How to pick the perfect Squarespace Template for your business
This post is going to be a long one, so grab some coffee and settle in.
The number one thing that drew me to Squarespace is their overall aesthetic of the main Squarespace website and of their templates.
I love the clean and modern feel, and as I’ve gotten to work with theses templates in depth, I’m a big fan of their user-friendliness especially for users that are new to the website building world.
I have reasons as to why I’m not a fan of other website platforms like Wix and Weebly, but we’ll save that for another day.
I want to run down the set-up and organization of Squarespace’s templates, their features, and compare and contrast some of the most popular ones.
PSST....don't forget to take the Squarespace Template Finder Quiz at the bottom of this post!
So let's get to work.
Squarespace separates their templates into families that contain a parent template and child template. Parent templates have the most customization built in, and they are the foundation of what other squarespace templates are built off of.
Squarespace Parent Templates Include: Brine, Farro, Aviator, Montauk, Skye, Tremont, Bedford, York and Pacific.
I love working with parent templates for the obvious reason of they give me the most legroom. Since I design websites for creatives that don’t want to use or fiddle with CSS to create a website that they love, I want to use templates that give them the most bang for their buck.
Before we compare the parent templates, let’s talk about the features that templates come with:
Included in All Templates:
Regular Pages: simple pages for your content.
Gallery: a place to house your images so you can use them later in a slideshow, wall, or carousel.
Blog: a collection for your posts instead of making them separate pages that clog up your navigation.
Shop: all templates have the ability for a shop to be added to them, while some templates that are designed specifically for e-commerce have a few more features.
Landing/Splash/Cover Page: a simple page that can be used for: under construction pages, content upgrade sign up pages, coming soon page, etc.
Analytics: every single template comes with the same analytics panel for your website traffic, as well as a panel for tracking your sales.
Included in only some templates:
Index pages: Index pages allow you to create a long form page with multiple sections. So for example, say you would love for the home page of your website to have everything on it that your readers need: intro to what you do, some images, some copy about you, and at the end a contact page. Essentially you want your homepage to work as a funnel of sorts to get your readers to contact you. This is a PERFECT scenario for Index pages. I love working with index pages and it’s my favorite feature that Squarespace offers. Check out Squarespace’s Foster template demo that is my favorite example of an index page.
Headers, Footers, and Sidebars: Most templates come with a footer, and some even come with a pre footer. From what I’ve seen, the templates that come with a side bar, also come with a header section.
Sidebars: when it comes to templates that have sidebars, you can either have one side bar or two sidebars. Most bloggers use the templates hat come with sidebars, but don’t fear: you can always create a faux sidebar.
Remember, you want the pages on your website to work as a funnel to get your readers to do whatever you need them to do. Whether that means purchase products, sign up for your newsletter, contact you for work, etc.
So let’s see how parent templates stack up against each other:
If you’re a blogger that has is a little more on the text side than image, I would recommend templates in the Montauk Family, and in the Pacific Family with Montauk and Pacific being the top choices.
Parent templates are usually going to be your best bet. They allow for the most customization and are what the other templates in it’s family are based on.
Another popular contender for bloggers is the Five template. There’s really only one reason why I love this template a little more than the others: it has the ability to have a side bar on every page.
Outside of the blog page, this may not matter to some, but I love having the option to do it.
A girl loves options.
If you're a blogger where you want the primary focus of your posts and of your site to be images (food bloggers I’m looking at you), the Sky, Haute, and Farro templates are going to be (Sky and Farro are parents).
These templates allow for beautiful full bleed images, grid homepage to allow your readers to get to the content they want quickly.
In Order: Pacific, Montauk, Skye, Haute, and Five.
I’ve designed Squarespace websites for photographers in the past, and I tend to gravitate towards the same templates over and over again: Horizon, Aviator, Brine, Ishimoto, Tremont and Marquee.
The great thing about websites for photographers, is that Squarespace (in my opinion) does such a great job making pretty much all of their templates photographer/large photo friendly.
Another great thing about photographers is that their sites are generally used to house their portfolio, a contact form, an about me page, and a blog (PSA if you’re a photographer that is NOT blogging, START NOW. Thank me later.)
For my photogs I would say to go for the templates that have full bleed images, these allow for your work to be front and center.
In Order: Brine, Horizon, Marquee, Aviator, Tremont.
Hey Graphic Designers! I would definitely recommend the above templates for you guys in addition to these:
In Order: Clay, York, Foster, Henson, Carson, Jaunt, and Brine.
All Squarespace templates have the ability to set up a shop, but there are some templates that give more customization when it comes to the aesthetics of your site, so if an only shop with multiple products is your primary goals, I would recommend: Brine, Mercer, Foster, Hyde, Marta, Foster, Clay and Juke.
All of these templates I mentioned are in the Brine family, so they all are very similar when it comes to customization.
In Order: Mercer, Juke, Hyde, Marta, Clay, Foster, Jaunt, and Brine.
Still have some questions on pulling the trigger on Squarespace?
Let’s run through some typical questions that I get or have heard:
Q1: WHAT IF I WANT TO CHANGE MY TEMPLATE?
Changing your template is not a difficult task, but it also isn’t a task that is an instant change over.
Will changing your template take you all day? No. I’ve changed the template for complete websites in less than 3 hours.
Here’s what you have to remember to change/check on when changing templates:
Have my fonts (headings, links, body, etc.) changed?
INDEX PAGES: Moving from one template that you have created an index template onto another one that does not support index pages will force your pages to become individual pages. You do not lose them, they just are housed together all in one scrollable page.
Do I still have parallax scrolling? (If your previous template did have it)
Sidebars: do I still have them?
Banner images: not all templates allow for you to place content blocks onto of the banner images. If you had this before, You’re going to have to do some maneuvering and fiddling to get things back to how you want them.
My best piece of advice: if you want to change templates, try to stay in the same template family. This makes for an easier transition.
Q2: Will changing my template affect my SEO?
Nope. No. Negative. All of your page descriptions, site descriptions, image file names, etc. are all still there. Rock on.
The great thing about changing your template is that after you’re installing a template, you’re actually previewing it.
This means that your old template is still live and that’s what viewers are seeing. This allows you to not have any downtime when changing your template and with a click of a button you can “publish/go live” with your new template and kill it.
I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with DIYing a website.
That’s the number one reason that I created Hued Design Studio. I know and love Squarespace like the back of my hand, and I want to help you know and love it too.
the top 3 things to remember:
When you change your template, choose a template for the first time, and/or are designing your site here are some key questions to ask yourself about the overall goal of your website/blog/biz:
Who is my target audience? (For example: Photographer's may want a more photo heavy site since they're being hired for their visuals; while freelance writers may want a site that's a little more text heavy to showcase their bad ass writing skills.)
What do I want people to do once they land? Hire you? Purchase your physical products? Think of these things when creating the flow of your site and how keep that as the main end goal.
Is this representing my brand?