Before You Begin
We know you’re ready to start creating your website immediately, but it’s a best practice to take some time to plan it out first. While you can certainly start the process without this step, a little planning will make it easier.
For help with planning, check out our How To Structure a Website article.
Now, let’s get started.
Step 1: Sign Up for Squarespace
The first step in building a new website for your small business involves creating a Squarespace account. It’s free to sign up and build your website, but we recommend upgrading so you can use all of Squarespace’s features.
Click on the “Get Started” button to sign up.
Before creating your account, Squarespace will ask you to select a template for your website. The Squarespace website builder conveniently groups its templates by type and topic so you can easily find one to meet the needs of your small business.
We’ll choose the “Community & No-Profits” template for the purpose of this guide, but you should select one that most closely matches your business. Before confirming your template selection, you’ll have the opportunity to preview whichever option(s) you’re considering.
After you choose your template, you’ll have two options for creating your account. The first is an easy sign-up process using Google while the second involves creating your account with an email address. The second option will require you to enter your name and email address, and then choose a password.
Once you enter this information, you’ll arrive at your site’s editing dashboard here a pop-up window will ask you to choose a name for your website. While recommended, this isn’t required.
If you haven’t decided on a name for your business yet, use our Business Name Generator to help you select one.
That’s all it takes to create a generic website in Squarespace. But, you still need to customize the content to match your business’s branding using this website builder’s editor.
Upgrade Your Site
It’s best to upgrade your website right away so you can access the premium features Squarespace provides as you create and customize your website. To do this, simply click on the “Subscribe” button at the bottom of the screen to choose from the following plans:
We recommend the “Business” plan for most small business owners given the range of ecommerce features it includes for an affordable price, including the ability to sell an unlimited number of products. Once you decide on a plan, click on the “Select” button below your chosen plan and enter your payment information to proceed.
Step 2: Set Up the Page Structure
In the Squarespace website builder, each website template comes with its own set of pages. The next step in building a great website involves creating a page structure that best serves your specific business needs. Most small, service-based businesses need these four pages:
- Homepage: As the first page people visit on your site, it should provide an overview of your business.
- “About” Page: This page offers more information about you, your team, and/or your business.
- “Products” or “Services” Page: This page describes the products or services your business offers.
- “Contact” Page: This page features your business contact information, such as your phone number, email address, physical address, hours of operation, and a contact form.
Note: Looking for a more in-depth discussion about how to set up your website structure? Check out our How To Structure a Website article.
Click on the “Pages” tab in the editor’s left-hand menu to see your site’s existing page structure.
For the purposes of this guide, we want our Squarespace example website to include the following pages: “Home,” “About,” “Services,” and “Contact.” That means we need to delete some of the default pages as well as create and arrange new pages in our desired order in the navigation menu.
To delete a page:
- Hover over the page you want to delete under the “Main Navigation” section of the left-hand menu, and then click on the “Gear” icon. A drop-down menu of options will then appear.
- Scroll through that drop-down menu until you see the “Delete Page” option, and then click on that.
- Confirm you really want to delete this page by clicking on the “Delete” button in the pop-up window that then opens.
- Do this for every page you don’t want on your website.
To create a new page:
- To add a page to your site’s main navigation, click on the plus sign (“+”) icon at the top of the left-hand menu next to the “Main Navigation” section.
- You’ll then have the option of creating a blank page or choosing from premade layouts. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll select “Page Layouts.”
- You can then choose from Squarespace’s collection of premade page layouts. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll select layouts for “About,” “Contact,” and “Services” pages.
- Choose a name for your page, which will appear in your site’s main navigation.
To reorder the pages:
- Click on the page you want to move and drag it to wherever you’d like it to appear in your site’s main navigation. For example, your homepage should appear at the top of the “Main Navigation” section in the left-hand menu.
- If you don’t want a page to appear in your site’s main navigation, simply click on and drag it to the “Not Linked” section of the left-hand menu.
Step 3: Upload Your Logo
After creating a Squarespace account, choosing a template, and adding the pages you’ll need, it’s time to customize your site to match your business. Let’s start with your logo.
Your website’s navigation bar can either display your business name or your logo. Our chosen template places our business name in the upper-left corner of our example website.
Note: If you don’t have a logo yet, use our Free Logo Generator to create one.
To add your business logo:
- Double-click on your business name wherever it appears on your website and you’ll automatically enter “Editing” mode.
- Hover over your site’s header and click on the “Edit Site Header” button. A global editing menu will then appear on the right side of your screen.
- Click on the “Site Title & Logo” tab.
- Choose “Add Logo” and upload a file from your device.
- You also may choose “Add Mobile Logo” to add a logo specifically designed for mobile device screens.
Adding a logo here will replace your business name in the header section of every page of your site. For the sake of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, make sure to include your business name elsewhere on your website because search engines use this information to help determine the contents of their results pages.
Note: Some logos may appear too small in the navigation bar. In this case, don’t add your logo and instead use a text version of your business name.
Step 4: Update the Homepage Header
The homepage header represents the most important part of your website. Site visitors will make a quick judgment about your business based on what they see when they first arrive on your website. This judgment happens before visitors start to scroll down your homepage, so they’ll leave your site if they don’t like what they see.
The main elements of the homepage header include:
- A large image that covers the top of the homepage
- A headline (and subhead if your template allows for this)
- A call-to-action (CTA) button
Read on to learn how to tailor each of these elements to your business.
Change the Header Image
The header image that appears at the top of your homepage is the most important image on your website. It should give readers a clear picture of your business’s purpose and offerings.
Good ideas for header images include:
- An external view of your business
- A picture of your business in action
- Happy people using your product(s) or service(s)
- A picture of your product(s) or service(s)
Pick a Header Image
Ideally, you’ll use one of your own high-quality photos of your business for your homepage header image. Always ensure you have the legal right to use whatever images you display on your website. Don’t just search for images via Google and use them. Make sure you have permission to use an image on a website.
Replace the Existing Header Image
Once you choose your preferred homepage header image, it’s time to replace the image currently occupying that space with the new one.
To replace the existing header image:
- Double-click on the existing image, and then click on the “Background” tab at the top of the menu that appears on the right side of your screen.
- Click on the “Replace” link to replace the image.
- Select and upload your chosen image from your device.
- Choose if you want the image’s background width to be “Inset” or “Full Bleed.” Essentially, this means whether or not you want the Squarespace website builder to automatically scale the image to fit the section’s dimensions.
- You also may edit the section’s dimensions by clicking on the “Format” tab at the top of this menu, and then choosing the section’s height, content width, and content alignment.
Change the Headline
You want the headline to clearly convey what your business has to offer visitors. While it’s important to be descriptive, short and sweet is key here.
To change the headline in your homepage header, triple-click on the headline to highlight it and then type in your new headline. A menu bar will appear that’ll also allow you to edit the text’s style (e.g., if it’s bolded or italicized) and alignment as well as add a hyperlink and quotation marks. To delete the text, simply click on the “Trash Can” icon.
Add a Subhead
To add a subhead, double-click on the text box that you wish to edit. Hjghlight the existing text to open an editing toolbar above that text. Click on the heading options drop-down menu within this toolbar and choose “Heading 2.” You may then edit the text using the same options you used to edit your main header text.
Update the CTA Button
The CTA button that appears in the homepage header area of your website should take your visitors one step closer to becoming customers.
Some ideas for effective CTA buttons include:
- Call ###-###-####
- Contact Us
- Schedule Now
- Buy Now
To change the CTA button:
- Hover over your site’s homepage header and click on the “Edit Site Header” button.
- Click on the “Elements” tab in the menu that then appears on the right side of your screen.
- Highlight the current text for your CTA button and modify it according to your needs.
Beneath the button’s text, click on the “Gear” icon to choose the button’s action. Your options include linking to a page on your website or to an external web address, opening a file, calling a phone number, or opening a new email message.
- Click on the “Save” button after you choose your preferred action.
Step 5: Update the Rest of Your Homepage
Adding additional content and integrations — such as social media icons and feeds — to your website can help add a personal touch as well as make your site more consistent with your brand personality. In addition to useful information, your homepage should contain an area where visitors can get in touch to learn more about your business.
Embed an Instagram Feed
Squarespace offers a convenient integration with Instagram that allows you to embed this social media feed on your site to give visitors easy access to more content from your business.
To embed an Instagram feed:
- Hover below whichever section in which you’d like to embed your business’s Instagram feed, and then click on the “Add Section” button.
- Select whichever layout you prefer from the available options that appear when you click on the “Social” tab.
- Once you make your selection, a menu will open on the right side of the screen. Click on the drop-down menu in the field below the “Connected Account” section and select “Add an account.”
- You’ll then need to sign into your Instagram account. Do this to continue.
- Under the “Design” tab in this same menu, you may edit the way your Instagram posts will display on your site. Options include “Slideshow,” “Carousel,” “Grid,” and “Stacked.” Choose whichever option you prefer for your website.
- You also may edit the aspect ratio and the number of thumbnail images that’ll appear per row.
Add a Form
Adding a form to your homepage will enable your site visitors to easily connect with you. This is one of the most valuable methods of boosting conversion rates, allowing you to turn engagement into business.
To add a form:
- Hover below the section in which you want to add your form — typically just above your site’s footer — and then click on the “Add Section” button.
- Select whichever layout you prefer from the available options that appear when you click on the “Form” tab.
- Populate the form layout with information specific to your business. Use the above steps for modifying its text, buttons, and images.
Update the Footer
The footer is one of the most important — yet often overlooked — parts of a website.
Visitors to your site expect to find certain information in the footer, including:
- A copyright date
- Your business’s contact information
- Social media icons linked to your business’s social media accounts
To update the footer:
- Hover over your footer and select “Edit Footer” from the options that then appear.
- Hover over and click on the elements within the footer you wish to change, and then modify them using the steps outlined above.
- Click on the social media icons box to edit the links to your business’s social media pages.
- For social media icons you wish to display on your website, enter your profile link.
- For social media icons you don’t wish to display, either click on the “Delete Social Link” button or switch the social icon’s visibility to the “Off” setting.
Step 6: Get a Domain and Publish Your Site
After you customize your website to ensure it consistently represents your brand and offers all the functionality you want to include, it’s time to go live.
Get a Domain
Your website automatically includes a built-in subdomain, but every Squarespace plan includes a free, custom domain.
In your website’s editing dashboard, hover over the “Done” option in the upper-left corner and click on the “Save” button. This’ll take you to your editor’s main control panel.
To select your domain, click on the “Settings” tab in the right-hand menu and then click on the “Domains” tab. This’ll open the “Domains” menu, which gives you the option of either purchasing a custom domain through Squarespace or using a domain you already own.
To get a new domain, click on the “Get a Domain” button and search for whichever name you have in mind. If your preferred domain name is unavailable, Squarespace will provide a list of similar alternatives from which you can choose.
Need help choosing a domain? Read our article on How To Choose a Domain Name for some inspiration.
Publish Your Website
To publish your website, click on the “Settings” tab in the left-hand menu of your editing dashboard followed by “Site Availability.” Choose if you want your site to be “Public,” “Password Protected,” or “Private,” and then click on the “Save” button. For your site to appear live, you must choose the “Public” option.
If you haven’t already purchased a Squarespace plan, click on the “Upgrade to Publish” button and choose a premium plan using the steps outlined in the Upgrade Your Site section of this guide.