I have been a proud Squarespace user for almost two weeks now, and I honestly couldn't be happier. It was a sudden shift. I was such a Wordpress warrior for so long but day I jumped on Squarespace and took their 14 day trial and before I knew it, I had not only rebuilt my website but also improved it. This platform is without a doubt the best one for me and I really do think it could be the one for you too. So today I wanted to talk you through starting out with Squarespace and give you a guided tour of the 'switching over' process.
I know moving your website can seem like a mammoth task, and I am not going to lie to you, it's a big job but in the end, making a change might be the exact thing your businesses needs. I am going to talk you through choosing your plan, transferring over from your old website (particularly if that website was a self-hosted Wordpress) and give you an overview of choosing a template, with a very brief walk through of your settings and metrics. By the end of this post, my hope is that you will have everything you need to start your Squarespace website! Let's get going!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLAN FOR YOU
Squarespace offers three different hosting products: cover pages, websites and commerce sites. They vary in price points and in what you can do with them, so it's important that you take a minute to consider each product and determine what's the best option for your needs. I recommend choosing the billed annually option offered on which ever product you choose. It reduces the price dramatically. The only time I would advice against this is if you chose a cover page to promote something for a short period.
A Cover Page is a one-page website. This option is great if you are promoting a project or product or if you would like to create a landing page to collect email addresses. It is a simple option that still looks amazing and professional and the great thing is you can add an image, some text, buttons, and media really easily. Mobile responsitivity is also built in, so it's a great option and might be a cheaper solution than something like Leadpages if you only need on page.
Squarespace also offers websites on two different levels: personal and business. On both these levels you will have access to all cover page layouts too so you can still make these pages when you sign up for a website plan. I would recommend a website plan for most people but just pay attention to the two levels and the number of pages and products you can have!
This is the level I use and it provides a huge amount of options with the ability to have 1000 pages. You can sell up to 25 products which is a great place to start (and you can always upgrade later!).
The Personal plan is well-suited to smaller sites. I personally think that this might be a little limiting if you are planning on growing and expanding your business, however for some businesses, this is absolutely enough! You can have 20 Pages and sell 1 product.
The Commerce options may be more appropriate for small retailers that have over 25 products on offer. These websites have eCommerce at the heart of their purpose and if you select the commerce option, you will also have access to Website and Cover Page templates. This might be something that you upgrade to from the Website plan as your business grows.
Perfect for larger eCommerce stores that process many orders and need advanced shipping and marketing options. On this level you can also sell unlimited options but you are also given a wide range of marketing and eCommerce options and integrations.
This is a great option for smaller business and retailers that don't need advanced integrations for shipping and marketing. You can sell unlimited products on this level and are offered eCommerce options like label printing and accounting.
CHOOSING YOUR PERFECT TEMPLATE
So you may have already played around with one or templates when you started your free 14-day trial but when it comes time to actually choose one, it can be a bit daunting knowing which template to use for your site. Spend some time looking over all the templates and maybe even reading reviews. If you click on a template and scroll down, you will see live examples to websites that have used that same template and the different ways you might be able to style it.
The main thing is to choose one and settle into it for now. If you change your mind later, it's ok, you can change your template any time! I use the Hayden theme for my website, but some others that I love and have heard good things about include Bedford and Galapagos.
Note that not all templates have the ability to add a sidebar to your blog. The current templates that offer this are:
SETTING UP YOUR SETTINGS
Once you have your plan sorted and the template you are using picked, you will need to sort out your settings section!
Start by filling out your basic information. Head to Settings and fill in your business name, description, add social media accounts, add an email address and update your SEO settings. You don't need to install any extra SEO plugins, so Squarespace makes this process super simple. You just need to head to Settings > Marketing > SEO to enter a description for your website!
INS + OUTS OF TRANSFERRING TO SQUARESPACE
Let's talk about the big scary topic of transferring your website to Squarespace. Well, I am sorry to disappoint but it was a SUPER smooth process for me and it can be for you too. People would honestly really scare me when they would talk about the complexities of moving a website, all the things you needed to do manually and what you would lose. I want to squash all of that right now and tell you it was really easy, super quick and I didn't lose anything!
Transferring Your Content
So let me tell you about a magic tool that made this whole thing easier.
If you are switching from Wordpress to Squarespace, there is a nifty way to import all of your content from your old website to your new one. Login to your Wordpress dashboard and navigate to Tools > Export > Export. Select All Content and the hit the Download Export File. This will save an .xml file to your computer and it's this baby you'll be using to move all your content over.
Over in Squarespace you navigate to Settings > Advanced > Import/Export. Click the Import button and select that .xml file from your computer. This will move over all your content from the Wordpress site to your new Squarespace site. Note that there is a direct Wordpress Import option on that page. I recommend doing the manual export/import to save time and ensure you have a back up of your website.
Once you have completed the import you will need to activate the content you uploaded. Head to Pages > Not Linked and you will find your imported pages. Notice that when you hover over a page name, a small settings toggle appears. Click this to open your page settings where you will need to check the enabled option before pressing save. You can leave the pages here in Not Linked, however you can also drag and drop the pages to appear in the navigation areas.
Transferring Your Domain
Once you have your content all installed and your website looking top notch, you will want to transfer your domain over to point to the new website. If you are starting from scratch with a new URL this will not be relevant to you, but for those people wanting to keep their domain name, you will need to point your domain to Squarespace. This means you would be using a domain hosting company like JustHost, GoDaddy or BlueHost for instance, and it is important you don't close or cancel this account - you will lose your domain name if you do!
Go to Settings > Domains > Connect a Third Party Domain and you will be prompted to enter your domain name. So this will be your www.yoursite.com url (for instance, mine is www.branditgirl.com). Once you have entered this, click continue. You will be asked to select your domain provider from the list. Once you have done this, simply hit Connect Domain and a message box will let you know that the connection is in progress.
Once you have connected your domain, a panel will display a set of records. You will need to update your domain host DNS details in order to connect your URL to your new Squarespace site.
Log into your domain provider's site, and find where you manage your DNS settings. Depending on your domain host, this could be called Zone File Settings, Manage Domains, Domain Manager, DNS Manager, or something along those lines. Once you locate this section, you will need to create these records. If you need more info about this, you can take a look at Squarespace Help's tutorial here.
Note that you will need to give it some time. I know how frustrating it is to wait and when I did my switch, there was a moment of panic when I realised it wasn't working on all devices a couple of hours after I made the switch. Give it around 24 hours before you panic, and when you do panic, the Squarespace support team are amazing and can either reassure you that the switch is on schedule or they can instruct you on what to do to get it going!
When the green correctly linked label appears under your domain name in the Domains penel, you know that everything has worked. But still give it the 24 hours to be working at 100% capacity!
Creating Redirects with URL Mapping
So everything else up to this point is super simple and smooth when transitioning to Squarespace, however there is a slightly more annoying part but let me just reassure you - this part took me half an hour from start to finish, so it's NOT HARD.
After the 24 hour waiting period to transfer your domain name to your new website, you will notice that some of your blog post links on things like Pinterest and Facebook are going to a 404 error page. This is because, even though you have your website url pointing at the new Squarespace site, the urls look a little different.
When using Wordpress, my blog posts looked like this:
Now in Squarespace, they look like this:
The difference is that Squarespace create a blog sub-folder meaning that when people click on your links out there on the internet, they will not be taken to the post in the subfolder.
Don't fear! This is really easy to fix. Head to Settings > Advanced > URL Mapping and you will see an area where you can redirect broken links to their new homes. URL mapping looks like this:
/old-url -> /new-url 301
So let's do an example together:
/blog-post-name -> /blog/blog-post-name 301
Breaking this down for you, the first part is the old URL, leaving out the website name. Then you have an arrow to indicate the redirect and then the new url, in this case including the /blog/ subdirectory. The 301 at the end indicates that it is a permanent redirect. Don't forget to save it when you are done and you can come back and add redirects at any time.
If you need more information on this process, you can find a super handy guide from Squarespace Help!
And that's it!
You are all set up and ready to go. Starting out with Squarespace is really not as hard as you might think, so stop letting that be an excuse to slow you down!
Stay tuned for more Squarespace tutorials and guides and I am happy to take requests for specific Squarespace tutorials if there is something you want to learn! So feel free to post any requests in the comments!