28 Things You Can Do to Set Apart Your Squarespace Site
You all know that Squarespace is hands down my favorite web design platform. I could list a million reasons why, and in fact I have in several past blog posts including this one, so I won’t go into it again here.
That being said, I’ve seen posts or questions come up from people who are confused on exactly how it all works, with the ease of use/simplicity of the platform and all of the included templates. How much customization is available here? The answer: A WHOLE LOT. The main benefit I feel from Squarespace is that my clients are quickly and easily able to learn how to use it, even if it’s brand new to them. The value of hiring me or another designer is that we’re so familiar with it, that we can go beyond the general newbie design capabilities and trick out the site to be so much more than the basic cookie cutter template. In actuality, Squarespace offers an entire developer side of site styling and coding that I never get into, except for some CSS tweaks here or there, but my sites still turn out way different than the initial template design.
Today I wanted to share some of the tweaks I make that I think even new Squarespace users would be able to figure out to help their site stand out, and to avoid looking too much like the template they are using. Check out the list below, and be sure to visit the links for further instruction on each of these!
Add and customize a search icon. A lot of people don’t realize you can include search functionality in your navigation, but it comes in really handy if you’re not clear with where users can find content on your site, or if you have years worth of pages and posts for users to search through. You can customize the look of your search icon in Site Styles to make it look different from how it comes in the template you’re using.
Include a link to your phone number in your navigation. Here is a cool tweak to increase the functionality of your navigation: add your phone number as you would a Link to your main navigation. Add your phone number as the Name of the link, and in the link input box, type “tel:yournumber”.
Use one of your navigations for a unique design element. Did you know you can change the placement of your navigations? Most templates come with a Main navigation, a Secondary, and a Footer navigation. Your main and secondary navigations can be moved around up at the top of your site, allowing you to have extra content above or below your logo, or to split your header on either side of your logo if your template doesn’t support a split header navigation.
Utilize your second navigation menu. Just because you don’t have the pages to fill up a second menu doesn’t mean you should let this prime functionality go to waste! Use your secondary navigation to link to internal pages or to link your email and phone number, as explained above. Or use it similarly to how I explain using it below:
Sort products by links in menu. For shop pages, having a second navigation comes in really helpful. You can use your secondary menu to display below your logo but above the rest of your content to link to different categories of your products, like a sort of product filter.
Utilize the Not Linked section for home page. Another way to help you not look like a Squarespace newbie is to move your Home page down to the Not Linked section of your Pages list. Including it in your navigations will give you a link if you need it, but since clicking your logo will also take a user back Home, free up some space for other links by moving it down to the Not Linked section.
Create a banner slideshow using the Brine template. Brine is my favorite, but any template with Index page functionality that allows Gallery Pages will help you create this cool effect. Upload all your images into the Gallery and then move it to the first position in your Index page Homepage. In Site Styles, customize the gallery to become a slideshow and then make sure you choose photos that are consistent in coloring at the top so that you can change the color of your navigation and it will show up against the colors in the images.
Customize your links beyond the normal. Squarespace lets you customize the color of your links to help them stand out from normal text on the page, but I like to go a step further and manually customize the styling of the text within the Text Block by either italicizing or bolding the text I’m going to link.
Use images as backgrounds with parallax scroll. Index pages on Squarespace also allow you to upload Banner images as the background for an individual page in your Index page list. This “unlocks” unique styling for the headers and text on these types of pages so you can change the color to make sure it shows up on the image background, and to give it a cool parallax scrolling effect. This is a cool way to elevate your site from the normal cookie cutter styling!
Create collages using the image Block. Image Blocks have all kinds of unique functioning now, different than when Squarespace was first launched! I like to use the Design tab on Image Blocks to create a collage with text overlayed on a color block on top of the image, and then customize this styling in the Site Styles.
Turn images into links. Take your linking abilities one step further by using actual images as links. You can either link individual image blocks in whatever configuration you need, or you can create a Packed or Split Gallery and link the images in the gallery (helpful for e-commerce sites).
Use custom graphics for buttons. Instead of using images as links, create some custom graphics or illustrations you can link to other pages, like as your blog categories or as social media links, or maybe the icons would depict each of the services you offer.
Use buttons to allow downloadable content. When you add a Button Block, you can link it to a page or upload custom files. When a user clicks this button, it will open the custom file in a separate tab and they can save the file from there. I find this helpful for digital downloads like PDF ebooks or worksheets!
Show testimonials in a slideshow. Similar to adding text over a banner image on an Index page, you can create a separate blog with your testimonials and add a Summary Block slider on a banner image to allow users to manually click through some of your rave reviews. This function involves some clever manipulation of the Summary Block and utilizing the Title and Excerpt sections of the Testimonial “blog posts”.
Customize your contact form. Don’t leave the boring “Name, Email address, Leave a message” headers on your Contact Form input boxes. Use this form as a way to show off your personality and add some custom messaging for site traffic utilizing the form.
Enable Lightbox Mode for forms. On the Design tab of your Contact Form styling pop-up, you can select an option that allows your Contact Form to embed in a button that opens in a pop-up window when a user clicks it. This is helpful for large forms that may impede the design or layout of a page.
Add a sidebar to any page. Just because a page doesn’t belong to your blog doesn’t mean it wouldn’t benefit from a sidebar of information. Create your own sidebar using spacers and skinnier sections for content blocks to store extra information and links that you want on that page. It might be helpful to create one single page with this custom sidebar first and then duplicate that page for each internal page in your site so you only have to replace the main content and not recreate the sidebar for each new page you want to create.
Remove the date from your blog post url. If you go to Settings > Blogging from your main dashboard and look under the Post URL Format input box, you’ll see that you can customize how your blog post URL is created. I like to remove the date the blog post was published so that I get cleaner, shorter blog post URLs. You can also do this to avoid your content appearing dated.
Utilize different blog pages for different categories. If you’ve got a few big main blog categories and several sections within each, it might be simpler to separate your blog into different blogs. This would allow you separate control of tags and categories within each blog.
Add feeds of posts sorted by category. In the Summary Block, you can filter the posts that display by tag or category. This is helpful if you’re placing a “suggested reading” scroll of posts at the bottom of blog posts. You can filter the posts that display by the category relevant to the content in the blog post.
Add an Instagram feed. Don’t forget to encourage your visitors to hop over and follow you on Instagram! An Instagram feed is great in your blog sidebar and footer, or anywhere else in a page. Check out my tips on Instagram feeds on Squarespace sites in this post.
Customize your footer. Don’t leave the “powered by Squarespace” text in your footer — it’s a dead giveaway that you’re a newbie. Change that to copyright information or create a cool multi-column layout with your location or social links, or even create your own footer navigation.
Use the spacing in your galleries and Instagram feed to contribute to the design. When you create a feed like a gallery grid of photos or an Instagram feed on your site, you can customize the aspect ratio and spacing between images. If it suits your design, you could completely remove all space around photos for a cool, edge-to-edge look, or create a ton of space between for a modern grid layout.
Use cover pages as landing pages. Cover pages are a great tool to utilize for your site, whether you use them as a promotional marketing piece or if you work them into your client experience. They can be customized separately from your normal site styles, and they don’t carry your normal navigation, which could be a unique strategy.
Add a pop-up. Don’t miss the chance to attract new email subscribers or traffic to a certain page on your site like a new product launch or recent blog post. This feature isn’t available on all Squarespace subscriptions, but I recommend it when it is available.
Add an announcement bar. This is another feature that isn’t available to all Squarespace subscription tiers, but it’s a great way to call attention to a new product or specific page on your site in your navigation.
Enable the Pin It button. Enabling the Pin It button makes it easy for users to share your content on Pinterest with just the click of a button. Go to Marketing > Pinterest Save Buttons from your home dashboard to customize the styling of your Pin It buttons.
Upload your own fonts. My last suggestion for completely setting your Squarespace site apart is to upload your own custom fonts to your site to use as your headers. This helps your brand stay consistent and unique from other users only utilizing Squarespace’s built-in fonts!
I hope you found this list helpful as you begin customizing your Squarespace site! And if you get to a point where you feel that your time would be better suited elsewhere and would like to outsource the design or set-up of your site to us, we’d be more than happy to take you on!
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