Your website is your online homebase: you might have countless social 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.
Whether you’re creating your first passion project or you have an established brand, Squarespace’s all-in-one website building platform gives you everything you need to create a compelling, effective online presence. You can start with a single landing page, or build a complex, multi-faceted presence with media and commerce — and everything in between.
Step One: Buy a Domain
When you’re getting ready to launch your website, choosing a domain name is the first step. It doesn’t take long to buy a domain name, but you should spend time picking one that reinforces your brand. A domain name, like squarespace.com, is your first impression online, and it impacts everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to a person’s ability to easily remember and find your website.
Think about the kind of website you want to build. If you’re launching an online store for an existing business, choose a domain name that will help customers find your website. Start by searching for a domain name that matches the name of your business. Ideally, your domain name and your business name will be the same or similar. If your domain name is not available with “.com” after it, you might consider different a different domain extension, such as “.photos” or “.store.”
All Squarespace sites on an annual billing plan include a free custom domain. Already own a domain? Learn how to transfer it to Squarespace.
Step Two: Choose a Template
Website templates are pre-designed layouts that allow you to arrange content onto a webpage to create a simple yet professional website. You can drag and drop elements like text blocks, image blocks, photo galleries, logos, and more into the template to make it your own. The best part about it? With a Squarespace website template, absolutely no coding experience is required to create a stunning website customized to your brand’s needs.
Effective design establishes the foundation of a strong website that attracts your ideal customers, demonstrates your professionalism, and showcases your personality. Utilizing award-winning, professionally designed website templates helps you create a polished, compelling website without professional design skills.
When you’re ready to choose a template for your site, it’s helpful to determine the primary functions you need. Are you building a portfolio, a blog, a resume site, or an ecommerce site? Or something brand new and hard to categorize? Squarespace offers an incredible range of templates for all kinds of websites, that you can customize to make your own. And 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 dreams a reality.
Step Three: Create Your Website Pages
Basic Website Navigation
How do you want visitors to interact with your website? What do you want them to be able to do when they arrive on your homepage? That’s where navigation design, which enables visitors to move around your website, comes into play. Whether you’re starting a blog, selling online, or creating a portfolio of your work, site navigation can make or break the effectiveness of your website.
Navigation design is the sum of all the elements that people use to navigate a website. It includes everything from your website’s main menu, to buttons and copy, hyperlinks, and how you design your page layouts. The more user-friendly your website is, the more people will want to stick around and start building a relationship with your brand — which is why good navigation design is so important.
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. If your site has ineffective navigation design, it might mean that people leave because they can’t find what they’re looking for, which will result in fewer interactions with your content, products, and offerings.
Every Squarespace website template sets you up for success with built-in navigation and optimized UX — designed to look great on desktop, mobile devices, and tablets.
Step Four: Add Content to Your Website
When you add new pages to your Squarespace website, you can choose between blank pages and pages with pre-built layouts designed for specific uses. Squarespace uses stacked sections to help you customize where and how content appears within a page. You can add blocks to a blank page to create a new layout, or manipulate the blocks within a purpose-built layout page.
Responsive design and user experience have implications for SEO performance, the amount of time consumers spend on your site, and how likely they are to purchase from you. Take the time to truly consider your customer journey — from the moment they land on your site, through the second they take action to work with you.
When they arrive at your homepage, is it clear what they need to do next? Is your navigation easy to understand? Are they smoothly guided to where you want them to go, like your organized and sortable products page?
The goal is to create a polished representation of your brand, so the experience shoppers have on your website encourages more trust, interest, and engagement for your online store.
Writing Website Copy
Writing website copy that informs and engages your audience is a crucial part of your action plan to launch or revamp your small business website. Once you’ve chosen a website template, website copywriting should be next on your to-do list. Making a good first impression on your audience begins with good website copywriting. 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 as a blog, an “About” page, pages for your products or services, or a page with a contact form.
- Keep copy concise and skimmable
- If it’s important that your site be discoverable in search engine results, consider which search keywords are relevant to your business, and how they can be incorporated into copy and site navigation.
Adding Photos to Your Website
Images make a major impact online. The photos and graphics that complement the words on your website are an integral part of building a website that will help you accomplish your goals.
The first step to choosing images for your website is to identify what types of imagery
align with your brand. Once you determine 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 might not 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 for where to get images for your website include taking photos yourself or hiring a photographer, if that’s within your budget. Taking your own photos is more time-consuming than selecting stock photos, but the benefits run deep. 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.
In order for photos and images to load quickly and cleanly on your website, it’s important to pay close attention to image formats, resolution, and sizing. Make sure you’re working with JPEGs or PNGs, with a width of 1500 to 2500 pixels. It’s also important to consider file size, which can impact how quickly your pages load. Keep the total size of media files on a webpage under 2MB to optimize load time. Once you upload your photos to your site, Squarespace makes it easy to manage them all from one central place.
Step Five: Get Your Website Found
Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines
The more people visit your website, the more likely you are to make a sale, find a new client, or win over a reader for your blog. Simply put, getting traffic to your website is key to achieving your goals. That’s why it’s important to understand search engine optimization (SEO). When you know how to optimize your website, you have more control over where your site appears in search engine results, how many people see your website, and who finds you online.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy that makes it easy for search engines to understand your website. Search engines regularly crawl and index websites — meaning they “read” the content on all of your web pages and rank your website based on what you offer, and who could benefit from your products or information. Effective SEO practices will help search engines easily decide when to show your website to searchers, and make it more likely that you’ll connect with the right audiences for your brand.
A website’s technical SEO includes aspects of your website’s design and structure, like the time it takes for your website to load, or how it adapts to different screen sizes. Some website templates have automatic technical optimizations, like sitemaps and tagging, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing other areas of your online presence. Every Squarespace website template has built-in responsive design and technical SEO features.
You can improve your SEO through keyword research, effectively incorporating keywords into your website copy, building authority on a topic by publishing substantive content on that topic.
Connect Social Accounts
Connecting your social media accounts to your Squarespace dashboard allows you to share social content on your site and display your social profiles for visitors. With connected accounts, Squarespace enables you to input SEO descriptions and visually engaging thumbnails for individual pages and posts. This maximizes your content’s performance both on your site and when shared by your visitors on social channels. Over time, connecting your social media accounts to your site may help increase engagement with your social media posts and foster a consistent, trustworthy brand narrative across channels. Squarespace also offers apps that help you create professional looking images and videos for your social media: Explore Unfold and Video Studio.