The first decision that you need to make when you create a trial site on SquareSpace is selecting your template. It’s a hard decision because they’re all visually stunning – you can quickly get swept away in the example sites and make a decision based on looks alone. Here’s the right way to select your SquareSpace template so you get a site that does everything you need it to do… AND is beautiful, as well.
The first question to ask yourself is:
What is the purpose of this website? What do I need this site to do?
Am I an online shop and I’ll be using my page mainly as a platform to sell? Then, I should put the priority mainly on the product pages.
Am I a hardcore blogger? Then, I’ll want to prioritize the blog features. I’ll want to look for a template that includes a blog sidebar.
Am I an artist? I’ll want to prioritize visuals. I’ll want a template with beautiful galleries to highlight my images.
Before you dive into the site creation process, pause to think through what the purpose of the site is. This will be a good grounding point to keep you focused as you move forward with your site design project.
What does a template do?
Your template houses the functions and capabilities of your website – think of it as the frame of your house.
You want to build your house not just for what you need now, but what you may need in the future.
Maybe right now you just want a landing page, but next year’s goal is to build out a robust blog. Set yourself up for success by selecting a template with the blog features that you need next year, not right now. *I recommend a template with a blog sidebar for those who will be focusing on blogging.
Controlled by the template:
Horizontal vs. Vertical Navigation
Full width imagery
Blog page design
Controlled by the style editor:
The elements controlled by the style editor can be changed at any time, within any template. These should not play a factor in your template selection process.
Once you choose your template; however, the features will be built-in. You CAN change your template at any time, but it’s a bit of a headache. It’s best to make the right template decision right off the bat so you don’t have to redo any of your work.
The steps to selecting your template
1. Get clear on the overall site purpose.
2. Decide which functions are need-to-haves and which are nice-to-haves. You want to select based on structure and functions.
When you’re deciding your need-to-haves and nice-to-haves, start perusing other websites and look for inspiration. What do you love? What features do you NEED to have? Are you drawn to the way a full-width image background takes over your screen? Is a blog sidebar really important for connecting your readers to your social media
Figure out what your top priorities are in terms of functionality FIRST. Remember, fonts/colors/etc. can all be changed later.
3. Check a template comparison chart (there’s an incredible one you can check out here). This has the name of every template matched up with it’s features. When you look at the chart, start by mapping out all your need-to-haves. If multiple templates meet the requirements, add in the nice-to-haves.
4. Google “Using [template name here} guides”. SquareSpace puts together really nice write-ups on each template that can be really helpful at this stage.
What to consider in terms of functionality:
A unique shop. All templates have a shop, but some have a unique design.
Navigation menu. Some navigation menus are above the header, some are below the header, some have social links in them, some are horizontal, some are vertical.
Gallery design. If you’re a photographer or artist and know your site will rely heavily on images, check out the gallery designs. They each have unique features; some have full width images, there are all sorts of different features.
A blog sidebar. If you’re a blogger, this is a great thing to have.
The bottom line:
Think about the purpose of your site not just today, but in 1-2 years.
Let me know how that goes and if you have any questions about templates!