Squarespace is a drag-and-drop website builder and host. While all businesses can use Squarespace, it’s best for those that don’t have technical proficiency and need to build a site quickly and affordably. You can build your own Squarespace website by selecting a template, creating an account, choosing a domain name, customizing your template, and building pages.
Building an online store? Check out this article instead that is specifically designed for those who are creating a Squarespace ecommerce site.
1. Go to Squarespace to Get Started
To start, go to Squarespace.com and click the “Get Started” button. Here, you’ll be asked a few questions, such as what your site is about what your site goals are. Answer the questions to get a more tailored selection of templates, or select “Skip” to bypass this and view all templates.
2. Browse & Select a Template
Next, you’ll be prompted to select a template or a predesigned website theme from the dozens of free templates available. Taking the time to find a template that fits your brand, aesthetic, and site needs will reduce the amount of customization needed—which means you can get your website live faster. To find the right template for your business, look for templates that come with the features and functionalities your site needs, then test it for usability before selecting it.
Tip: Still not sure which template to choose? Check out our article on the 15 best Squarespace templates for more guidance.
3. Create an Account
After you select your template, you will be brought to a page where you will be prompted to create a Squarespace account. Input your information, such as your name, email, and password, and click the “Create Account” button at the bottom. You may also choose to sign up using your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. It’s free to create a Squarespace account, so no payment information is required at this point.
4. Customize Your Template
Once you have registered for your account, you will be brought to the website editor, where you can begin customizing your template. Squarespace uses an intuitive site editor where all site elements can be updated and changed with just a few clicks or drags. Start by reviewing the pages that your template came with and add or remove any pages as necessary. Then, add your logo and a site title, update your header, footer, and menu, update style elements, and customize pages.
Update Pages & Menu
Begin customizing your template by adding and removing pages so that your site includes only the web pages you wish to use (as opposed to the ones that came with your template).
Most sites will use only one navigation menu; however, this template uses one to the left of the logo and one to the right. These can be customized separately. Under each menu on the left-hand side of the screen, you will see a list of pages, or “folders” as Squarespace calls them, with subpages below. Click each page to see its design and determine if you want to keep those pages or delete them.
Add new pages by clicking the “+” to the right of the menu name (in this case, “Primary Navigation”), then selecting “Folders” from the menu that appears. Input your new page name. If you would like to add subpages, you can simply drag existing pages underneath it.
Next, delete pages you do not want to include in your website. To do this, hover over the page in the list and click the trash can symbol that appears to the left of the page name. For pages that you want to keep, change the title to fit your site’s needs. To do this, hover over the current page title and select the gear icon.
In the following screen, input the title of your page as you want it to appear in your site’s navigation. Then update the URL slug and title to match your updated page. Click “Save” from the bottom right when finished to save changes and to return to the site editor. After you have created all of the pages you want on your site, reorder them by clicking each page and dragging them to the appropriate position in the navigation menu.
Update Your Header With Your Logo & Site Title
To add your logo or site title, click “Logo & Title” from the left-hand menu, or click “Your Site Title” from the website preview image. Input your business name as your site title, as well as your tagline if you have one. Scroll down to the logo section and click the “Add Logo” button to add your logo. This will open a window where you can browse your files. Find your logo and select “Upload.” To save, click “Save” in the upper left corner of the screen.
If you do not have a logo, try Squarespace’s free logo maker by clicking the “Create a New Logo.” Alternatively, you can easily design one using Canva, a free and simple-to-use graphic design platform.
Then, scroll down to add your favicon; this is the icon that appears in browser tabs next to your site title. Click “Add a favicon” to open your files and select your favicon to upload. You also have the option to add a social logo. This is the image that is used to represent your content when it’s shared on social networks. As desired, upload your social logo, then click the “Save” button in the upper left corner to save changes.
A website footer is an area at the bottom of every webpage. Footers typically include a navigation menu, your location and contact information, social media links, a newsletter sign-up (or other calls to action), and a search bar.
From the editor, update your footer by scrolling to the bottom of the live preview and clicking the element you wish to update within the footer. You can also add new elements, or blocks, by hovering over the existing blocks and clicking the arrow bubble that appears, then selecting a new block from the box that pops up.
Update Design & Style Elements
Squarespace style elements are those that appear sitewide on all webpages, including the border, header and footer backgrounds, text color and font, and more. To update your site’s style elements, click the “Home” button in the upper left corner of the screen to return to the main menu. Select “Design” from the left-hand menu options. On the next screen, choose “Site Styles” from the left-hand menu under “Design.”
Read through the list of site style options to familiarize yourself with the customization options available; these include font, text, and color choices for each site element. For example, to change the color of your footer background, navigate to the “Footer” section, and click “Background Color.” Then select the color you want using the color picker that appears. Click “Save” in the upper left corner after making changes to save your customizations.
Complete all site style customizations by reviewing each site element and updating font and colors accordingly. You can always return to this later and make additional changes and updates.
5. Customize Pages With Images & Copy
With your template customized and all of your pages added, it’s time to start customizing your pages. From the home screen, select “Pages” from the left-hand menu. Select a page to customize by clicking on its page title from the live preview. Then, click on existing content elements to edit them, drag new elements onto the page from the available menu, or delete elements you feel don’t serve your business’ needs.
To add a new section, click the “+” that displays between each of the existing sections. From the box that appears, choose the type of section you would like to add, such as text, image gallery, contact, booking, and more.
Edit text by clicking on the existing text displayed in the templated section. You can delete, edit, or add to the text, and style it using an HTML editor. Add and edit media by hovering over an image section and clicking “Banner” or “Edit.” Select the image you want to use from your files and click “Open.”
Continue to update all of your webpages so that your site is fully customized to meet your business needs. If you need additional photography, you can access the Unsplash photo directory directly through Squarespace or use Pixabay or Pexels to source free, professional-quality photos.
6. Add & Configure Plugins (Optional)
Plugins are easy-to-install, third-party snippets of custom code that give your Squarespace website additional functionalities. These include anything from payment gateways for online checkout to Facebook chat, Instagram feeds, and embedded user reviews from other sites. Plugins are optional, but businesses will find there is one that meets their business’ needs. Start by reviewing available plugin options via third-party sites, then install and set them up.
Review Plugin Types
There are many different plugins available that can give your Squarespace site a number of functionalities, from Facebook Chat to Google Reviews. Plugins are available from third-party providers. We recommend Elfsight as it has a comprehensive list of available Squarespace plugins. Navigate to Elfsight.com and click on “Widgets.” Then, browse available plugins and consider which would best serve your site needs.
Here are the seven most commonly used plugins for Squarespace:
- Form builder: Form builders enable you to easily build custom forms that collect user information, such as contact forms, information requests, and quote submissions.
- Facebook Chat: Facebook Chat is a Facebook-hosted live chat that is embedded on your website. Users can click on the chat pop-up screen to engage with someone on your team for help or to complete a sale.
- Google Maps: Use the Google Maps plugin to show visitors where your business is located. You can also use this to generate directions for visitors, making it a helpful feature for any brick-and-mortar business.
- Google Reviews: Most businesses receive reviews on Google, and including these reviews on your website can help build social proof and instill confidence in site visitors.
- PDF embed: If your site includes links to PDF documents, such as printable forms or menus, a PDF embed plugin may be helpful; this allows you to show a PDF visually (instead of just a link) on pages and posts.
- Testimonial slider: Highlight your best reviews with a testimonial slider that automatically scrolls to display user feedback in a news-style banner.
- Frequently asked questions: It’s possible to create a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section without a plugin, but a plugin makes it easier and more organized, so many businesses choose to use a FAQ plugin rather than manually designing their own section.
As Squarespace grows in popularity, there is an increasing number of third-party sites offering plugins to help users add website functionality. While Elfsight is a reliable resource for these plugins, we also recommend reviewing our list of the best Squarespace plugins.
Select & Install Plugins
Once you’ve selected the plugin you want, you’ll need to set up an account and download the appropriate code from the third-party site. From Elfsight, for example, create an account and follow the subsequent steps to generate your plugin’s code. Please note, however, that every plugin site will have its own set of steps for installation and fees for use.
If you choose to use Elfsight, create a free account by clicking on “Sign Up Free” in the upper right corner of the screen. Once your account is created, navigate to your dashboard, then click “Applications” and “+ Add application” button.
Browse available plugins by clicking on “Categories” or searching for the specific type of plugin you want. Once you have located the one you want to install, hover over it and click “+ Create widget.”
Input the widget settings as desired (these will vary depending on the plugin and your needs), and click “Save.” A pop-up box will appear where you are asked to select a plan for the plugin. Select the free plan to start, as you can always upgrade later. After selecting the free plan, or checking out a premium plan, a pop-up box will appear with code for your widget. Copy the code and return to Squarespace.
From your Squarespace site editor, navigate to the page where you want to add your widget by selecting “Pages” from the main menu options. Hover over the page in the live editor and click “Edit.” Scroll to the section of the page where you want to add your widget and click the pointer bubble to add a section. A pop-up box will appear with options for which type of content block you want to add. Find and select “Code.”
A pop-up box will appear where you can input your code. Paste your code into the section and click “Apply” from the bottom right corner. Finally, click “Save” in the upper left corner of the screen to save all changes.
7. Prepare Your Site to Launch
After designing your website, you will need to prepare your website to launch. To do this, you need to connect your domain, add a site description, optimize for search engine optimization (SEO) by connecting Google Search Words, and create a 404 (error) page. Each is set up differently; however, most can be set up from “Settings” or “SEO” under the homepage of the website editor.
Register for a Plan to Connect Your Domain
In order to publish your site using your own domain name, you will need to upgrade to a premium plan, which starts at $12 per month. From the Squarespace editor, go to the home menu and select the “Settings” menu option. On the following screen, locate and select “Domains” from the left-hand menu options.
Premium Squarespace plans also include a free domain, so register for a premium Squarespace plan to get your free domain. This will also eliminate the steps needed to connect a domain as it will be automatically connected. If you already own a domain, click the “Use a Domain I Own” button and follow the steps, which vary based on your domain host.
Add Business Information & Site Description
Next, input your site’s basic descriptive information that will help it rank in search results. To do so, navigate back to the “Settings” page and select the “Business Information” tab. Complete the form, including your business name, address, and hours. Return to the homepage by clicking the arrow in the top left corner to return to “Settings,” then again to return “Home.”
Next, click the “Marketing” tab, then the “SEO” tab. Input your business description using 50 to 300 characters. This is what will appear below your site title and headline in search engine results. Be sure to include keywords within your business description. To learn more about keywords and why they are important, read our article on search engine marketing.
Connect Google Search Words
Google Search Words gives you information on which search terms and keywords people are using to find your site; this can help you craft content that meets your audience’s needs. Connect to it by clicking “Google Search Words” under SEO. On the following page, click the “Connect” button that is in the middle of the screen. A pop-up will appear prompting you to sign in to your Google account. Sign in or create a new account. Finally, click “Allow.”
Customize Your 404 Page
A 404 page is an error page that appears when a site link is broken or not found. Squarespace sites come with a standard 404 page, but you should customize this page; visitors who land on a 404 page typically exit the site, but a custom 404 page can keep visitors on your website by directing them elsewhere. To build one, go to “Pages” from the site editor’s home screen. Scroll down to “Not Linked” and click the “+” icon, then select “Blank Page.”
Input the name of your page as 404 or something similar so you can easily identify it. Then, click “Edit” to add content blocks to build your page design. Include an image, a headline, and buttons that allow users to navigate to other pages. Click “Save” when you’re finished creating your custom 404 page design.
Return to the homepage of the site editor. Select “Settings” from the left-hand menu options. Under settings, click “Advanced,” then “404.” Open the drop-down list of pages and select your 404 page. Please note: This feature is only available to users with a premium account.
8. Publish Your Site
Now your site is ready to go live. To publish your Squarespace site, go to “Settings” from the website editor homepage. Select “Site Visibility” from the settings options. From the list, select the “Public” option to make your site visible online to everyone. There is no need to select “Password Protected” for most sites, as they are intended to be open to all. Only choose this option if your site is designed for members only.
Prepare Your Site to Rank in Search Results
After you have published your site, you need to verify and index it so that it can be found by search engines, such as Google and Bing. To do this, you need to verify your site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and submit your site to the Google index. This is done within Google and Bing.
Verify Your Site With Google
Verify your site with Google Search Console for free. This tells Google that you are the site owner and lets Google know about your site so that it can appear accurately in Google’s search results. To do this, click here to go to the Google Search Console. From there, click “Start” and follow the prompts.
Submit Your Site to Google
Submit your website to Google so that it is aware it exists. It’s free to do and gets your site in Google’s search results faster than if you wait to get found by Google. To do this, click here to visit Google and submit your website’s URL to be crawled and indexed.
Verify & Submit Your Site to Bing
To get found on the Bing and Yahoo search networks, submit your site using the Bing Webmaster Tools for free. There, you can verify your site with Bing and manage your site’s presence within Bing and Yahoo search results. To do this, go to Bing Webmaster Tools and log in or sign up. Then, copy your URL and paste it into the “Add Your Site” bar. For detailed steps, follow the instructions provided by Squarespace here.
5 Alternatives to Squarespace
Squarespace isn’t the only easy-to-use site builder, and while it’s a top choice, it’s not the only well-regarded platform available. There are similar drag-and-drop website builders, such as Weebly, Wix, and GoDaddy, as well as menu-based site builders, such as WordPress. Each platform varies based on ease of use, as well as price, features, and functionalities.
Here are five top alternatives to Squarespace:
- Weebly: Weebly is a drag-and-drop website builder known to be a top solution for easily building and managing ecommerce websites with professional plans for $12 per month.
- Wix: Wix is a true drag-and-drop website builder that gives users a great deal of flexibility in terms of design freedom. Learn more about Wix vs Squarespace.
- GoDaddy: Those looking for an ultra-easy way of quickly building a website at an affordable price will find GoDaddy to be a good option. Plans start at $10 per month and unlike other site builders, it offers site migration to WordPress to scale with you.
- WordPress: WordPress is a leading free, open-source content management system (CMS) used to build websites. It’s not as user-friendly as drag-and-drop site builders. However, there are website builder plugins available that allow you to customize WordPress sites within a drag-and-drop interface.
- Shopify: Shopify is a site builder designed for creating online stores with features online stores need, such as added security, payment gateways, catalogs, product management, and shipping calculators. Plans start at $29 per month. See how Shopify compares to Squarespace.
Squarespace, as well as its alternatives, provide businesses with ways to build professional websites at an affordable cost. While the alternatives all work similarly, each website builder has its own unique editing interfaces, user design, inclusions, and costs. It can be hard to know which is the best for your business website, so compare them and read the best website builder reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does Squarespace cost?
Squarespace offers free plans as well as premium plans. Its premium plans start at $12 per month, which include unlimited bandwidth, a free custom domain name, a free SSL certificate, and 24/7 customer support. Plans increase to $18 per month for unlimited storage and $26 per month for ecommerce capabilities.
Should I use Squarespace or WordPress?
To determine whether you should use Squarespace or WordPress, consider your experience with building websites, how much time you have to build a website, and your budget. While Squarespace is generally more expensive than WordPress, it is an easier platform to use. Get the full comparison in our article Squarespace vs WordPress.
How do I build a business website?
How you build a website will depend on the platform you choose to build your site on. For example, if you build your website on WordPress, you will need to get web hosting, a domain name, find and install a theme, and customize your theme. Get the step-by-step details on how to build a small business website.
Squarespace is a leading drag-and-drop website builder and web host. It’s an ideal platform for businesses with limited technical knowledge that need to launch a site quickly and affordably. Build your own site quickly and easily by choosing a template, customizing it, adding a custom domain, and publishing it.