10 Tips To Getting Started on SquareSpace

Are you sick of your website but don’t want to drop a couple thousand dollars revamping it? Don't.

I am a firm believer in SquareSpace and it’s ability to perform. Unless you need an intricate website custom built to your business, SquareSpace is a great way to build a website quickly and affordably. It requires no coding knowledge which allows anyone to create great looking websites.

I recently created a SquareSpace website for YogaCycle. Along the way, I took mental notes of the small details that can cut down on the time it takes to build your site without having to compromise quality. 

SquareSpace For Dummies

1. Great photos go a long way

SquareSpace is built around featuring amazing photos. The second you start building your SquareSpace, you'll realize that the template you chose suddenly isn't as cool once you delete that bad ass picture SquareSpace had used. Don't let this scare or stop you from pushing past this first obstacle. 

Remember -- you are saving potentially thousands of dollars by creating your own site. It is worth spending a couple hundred dollars on a photographer to make your site pop.

Tips for finding a Photographer:

  1. Use Craigslist as a resource to find a photographer. Depending on your business, it might be best to look for someone who has experience taking “corporate” type pictures. These sorts of shots can be very different than head shots. If the photographer doesn’t have experience in that field, but is willing to try it out, see if he can cut you a deal since he isn’t fully confident in that space yet.
  2. Tell the photographer that you’d like to capture shots with blank space. Show him your website so he can know where the photo will end up. Help feed him ideas rather than relying solely on his creative input.

2. CHOOSE VIDEO INSTEAD OF PHOTOS

My last blog was about "Two videos for under $850 that will make your website pop!". The great thing about going this route is that you could kill two birds with one stone. Ask the videographer to export High Res photos from the video so that you can use these on your site. This is what I did with the YogaCycle site. 

The best way to embed HD Video is to purchase Vimeo Pro which is only $60/year. Even if you only have one or two videos, this membership is worth the cost! In addition to embedding HD quality videos, you'll be able to choose embed options such as hiding the Vimeo logo and your profile picture. This will make your videos much more appealing to the viewer. YouTube will make your videos stand out from your site in a negative way because they will have the title and other metadata attached to them that you will be unable to hide.  

3. Change the Default Settings

Don’t keep the basic settings from the initial SquareSpace template; customize your fonts and colors. All fonts, colors, and other style choices are under the style editor which can be found by clicking “Design” in the home menu, then “Style Editor”.

4. Font Pairing

Your goal is to choose two fonts that pair well together and stick to using only these two fonts.

  1. Choose a title font
    • Does your logo use a font? If so, use this font as your title font. 
    • If your logo does not have a font then you're free to choose a font that fits with your brand. Check out the Typography section on my Branding 101 blog for more info on choosing fonts. 
  2. Choose a normal text font.
    • Use your Title font as a guide for choosing your normal text.
    • Here is a great resource to help pair fonts: www.typegenius.com

5. Choosing Your colors

  1. To keep your site simple -- make your background white and your text either black or dark gray.
  2. Choose two main colors. These will be the only colors on your site.
  3. Start using these colors to design your site. Here are a few tips:
    • Make one color your header and the other your active navigation color. 
    • Use whatever color you didn't use for your header for the color of titles.
    • Make your buttons match your title font. 
    • If you insist on having a third color -- use it sparingly. For example, make it your active navigation color or for a link on a page.

6. USe Columns

Adding columns can be a nice way to get across several parts of your business in one glance. Take a look at the YogaCycle site below. The combo of these three columns quickly shows the classes that are offered. Initially I was very frustrated with creating columns. The SquareSpace design tool can be a little tricky. I figured out that adding temporary lines was the trick to create columns quickly. Check out the video to see what I mean.

7. Create your own Favicon

Favicon is a fancy name for the image next to your website title. Replacing the SquareSpace Favicon with your own will make your site more professional. Here are some examples:

In order to create a favicon, you need to convert either a .jpg or .png into a .ico file. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Save some time by following these steps:

  1. Go to www.favicon-generator.org
  2. If you'd like to turn your favicon into your logo then you'll upload your logo and create favicon.
    • Note: If your logo has small details on it, it might not be the best choice for a favicon.
    • As you can see in the picture above, the YogaCycle logo is just on the cusp of being too detailed for a favicon. Any smaller and it'd be hard to make out the logo. 
  3. If you're planning to hire a graphic designer to help create a logo, have him or her design a variation of your logo that will fit well in a favicon.
  4. Don't worry if you don't have a logo or design knowledge. Use Canva, a resource for non-graphic designers. 
    • Create a square using one of your main colors
    • Use your title font to create two initials that represent your brand. This will turn out similar to my favicon.
  5. Upload your .ico file to Squarespace. 
    • You can find this under Design -- Logo & Title -- Favicon (Browser Image)

For some reason SquareSpace can take some time to reflect the updated favicon. Give it some time and it should appear. If not, reach out to SquareSpace for help. 

8. Research Plugins

There are third party companies that offer plugins for SquareSpace that can help you further customize your site. If there is something that SquareSpace isn't able to do, research plugins that might be able to fit your needs. Here are a few that I've used in the past. 

  1. Background Video allows you to have background videos through out your site. Super easy to use and affordable.

  2. Heal Code allows you to integrate MindBody with SquareSpace.

9. Connect Your Domain

If you have a third party domain, you’ll need to connect it to the SquareSpace site. This can be tricky, but luckily SquareSpace has created a step by step guide for each host company to simplify the process. Check out the guides here.

10. Use Their Customer Service

If anything goes wrong or you can’t find something, reach out. They respond within 24 hours and are extremely helpful. Worst case scenario, they will go into the backend of your website and fix any issues for you.