Crafting a website might sound complicated, but contemporary website building tools make it easy to turn your idea into a functional site. Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders currently available, and it also offers other helpful web services, including both hosting and domain name registration.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to build a Squarespace website from scratch, including everything from prep work to web design and finally publishing your site. While every site is different, Squarespace offers all the features most users need to create sleek, professional sites for almost any purpose.
The Squarespace Website Builder
The Squarespace site builder is designed to make it easy for users of all skill levels to design a beautiful website quickly. You’ll start crafting your site by selecting a template based on the kind of site you’re interested in building. Squarespace will ask some questions about your new site and suggest some relevant templates automatically.
Squarespace subscriptions start at $12 per month for the Personal tier, with Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce available for $18, $26, and $40 per month, respectively. Keep in mind that these prices represent the cost of an annual plan — in other words, you’ll pay $12 per month for a full year, or $144 total at the beginning of your new subscription. All paid plans come with basic features, including a free secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, free custom domain for one year, and 24/7 customer support.
|Plan||Personal||Business||Basic Commerce||Advanced Commerce|
|Price per Month (Paid Annually)||$12||$18||$26||$40|
|Free SSL Certificate||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Domain for One Year||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 Customer Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Integrated E-commerce Tools||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transaction Fees (Not Including Credit Card Processing)||N/A||3%||0%||0%|
|Point of Sale (POS)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Custom API Integration||No||No||No||Yes|
Pros and Cons of the Squarespace Website Builder
While Squarespace is largely similar to other website builders like Wix, WordPress, and GoDaddy, there are some important differences to be aware of before you invest in a new subscription. WordPress is a particularly popular option for bloggers and other content creators, and WordPress plans start at just $4 per month, billed annually, for the Personal tier.
Squarespace is built for simple, intuitive designs as you can edit your site with a quick drag and drop, and you won’t have to spend much time managing the technical side of your site. It offers integrations with a wide range of third-party platforms, including Apple Pay, Stripe, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Zapier, and Mailchimp. Furthermore, Advanced Commerce subscribers can manage custom integrations through the Squarespace API.
Meanwhile, WordPress requires more coding and input from the site’s designer. In contrast to Wix, Squarespace, and GoDaddy, WordPress is also open source, which means that its source code is available publicly for editing and analysis.
Wix and GoDaddy also uses a drag-and-drop interface like Squarespace that streamlines the web design process. GoDaddy subscriptions start at $9.99 per month for Basic while Wix plans are available from $14 per month. All four platforms come with web hosting.
Before Building Your Squarespace Website
While you might want to start designing your website immediately, you’ll need to go through some preliminary steps before using the website builder. Fortunately, Squarespace makes it easy to get your site up and running without relying on any other web services. Hosting is managed by Squarespace, so you won’t need to do anything yourself to set up your hosting arrangement. After starting a subscription, you’ll be able to set up a free domain name and optionally configure a new email address.
Squarespace Web Hosting
Web hosting connects your site to the internet, making it accessible for anyone with the URL. While you don’t necessarily need to use the same provider for hosting and website building, Squarespace rolls these services into a single subscription.
Due to Squarespace’s business model, the Squarespace design isn’t intended for migration to another host. In other words, creating your site with the Squarespace website builder means that you’ll be using Squarespace for hosting.
While you can export some of your site data and upload it into your new host, some data and formatting will likely be lost in translation. Similarly, Squarespace doesn’t provide stand-alone hosting, so you can’t use Squarespace to host a non-Squarespace site.
Register a Domain Name
Web hosting makes your site publicly available, but you’ll also need a domain name to accept online visitors. Again, Squarespace provides a free domain name at the lowest pricing tier for one year with every paid subscription. After that, you’ll be responsible for renewing your domain registration at the standard rate. However, you don’t need to get your domain from Squarespace — check out this guide for more information about connecting your Squarespace site to an external domain.
Get an Email Address
You don’t necessarily need an email address to run a website, but an email address that’s associated with your domain can help for a variety of reasons. Rather than using your existing email, you’ll be able to compartmentalize messages related to your site. If you’re creating a website for your business, branded email addresses will also add an extra layer of professionalism to your digital presence.
Determine Your Website Goals and Plans
While Squarespace generally targets users in creative fields, its templates can be applied to almost any kind of website. Squarespace offers preset templates for a variety of site types, including portfolios, online stores, launch pages, blogs, and membership websites.
From there, you can select the industry you’re working in for even more personalization. In the screenshot below, for example, we searched for templates that fit portfolios in the art and design niche. Of course, you’ll be able to adjust the template as needed once you start crafting your website. In this section, we’ll cover a few popular use cases for the Squarespace website builder.
Squarespace offers an excellent toolkit for business websites, and subscriptions at the Business tier and above come with fully integrated e-commerce features, including inventory management, payment processing, and gift cards. Of course, not every business website is designed for product sales, so you don’t necessarily need a Business subscription to create a company site.
If you’re planning to sell through your new website, make sure to select the online store site type when choosing your template. Keep in mind that different subscription tiers come with different e-commerce features. For example, business users pay an extra 3 percent transaction fee and miss out on advanced features like customer accounts, e-commerce analytics, and custom application programming interface (API) integrations.
A personal website could be anything from a portfolio of your creative projects to a personal blog or a landing page for a crowdfunding campaign. Squarespace templates can be used for any of these, along with a wide range of other sites. The Personal subscription, which costs $12 per month when paid annually, should offer enough tools for most personal websites.
Announcement websites are usually designed to provide information about a product, event, or service. For example, you might create a website with information about your wedding or an upcoming product launch. Squarespace is particularly suited to the announcement format given its simple, sleek templates. Again, the Personal plan will be sufficient for most announcement websites unless you need to sell products or integrate Squarespace with third-party apps.
Develop Your Website Content
Next, you’ll need to create and edit the content you’re planning to put on your website. Don’t worry too much about formatting at this stage as you’ll be able to make adjustments once you see how your content looks in a Squarespace template.
Different types of sites require different types of content, but you’ll at least want to include some basics such as your contact information, a statement of the site’s purpose, and high-quality images for what will become your homepage or landing page. If you’re planning to sell products, consider the steps that users will need to take between accessing your site and making a purchase. Again, you don’t need to make every decision this early, but you should at least have a general plan in mind before you start building your website.
Design Your Squarespace Website
At this point, it’s time to turn your site idea into a reality. We’ll walk through the process of researching similar sites, getting started with the Squarespace website builder, and finally crafting your new website.
Research Other Sites
First, look at other sites in your field to get an idea of what worked for them. Whether you have experience building websites or not, it can help to see what others in your field have come up with. Consider what a typical user is looking for when they visit the website and how well the site design matches the customer journey. If you want to move visitors to your email list, for example, it should be easy for them to subscribe from any page on the site. This means that your website structure should align with how you expect leads to progress from their first visit to their first order.
Build Your Squarespace Website
The Squarespace website builder is designed for simplicity, but it may still take you some time to learn its features and capabilities. Gradually, you’ll get a better feel for the platform as you spend more time developing and editing your new site, so don’t worry about learning everything at once.
Select a Template
As mentioned earlier, building a website on Squarespace starts with selecting one of its preset templates. These are organized by site type as well as topic, so make sure to find a template that fits your site. We created a launch page in the art and design category but take some time to look at templates on your own before moving on to the next step. Squarespace also gives you the option to preview templates before making a final decision.
Start the Website Builder
After you select a template, Squarespace will ask you to give your new site a name. From there, you’ll have access to the entire website builder toolkit. You can check out the two-minute intro video or click the Help button for more information about Squarespace’s features.
The assistant on the right will also guide you through some of the platform’s basic functions such as adding a title and logo, adding and removing pages, adding images, and optimizing your site for search engines. Your site won’t appear online until you’re ready to publish, so feel free to experiment with new designs and ideas.
At this point, you can start to upload the content you created during the last step into your new website. The Pages tab on the left-hand side displays all the pages you’ve created and makes it easy to create more.
Along with individual pages, Squarespace also offers the option to set up new Collections like blogs, portfolios, and online stores. Each collection comes with a deep set of tools to manage that specific module.
In the screenshot below, for example, we added an online store to our new website. Squarespace set up a store template automatically and gave us the option to either learn the ropes ourselves or get started with its step-by-step walkthrough. These features streamline the process of configuring new pages and getting your site ready to publish.
Publishing Your Site and Next Steps
When you’ve finished creating your site in the website builder, you can finally take the last step of making it available online. To publish a website, click on the Settings tab on the left side, then select Site Availability. Your site will be private by default until you change the setting when you’re ready to publish.
In some cases, you may want to make your site password-protected instead of making it completely public. If you’re making a site for your wedding, for example, it might make more sense to limit visitors to the people you’re expecting to attend. While you can set up a private or password-protected website during the 14-day free trial, you’ll need to pay for a Squarespace subscription if you want to make your site public.
Of course, the work isn’t over when your site is published. From there, you can use Squarespace’s deep set of marketing features to promote your site via email, social media, and other channels. You’ll also have the opportunity to leverage its analytic tools to improve your site’s uptime and overall performance. Consider gathering feedback from your audience to identify additional weaknesses and continue optimizing your website over time.