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The Ultimate Guide to Squarespace Templates


Once you’ve decided that Squarespace is the right platform for you, the first big question you’ll have to answer is “Which Squarespace template do you want?”

While this in itself can be confusing enough for anyone designing a website on Squarespace, add to this the fact that businesses are now selling pre-made Squarespace “templates” online, creating even more confusion!

In this post I’ll explain what a Squarespace template is and how you can pick the best one for your business!

What is a Squarespace template:

When you head over to the Squarespace Template gallery, you’re shown a ton of various Squarespace templates, all with different names and looks. A lot of people think they have to pick their Squarespace template based on which one they think looks the best; however, any of these Squarespace websites can be redesigned to look exactly how you’d like (for the most part) so what we’re really trying to figure out is the functionality your website needs.

Think of your Squarespace template like the structure of your house. You can easily change the way your house looks by painting some walls, swapping out some curtains and adding some new furniture. Similarly, as long as the functionalities of your Squarespace template fits your needs, you can easily create the look and feel that you’d like with the styling options!

But don’t worry too much, if you decide on a template now and it turns out you need something else, you can always switch your template later on!

3rd Party Squarespace Templates

Maybe you’ve seen Go Live HQ or Big Cat Creative’s Squarespace templates for sale and you’re wondering what the difference is between these and the free Squarespace templates?

The tricky part here is the wording.

These companies basically sell styling kits that help you build your Squarespace website using a Squarespace template that they’ve picked for you based on the functionalities available.

Still confused? It’s ok! Basically, when it comes to building out the design of your website, you’ve got three options:

  1. DIY – Build your website yourself starting with a Squarespace template

  2. Purchase a template (styling kit) from a company like Go Live HQ or Big Cat Creative to get guided instructions to build your website according to a guide.

  3. Hire a web designer to do it all for you. In this case, the web designer will pick the right template for you based on your needs!

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look a little closer at these Squarespace templates, so you can learn more about which Squarespace template is right for you.

Squarespace Template Families:

The Squarespace templates are broken down into template families, all templates within one family carry the same functionalities, but may be styled a little bit differently on the Squarespace template showcase page. For example, all the templates within the Brine template family (Aria, Basil, Blend, Brine, Mojave, etc) can be styled to look and function exactly like each other.

So if you’ve decided that Brine is the right Squarespace template for you, it really doesn’t matter which template within the Brine family you choose, since you’ll be redesigning the site anyways!

Pro tip: if you’re new to web design, it might be a good idea to pick a template from that template family that fits more closely with the end result you’re looking for to save you some time and headaches along the way.

How to pick the best Squarespace template:

Now that we are all on the same page as far as what a Squarespace template is, the next big question is which Squarespace template is right for you?

As I mentioned earlier, it all comes down to the functionality that you need from your website. If you’ve never built a website before, or you’re not really familiar with all the website lingo, chances are you might not even know what functionalities you’d even need.

To give you a better idea of what you need to be looking for, I’ll walk you through a couple of the functionalities I consider when choosing a template for my own clients. Unfortunately, you can’t always have everything, so it can be a good idea to consider which of the features are more important to you, and which you’re willing to compromise on.

Squarespace Template Functionalities:

Index Pages:

Index pages are basically a bunch of mini-website pages put together. To the average user they look just like one page, but on the backend, they allow for a lot more flexibility. Squarespace index pages can be set up as grid, slideshows, or stacked depending on the Squarespace template family. For instance, index pages allow you to change the background(s) of specific sections of your page, or set up portfolio style galleries.

Templates that support Index pages: Some of the template families that support index pages are Brine, Bedford York, Forte, Flatiron, and Tretmont (to see full list you can go to Squarespace Index Page Info).

Blog Sidebar:

Blog sidebars are so popular these days, and with good reason. With a blog sidebar, you’ll be able to take advantage of precious real estate on your website. If your business relies heavily on a content marketing strategy, a blog sidebar can be such a good idea to get to know readers better, encourage email list signups, or direct website visitors to your shop or services page.

But don’t worry, if this is one of those areas you have to compromise, I have a Squarespace hack that allows you to add a blog sidebar to any Squarespace template.

Templates that support blog sidebars: Some of the template families that support blog sidebars are: Bedford, Avenue, Five, Forte, Ishimoto, and Montauk (to see the full list of Squarespace templates that support blog sidebars you can go here).

E-Commerce Integration:

If you think or know you need to sell something through your website, the Squarespace e-commerce functionalities will be important to you. While all Squarespace templates support the basic ecommerce product pages, some of the templates allow for additional or advanced styling. With advanced features you get things like Quick view, image zoom, and advanced hover options.

Templates that support advanced ecommerce features: The template families that support advanced features are Brine, Farro, Galapagos, Skye, Supply, Tremont, and York. Learn more about the advanced Squarespace ecommerce features.

Parallax Scrolling:

Parallax scrolling is the website feature where the background image moves at a different pace than the content in the front. This creates an eye catching design that feels very dynamic.

Templates that support parallax scrolling: The Brine template family is the only one that supports parallax scrolling.

Overall flexibility:

For some web designers and Squarespace beginners, the deciding factor in all of this boils down to the overall flexibility of the site. If you’re not sure how your business is going to grow, or maybe you don’t know where it will take you in the future, a flexible template will grow with your business.

The most flexible Squarespace template: Brine. There’s no doubt why Brine is the most popular Squarespace template. From index pages to parallax scrolling and e-commerce, Brine (almost) has it all. The only thing Brine doesn’t have is an integrated blog sidebar.

Whew! That was a lot, wasn’t it? Well, picking the right Squarespace template is one of the most important parts of setting up your website. There are still more features that you can consider when picking the right template, but these features should get you well on your way to understanding what you need to consider when choosing the right Squarespace template for your website.

If you’d rather get some help picking a Squarespace template and designing your site, you’re in the right place. As a Squarespace web designer, I’d love to work with you to bring your Squarespace website dreams come to life.

Head on over to the services page to learn more about what I do and how we can work together! I can’t wait to build you a website you love.

* this is an affiliate link, which means I may get some benefit at no extra cost to you!


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