The days of getting by without a website are long gone. The days of having to hire expensive Web developers to build sites are also a thing of the past. Thanks to online website builders, business owners can now create websites and grow their businesses online — with no complicated coding skills necessary.
Squarespace, a do-it-yourself website builder, blogging platform and hosting service, lets businesses of all types create professional websites with the service's user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Squarespace also provides all the tools business owners need to manage their websites, from search engine optimization (SEO) to comprehensive e-commerce solutions.
A businesses can begin creating its website on Squarespace in three easy steps: select a template, start a free trial, and get a free domain.
Choose a template
To begin, go to Squarespace.com and click on the "Get Started" button.
Then, choose a template that best fits your business. Narrow down template themes by selecting one of Squarespace's recommendations, such as templates for businesses, stores and restaurants, as well as portfolios for photographers, designers and other creatives.
After choosing a template, you can see what the website actually looks like in action by clicking on "Live Preview."
Start your free trial
Once you choose a template, click on "Start with this design" to begin building your website. Squarespace will then prompt you to create a free account by entering your first name, last name, email address and password. After you create an account, Squarespace will show you a short introductory video on the basics of using the service.
Your template will load exactly like the live preview, as sample content. On the bottom left, you can choose to either make a page exactly like the template or remove it to start from scratch.
Although creating the different parts of your website will depend on your theme and the types of content you'd like to add, the general idea is always the same. Add pages using the navigation panel on the left, and add elements using the buttons on the upper right. To edit elements, simply click on them to modify content.
To preview your masterpiece, click on the "eye" icon on the upper left corner. Website management tools are also located on the same panel, where you can edit your site title, view visitor statistics, configure advanced settings for ecommerce websites, and more.
Get a free domain
To make your website live, you'll need a domain. When you are ready to publish, click on the "Upgrade Now" button and get a free custom domain from Squarespace with one of the following service plans:
- Standard — For those who need a basic website, this plan starts at $8 a month and offers 20 webpages, galleries and blogs, 500 GB bandwidth, 2 GB storage and two contributors [individuals granted access to parts of the site or account].
- Unlimited — Squarespace's most popular plan starts at $16 a month and includes unlimited pages, galleries and blogs; unlimited bandwidth and storage; unlimited contributors; and a developer platform for more advanced Web developers.
- Business — This plan is designed for businesses that need a fully integrated e-commerce solution. Starting at $24 a month, the Business plan includes an online store with unlimited physical, digital and service products and no transaction fees; inventory tracking; tax, shipping and coupon controls; unlimited pages, storage, bandwidth and contributors; and a developer platform and mobile store.
Each service plan also comes with a mobile website and 24/7 support.
Tips on using Squarespace
To help businesses get started, the team at Squarespace offered the following tips on how to get the most out of using the service and building a website to grow your business online:
- First, outline what kind of content you will put on your website and how it will be organized. Think carefully about the purpose of your website, consider how you can differentiate your project or business, and gather all your existing content in one spot — this makes it easier to see how it all relates and fits together.
- Be consistent. Whether you choose to update your site once a year or blog every week, create a plan and stick to it.
- Once you have a content strategy ironed out, try to condense information onto as few pages as possible to avoid overcrowding your website. Question whether 20 pages and a five-folder navigation menu are necessary. Don't make visitors dig too far to find what they are looking for. Often, a simple, three-page site — for instance, a homepage, an about section and a blog or gallery — is the perfect place to begin.
- Consider the context. Your website should be the central place for your content. Social media channels can be used alongside your website to distribute information and create extra buzz or user engagement.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Squarespace offers analytics, SEO, e-commerce, custom domains and social media integrations. An integrated service can be a powerful, timesaving tool for your small business.