Crafting a website might sound complicated, but modern website-building tools make it easy to turn your idea into a functional site. Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders available, and it offers other helpful web services, including hosting and domain name registration.
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 people need to create sleek, professional sites for almost any purpose.
Check out our Squarespace review if you want to learn more about it.
What Does the Squarespace Website Builder Entail?
The Squarespace site builder is designed to make it easy for users of all skill levels to make a beautiful website quickly. You’ll start crafting by selecting a template based on the kind of site you’re interested in building. Squarespace will ask questions about your new site and automatically suggest relevant templates.
Squarespace subscriptions start at $16 monthly. All paid plans come with basic features, including a free secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, a free custom domain for one year, and 24/7 customer support.
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 trendy option for bloggers and other content creators, and the plans start at an affordable price.
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 various 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 its source code is available publicly for editing and analysis. Wix and GoDaddy also use a drag-and-drop interface like Squarespace that streamlines the web design process. All four platforms come with web hosting.
What Should You Do 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. Squarespace makes getting your site up and running easy without relying on other web services.
The provider manages hosting, so you won’t need to do anything to set up your hosting arrangement. After starting a subscription, you can set up a free domain name and configure a new email address optionally.
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. 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 it 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. With every paid subscription, Squarespace provides a free domain name for one year at the lowest pricing tier.
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. You can use a third-party domain registrar instead.
Get an email address
You don’t necessarily need an email address to run a website, but an email address associated with your domain can help for a variety of reasons. Rather than using your existing email, you can categorize messages related to your site. If you’re creating a website for your business, branded email addresses will add professionalism to your digital presence.
How Do You Determine Your Website Goals and Plans?
While Squarespace generally targets people in creative fields, you can apply its templates to almost any kind of website. Squarespace offers preset templates for various 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. You can adjust the template as needed once you start crafting your website.
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. 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 plan to sell through your new website, select the online store site type when choosing your template. Keep in mind that different subscription tiers come with varying e-commerce features. For example, business users pay an extra 3% transaction fee and miss out on advanced features like customer accounts, e-commerce analytics, and custom application programming interface (API) integrations.
This could be anything from a portfolio of your creative projects to a personal blog or a landing page for a crowdfunding campaign. You can use Squarespace templates and many other sites for any of these. The Personal subscription should offer enough tools for most personal websites.
Usually, these are 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. Given its simple, sleek templates, Squarespace suits the announcement format. Again, the Personal plan will be sufficient for most announcement websites unless you need to sell products or integrate Squarespace with third-party apps.
How Do You Develop Your Website Content?
You’ll need to create and edit the content you plan to put on your website. Don’t worry much about formatting at this stage, as you can make adjustments once you see how your content looks in a Squarespace template.
Different types of sites require different types of content. Still, it is helpful 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 plan to sell products, consider the steps people must take between accessing your site and purchasing. You don’t need to make every decision this early, but at least have a general plan before building your website.
How Should You Design Your Squarespace Website?
At this point, it’s time to turn your site idea into a reality. We’ll research similar sites, get started with the Squarespace website builder, and craft 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 looks 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. 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 take 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 there is no need to learn everything at once.
Select a template
Building a website on Squarespace starts with selecting one of its preset templates. These are organized by site type and topic, so find a template that fits your site. Squarespace also allows you 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, making designing easier.
Along with individual pages, Squarespace offers the option to set up new Collections like blogs, portfolios, and online stores. Each collection has a deep set of tools to manage that specific module.
For example, we added an online store to our new website in the screenshot below. Squarespace automatically set up a store template, allowing us to learn the ropes or get started with its step-by-step walkthrough. These features streamline configuring new pages and getting your site ready to publish.
What Happens When You Publish Your Site, and What Are the Next Steps?
When you’ve finished creating your site in the website builder, you can finally make 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.
Sometimes, you may want to make your site password-protected instead of completely public. For example, if you’re making a site for your wedding, limiting visitors to the people you’re expecting to attend might make more sense. While you can set up a private or password-protected website during the 14-day free trial, you must pay for a Squarespace subscription to make your site public.
The work isn’t over when your site is published. From there, you can use Squarespace’s deep 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.
FAQs About Squarespace Websites
Can I build my own Squarespace website?
Yes. All you need to do is sign up for the free trial or a paid plan and get started.
How long does it take to build a website on Squarespace?
It depends on a wide range of factors, but simple websites can take as little as a few hours. More complex designs can take weeks, especially for websites with a ton of different custom pages.
Is it hard to build a website on Squarespace?
Squarespace is relatively easy to use, even if you’ve never built a website before. There is a learning curve but it’s very gentle compared to other website creation options.
How much does it cost to set up a Squarespace website?
Squarespace plans start at $16 per month if you pay annually. Aside from that, you may not have any other costs if you build it yourself. However, there are premium Squarespace template you can purchase for several hundred dollars or you can hire a Squarespace designer starting around $3,000.