Do your need a website but feel you cannot afford to use a professional? There are lots of ‘builder’ sites you could use, but I recommend Squarespace. No, you can’t build it in a matter of hours as is sometimes claimed, but if you have the time and a good eye, give it a try. My tips will help you avoid the pitfalls.
Before you start, get your text and images ready. Make a list of what’s going on which page then make a sketch of how you’d like your website pages to look. (The elements that you are using, i.e. text and pics, will dictate this to some extent). It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it’s just to guide you and help to organise your thoughts.
Go to https://www.squarespace.com/templates where you’ll encounter a questionnaire. Click on the type of business that is most similar to yours (or type in your area of business, for example ‘architect’). You’ll be taken to a ‘Goals’ page (see illustration). Tick all the boxes relevant to you, then click the ‘where you are in your business’ box. You’ll be taken to a page showing a selection of relevant templates.
Choose your template
Scroll down to see which templates most match your sketch and vision. Hover over your favourites and click the ‘Preview’ button. If you like what you see and want to view in more depth, select the ‘Visit Demo Site’ button (top right of screen). Once you’ve done this a few times you’ll find a template you really like. When you do, click the ‘Start with this design’ button (top right of screen).
Create an account
You’ll then be asked to create an account. This is free for a couple of weeks so you can play with Squarespace’s feature for a couple of weeks to your heart’s content. If you decide Squarespace is not for you, cancel before your trial period is up and it will cost you nothing.
Building or editing your site
Once you’ve clicked ‘Start with this design’ you’ll be taken to the ‘back’ of Squarespace where you can build, add to or edit your site. You’ll see a menu on the left of the screen which looks like this. Click ‘Pages’ in order to edit the template. Squarespace is quite intuitive, you should be able to edit the text and replace the images without too much trouble.
The Squarespace Help Centre is a fantastic resource, and one that you will be using often if you are new to the platform. You can access it by clicking ‘Help’ at the bottom of the menu at the back of your site.
- Before editing, always make a copy of the page you are about to change by clicking the little settings icon next to the relevant page then scrolling down to ‘Duplicate Page’. That way, you can always revert to the original if things don’t go quite as you’d planned.
- Try to change the template as little as you can. They are a already extremely well designed and if you are a beginner you won’t be able to improve them. If you need to add sections, the way to add blocks is in the Squarespace Knowledge Base
- Use the Design tab to add your site title and logo (and favicon if you have one).
- Please don’t alter the ‘Site Styles’ if you are not a graphic designer.
- You can add a store to your site by clicking ‘Commerce’.
- Add an appointment calendar by clicking ‘Scheduling’.
- If you already have an existing domain name you can ‘point’ it towards your new website. If you don’t, it’s probably easier to buy it from Squarespace (though that’s slightly more expensive).
- Ideally, take a week off work to set up your website. Claims that you can build a website in just a few hours are just not true.
Good luck setting up your new website! If you find you need a hand, please get in touch, we are here to help.
About the author
Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to her bi-monthly emails.