You're a small business owner and need a website. You don't have a lot of money, and you're somewhat tech challenged. Since you don't want to spend the thousand to have someone build a custom website or spend hours learning how to code, you put off the task. And you're still without a website a year later.
You can totally build your website even if you were broke or terrible with techy stuff. In today's and next week's blog posts, I'm going to show you how to build a website with Squarespace which offers what I call an all-in-one service.
By all-in-one services, I mean companies that provide both web-hosting and templates to create beautiful websites with relative ease.
These services cost more than building your website with WordPress, but are also much simpler to set up and so are suitable for anyone who gets intimidated by anything beyond the regular web surfing.
Here is a list of four such service providers:
Squarespace: $18 US/month if paid annually for the least expensive business site
Wix: $16.17 US/month for eCommerce option if you are planning to have an online shop; $12.42/month if you don't need an online store.
Weebly: $14 CAD/month (will be a bit less in US$) if paid annually for the least expensive business site
Jimdo: $7.50 CAD/month (will be a bit less in US$) if paid annually for the least expensive business site.
I use Squarespace for my website. I chose it because:
I like their website's minimalistic aesthetics.
I was pleased by the customer service I received before even signing up.
I can use the templates as-is without doing any coding or use custom CSS to add elements.
I used to have a blog on a WordPress platform and I didn't like fiddling with the plug-ins and other upkeeps. I spent more time than I wanted on googling code snippets.
So, now I'm going to walk you through how to create a website in Squarespace. I have not used other three services that I mentioned above, but I believe the procedures are somewhat comparable. That is, if you can get a gist of how to create a website with Squarespace, you should probably be able to follow similar steps with Wix, Weebly or Jimdo.
How to create a website with Squarespace - Part 1
Start your trial by choosing your template
Squarespace comes with 14 days free trial. First, go to this page and select your template. Don't worry...you can always change your template later. Just pick what you think is the best for now.
Next you will go through four steps to tell Squarespace what kind of a website you're planning to build. Watch this video.
Once you sign up for the trial, you will be brought to the temporary home page of your website.
Your website is technically live as soon as you start your trial. If you want to hide it from the public, password-protect your website. You can also disable specific pages. We'll cover how to do that later.
As you can see, there are six items on the left panel: pages, design, commerce, analytics, settings and help. We are going to focus on pages today. Pages is where you work on the looks and feels of your website.
By clicking on pages, you will open a panel that looks something like below.
Under main navigation you see several items. Home with a house-shaped icon is where a visitor lands when they search for your website (e.g., clutterless.ca) unless they click or search for a specific URL within your website (e.g, https://clutterless.ca/article/dress-based-capsule-wardrobe/)
Notice that the top level nagivation categories, Home, About, News, Read Me and Take Action show up on top of your website.
Also note the icons next to those categories. Home, Read Me and Take Action have a page icon (looks like a horizontal paper with the left top side folded). About has a folder icon and it houses four subpages, and News has a blog icon (with a letter "a").
You can add more pages by clicking on the plus sign next to main navigation.
What you need to include on your website depends on what type of business you operate. But generally, you should have the following:
- Home Page/landing page
- Store - Products / Services
- Work with me - to explain what you do
- Contact Us
- About (Tell us about who you are)
- Links to your social media accounts
- Terms & Conditions
- Cookies Policy
- ...and other legal document depending on the nature of your business. There are several online depots where you can access a template and generate your own legal documents but it's no replacement for a one-on-one consultation with your lawyer.
Check your competitors' websites to see what they have included on their website. Still not sure or need a little help coming up with your content? Check out "The ultimate digital marketing template pack" from Naomi Dunford of ittybiz. It's $97 US and is well worth it. Nope, I'm not an affiliate. I'm just recommending a good product.
So let's say that you decided to include the following pages on your website: Home, About, Blog and Contact.
When you hover your curser where it says Home, a gear icon appear on the right. To edit the template, you must first create a page like this.
Click on create and the following window appears:
Notice the next to the check mark shows Enabled. Which means this page is live. To disable, click on the check mark and select disable. Also notice the items under Description: sustainability, starts with you, learn more, which corresponds to what is currently shown on your home page. Edit the desciption to make it appropriate for your business. As you can see, "Learn More" has an embedded link. You can insert a link to a different part of your website, if you like.
Still on the same window, but scrolled down a bit, and see URL Slug showing the page's unique address. Let's say your website's URL is eatmorechocolate.com. If you select the URL slug to be home, then your home page's URL would be eatmorechocolate.com/home. You can edit your slug anytime, but keep in mind that updating a slug without redirecting the page could result in a broken link.
You can create a password specific to this page. Useful if you want to have a member-only page within your website. You probably won't want to make your home page password-protected, though.
Page Controls. Your template has already assigned the home page but if you want to change the setting, here is where you can do it.
Notice on top of the window, there are four items: page on the left side and basic, media and advanced on the left. Now click on media which brings you to the different window.
Here you can upload your own picture or a video. Take a photo yourself, buy some stock photos, or download some loyalty free stock photos. There are many websites where you can get your hands on free photos. Here is one of them. Or don't use a photo for a minimalistic look à la zen habits.
Click Remove. Then add an image to upload your photo. Don't worry about the advanced tab for now. And make sure to save changes before closing the window.
Now let's scroll down on your under-construction home page and hover your cursor just above it says, "We conserve land through..." A horizontal selection will popup. Click on Edit.
Here, you can directly edit the contents of your home page as you would a create a word document. Spend the time, fiddle with it and if you want a fresh start, just add a new page by clicking on the plus sign next to the main navigation. Scroll down your left panel a little bit, and you'll see an alternative home page called Home Alt under Not Linked navigation. You can drag this up under main navigation if you'd rather use this as your Home page.
We will cover social links when we go over settings.
Again, hover your cursor above About to show the gear icon. Click and you should see a window like this:
Much simpler compared to what we saw under Home previously. It's because About is merely a folder of subpages. If you want to group several pages, using a folder is a great way to go. You can add more pages by clicking on + Add Page after the last subpage (e.g., Contact).
Let's say that you wanted to keep the folder as About but wanted only two subpages under the folder. You want to delete the Partners page. Hover on the text and you'll see a trash can on the left. Click on that, confirm deletion, and the page will be discarded.
You also want to change the page title from What We Do to Who We Are. Double click on What We Do to rename the page.
You also want to take Contact out of the About folder. Just drag and drop the page wherever you like. Here, I put it under News.
Edit the contents of Who We Are, Projects and Contact as you have the Home page.
Delete Read Me and Take Action. Now your left panel should look something like below.
Double-click on News to rename it Blog. Next, click on the Blog's gear icon to open the window. Again, if you want to disable the page for now, click on the check mark beside Enabled.
Post Per Page - this let you choose how many blog posts will be shown on one page. Leave it as is for now if you're not sure what you want to do.
Under Description, you can update the text to blog instead of news if you like, or you can take it out all together. It's up to you.
URL Slug- you might want to change it to /blog to match your navigation text.
Next, let's check out the Media tab and upload your photo.
Leave Advanced and Syndication tabs for now.
Now save and click on the ">" sign next to Blog on the left panel which will lead you to a page where you can add new blog posts.
To write a new post, click on the "+" sign next to the gear sign on top which will bring up a window titled Edit Post.
Write your thing, add tags and categories, edit comments rules, save. Before publishing your post, click on the Options tab on top of the window.
Here, you can add a thumbnail image, edit the Post URL, add an excerpt and make it a featured post if you want to. Use the hyphen (-) to link different words together for your post URL. Don't use underscores.
Let's not worry about the Location and Social tabs for now.
OK, we covered a lot of stuff today! In next week's post, I'm going to go over settings which is where you specify the rules and functions for your website.