How To Choose a Squarespace Template Design For Your New Website

How To Choose A Squarespace Template

Selecting a Squarespace Template That Works For Your Firm

This article provides an overview of the different characteristics of Squarespace templates so that you can find the right template design for your business. Learn how to make a template decision by determining your business goals, understanding the differences and similarities and selecting features that support your marketing efforts. 

How Choosing A Squarespace Template Is Like Car Buying

The choices you make when buying a new car are remarkably similar to selecting a template for your new website. Content management systems are like the "Big 3" automakers from the 1960's. Think of Wordpress, ExpressionEngine, and Squarespace as an equivalent to Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. If you're reading this article you've likely made the choice to use Squarespace. So, like General Motors, Squarespace is the umbrella company that has multiple lines of vehicles like Oldsmobile, Chevy, Pontiac, and Buick.

Car Platforms Equal Template Families

Each line of vehicles had body styles that used the same platform or underlying structure like the vehicles frame and the overall look of the body. The General Motors B Platform was used to create a variety of full-size vehicles including the Oldsmobile Delta 88, Chevy Caprice, Pontiac Bonneville and the Buick LeSaber. In Squarespace, instead of platforms, we have families of templates like Bedford, Brine, Pacific, Tremont, York and more. If we think of GM's Full-size vehicles as The Brine Family than the Brine template is the Chevy Caprice or the vehicle on which all others are based. It was simple to offer design choices to car buyers by changing the badging, interior, grill and other attributes to give what is ostensibly the same car a different look and feel. If Brine is the Chevy Caprice than Greenwich is the Olds Delta 88, Hyde is the Pontiac Bonneville, Juke is the Buick and so on.

Pick Your Templates Features

Now, to complicate matters a bit, not all options were available on all vehicles that were driven off the showroom floor and not all features are available on a specific template from the Brine family of templates. That said, in most Squarespace template families, you can customize the features you want within the template family. It will take some work to do this and often what looks like a feature may just be a design change in the Style Editor combined with page layout. 

Got the car to template analogy? Okay, let's move on. If not, contact me. I'm here to help.

Choose A Template By Features

Arguably, the first step in building a Squarespace website is choosing a template. Templates are the structural elements that determine the functionality, layout, and appearance of your website. Making the wrong choice of a template can cause problems down the line. Consequently, it's important to have a grasp of your site's layout and types of pages you’ll need before reviewing your template options. It is also important to base your choice on the way you plan to attract new prospects to your business and your overall marketing goals. Here are a couple examples,

  • Blogging - If you regularly write blog articles to attract new home improvement clients, then the style of the blog on the Five template with its multiple sidebars may be the right template for you.

  • Portfolio - If your goal is to drive prospects to individual project pages in your portfolio, Avenue with is homepage thumbnail gallery or Forte might be the best choice.

  • Banner Control - If you want full control over the type and location of content blocks placed on your banner, then the Brine family of templates may be your best option.

Not All Templates Have The Same Features

Before you decide on a template it's important to note that not all Squarespace templates have the same features. The three templates mentioned above, Five, Avenue and Brine, have very different features that are coded into the templates design. Changing these features is difficult and costly. This why you need to take some time to get to know the features available on templates you're considering.

Do Not Confuse Page Layout With Templates

If we think of building construction as, yes, another metaphor for a Squarespace website, then the template is the siting and foundation, and the pages are the framing. Once the foundation is poured its impractical to move it to a different location on the lot. But the framing of the layout of the rooms can be changed so long as you stay within the original foundation design. Like building a home, regular pages on a Squarespace site have design flexibility due to the systems use of blocks. The placement and sizing of blocks on a page allow this customization. All Squarespace websites take any of the over fifty content blocks and three code blocks and each can be sized to your liking. This allows you to customize any page to showcase your work or services.

Squarespace templates have particular attributes and unique features that often can’t be changed. Each Squarespace template is uniquely coded. If you're tied to a particular template, making changes often mean manipulating the code and major modifications can cause issues when Squarespace updates their sites globally. Consider your templates options carefully, and the result will be a professional, customized website that sets your firm apart from your competitors.

Squarespace Template Similarities and Differences

When reviewing your template options you'll notice that each contains demo content, default settings, and unique design selections that express a coherent, creative vision. Be careful about being swayed by the copy and images. Just because a template has content about home remodeling and real estate, it may not be the best choice for your firm. Pay more attention to the design of the features that are important to you. These features, depending on your template choice, cannot be changed.  A good place to begin to understand these differences is learning the common characteristics that can be found in all templates.

Common Characteristics of Squarespace Templates

The following features are found on all Squarespace templates:

Regular Pages - Regular Pages enable you to layout content blocks and build a completely customized page. Unlike other website systems, think of a Squarespace page as a blank piece of paper.

Cover Pages - All Squarespace templates come with a unique feature called Cover Pages. These can be used as landing pages for gathering contact information as well as coming soon pages, and more. Cover pages have unique templates that can be used on any website template you choose.

Collections - Though their appearance and capabilities change, all templates support collection pages. This allows you to have groupings of content like image galleries, event calendars, podcasts, music, and blogs. The template you choose may change the look and functionality of these collections.

E-commerce capabilities - Business functions differ by billing approach, but all themes allow you display and sell products as well as take donations.

Content management system - Every template gives you access to the Squarespace platform’s built-in tools, such as blocks, analytics, and site management settings.

Fonts and color style editing - All layouts have color options but not all color options are available for all design elements. Yes, you guessed it, it depends on the template. The complete Squarespace font library, with thousands of options, is available on all templates.

Website Analytics - All templates have an analytics section that will allow you to monitor website statistics like visitors, popular content, site search terms, and keywords. To get the most out of analytics, it should be connected to Google Search Console.

The Differences Between Squarespace Templates

The following attributes may vary considerably between templates:

Style tweaks or changes - Each template allows style changes but they all limit some options in an effort to maintain the aesthetic of a templates design. In a nutshell, Squarespace has guardrails in place to ensure you don't break the integrity of the look and feel of the template.

Collection page options - Several templates have unique features and types included in their collection pages. The Wells template as an example has a unique feature that allows people to change the Gallery Page between thumbnail images and a slideshow.

Index Pages - Only certain templates support index pages.  An Index Page creates a unique page on your site that displays images and content from multiple pages in a format that appears as a single page. They are different than folders. A folder creates a drop-down menu in your navigation. Folders are the same and are available in all templates.

Headers, footers, and sidebars -  Only certain templates have footers and only some of those have per-page footers and to complicate things further some templates have multiple per-page footers. The same goes for headers or sidebars. Only some templates have them and they vary considerably. 

Banners and background images - You can add background images or banner images to many but not all Squarespace templates. Many templates create banner images by using a pages thumbnail image automatically. The York family of templates has the greatest number of page types that allow banners. These include Regular, Album, Blog, Events, Gallery, Project, Products, and the main Index Page. On the other hand, the Skye and Farrow families only allow banners on blog pages. Additional functions are supported by some themes like unique banners and parallax scrolling. 

Squarespace Template Families and Themes

Squarespace templates come grouped in families. This means the underlying structure of all templates in a family share the same options for layout and design. These families have templates that use themes to display the options within a family and to help the novice get a jump start on the design with a pre-set style. The Brine family of templates includes forty-five themes. Each has a different template name. Reviewing the layouts within the same family enables you to see your available design options within that family.

Links to templates within the Brine family are listed below. Clicking on them will take you to example Brine family websites built by Squarespace customers. 


Choosing A Squarespace Template Based On Business Goals

We suggest considering the overall intent behind your website when selecting a template. You can browse template examples and consider the page types and features. Options change considerably between templates, so think about the reason for your website.

Squarespace websites fall into three categories:

Informational Websites -You may want to use this type of template if you use content marketing to attract new clients. he goal of your site is to provide information to readers about your services. The goal read your blog, and click-through to service, where they subscribe to a newsletter could be passive, where visitors discover the data, submit a form, or contact you.

Image Portfolio Websites - Use these templates if the aim of your website is to display high-quality images of your work. If you should be an artist, design business, or photographer, a graphic-centered format can help you present work to prospective clients. Sites for restaurants, weddings, and more can be visible.

eCommerce Websites - Use these templates if the primary goal of your site will be to sell press, services, or items. You can use a Website template to produce a small shop if you're selling a few goods. If e-commerce may be the major goal of your site, a Commerce template provides advanced functions to assist your item show to fit your brand and vision.

Remember To Look for Specific Design Features

Index Pages - Index Pages manage galleries or multiple pages right into a simple selection using thumbnail images. Depending on the design, this might be a grid of images or many scrolling banner images. Index Pages vary considerably between layouts and are a great way presenting a collection, details about a company or task, and much more. For more information about Index Pages and the templates that help them, visit Using the Index Page.

When the template you would like does not support an Index Page, you may still display content from numerous collections on the same page utilizing the Summary block.

Gallery Pages - Many themes feature unique Gallery Site designs for presenting advertising in interesting ways, including full-bleed photographs that course the size of the site. If your gallery is going to be consumer examples of any design, consider the Gallery Page about the demo site and an essential feature of your site you are thinking.

If the template you intend to use doesn't have a Gallery Page you like, you can use Gallery Blocks instead. For more to the differences between these gallery kinds, visit Gallery Blocks vs. Gallery Pages.

Products Pages - For online retailers, Product Pages are probably the most critical element to contemplate once you get started. They control how customers experience your online store. Many E-commerce templates can have distinctive designs with additional functionality, but every Squarespace template has Product Pages. If you're an online merchant, go through the Online Store templates' until you look for a format that speaks to you. Some examples of Online Stores templates include, Fairfield, Brine, Indigo, Jones, Jaunt, Marta, Supply and Clay. Many of these these themes that are part of the Brine family of templates. The Brine family may well be the best template family Squarespace has available today for all of your business goals.

Products Pages are the most common area to show the items you are selling, so we recommend picking a template and theme using a Products Page Design you like. These designs fall into one of three categories, depending on the template:

  • Classic - The original Squarespace products page

  • Advanced - This product page design has additional advanced features like image zoom, quick view, and advanced hover options

  • Unique - Unique features are template-specific commerce options only found on the Galapagos and Supply templates.

However, with Squarespace you have more flexibility beyond what's in the template. As an example, you can use Product Blocks to highlight items or create custom styles on regular blogs, blog pages, and other content areas.

Blog Pages - Blog posts and Blog Pages vary between themes. Including what metadata displays, like author, date, groups, tickets, and more. We recommend selecting a design you like if blogging is going to be a crucial part of your site.

  • The Blog Page - The Blog Page is a landing page where your collection of articles, their images, and excerpts reside. It is a single page that displays all of your posts in either a blog list or grid, depending on your template. Blog lists can show either the full post content or page excerpts. Grid blog pages display the title, thumbnail images for each post, and can also include the page excerpt. Clicking the title or image opens the individual blog post in its own page. Certain templates also have special blog features, such as sidebars.

  • Blog Posts - Each blog post has its own page and dedicated URL. Blog posts are sub-pages of a Blog Page. The page layout, design options, and special features for your blog posts will vary by template.

Social icons - Many layouts help social designs for connected records like Twitter and Facebook. The place and appearance of these icons vary between templates, rendering it a low importance factor to think about. The Social Links Block may be used as a replacement for integrated social icons on pages, footers, editable headers, and content areas. For more information, visit Utilizing The Social Links Block.

Navigation menus - look closely at the placement and conduct in their choices While browsing layouts. Moreover, some layouts feature secondary navigation menus for showing yet another set of links or provide navigation options from within an Index Page or folder. In most layouts, you can customize the spacing, font size, and position of those selections. Click here for more on secondary and footer navigation menus by template. 

Sidebars - Sidebars are supported by specific templates and themes. In some cases, sidebars may be used on all pages, blog pages or other combinations. Three are two types of sidebars, content, and navigation. Content sidebars contain editable blocks allowing you to add text blocks, newsletter blocks, search blocks, images, summary blocks, links, and more. Navigation sidebars display navigation links in a sidebar on pages, as opposed to the top of the site.

Squarespace Templates With Navigation Sidebars

  • Aviator Family - Available on Offset or Business Card layouts.

  • Bedford Family - Sidebar navigation for folders and Index Pages. They can be used to structure a secondary navigation within a section of your website.

  • Five - When you select Top Navigation Position: None, in the style editor, the navigation links move into the content sidebar.

  • Supply - Side Navigation only.

  • Wells - Side Navigation only.

Squarespace Templates With Content Sidebars

  • Avenue - Available on Blog Pages only when site Layout Style is set to Left or Right. Learn more.

  • Bedford family - On blog page and unique to each Blog Page. Learn More.

  • Five - One or two sidebars are available on all pages. They contain the same blocks and content on all pages on the site. Learn more.

  • Forte - Available on blog pages.

  • Galapagos - Available on blog pages.

  • Ishimoto - Available on blog pages.

  • Montauk - Available on blog pages.

  • Skye - Available on blog pages.

  • Wells - Appears as an additional sidebar below navigation and social icons as Header Content. Use the Sidebar Options section of the Style Editor to tweak this sidebar.

  • Wexley - Available on blog pages.

Footers - Various templates support footers. Some templates have alternatives for two footers. All templates with one exception, Wells, have editable footers. 

  • Pre-Footers - Bedford, and Pacific template families have an optional second site-wide pre-footer, that displays above the footer area and footer navigation links.

  • Page Footers - Page footers don't display site-wide; they only appear on the page where they have been added. Page footers are available on the Avenue, Five or Montauk family of templates.

Click here to see all of your Footer Options by Template

Advanced Template Customization

You can find more approaches to modify your template if you have code expertise. In most but not all cases this is beyond the capabilities of the novice. Before using code, you should understand that when Squarespace makes a change to its templates it sometimes stops your code from working. Here's how advanced changes can be made with code.

  • Add programs and custom code with perhaps the Code Block or Code Treatment.

  • Use the Markdown Stop modify and to publish text inside the Markdown language.

  • Add custom stylesheets with the CSS Editor.

For advanced users, the Squarespace Developer Platform gives you complete control over JavaScript, CSS, and your template's HTML. Aside from the three methods listed above, there currently isn’t a way to change your template’s code without enabling Developer Mode.

Final Notes

As you can see, choosing a Squarespace template is complicated. The recommended way to make a template choice for your architectural, interior design, design-build, remodeling, or landscape firm is to conduct tests by signing up and trying multiple template designs. As an alternative, call me at (603) 289-6616 to discuss which template is best for your companies marketing goals and design sensibility. We are making templates choices and working on Squarespace websites for clients daily and have years of experience designing sites. Means-of-Production is trusted by built environment professionals from all over the United States to help with website design and marketing solutions. Give me a call. I'm here to help.

Website Builder Tips From A Squarespace Designer

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

I'm the owner of Means-of-Production, a full service marketing firm that builds Squarespace websites for built environment firms. I design sites that help you get found online, attract better prospects, and capture leads. If you need help with a Squarespace site that you're working on click here to view my calendar and schedule a call. I am a Squarespace Specialist and Authorized Trainer. Together we can build a website that attracts the right clients and grows your business.