Posted: 06 Jun 2019 07:26 AM PDT
Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders available on the market today.
It’s a quick, easy, and legitimate way to get a new website up and running from scratch. Anyone can build a website with Squarespace. You don’t need to be too tech-savvy, know how to code, or have any prior design skills to have success using this resource.
Squarespace is known as an all-in-one solution for creating a website on a singular platform.
The company was originally founded in a University of Maryland dorm room back in 2003. Over the past 15+ years, millions of websites have been created with Squarespace. So it’s safe to say that they have grown exponentially over time.
In terms of their reputation and reliability, there aren’t too many negative things you can say about Squarespace.
So for those of you who are ready to build your first website, using an industry-leading platform is definitely going to be a top option for you to consider.
Even if you’ve created websites in the past on other platforms, it’s worth reviewing this guide since not all website builders are the same. Regardless of your experience level, I’ll walk you through this simple step-by-step process of creating a website with Squarespace.
Step #1: Sign up
Obviously, you can’t use the platform and build a website without creating a profile.
So head on over to the Squarespace homepage and click on one of the many CTAs located on the page. These buttons will redirect you to sign up.
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Creating an account doesn’t get much easier. You don’t even need a credit card to join and start building.
All Squarespace requires is your first name, last name, email address, and password. It took me about ten seconds to enter my information into these form fields.
You can also log in with your Google account, Facebook profile, or Twitter account to expedite the process even more.
Once you have an account, you’ll be able to start creating a website immediately. Squarespace gives you a 14-day free trial so you can test out their software without having to commit to anything just yet.
So even if you’re on the fence about using Squarespace and you’re considering one of the other best website builders on the market, it’s worth trying out for free.
Step #2: Choose your plan
Technically, you don’t need to do this just yet.
As I just mentioned, you have two weeks to use Squarespace before they even ask you for billing information. So for those of you who aren’t sold on the platform just yet, you can skip over this. But with that said, you should at least be familiar with the pricing plans.
Look for the “upgrade now” CTA at the bottom of your dashboard if you’re still using the free trial.
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Squarespace has four plans, segmented into two categories.
Let’s review the website plans first.
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Pricing starts at $12 per month for a personal website if you sign up for an annual contract. This same plan will cost you $16 per month if you elect to go with a month-to-month plan.
The personal plan comes with features like:
Only two different accounts can contribute to the website if you have a personal plan, which isn’t a problem if you’re running the website on your own.
But if you’re creating a business website and want to grant access to multiple partners, employees, or an agency, the business plan will be more suitable for your needs. This plan comes with unlimited contributors, all of the features in the personal plan, as well as:
The business plan costs $18 per month if you sign up for an annual contract, or $26 per month if you’d rather get billed on a monthly basis.
Now let’s take a look at the plans designated for online stores.
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The ecommerce options are a bit more expensive, but they’re more advanced as well.
Even the basic online store package comes with all of the features from the business plan. It also includes benefits like:
This plan sells for $26 or $30 per month, depending on if you go with the annual renewal or month-to-month contract.
The advanced online stores plan is the top-tier package offered by Squarespace. For $40 per month (annual) or $46 per month (month-to-month) you get additional benefits like:
As you can see, all four of these plans are very different. It should be fairly easy for you to decide which one is best for your new Squarespace website.
Step #3: Add a domain
By default, your Squarespace site will have a built-in domain name. This is usually a random combination of words, letters, and numbers.
You can change this domain and keep it for free, but it’s going to have a Squarespace.com URL.
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As you can see from the screenshot above, I customized my built-in domain to Quicksprout.squarespace.com. But that’s not very professional.
So you’ll want to use a domain that you already own, or get a new domain through Squarespace.
If you already own a domain, you just need to transfer it to Squarespace. After it’s transferred, you can manage all of your domain settings and website settings in one place.
It’s worth noting that you need to meet certain requirements in order for the transfer to be completed. If you don’t meet those requirements, you’ll have to connect the domain instead of transferring it. Here’s a resource with more information about how to transfer your domain to Squarespace. You can also review this page about connecting a domain if you don’t meet those requirements.
For those of you who still need a domain, I highly recommend you review my guide on how to buy the right domain. This will make the process much easier for you to understand.
Step #4: Customize your style
When you first get started, you’ll be asked some preliminary questions about the goal of your website. This is optional, but it gives Squarespace more information about what you’re trying to accomplish so they can steer you in the right direction.
Examples of goals include:
Next, Squarespace will show you some different themes for the design of your website.
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You’ll have four different homepage layouts to choose from.
If you’re not crazy about any of them, don’t worry. You’ll be able to completely customize everything later on. So just choose the one that you like the best for now.
This will give you something to work with, as opposed to starting with a blank canvas and building from scratch.
You’ll also be asked to choose your font. Again, this can always be changed down the road.
Step #5: Add pages
So far, you’ve only chosen a layout for your homepage. But now you need to add other pages on your site.
In order to do this, navigate to the “pages” menu on the left side of your Squarespace dashboard.
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These are some of the options for pages you can add to your site:
Depending on what you choose, an appropriate template will be provided based on the type of page you’re creating. For example, a gallery page and FAQ page will have different default layouts.
As you add new pages to the builder, they’ll appear on your website preview page.
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I just added some basic ones as an example.
They are all primary navigation pages, meaning they’ll show up on the homepage, as you can see from the screenshot above.
Squarespace lets you add secondary navigation pages, as well as footer navigation pages to your website as well.
Step #6: Choose a template
From your main dashboard, navigate to the “design” menu.
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From here you can install a template that flows with the theme that you’re trying to accomplish on your website.
I recommend searching for templates by category:
Obviously, a fitness website and restaurant website should look very different from each other. That’s why it’s much easier to pick a theme based on a category that your website falls under.
You can always customize the templates to make them more personal to your site. So you won’t have to worry about using the same theme as another Squarespace website.
It’s worth noting that certain parameters and special features that have already been built into templates cannot be altered.
No matter what Squarespace plan you choose, you’ll have access to every template on the platform.
Sometimes Squarespace discontinues templates. So it’s important that you don’t uninstall a template after you’ve used it on your site. If you decide down the road that you want to change it, you can always try a new one. But you won’t be able to switch back to a discontinued template after it’s been uninstalled and discontinued.
Step #7: Edit images
By default, your site will have some images on the pages after you pick a style, theme, and template. But since these are just random stock images, you’ll definitely want to get rid of them and use your own.
This is very easy to do. Just hover the cursor over your site preview page and click on the “edit” button.
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That’s how you change everything on your Squarespace site.
You’ll take the same approach for editing text, adding or removing blocks, changing the size, and moving the location of a feature. But for now, we’ll just stick with the images.
Hover your cursor over an image that you want to change. Another box will appear above it. You’re going to select “edit” again.
Then delete the image by clicking on the trash can icon. From here, you can upload a new image or search for another stock image.
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Continue doing this on all of your pages until you’re satisfied with the layout and have replaced all of the default photos with your own original images.
Step #8: Set up ecommerce features (optional)
You can’t access the ecommerce features if you’re still using the free trial. So if you’re ready to launch your ecommerce shop with Squarespace, then you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Here are some of the settings that you can control from the Squarespace commerce menu:
If you just have a blog or personal site, then don’t worry about any of this. But if you’re planning to sell online with Squarespace, you definitely need to get familiar with all of these settings so you can manage and customize them to fit your needs.
Step #9: Promote your site
Take full advantage of the marketing tools offered by Squarespace. Head over to the marketing navigation menu and you’ll see options for:
One of my favorite features here is the URL builder.
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Use this tool to create custom URLs for keeping track of specific marketing campaigns. That way you can measure the success to repeat what’s been working, and abandon what’s not.
Step #10: Publish your website
When you’re building a website with Squarespace initially, it’s not live.
It’s actually impossible to publish your site on the web while you’re still in the free trial phase. But once you’re ready for it to go live, go to the “settings” menu from your dashboard.
From here, select “site visibility” to continue.
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Since I’m still using the trial, the public option is unavailable. But for those of you who have started to pay for Squarespace, you just need to pick “public” from the bullet list.
Get familiar with the other options on the settings menu. From here you’ll also be able to manage things like your business information, social media accounts, permissions, billing, G Suite, and domains.
Building a website in 2019 has never been easier. With website builders like Squarespace, you can literally get a website off of the ground in less than an hour.
While I wouldn’t recommend publishing a new site that quickly, the option is available at your disposal.
If you’re a beginner and want to create a website with lots of design options and custom features, Squarespace will definitely be one of your top options.
For those of you who aren’t completely sold on Squarespace just yet, no problem. At the very least, take advantage of the 14-day free trial. Use this guide as a reference and go through the step-by-step process that I’ve outlined above.
Posted: 05 Jun 2019 07:22 AM PDT
So you’re ready to build a website but don’t know how to get started. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.
One of the first steps is finding the best website builder to meet your needs based on the type of website you’re trying to create. But if you run a Google search for website builders, you’ll quickly realize that there are dozens of options to choose from. This can be a bit intimidating.
If you’ve never built a website before, it might be tough to tell the difference between a good website builder and a platform that’s going to give you nothing but problems.
That’s what inspired me to write this guide. Everyone else out there is telling you what website builders you should be using, but very few people are telling you which ones to avoid.
Before you get started, ask yourself if a website builder, in general, is even your best option.
For those of you who are experts in HTML, CSS, and want complete control and customization from the backend, you might not be happy using a website builder to create your site. This is especially true if you’re trying to create a site that’s intended to become the next Facebook or something like that.
But for everyone else, using a website builder to create your site will likely be your best option.
Website builders are great for small business owners, ecommerce sites, selling services online, photography portfolios, hotels, restaurants, blogs, and personal sites. It’s the perfect way to build a site if you don’t know much about coding, design, HTML, or CSS.
How to evaluate a website builder
Now that you’ve decided that a website builder is your best option, it’s time to figure out which platform to use. Once you start browsing the web, there are specific indicators you should be looking for to determine if a website builder is suitable for you.
At the same time, there are also certain red flags that will tell you if the site builder is one that should be avoided altogether.
These are the factors that need to be taken into consideration when you’re evaluating a website builder.
In this case, you’re the user who needs to be having a good experience. That’s why you need to pick a website builder that’s very easy to use.
If it has complex navigation, doesn’t offer drag and drop building, and makes it difficult to preview the pages you’re working on, then you’re going to struggle.
On the flip side, you don’t want to go with a website builder that has been simplified to the point where you lose the ability to complete certain functions.
I always recommend starting with a free trial of a website builder before you commit. The week or two that they give you for free will be a good indication of the builder’s ease of use.
If you’re experiencing too much friction, it’s in your best interest to explore other options.
Once you decide on an option, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to become an expert at building websites overnight. There’s a good chance that you’re going to have some questions that require assistance along the way.
So make sure you pick a website builder that offers great customer support.
For example, Wix has exceptional support pages.
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These are all of the guides and articles they offer related to the editor basics. They also have extensive guides about:
The list goes on and on. Furthermore, Wix offers 24/7 support if you need additional assistance that requires the help of a customer service representative.
As one of the top website builders on the market, you can always refer to Wix support and compare it to the builder that you’re evaluating to see how it stacks up. See if the other option provides tutorials or access to representatives when you’re in a bind and need help right away.
I briefly mentioned this before when we were discussing ease of use. You don’t want to pick a website builder so simple that you end up losing features.
You need to make sure that everything you want to do on your site is available.
Right now your site might be something basic, like a blog. But in the future, you may want to expand and add things like a shopping cart to build an ecommerce website.
For those of you who haven’t purchased a domain yet, you can check out my guide on the best domain registrars.
At the end of the day, you don’t want the process of building and managing your website to interfere with your final product.
The people who land on your website don’t care what builder you’re using or how difficult it was for you to create it. First impressions matter. All they want to see is a professional site that’s legitimate and user-friendly.
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You can’t afford to overlook this reality as a new website.
Think about it from the perspective of people landing on your site.
How can get you them to stay on your site and keep coming back in the future? If your website builder is making your site look unprofessional or untrustworthy, you’re going to struggle with this.
Furthermore, you don’t want to have a website that looks basic and cookie-cutter.
Website speed and uptime are two factors that can’t be overlooked when you’re evaluating a website builder.
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83% of people expect a web page to load in three seconds or less.
Most website builders will claim to have 99.9% uptime and lightning fast loading speed. But you can’t always take their word for it.
Like any other product or service you buy online, you should read reviews. See if other website owners are complaining about the website builder and the performance of their sites.
While nearly every website builder will have some negative reviews, it’s definitely a red flag if you see more bad reviews than good ones for a particular builder.
When it comes to picking the best website builder, cheaper isn’t always better. But at the same time, the most expensive options don’t always equate top quality.
It’s all about value.
Find a website builder that has different options based on your specific needs.
Look for transparent pricing. Some builders will try to fool you by signing you up at a promotional rate. Then all of a sudden six months later you’re paying triple the price that you initially agreed to. So make sure you read all of the fine print before you pay for anything.
One of the first website builders that I’d avoid is Webs.
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At first glance when you’re browsing through they’re site and what they offer, everything appears to be in order.
They have affordable pricing with plans starting at:
Webs even offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Custom domain names and emails are included in all of their plans.
However, Webs definitely has its fair share of flaws.
The building process is actually pretty simple, but you’re going to be extremely limited in terms of your design options. The builder itself feels outdated, and your final product can end up feeling the same way.
Some browser extensions won’t work with this website builder either. Overall, the interface just feels awkward when you’re using it.
Webs is definitely not ideal for ecommerce websites and can get expensive when you start adding on those features.
For those of you who are considering the cheapest plan starting at $5.99, the only way to reach customer support is via email. That’s not ideal if you need help right away. Their middle-priced plan offers live chat in addition to email, but only the top tier plan comes with phone support.
The response time for email support is slow, according to reviews. You can usually expect an answer in about two days. I couldn’t imagine having to wait two days to get an answer about something important related to my website.
While Webs might be affordable and easy to use, it’s just underwhelming. With outdated themes, you’re going to be pretty limited with the type of website you can build using this platform.
Doodlekit is another option that I’d avoid at all costs.
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Normally, I don’t like to bash or badmouth websites, products, or services. But truthfully, Doodlekit has more negatives than positives to talk about.
It’s not user-friendly in any stretch of the word. It’s also very difficult to edit their templates.
I have lots of experience using website builders, and I found myself frustrated and confused trying to make what I thought would be simple changes.
Doodlekit has over 100 themes, but quantity doesn’t always translate to quality.
The themes are so outdated that adding them to your website would be a huge mistake. Customizing and making changes to these themes feels impossible.
Doodlekit has a free website builder, which might sound appealing for some of you who are trying to save some money. But I wouldn’t recommend that either. Their other plans range from $10 to $40, assuming you get billed on an annual basis. The month-to-month plans start at $14.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, give the free option a spin. But I’d say you should avoid the hassle altogether and find a better website builder instead.
Similar to Webs, Yola is actually pretty easy to use.
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However, that ease of use comes at the cost of being very limited. While the building process isn’t challenging, it gets tedious after a while.
The templates are outdated and feel rigid.
You end up having to make so many changes to the templates that it pretty much defeats the purpose. They have more than 250 themes, but the themes look like they belong on websites that were being built ten years ago.
That’s definitely not ideal when you’re competing with websites that have responsive designs and videos playing in the background.
Yola has affordable pricing, including a free plan. But the free plan has a Yola subdomain and only lets you create three pages. Obviously, you can’t build a legitimate website like that. The sole benefit of the free plan is that it gives you a chance to sign up and test the builder out before you have to pay.
Pricing ranges from $5 to $20 per month based on annual contracts or $7 to $30 for month-to-month contracts.
All plans, with the exception of the free option, give you a custom domain. You can also add a Yola store for $10 per month to any of the paid plans.
While this sounds appealing, I don’t think you’ll end up being happy with the user experience or final website product. That’s why I have Yola on my avoid list.
In terms of performance and ease of use, Jimdo is actually pretty decent. You can get your website up and running fairly quickly.
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But with that said, Jimdo is very limited.
They have less than 20 themes for you to choose from. You’ll be able to change the color scheme, add text, and add images. But beyond that, building a unique website that’s fully customized with Jimdo will be a challenge.
Your final site will feel very cookie-cutter and basic once you’re done.
Jimdo offers more pricing options than every other site on this list.
They also have ecommerce options. With Jimdo, you get a free domain for a year, but then it will cost you an additional $20 per year after that promotional rate expires.
While Jimdo isn’t awful, the lack of customization options and themes hurts it in my mind. There are better choices out there for you to consider.
There are lots of website builders on the market today. Like any other product or service, some options are better than others.
That’s why you need to know how to evaluate a website builder.
These are all factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Based on these criteria, there are definitely website builders that you should avoid, like the ones that I mentioned in this guide.
Now that you know what to avoid, check out my list of the best website builders to steer you in the right direction.
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