You have a brilliant idea for a new blog or online store. You’ve figured out the basics, like a name and brand. You feel ready to bring your vision to life and introduce your dream to the masses. What’s next?
You need a website.
The website for your store or blog is the face your brand projects to the world. Visitors will take one look at it and immediately make snap judgments about who you are, what you do, and if what you’re promoting is for them. No pressure, right?
As scary as that sounds, we live in a #blessed time — an age when it’s really not all that difficult to create beautiful, comprehensive websites without shelling out big dollars to a design company or web developer. Sites like Squarespace come with dozens of templates just waiting to be customized, so you can avoid the “amateur blogger” phase and go straight to looking like the professional you are. You can even use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL18” for 10% off your first purchase at Squarespace!
But with this many templates to choose from, figuring out what you need in a website layout can be overwhelming in and of itself. Each template will come with its own host of unique features you may or may not need for your brand: Do you need infinite scrolling? Fixed long scrolling? Parallax scrolling? Do those terms mean nothing to you at all (cough, raises hand)?
Determine your site’s main goal
This first question is an easy one. What is the main purpose of the site you want to create? The biggest differentiation you should consider is whether or not your site is mainly a blog (personal, travel, brand-focused, etc), a website (restaurant, company, studio, etc) or an e-commerce store selling products online.
Squarespace separates templates by category on their template page. While you’re not required to only pick from the “travel” templates if you’re writing a travel blog, you’ll want to keep each template’s major features in mind to make sure they don’t conflict with your site’s main goals.
Those with online stores, for example, will want to stick with one of Squarespace’s designated commerce templates, which are optimized with a shop owner’s needs in mind. If blogging is more your speed, pick a template made with blogs in mind (the fashion & beauty, health & fitness, and food & drink sections all cater more to bloggers).
Think about photos
Many of Squarespace’s templates use full-size images for strong visual impact. However, if you don’t have access to striking, high-resolution photos, your website may appear underwhelming compared to sample versions.
Think about how important visuals are to your brand, as well as your ability to create them. If your site will be mostly text-focused, or if you plan to primarily use iPhone pics, consider a template that opts for a smaller header image (like Native) or forgoes one altogether (like Foundry).
Play around with the examples
Every Squarespace template comes with a preview option, allowing you to click around a sample site to test functionality and picture what users would experience while visiting your own site. Before selecting your own layout, be sure to do a thorough tour around the sample site to know it’s a fit for your content. Determine which pages are going to be most important for you: Portfolios, galleries, blog posts, and so on, and click through to those sample pages to make sure you like how they look and feel.
Check the mobile version
There’s a good chance you sat down at a laptop or desktop to build your awesome new website — but the majority of people visiting your site will be heading there via their phones. Squarespace templates are mobile optimized (hallelujah) but every template downsizes differently. While previewing sample sites, shrink your web browser down to explore how the site functions on mobile devices.
Sort through features
Imagine you’ve picked what you think is the perfect template and put in hours of work to customize it, only to discover it’s missing a crucial feature you’d pictured having since the beginning.
Squarespace filters its templates by feature. Make a list of non-negotiable must-have features (scroll type, blog display, portfolio features — to name a few) and check those features off your list before settling on one template. For example…
If you want a large header image with text over it:
If you love minimalism:
If you want a long scrolling site:
If you want a dynamic, visual portfolio:
If you’re a blogger:
If you want to wow with high-tech video and scrolling effects:
Take a deep breath — you can always switch templates!
If, halfway through the process, you figure out the template you chose isn’t for you, don’t despair. You can switch to a new template any time — and even re-design your page in “preview” mode and make the new design live when it’s ready. Building a website is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be high-stakes. You got this.
Don’t forget to use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL18” for 10% off your first Squarespace purchase!
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.