UPDATE (6 Oct. 2019): Squarespace has released version 7.1 which does not require picking templates. This information still applies to using version 7.0 but we are working on figuring out when that might be preferable over using version 7.1.
5 Things I Learned Building the Same Website in ALL 21 Squarespace Template Families
For any business needing to improve its presence on the Internet, building a website is now much more accessible thanks to the likes of DIY website platforms, such as Shopify, Wix and Squarespace—to name a few. But as many newbies and experienced designers alike have discovered (Yours Truly among them), these promising platforms come packed with an overwhelming number of decisions about templates for every variety of content you can think of.
Accessibility, it turns out, does not guarantee simplicity. Or quality.
Squarespace alone lists 91 templates to choose from, many of which I was familiar with before this less-than-grand experiment—having designed more than a dozen websites in Squarespace for our clients. Still, I often found myself bouncing from template to template on a quest to pick the right one for the job.
Not surprising, right? Well, for me it is surprising because I’ve specialized in information architecture design for over 20 years, organizing enormous amounts of information for projects ranging from 500-page, award-winning books to small websites. Certainly, I should be able to make quick work of choosing a pre-coded template? (If there was a kick-to-the-ego emoji I would use it here)
What if I pick the wrong template? How do I know a template will work well once I begin adding content? Will I have to retrace my steps, lose time and increase the cost of building the site? The questions kept coming until I asked myself a new question: Why not run straight at this challenge (I like a good challenge) and figure out a way for us (and everyone) to more easily choose the best template for any Squarespace project?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m NOT getting paid by Squarespace to write this article, nor do I count Squarespace as a partner or client. For our own Wonderfull Design site and our award-winning work, it’s been a necessary tool—as are WordPress and Shopify—for helping our clients improve their digital expression.
In this age of getting to market faster, it’s important to be up and running with an idea as quickly as possible. Who has time (besides me, apparently) for milling around to find a template they’re 100% confident is right for their project?
For me, accepting this self-imposed challenge means building the exact same website in EVERY Squarespace template and compiling the results to compare apples to apples. I’ll call the finished product the Unofficial Squarespace Template Selector. My goal is to help you pick the right template more quickly and confidently so you can get out there and change the world.
So with no further delay, here are five things I learned about choosing the ideal template in Squarespace.
1 — The way Squarespace helps you pick templates isn’t very helpful (sorry Squarespace).
Squarespace will give you template options based on the industry you select, not by content or functionality
Site functionality can vary quite a bit from template to template and if you choose by industry or site style first, then you might not have the right functionality
Save time and your sanity by focusing first on the core functionality your site requires, letting it drive your template choice—which is where my countless hours of comparing templates comes in handy for you
Not sure what functionality you need? Worry not, I’ve included some questions at the end of this article to help guide you in the right direction
2 — You really only have to choose from 21 templates.
While Squarespace offers 91 templates they are grouped into 21 families
Focus first on picking from the 21 template families, choosing the family with your core functionality requirements
The functionality within each family is exactly the same
Once you pick a family, then choose a template within that family which has the style you like most
For a list of all 91 templates and their family sets, see the convenient table at the end of this article
3 — Switching templates mid-project is possible, but not recommended.
Yes, it’s possible to switch templates in Squarespace once you’ve started building and designing a site, but it’s not an experience you will enjoy
Why waste hours switching templates when you could pick one more confidently the first time by focusing on the functionality you need first
4 — Be sure to understand how Index Pages and Gallery Pages work together to affect the layout of your site.
What are Index Pages and Gallery Pages and how do they interact with one another? Well, I could write an entire article about this one subject—and probably will—but for now you can find more information on the Squarespace website
What you should know is that not all templates offer Index Pages and these pages help you arrange images and content in visually interesting ways and will have a big impact on the layout of your homepage and how visitors interact with all of your site content
5 — When in doubt, choose the Brine template family.
Brine is one of the most versatile Squarespace template families and includes functionality that any business would see as essential for a site, including Index Pages, customer accounts, call-to-action buttons in hero banner images, and the ability to accommodate complex site navigation
The family includes 45 templates, giving you the flexibility to pick an individual template based on its visual style to match your type of content
There you have it, five insights making up the tip of a template iceberg.
But why should I stop there? I took all of my research and created the Unofficial Squarespace Template Selector that will help you choose the best template for you and your clients—the right way.
Avoid spending hours researching and testing different template options
Skip workarounds that compromise your digital expression in order to overcome a mismatch of template functionality and content
Don’t find out too late that a certain functionality you really need isn’t included in the template you are almost done populating
Save time and cost of switching templates midstream—a sucky task I don’t wish upon my fiercest competitors
Pick a Squarespace template faster and more confidently today!
Squarespace Template Family Chart
A "family" is a group of templates that all have the same underlying structure, style options, and special features. Below is the current list of templates with the family name in bold, followed by any sub templates in that family:
Bedford: Anya, Bryant, Hayden
Brine: Aria, Basil, Blend, Burke, Cacao, Clay, Ethan, Fairfield, Feed, Foster, Greenwich, Hatch, Heights, Hunter, Hyde, Impact, Jaunt, Juke, Keene, Kin, Maple, Margot, Marta, Mentor, Mercer, Miller, Mojave, Moksha, Motto, Nueva, Pedro, Polaris, Pursuit, Rally, Rover, Royce, Sofia, Sonny, Sonora, Stella, Thorne, Vow, Wav, West
Montauk: Julia, Kent, Om
Pacific: Charlotte, Fulton, Horizon, Naomi
Skye: Foundry, Indigo, Ready, Tudor
Tremont: Camino, Carson, Henson
York: Artesia, Flores, Harris, Jasper, Jones, Lange, Shibori
Let It Be Known — Squarespace is constantly evolving the platform. The information included in this article is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate as of its publication date. I am not liable for any loss of time or money because of a Squarespace template selected using the information in this article.