A Guide To Setting Up Squarespace (Part 2)
This is part 2 of my series on setting up your Squarespace site. In part 1 we covered all the essentials like:
Picking out a template
A general overview of the dashboard
Configuring your basic settings
Adding pages and creating your navigation
Tweak your template’s design
Mapping out the content for your website
Importing content from your old site (if applicable)
Adding content onto your pages (with image blocks)
Some basic SEO tips
And how to go live with your site!
Today we’re building off of Part 1 with some awesome customizations and optimizations that will help you take your website to the next level.
01. Setting up your website with a custom domain name
Ahhh, domains. You don’t think much about them when they’re there, but when they’re not you REALLY notice.
You have three options for configuring your domain on Squarespace:
1. Register a new domain through the Squarespace platform.
Squarespace offers your first year for free with this option, and most are $20/year after that. This promo is available for any Squarespace plans and is awesome because it’s all managed in one place and requires less tech for setting everything up.
Here's how you do it:
From the main dashboard go to Settings > Website/Domains > and click "Get A New Domain"
From there you'll start typing in the domain you want then Squarespace will show you if it’s available or not. They'll even show you other options/variations that are available.
When you've found one you want to purchase, simply click it, scroll down and click "Proceed To Checkout" then follow the prompts.
I love this built in domain feature because it means everything is all in one place!!
2. Connect a domain from a 3rd party site.
If you already have a domain or are more concerned with a cheaper price over the long run, I recommend using a 3rd party site like GoDaddy to purchase your domain. There’s more tech with configuring your settings, but once you get everything sorted out you shouldn’t have to do too much with it after that.
Here's how you do it:
First, use a site like GoDaddy to purchase your domain.
Then head back to Squarespace and go to Settings > Website/Domains > and click "Use A Domain I Own".
From there you'll:
- type in your URL
- click "Connect From Provider"
- click the dropdown box to select your provider
- click "Connect Domain"
- then you’ll be prompted to log into your domain host with instructions on how to complete your set up
After you connect your account you’ll also be able to check in on all of your domain connections from the Domains dashboard. The DNS (Domain Name System) settings will show you where you records are pointing and if anything isn’t connecting properly. When everything is green you’re all good. If it’s red it means you need to go into your domain provider to reset where your records are pointing.
Here’s a quick price comparison of the 2 options from above over a 5 year span:
Domain through SS
1 year: $0
2 years: $20
3 years: $40
4 years: $60
5 years: $80
Domain through 3rd party*
1 year: $12
2 years: $24
3 years: $36
4 years: $48
5 years: $60
*As you can see, you start saving money after year 2 with the 3rd party option. My domains have always been around $12/year but actual costs for you may be different.
3. Customize the built-in domain that comes with your Squarespace subscription.
Here's how you do it:
- from your main dashboard go to Settings > Website/Domains > and click the box under "Built-in Domain"
- on the next page type in the address you want
- click to see if it’s available
- if it is, Squarespace will ask you to confirm the name change
- otherwise it will let you know it’s not available and you’ll have to repeat the process to test out another variation of your name
Side note: I recommend purchasing your domain as soon as you know what you want to call your business (so that it doesn’t get snatched up). Definitely go through a 3rd party site to purchase your domain if you're not quite ready to start building your website right now.
02. Create a professional email with your custom domain.
If you want to set up a new email with your domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) Squarespace lets you connect it to G Suite right in your dashboard (meaning you’ll be able to manage and pay your bill through Squarespace).
You can choose a monthly or annual plan ($5/month or $50/annually). Those costs are per email address, so if you have 2 emails it will be double that, 3 emails will be triple, etc. And if you’re on a business or commerce plan, you’re eligible to get your first year of G Suite free.
Here’s how to set it up:
First, make sure you’ve already set up your domain in Squarespace, then get to your Email dashboard by clicking Settings > Email.
Select what plan you want then create your account (note: you won’t be able to change it after you create your account). Click continue, review your order then click purchase.
You’ll receive a temporary password at your old email address (not the new one you just purchased). Follow prompts from that email to log in with your temporary password. You’ll have to accept G Suite’s terms of service then you’ll be prompted to create a new password and directed to your new inbox. PRETTY COOL.
Here are some other helpful articles from Squarespace:
- G Suite / Squarespace overview
- Signing up for G Suite
- Troubleshooting G Suite
- G Suite pricing, billing + invoices
- Adding more G Suite users or renaming a current user
- Migrating to G Suite
03. Fine tune your blog SETTINGS.
I'm in the process of creating an in-depth guide to blogging on Squarespace, but in the mean time I wanted to show you a couple settings you can configure to help you with some of the backend stuff. Today I'll be covering customizing your blog URL and your comment settings.
Your blog URL settings:
Blog post URLs on Squarespace look like this by default:
If you go into your Blog URL settings (Settings > Website/Blogging) you'll see where you can reformat your URL at the very top. They use shortcuts to format so this is probably what you see:
I personally like to take out the date formatting and leave only the post title because it looks more streamlined.
So if you change it to just %t you'll be left with something like this:
You can also customize your comment settings from the Blogging panel. Just click the box that says "Comment Settings" and you'll be sent to a new panel that looks like this:
Your basic features include enabling/disabling comments, deciding if you want to moderate your comments ("require approval"), allow anonymous comments and threaded comments, etc.
Squarespace also has a “like” feature that’s available for both your blog post and comments made on your posts. You can configure "likes" for comments on this page and just go back one more screen to configure it for your posts.
Another feature is allowing your commenters to flag comments they see as inappropriate. If you choose to allow this you can set how many flags a comment needs before i's hidden from the public and goes to moderation - meaning you’ll need to approve it (from the main dashboard under "Comments") to have it go back to public view, or delete it completely.
And on the main blogging dashboard all the way at the bottom you can select to have your blog posts optimized for mobile (called AMP - accelerated mobile pages). If you opt to use AMP just know that all of your styling features (colors, fonts, etc) will be stripped away.
04. Customize your 404 page.
Basically a 404 page is what visitors will see if they’re taken to a page that doesn’t exist on your site (maybe you changed the URL, have taken a page down or your site visitor misspelled something in your URL).
The standard Squarespace 404 page lets visitors know there’s been a mistake and offers a chance to go to the home page or search the site for the content they were looking for, but it looks super generic and doesn’t entice visitors to keep clicking around your site. They’re more likely to bounce away without something that draws them in. I mean just look how boring the standard 404 page is:
Check out this post to learn how to customize your 404 page.
05. Customize your lock screen for password protected pages.
Lock screens are useful if you want to limit access to certain pages on your site. You can use them for all kinds of things like a private resource library, client portals, wholesale price lists, an exclusive shop page where you feature products that only certain members have access to, etc.
I wrote up an article here that walks you through all the ins and outs of creating + customizing a lock screen for your password protected pages.
06. Optimize your site for social media.
There are TONS of ways you can incorporate your social media accounts onto your Squarespace website. Here are three of my favorites:
Push new blog posts from your website to your social accounts
Enable a quick configuration for Rich Pins on Pinterest
Display your instagram feed as a mini portfolio on your site
There’s actually plenty more to add to the list, so be sure to check out my blog post on optimizing your website with social media too.
07. Start collecting email addresses for your email list.
This is something I'll be covering in depth later this month, but for now I want to give you the basics for growing your list on Squarespace.
Squarepace has a MailChimp integration that makes it easy to collect emails through the form block, newsletter block and checkout page.
For the form block and newsletter block, simply go into the Storage settings found within the block, click MailChimp and follow the prompts to configure what list the sign up will be added to (you'll need to create a specific list in MailChimp before you do this).
For the checkout page just go to Settings > Commerce/Checkout then scroll down to Newsletter and click the MailChimp box. Next you'll just follow the prompts to configure what list you want new subscribers to be added to.
The final step is deciding if you want your customers to automatically be signed up for your newsletter list during checkout. I personally think this is annoying AF because your customer isn't technically there to sign up for your list. They're their to purchase something from you, and they should be given the option to continue hearing from you after their purchase.
If you want to give them this option, be sure to uncheck "enable mailing list opt-in by default", then click save.
While there isn’t currently a platform integration between ConvertKit and Squarespace, it's still super easy to integrate your sign up forms with Squarespace's code block.
I actually like this more than the integrated MailChimp form because ConvertKit allows more customization with your copy, colors and fonts - and even lets you include a graphic on your form.
When working in ConvertKit you'll customize your form then head to Settings, click "Embed", click the "raw HTML" option then copy and paste the code they give you into a Code Block on Squarespace.
ConvertKit wrote their own post with more information if you wanna check it out here.
09. Add an announcement bar to the top of your site.
Such as a sale or promotion you’re having, what dates you’re booking new projects for, to tell visitors about your most recent blog post or newest portfolio project, etc.
here's how to do it:
- Go to Design > Announcement Bar
- Click the dropdown menu then select "Enable Announcement Bar". You'll see it pop up after you click
- Add your text then scroll down a bit to add a clickthrough link and save
- To customize your announcement bar go to the Style Editor (Design > Style Editor), click the announcement bar to pull up the style tweaks for it then select your font and color. Super easy!
10. Disable the escape key shortcut.
In case you didn't know this already, Squarespace has a keyboard shortcut to help you log into your site quickly.
If you're viewing your site all you have to do is press the Escape key and it will redirect you to the log in page, then after you submit your credentials it logs you in then redirects you back to your site.
In theory it's great, but it also creates an awkward (and annoying) situation if one of your site visitors accidentally hits the escape key and gets directed off of your site. I don't know about your but I don't want to give my site visitors any reason to click away from my site.
Luckily you can easily disable this in your settings. Just go to Settings > Advanced > Escape Key > and uncheck the "Enable Login with Escape Key" option. Save and you're done!
It is really nice to access the backend of your site quickly, so I recommend just bookmarking your main dashboard while logged in then it's always just a simple click away :)
If you haven't already be sure to check out part 1 of this series and stay tuned for my post next week all about blogging on Squarespace 👊🏼