per se, but you can change your site’s visibility settings.
- Simply go to “Settings” in the Main Navigation, click “Site Visibility,” select “private,” “password protected,” or “public” and then hit “save.”
- When your site is public, it’s live on the web for anyone to see. You can use this setting after you’ve selected a paid plan and are ready to roll out your site.
- If you’re still adding content and tweaking pages, consider making your site private and non-visible.
Carry on making your Squarespace website a beautiful thing
With these first few steps under your belt, you should be well on your way to creating a Squarespace website that’ll pay dividends in promoting your personal brand or business.
A couple of important points to remember:
- Your website is a living, breathing thing – it doesn’t need to be perfect on the first go-round. Chances are, you’ll discover new ways to improve the design, add functionality and punch up copy as you learn more and live with your site for a few weeks.
- Don’t be afraid to seek out help. Learning how to use Squarespace is far more intuitive than you might think, but they do offer an intensive support section filled with guides and videos for everything and anything you might want to try.