Squarespace is a design lover’s dream – and if you’re looking to quickly build a website in the creative industry, it’s essential. Why? Because it offers the largest palette of creative tools around. And best of all, anyone can use it.
Don’t believe us? One user mentioned during our testing:
“I feel like a proper designer, though I don’t have the actual skills to call myself a professional.”
You might already be starting to see what kind of service Squarespace provides. And it’s not just us who love it either. Over a million people have continued with a premium plan after their Free Trial, so it’s clearly popular.
Like all website builders, Squarespace has made it easier than ever to get online. It saves you time, not to mention heaps of cash on web designers. Better yet, a Squarespace website is the closest you’ll get to professional quality.
It provides such good website results because its design tools are more advanced than most others. The features can be tricky at first, but don’t worry – we’ve got some handy tips to make Squarespace seem super simple.
We’re going to show you how to use Squarespace in nine easy steps, covering everything from signing up to publishing. The largest chunk of this guide focuses on design (no surprises there), because there’s so much to play with.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to choose a price plan, add a domain, and get stuck into all the design features. It may sound like a lot, but building a website with Squarespace is not only enjoyable, but takes just a few hours.
Building with Squarespace really is a creative journey, and we’re here to guide you through it. So let’s get started…
Firstly, then, head to Squarespace.com. You’re welcomed with a clean, stylish homepage with clear action buttons. This gives you an idea of the elegant sites Squarespace can help you build.
Before you start building, like most people, you’re probably thinking about costs. But don’t worry: Squarespace offers a 14-day Free Trial, so you can try before you buy.
To start, click ‘Start A Free Trial’ in the center, or ‘Create A Site’ top right.
Once your free trial ends (or if you feel like upgrading), you’ll need to subscribe to a paid plan. The Squarespace price plans are:
- Personal ($16 per month)
- Business ($26 per month)
- Ecommerce Basic ($30 per month)
- Ecommerce Advanced ($46 per month)
Of course, the plans all differ in the features they provide. But if you’re concerned about costs, you can save between 13% and 25% if you sign up for an annual plan. This means they work out at $12, $18, $26, and $40 per month, respectively.
But what do they provide? Well, as you would expect, you get more if you pay more. For example, the Personal Plan is perfect for portfolios and blogs, but isn’t right for users with business ambitions, because it cannot sell items for you. It also doesn’t provide third party integrations like Mailchimp or OpenTable, or promotional pop-ups.
The two Ecommerce plans offer zero transaction fees, while Business charges you 3%. So think about your budget and what you’d like your website to be capable of.
Squarespace is relatively expensive compared to other website builders like Wix and Weebly, but it gives you more powerful tools to create a stunning site.
Choosing a Squarespace theme is fun. It has some of the best designed templates around, and the layout is interactive. You can even narrow your search down by typing your website’s purpose; ‘To promote my restaurant’, for instance, or ‘Photography portfolio’.
Need some inspiration? Check out these stunning Squarespace samples.
Alternatively, you can quickly scan the ‘Top Categories’ on the left hand side. These include everything from ‘Online Stores’ and ‘Food & Drink’ to ‘Weddings’ and ‘Fashion & Beauty’.
There’s space for every website, so simply click and search for the perfect template. Each thumbnail comes with a descriptive sentence to help you decide. Don’t feel pressured, though – you can preview each one, or save a list of your favorites using the small heart next to each name.
Found your favorite? Click ‘Start With X’. We’ve gone with Hayden in the image above, one of the most popular Squarespace themes. Before you start editing, however, you just need to add some quick personal details (see below).
Before making your website look good, it needs a nice name.
Your website will be auto assigned a Squarespace URL. For example, our demo website name is:
Looking to save some cents? You can change the first part of the URL for free (in our case that’s ‘cardioid-hexaflexagon-jtyr’), but you’ll still be stuck with ‘.squarespace.com’.
For a professional page, we recommend getting your own domain. Take a look at www.slowtravelmagazine.com, a stunning Squarespace site with a URL to match.
This can be done easily by clicking ‘Settings’ on the home panel, then ‘Domains’. From here you can update the built-in domain, get a new one, or add your own existing URL.
Take a look at the editing homepage below. You have the home panel on the left hand side (where you add stuff), and the site preview on the right.
The Squarespace home panel is the content management menu. It features all the tools you need to create your website, and they’re categorized into:
So how does Squarespace work? Unlike its competitor Wix, it doesn’t use drag-and-drop design. It takes a few more clicks to create stuff. With Squarespace, the cursor is your minesweeper – hover over an element, and it reveals what you can do.
To add a new Squarespace page, simply click the ‘+’ on the ‘Pages’ section on the left side home panel. Here you can add a blank page, or more specific pages like blogs, galleries, and product pages. This means you don’t need to spend time searching hundreds of apps.
After you’ve added a new page, you’ll have a blank canvas. You just need to enter a page title, pick a ‘Starter Layout’, then click ‘Start Editing’.
To add content blocks and elements, just click the ‘+’ in the top right, or hover between blocks and click the line that appears. You’ll then have a content blocks menu appear (see below) where you can add all sorts of media, such as images, videos, and buttons.
Inspired to customize everything yourself? Just delete each demo page and repeat the same process. Click the cog icon next to the page name, and then ‘Delete’. Then get creating!
Don’t have the time to create new blank pages? No problem – just stick with the demo pages and edit the names. Click the cog icon, and then you’ll see a pop-up allowing you to update the Navigation Title and body text. You can’t change the fonts here, just the page names (we’ll get onto that later).
To reshuffle the page order, simply click and drag each page name up or down. You can really make the website template your own. Alternatively, click ‘Manage Sections’ in the top right corner of the site preview page.
Squarespace is a powerful designer, but its beauty is in the fine details. This means it’s worth spending some time playing around with the tools. In fact, one person we interviewed during our testing said:
They offer a vast range of design types, which were really really nice. They all stand out.
But, of course, we’re here to help. So we’ll go over everything you need to personalize your Squarespace website to the highest standard.
Scroll to the page area you’d like to edit on the right side preview page, then move the cursor over the top left corner. It will then highlight the section you’ll be editing. Click ‘Edit’, and you can update the text.
To change the font size and color, click ‘Style Editor’ in the ‘Design’ section of the left side home panel. Then just scroll and click each text box you want to change. You’ll see all the text editor options revealed. See below for the ‘Style Editor’ options.
Imagery and Squarespace go hand in hand. It’s where you really get to see the finer details and creative flexibility of the site. To edit the template’s images, hover the cursor in the top left corner, then over an image, then click ‘Edit’. Easy.
From here, you can replace the image by clicking the garbage can. You can either upload an image, or search for a stock photo. Choose between the free options, which are taken by amateurs, or the premium Getty images. The premium options cost $10, but are snapped by pros, making your site even more sleek.
You can even reshuffle the image layout on the template by clicking ‘Design’ at the top. For example, you can make images overlap, or create a collage. So, not only are the templates visually impressive, but they’re flexible too.
To edit the actual photo itself, click ‘Image Editor’ after selecting a photo. This is a photographer’s playground, where you can really let loose with the design options. See below for the image editing tools.
Need to add an image, rather than simply replacing a demo image? No need to worry – it’s the same process as adding a new page. So, hover in the top right, click ‘Edit’, then hit the ‘+’ for the content block menu. You can now throw in images, videos, buttons, and other cool stuff.
Explore the design options
Now we’ve covered the fundamental things like adding pages, text, and images, it’s worth highlighting the more detailed design options. Design is Squarespace’s strongest attribute, so make sure you dig around to get the most out of your site.
See the image below for what you can play with.
From here, you can add your company logo, change templates, add featured messages, design your ‘checkout’ page (if you’re on an ecommerce plan!), and more. You can even customize your CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) if you know how to code. Be careful, though, it can break your design.
Don’t think you’ll be overwhelmed by the choice of tools. Each option is explained well, so it never feels too difficult. There is just so much design flexibility, so don’t shy away!
Firstly, to add marketing tools, you’ll need to be on the ‘Business’ plan at the very least. How do you upgrade? You won’t be surprised to hear that Squarespace have thought of that – there’s a strategically placed ‘Upgrade Now’ button at the foot of every page during your free trial.
Of course, these tools aren’t necessary for every website. So if you’re not planning to sell online, you can skip Steps 7 and 8.
By clicking ‘Marketing’ on the main menu, you’ll see everything you need for promoting your Squarespace site. See the image below for the marketing options.
From here you can add pop-ups, show social media buttons, integrate your Facebook page, link your Instagram feed, and more, all with just a couple of clicks. You can even create a new email campaign. For such a creative website builder, Squarespace doesn’t skimp on the business side.
You can even see how your site is performing with the ‘Analytics’ option on the home panel. It lets you view traffic, search for keywords, and essentially keep track of how your Squarespace website is doing.
Similar to adding marketing tools, you’ll need to be on at least the ‘Business’ price plan to sell stuff. That said, we would still recommend the ‘Commerce’ plans for more ambitious online stores.
See our Squarespace price plan review here.
So, once you’ve upgraded (just hit the blue ‘Upgrade Now’ button), click ‘Commerce’ on the home panel, and you can start selling. You can now integrate these features:
- Online orders
- Inventory management
- View your customers
- Add discounts
Note, you’ll have to add a ‘Products’ page before managing your stock. But don’t worry, just revisit the ‘Adding pages’ steps and repeat the process. It’s really easy.
Unlike most website builders, Squarespace doesn’t actually have a ‘Publish’ button. During your free trial, it’s live the whole time.
But don’t worry about people seeing your half-built masterpiece. Trial sites don’t appear on search engines, so no one will see it unless you directly share the URL. And if they do arrive at your site, they need to enter a CAPTCHA (when you have to type a bunch of blurry letters to prove you’re human).
To remove the CAPTCHA, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. This will automatically get your site live on search engines too. To get your online store live, you need to connect a payment processor – otherwise, your customers will see ‘Checkout Closed’.
In short, the publishing process is relatively easy, because – well – there isn’t one.
Creating a website with Squarespace is more satisfying than most other builders. Why? Because while it needs more care and attention, it’s still easy to use.
It may seem like a lot of information to absorb, but the process is really quite simple. To jog your memory, let’s recap the nine simple steps for making a beautiful Squarespace site:
- Sign up
- Choose a price plan
- Choose a theme
- Add a domain
- Edit page names and layout
- Design your site
- Integrate marketing tools
- Add ecommerce features
- Publish (remove CAPTCHA)
With Squarespace, you have so much creative flexibility – much more than most website builders. Sure, it’s ideal for users with loads of design flair, but it’s also easy enough for anyone to create a professional quality website.
So get started with Squarespace today, and see where the creative journey takes you.