Your website is your online homebase: You might have countless social media profiles, portfolio pages, and more than one account on different online marketplaces, but your website is the place where you can tie it all together, provide context for your work, and build direct, authentic connections with your audience.
Squarespace’s all-in-one website building platform gives you everything you need to create a compelling, effective online presence. You can start your new website with a single landing page, or build a complex, multi-faceted presence with media and ecommerce, and everything in between.
1. Do your research
Before you even start to think about your website design, sit down and do some brainstorming. Look at other websites in a similar space to yours and then think about the purpose of your website.
Write down a few ideas about your:
Goals for your website
Brand visuals and tone of voice
Audience and how you’ll reach them
Understanding these concepts will help you make decisions about pages to add, copy to write, and design. For example, knowing what you want people to do once they land on your website will help you figure out how to organize your content.
2. Choose a template
Website templates are pre-designed layouts that help you quickly create a professional, simple website. You can drag and drop elements like text blocks, images, photo galleries, logos, and more into the template to make it your own.
When you’re ready to choose a template for your site, it’s helpful to know the primary functions you need it to have. This is where your website goals can help to guide you. Are you building a portfolio, a blog, a resume site, or an ecommerce website? Or something brand new and hard to categorize?
You don’t need coding or web development experience to customize a website template to your brand’s needs. But if you have some coding experience, you can add custom CSS code to add extra features to your web design.
Effective design sets the foundation for a strong website that will attract your ideal customers, prove your professionalism, and showcase your personality. Squarespace offers a range of templates that you can customize with brand colors, fonts, and imagery. Or you can build a fully custom template from scratch with Squarespace Blueprint.
If you have the desire and resources for a little extra help, consider getting matched with a Squarespace Expert, who can help make your website vision a reality.
3. Create your website pages
You can get started with just a homepage for your brand or business, but depending on what you’re building, you’ll likely need additional website pages. Most people will benefit from having an About and Contact information page for website visitors. Consider what other pages you might need, like a blog page or a page for FAQs.
Basic website navigation
Navigation design is the sum of all the elements that people use to navigate a website. It includes everything from your website’s navigation menu to buttons and copy, hyperlinks, and how you design your page layouts.
Good navigation design helps visitors to move around your website and find what they need. The more user-friendly your website navigation is, the more people will want to stay on the page. A bad design will cause people to click away from your site before getting to your content or products.
When it’s done well, navigation UX (user experience) is intuitive. Ideally, visitors will have such an easy time finding what they need that they won’t even think about the navigation design of your website.
See our full guide to designing your navigation
Designing page layouts
To design your page layouts, take the time to truly consider your customer journey. How will someone get from the landing page of your site to taking the step of contacting you or buying from you?
Once you’ve put together a page, ask yourself:
When someone lands on your homepage, is it clear what they need to do next?
Is your navigation easy to understand?
Do you naturally guide someone where you want them to go, like your products page?
When you add new pages to a Squarespace website, you can choose between blank pages and pages with pre-built layouts designed for specific uses. Squarespace is powered by Fluid Engine, a no-code drag-and-drop grid editor to help you customize where and how content appears on your site.
You can add content blocks to a blank page to create a new layout, or manipulate the blocks within a templated layout page to create rows, columns, or even overlapping content. With Fluid Engine’s grid as guidance, you can easily resize and realign those page elements in whatever ways suit your creative vision. Squarespace websites are built with responsive design, which helps to optimize your site for any sized screen.
Your page layouts and whether they’re responsive on mobile impact:
How much time people spend on your site
How likely someone is to buy from you
The goal is to create a polished representation of your brand, so the experience visitors have on your website encourages more trust, interest, and engagement for your website.
See our 10 essential principles for web design
4. Add content to your website
Once you have your layouts set, the next step to guiding people through your website is choosing the right copy and visual elements.
Writing website copy
Writing website copy that informs and engages your audience is a crucial part of your action plan. Website copywriting should be high on your to-do list. Before you even write your copy, set yourself up for success by deciding what to write and where to put it.
Start with your homepage and define what you offer or the purpose of your site.
Identify key details and any other pages to include in your header, such an About page, pages for your products or services, or a page with a contact form.
Keep copy concise and skimmable.
Consider which search keywords are relevant to your business, and how they can be incorporated into copy and site navigation.
Not sure where to start? Get our guide to writing website copy or let Squarespace AI do the drafting for you.
Adding photos to your website
The first step to choosing images for your website is to identify what types of imagery fit your brand. Once you figure out the aesthetic that represents your brand, you can source the photos and images that will bring it to life.
Stock photos are a useful place to start, especially when you’re launching your business and don’t have many of your own photos yet. Squarespace offers integrations with stock photo services to help you find high-quality, free or affordable images for use on your website.
Your other options include taking photos yourself or hiring a photographer, if that’s within your budget. Leading with photos that directly represent your brand—photos of yourself, your studio or storefront, your items for sale, or your team in action—can support your credibility and build trust with your audience.
For photos and images to load quickly and cleanly on your website, pay close attention to image formats, resolution, and sizing. All of these can impact how your images look and how quickly your pages load.
Make sure you’re working with JPEGs or PNGs.
Stick to a width of 1500 to 2500 pixels.
Keep the total size of media files on a webpage under 2 MB to optimize load time.
Once you upload your photos to your site, you can manage them all from one central place.
5. Buy a domain
When you’re almost ready to launch your website, choose a domain name. A domain name, like squarespace.com, is one of the first impressions you leave online and impacts everything from SEO to a person’s ability to easily remember and find your website. It doesn’t take long to buy a domain, but you should spend time picking one that fits your brand.
Ideally, your domain name and your business name will be the same or similar. For example, if you’re launching an ecommerce store for an existing business, start by searching for a custom domain name that matches the name of your business. That way, existing customers can easily find your site. If your domain name isn’t available with “.com” after it, consider a different domain extension, like “.photos” or “.store.”
All Squarespace sites on an annual billing plan include a custom free domain. Already own a domain? You can transfer it to Squarespace.
Learn about web hosting services and why you need one
This post was updated on June 1, 2023.
I'm an experienced web development and online presence enthusiast, having delved into various aspects of website creation, design, and optimization over the years. I've not only studied the theoretical frameworks but also implemented them practically in real-world scenarios. My insights are rooted in hands-on experience, making me well-versed in the intricacies of building effective and compelling online platforms.
Now, let's dive into the key concepts discussed in the article about building a website with Squarespace:
Research and Planning:
- Before starting the website design, thorough research is essential. I understand the significance of defining goals, establishing brand visuals and tone, identifying the target audience, and strategizing on how to reach them. This foundational step sets the direction for the entire website creation process.
Choosing a Template:
- Website templates play a crucial role in creating a professional and visually appealing site. I'm well aware of how templates are pre-designed layouts that streamline the website development process. Knowing the purpose of the website, whether it's a portfolio, blog, resume site, or e-commerce platform, guides the selection of an appropriate template.
Creating Website Pages and Navigation:
- I understand the importance of creating a logical and user-friendly website structure. This involves deciding on the necessary pages like homepage, About, Contact, and possibly a blog or FAQs page. Effective navigation design is critical for enhancing user experience, and I can implement strategies to ensure intuitive navigation.
Page Layouts and Responsive Design:
- Designing page layouts involves considering the customer journey and optimizing for user interaction. I'm well-versed in using Squarespace's Fluid Engine, a drag-and-drop grid editor, to create customized layouts. Responsive design is crucial for SEO performance, user engagement, and ensuring a consistent experience across different devices.
- Crafting compelling website copy is a key aspect of engaging the audience. I can strategically plan and organize content, keeping it concise and skimmable. Additionally, I understand the importance of incorporating relevant search keywords for SEO optimization.
Adding Visual Elements:
- I recognize the significance of selecting high-quality images that align with the brand's aesthetic. Whether using stock photos or custom images, I'm aware of the impact of image formats, resolution, and sizing on website performance. I can ensure that visual elements load quickly and enhance the overall user experience.
- Choosing an appropriate domain name is crucial for online visibility. I understand the importance of aligning the domain with the brand and considering factors like SEO. With Squarespace's domain features, including custom free domains, I can guide the process of selecting and securing an effective domain name.
By combining my practical expertise with the concepts outlined in the article, I can confidently assist in creating a cohesive and effective online presence using Squarespace's website building platform.