Squarespace Free Trial: A Complete Guide
Welcome to Squarespace! Having an online presence just got easier. This guide will help you get started with Squarespace using their free trial and make your transition to the platform even smoother.
With websites, there is a lot going on, and there’s often a decision that needs to be made here and there. I created this post because I know what it’s like to work with a new piece of technology. You could say this is the guide I wish I had when I started with Squarespace many moons ago.
Instead of signing up for a trial and asking, “now what?” this post will walk you through what to do and when to do it. Along the way, it will also point out some things to consider during your Squarespace trial.
This post is designed to help you get the most of your 14-days free on Squarespace so you can be one step closer to making a very important decision for your business. Deciding where to host your website is a big step, and this guide will help you learn enough about Squarespace to decide if it is the website builder for you and move forward.
Let’s get started!
Table of COntents
Setup Your Squarespace Trial Site
Step 01: Select a template
Head on over to: https://www.squarespace.com/
The image above may be different for your visit since Squarespace updates their homepage quite often. If your homepage looks different from the example, be on the lookout for one of two options:
Create a site
Either option will work so, go ahead and click on one of them to get started.
On the next page you will be prompted to choose your template by one of two ways:
Answer a question
Browse the gallery
My recommendation is to browse the gallery since this route will ensure that your site will appear the way you want it to.
Though helpful, the “answer a question” route will guide you based on functionality. Many of Squarespace’s sites share the same functionality thanks to template families. Most of the templates available belong to one.
Each template within a family may look different. Behind-the-scenes it shares the same set of controls with other templates in its family. For example, the Sonora and the Rally template have different layouts but, they share the same functionality because both are in the Brine template family.
If you’re ever curious to know what template family your selection is from, Squarespace has a list. This information might also come in handy if you find that you like the way one template functions but prefer the layout of another since it might be in the same family. This means you can have the look you want plus the features.
Step 02: Create your Squarespace account
After a template is selected, you’ll be prompted to create an account. Go ahead and enter your details. You’ll be asked some basic info that is required such as name, email, and password. The email you provide will be the one associated with your account so, be sure to choose the one you want to receive all of your website related info at.
The other questions asked are for Squarespace’s purposes. The company has made many helpful changes over the years and expanded their service to more people with the help of user responses. These questions are not required though.
Once all of the deets are input you’ll be taken behind the curtain of your site where all the magic happens!
Step 03: Get to know Squarespace behind-the-scenes
Squarespace does a nice job of organizing all the parts that make a website beautiful, multi-functional, and powerful. Take a look at the menu to the left of the homepage. You’ll find the following:
Pages - This is where pages are created, organized, and content can be uploaded. Head here to add all of your content.
Design - Under Design, the controls to how your site will look and feel are here. The Style Editor lives here. Access this area to make adjustments or “tweaks,” as Squarespace calls them.
Commerce - If you have a store, this area will be important to you. This is where orders are processed, inventory is managed, and payment information lives.
Marketing - Here is where you’ll find powerful tools to turn your site into a promotion machine.
Analytics - Squarespace has its own analytics but also integrates with Google Analytics. During a trial, you won’t see much action here, but this is an area to become familiar with.
Settings - Here you can make adjustments to your site to improve its functionality and connect your own professional email address, input business information, connect your domain and more. This is another area worth getting to know.
Help - The Help section connects you with a few options available for assistance when you need it. Unlike WordPress, Squarespace offers a variety of ways to get answers to your questions. In addition to using the Knowledge Base, Videos, or Webinars available, subscribers can also chat with support and communicate via email for assistance.
Step 04: Add the name of your website
Okay, now that you’ve been introduced to the backend of your Squarespace site, the next step is to input your site’s name. This is the first change you’re going to make.
The information input here will impact how search engines like Google view your site and give it some professional polish. To learn more about additional settings you do not want to miss before launching your site, check out this post.
Name your site:
Click on Design
Select Logo & Design
Where it says, “Your Website Name Goes Here,” this is where your site name will go. If you have a logo and prefer to use that, you can upload it in the box below titled, “LOGO IMAGE.”
Quick note: Depending on the template you’re working with, the logo image might replace the Site Title that appears.
Next, upload a favicon. A favicon is a little icon that appears in the corner of your browser tab. Right now, there is probably a black box there. This is Squarespace’s favicon and the default for all of their templates.
My recommendations is to either use a secondary logo or create another version of your logo that can be reduced in size. Favicons shrink to 50 px x 50 px in size, so most logos will not display well in this smaller state.
Sometimes initials are used such as the case with Studio Bianca. My favicon displays the initials of my brand only. It is still personalized and customized and your brand can still be represented quite well. If you are working with a designer, they might be able to take care of this for you. I do!
Click SAVE at the top left.
Design Your Squarespace Site
Step 01: Determine Your Navigation
You’ve done some fine work in the initial stages of customizing your website! The next thing to do is work on the organization of your content.
For this step, I like to grab a pencil and paper.
Return to your Squarespace site and navigate from the HOME menu - this is where Pages, Design, Commerce, etc. live.
Click on PAGES
Take a look at the options you have and you’ll notice that the preloaded pages are divided up into a few areas.
The areas of navigation are:
The layout of the site may have Primary navigation on the left side of the page, Logo/Site Title, and Secondary navigation on the right side of the page.
It could also have Logo/Site Title on the left and Secondary navigation on the right side of the page. If it looks different from both of these layouts, that’s okay. Right now, you’re just trying to get an idea of how the navigation of a site is oriented.
Usually, these settings can be changed. For the purposes of this tutorial, associate the pages you would like to appear under each area of navigation.
For example, if your About page is placed under Primary navigation, that is where it will appear. If your Blog is placed under Secondary, it will appear under there.
Quick tip: If you do not want your homepage to display in your navigation and show “HOME” at the top, select and drag this page to the NOT LINKED section. Pages in this area are still live but, they do not appear in your navigation. After placing your homepage in NOT LINKED, your logo or Site Title will become a link and can be clicked to navigate back to your homepage.
With your pencil and paper, write out your pages and organize them before inputting them into your site. This will help to give you an idea of how many pages you will need, want, and where to best place them.
If you decide you only want to use Primary navigation, you can totally do this. To achieve this, move pages from the Secondary navigation into Primary navigation until this area is empty. In the example above, you’ll notice that the Secondary navigation is already empty.
Once you’ve sketched out your navigation, add your pages to the menu. Details in the next step!
Step 02: Setup Your Pages
Let’s start with Primary first.
You’ll notice that there are some default pages that come with your template. These will be replaced with your content.
To delete the preloaded pages:
Hover your cursor over the page title
Wait for the trash can to appear to the very left
Click the trash can
The page will be moved to the trash
Quick tip: If you delete something by mistake, visit the trash can at the bottom of the pages menu.
To add your own pages, do the following:
Next to each section - Primary, Secondary, Footer and Not Linked - there is a “+” sign. Click this.
A menu will pop-up with some options.
Cover pages are very useful and something to keep in mind. Folders are also helpful for creating and organizing pages under one section. For this tutorial, select PAGE.
When adding pages, you’ll notice an area with a blank space just above the dropdown menu. This is where you will name your page. Go ahead and that there. The select the type of page you need.
Squarespace will give you the option of selecting a predesigned layout intended for a specific purpose like About, Contact, or Features. You can also opt for a blank page. Make the selections that will serve your purpose and content the best.
Add each individual page to the corresponding section as suggested in Step 01: Determine Your Navigation.
Step 03: Add Your Content
Now that your pages are all added, add your content to them.
Content can be added by selecting the page from the Pages menu. Hover over the page you want to work with and click on it. This action will bring up the page.
Next, navigate your mouse over to the page itself. The sections you want to add either text or images to, hover over it until you see “EDIT” pop up. Go ahead and click on that. Repeat this step until you’ve added all the content you’d like to appear on the page.
When you're done with one page, hop on over to the next one and make it shine with your beautiful images and delightful words!
To see this demonstrated, watch the video below. If unavailable, click here!
Step 04: Customizing Your Site and Using The Style Editor
In this step, you get to add more customization as well as design your site. Each template family has its own Style Editor so, they is some variation from one template family to another.
The Style Editor gives us a lot of options for tweaking your site. Here you can adjust in order to suit our brand’s style.
Since this area controls the look and feel for your entire website, there is a lot happening here. It takes some time getting to know this area and figuring out what does what.
To give you a quick overview, in the Style Editor, you can set the following:
Sizes for the site and fonts like, H1, H2, and H3
These customizations can be added to areas of your site like:
In my blog, I will cover many of these topics so you can get the most out of your Squarespace experience. If you would like to dive in right now, check out the guide that comes with your template.
Squarespace also offers a Getting Started With Squarespace series to help onboard those new to their service. Video #3, Site Style is all about Style Editors. It’s free to use, even when on a trial. Additionally, look out for emails from them. They will be sent to the email address used at sign up.
Get To Know Squarespace
While you have your trial, I’d like to help you get the most of it. Below, you’ll find some tips on ways to get to know Squarespace better during your 14-day free trial.
Also, it may be helpful to take notes as you test out Squarespace. They may become helpful to you later.
Tip no. 01:
Though I have worked with a variety of platforms I ultimately chose to focus on Squarespace since I wanted to work with creative entrepreneurs and small business owners like yourself. Squarespace serves creatives and small businesses very well.
I’ve mentioned before in a previous post that Squarespace originally served photographers and bloggers. Though the company has expanded since its early days, photographers and bloggers are still in focus so, there are plenty of tools to help if this is the scope of your site.
Squarespace serves other creatives, too! It’s a wonderful space for those in the wedding industry and event planners. It serves digital marketers, coaches, artist-makers, restauranteurs, caterers, and musicians, too!
Play around with the different blocks available.
Tip no. 02:
Speaking of play, your trial is a great time to experiment. Your site is not connected to your domain yet so, no one is really going to see what you’re doing. No harm to your brand, right?
In addition to testing out different blocks, try other templates, too! You are not stuck with one template and installing a new template is easy. It won’t replace your current one until a different template is set to Live Preview. If you do this, you will notice the previous template is hanging out below the live template so, it is not deleted.
To explore more templates navigate to: Design > Templates > Install New Template
Tip no. 03:
Another area worth exploring is spending some time poking around the backend of your site. Unless you’re working with custom code, you won’t break your site.
Dig into the Style Editor, Settings, and Marketing. Check out the Commerce section if you plan on having a shop. Spend your two-week trial getting to know Squarespace.
This tip is especially helpful if you’re switching from WiX to Squarespace or from WordPress to Squarespace. The way these platforms function is very different from each other so, there’s a few new things to learn.
Tip no. 04:
You may be familiar with WordPress sites using plugins to expand the power and potential of each website. WiX uses apps. Squarespace has 3rd-party integrations.
Squarespace has partnered with other companies to make your experience even better. If you are using Google Analytics, Google Suite, MailChimp, or Acuity, these are just some of the services that integrate nicely with Squarespace sites.
This relationship makes using additional software headache-free. Check to see if services you already use or would like to use are available through Squarespace.
Tip no. 05:
All of the templates are mobile-responsive. This is different from mobile-ready or mobile-friendly. Squarespace templates are designed to look good and function well across all screens so, you won’t have to worry about how your site looks on a cell phone or a tablet.
Checking how your site looks on mobile is super easy to do. For detailed instructions, check out this post on how to view your site on different screens without leaving Squarespace.
While you are working, be sure to utilize this feature so you can get a strong feel for how your site will look and act on different devices.
What Happens After Your Trial Ends
Okay, so you’ve had a great time working with Squarespace, and the party is coming to an end. Or maybe you didn’t get to spend as much time with the website builder as you wanted and your two-weeks is up. The question is, what happens after your Squarespace trial ends?
On or near the last day of your trial, Squarespace will send an email to address associated with the account. It is an offer for an additional 7-days free of charge. In total, you will get 21-days to try Squarespace and see if it is a good fit for you. Not bad, right?
By the 22nd day, it will be time to pick a plan and subscribe to Squarespace if you want to continue to build the site or launch it. If you’d like more time to decide, the site will still be there but, you won’t be able to work on it anymore.
Once you pay for your site, you will be able to continue to build upon what has already been done. All of the features that were available to you on the trial will become available again, and some new ones may become available depending on the subscription level chosen.
If you are working with a Squarespace Circle member like myself, you may be able to get a 20% discount on all new, annual Squarespace subscriptions. This is just one of the perks of hiring a designer. The discount is applied at check out when a subscription is purchased.
If you are thinking of using Squarespace as the home of your website, signup for a free 14-day trial.
Select your template based on how you would like your website to look.
Use the time to fully explore the platform behind-the-scenes. Take some notes!
If you are switching from another service to Squarespace, give yourself a chance to get acclimated.
When the 14-days is up, Squarespace will give you another 7-days to try out the service for a total of 21 days free.