How to Build a Website With Squarespace
Creating your own website can sound quite daunting. There are a lot of pieces to fit into the puzzle. How are you supposed to know what all you actually need to do and what order to do it?
Luckily, Squarespace makes things easier especially for beginners and non-techies. And today I wanted to create a Squarespace tutorial for you so you can build your website with ease.
It’s important to have a planned process for how you are going to go about DIYing your website so you are better able to reach your desired end goal. Plus, it will save you time and result in fewer headaches and frustration.
You can either read this all the way through and then implement or implement at the end of each step. Which ever method works best for you personally. But don’t expect to read it and then remember it all later when you finally decide to get around to building your website.
I do have a Website Pre-Planning workbook that you can download for free. It’s a 14 page PDF workbook that you can print and fill out to help you prepare for designing your website.
I highly recommend it as it will help you narrow down on your target audience, define your website goals, and find inspiration so you can have a successful website.
Consider it an important piece to your website building puzzle that goes perfectly with this blog post.
How to Create Your Squarespace Website
1. Define Your Target Audience
Before you can decide on how you want your website to look, you need to know who your target audience is.
(Target audience, ideal customer avatar, ideal client, and dream customer essentially mean the same thing and I will be using them interchangeably)
If you have looked into branding your business I am sure you have heard plenty about defining your target audience. But did you do it?
This is probably one of the most overlooked steps in the business creation world. But it is also one of the most important.
How are you going to know how to design your website, what words to write, and what products or services to sell if you don’t know who it is all for?
People just starting out their business usually just design their website the way they like, and use the words they want, and create the products and services they want. Of course, you want your business to be a little bit of you but not completely.
Most commonly, a business’s target audience is based on the business owner, but usually a previous version of them. That’s why it’s okay to infuse you into your brand, but you also need to consider your target audience.
Knowing exactly who your ideal client is allows you to be able to connect with them and actually build a relationship. The more you connect with your audience the more likely they are to become raving fans and buy all the things from you!
Everything that goes into your business needs to be for your ideal client. They need to be kept in mind while designing your website, writing copy, creating products, etc.
I do say target audience, but it’s even better to narrow it down to one single person, so you need to get as specific as possible.
Now, in the workbook you just downloaded, you can start filling out Step One to define your dream customer.
Favorite blogs/podcasts/websites etc:
Preferred social media:
How you can help:
Find a picture of what you envision your dream customer looking like and adding it into the workbook.
Having a picture and a name for your ideal client makes them feel more real. This is going to be your new best friend, your invisible best friend that is. Anytime you write copy or do anything for your business, imagine you are talking to and doing it for your ideal client.
Overtime, your ideal client will evolve as you get to know your customers more and as your business grows. So don’t worry too much when that starts to happen. Just sit down and fill out this section again.
2. Define Your Website Goals
You can’t know if you are succeeding or even on the right track if you don’t first set goals. Just like you should have goals for your business, you need to have goals for your website.
First you need to think about: what is it that your ideal customer is looking for on your website?
For example, if you are web designer, people are most likely looking for your portfolio and prices.
Next, think about what the purpose of your website is. Your website needs to have a clear purpose. What do you want your website to do for you? What information does it need to give off? How will your website work for your business?
A few examples of website goals are:
To sell a product of service
To provide information on a certain topic
To help people achieve something
Grow your email list
Write down at least 3 goals, with one being your website’s main focus.
3. Find Your Inspiration
Finding inspiration for your website is the fun and exciting step in the process. Remember to keep your dream customer in mind while finding inspiration.
This step actually has two parts to it.
First, I want you to go on Pinterest and create a secret board and name it Website Inspiration.
Now, start searching Pinterest for anything that inspires you. You type these into the search to help get you started:
Website layout or website inspiration
Now go through and pick out your favorites. You can put these in a section within your board so you can easily reference them later.
Next, is what I like to call competitor stalking. Although, I don’t really like to think of them as competitors, so I should say businesses you look up to.
To help give you ideas for what you want your website to look like, you can look at other websites in your niche. Just be careful with this as it can cause you to unintentionally copy. That’s why I wanted you to create your inspiration board on Pinterest first so you can figure out what it is that you like and think your ideal client likes.
So in your Website Pre-Planning workbooks, write down four websites that you find inspiring. Remember, we are not copying them, just looking to learn from them.
Next, write down the answers to the following questions about each website:
What it is about each website that you like?
What attracts you to it and makes you want to stay?
What don’t you like?
What would you do differently?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What seems to be working for them?
What are they lacking that you could do better?
Learn from their mistakes.
4. Create Your Brand Style Guide
Now you need to go through all of your inspiration and decide what exactly creates your brand. To do this, you will want to create a brand style guide to help keep your brand consistent.
So what exactly is a brand style guide? Essentially, a brand style guide is a collection of the core items that define your brand, which therefore define your business.
To learn more about what a brand style guide is, why you need one, and how to create you I have a blog post just for that. It also has a free brand style guide template that you can download and use to make creating yours a lot easier.
Some of the core elements you will want to include are:
Mini mood board
While you were pinning inspiration on Pinterest, you probably pinned some brand style guides. You can look at those for inspiration on creating your own brand style guide. Again, do no copy, just get inspired and learn.
5. Mapping Out Your Website
You don’t want to go into building your website blind do you? Like I said earlier, you want to have a plan in place. This includes planning what will go on your website and where.
Planned and organized websites tend to do a lot better than those that aren't either of those things.
In this step we are going to plan what types of pages your website will have and the path you want your readers to take on your website.
First let's decide on the pages you are going to have. All websites need to at least have these pages:
Terms & Conditions
Any other legal pages needed for your niche/products/services
Also think about if you are going to have a blog or a shop or offer services, etc.
In the Website Pre-Planning workbook, plan out all the types of pages you will have on your website and any notes or ideas you might have about them that you don't want to forget later.
Now think about what path you want your readers to take when they land on your website.
For example you might want them to take a route similar to this:
Home -> About -> Blog -> Shop/Services
This does not need to be your chosen path, it's just an example. When you have this path planned, it will be easier for you to design your website because you will know to make each of these stops easily available and obvious.
Your readers won't always land on your homepage first, so think about this for a variety of pages they will most likely land on first.
Write the path down in the workbook so you can easily reference it while building your website.
6. Start Your Free Trial
If you haven’t already, you need to go to Squarespace and start your free trial. Then you will need to pick out your template.
Squarespace does categorize their templates so you can easily search through them, or you can just look through them all and preview each one that stands out to you.
The most popular templates are within the Brine template family. Yes, Squarespace has their templates in “families”. You can view the list on their website. Brine templates are known to be more flexible and offer the most customization.
You can also look at Squarespace’s template comparison chart if you want to see the templates broken down my features.
When deciding on your template, think about your website goals and your target audience. Which template best suits those needs?
You can test out a template and if you decide you don’t like it you can easily switch it anytime you want. I recommended playing around with at least a couple so you can see what is available to you.
Once you decide on your template, you can start designing your website! Yay, let the fun begin!
Check out this tutorial video to see how to get started on Squarespace.