How to Choose a Squarespace Template
If you're asking ‘how do I choose a Squarespace template?’ you've probably spent the last hour drooling over pretty templates and searching for clues to find out which is best for you.
You're not alone. Every new Squarespace user struggles with template choice — I certainly did. I'm guessing the Squarespace ethos is they do the hard stuff for you, hence the lack of quick reference feature breakdowns — everything is deliberately kept simple and visual to make it as easy as possible for complete beginners.
In fact, for most small websites, there's no need to overthink the template selection process. Simply choose the one that looks most similar to the kind of website you want to build.
The problem is, different templates provide different style options and features. An e-commerce template might look great but not give you precisely what you need for the products you sell. What if you make the wrong decision?
The easy way to choose a Squarespace template: Use Brine
Squarespace templates comes in groups or families. The Brine 'family' is a bunch of templates with the same underlying structure and style options, but a different design for each member of the family. Not actually different templates at all then, just different places to start.
What's so good about Brine?
Brine is the most recent template family to be released (as of mid-2017) and has more built-in style options than any other, which is why it's the current favourite amongst Squarespace designers. Features include:
More site header editing features than any other template
Banner editing features like being able to add blocks on top of banners
Interactive image features like fade on rollover
Both two-level primary navigation and secondary navigation
Almost every feature from every other template in one place
BUT - Brine doesn't have a sidebar, which is essential to giving your blog a little context when people find a page in search. You've got to let visitors know a little about who's written the post, whether that's by indicating the kind of services you sell, or simply introducing yourself.
You can get around the lack of sidebar by adding the same block/s to the left or right of each blog post page (see right). It's fiddly, but may actually be worth the effort so you can use a Brine template.
Which Brine family template should I choose?
Each template in the Brine family includes different features tailored for different site types. Here's a quick guide to help you narrow down your template choice:
Aria — Catering to an attention-strapped audience, this template offers an event calendar and sample tracks on the homepage.
Juke — Offers much the same as Aria plus e-commerce features.
Polaris —Simple, visual homepage on a complex site offering bookings but no store.
Wav — More for labels, this one allows for releases and news from a number of different artists.
Basil — Best for restaurants, the reservations page is good to go.
Motto — Much like Basil but with a different look and feel.
Feed — Simpler than Basil; no reservations functionality but there is an online recruitment form.
Fairfield — Perfect for cookery courses as it combines events calendar and booking functionality.
Hunter — This one supports both reservations and take-away orders.
Margot — Great for a personal chef as it includes a blog and testimonials page.
Maple — A basic template set up to show off the facilities at a hotel, with online booking.
Moksha — Like Maple but allows for more information about what's on offer.
Celeb or PersonaL Journal
Burke and Ethan — Both set up for journaling and sharing photos.
Miller — Perfect for an actor's portfolio; includes bio, news, showreels and headshots.
Cacao — Great for small niche stores; products can be purchased direct from the homepage.
Clay — Combines blog posts with products on the homepage to work your why around your what.
Foster — Provides both e-commerce features and supplier details.
Hyde, West and Jaunt — All three templates are superb for showcasing stylish, high-end products on the homepage.
Greenwich — Perfectly simple portfolio showcase for interior designers, carpenters and the like.
Nueva — This one-pager allows you to describe services, share testimonials and schedule appointments on one business-card homepage.
Marta — Offering a blog, store and look book.
Thorne — Also includes look book; allows for a much larger store, but no blog.
Mercer — Stunning clothing catalogue site; no e-commerce but room for stockist information.
Hatch — With property listings and an appointment form, this template would suit an independent property broker.
Heights — Set up for gyms but would suit any personal service website that needs to offer appointments and classes.
Keene — Minimal and clear, this template offers service details and information for new patients.
Mentor and Mojave — Structured to communicate a message and a number of campaigns, including donate features.
Small Business/Sole Trader
Rover — Perfect brochure website for almost any small business.
Sofia — One-pager suited to an individual offering a specific service.
Rally — A real writer's template that offers interesting ways to categorise and feature diverse content on the homepage.
Sonny — Space for the back story, wedding details and the all-important wedding list.
Sonora — When, where, who else is coming and a blog to build a buzz around your event.
What if I'm a photographer or an artist..?
Brine is a great jumping off point for absolutely any website if you're confident with building a design that works for you. None of the Brine family is set up as a photographer or artist portfolio website to start with, but plenty of other Squarespace templates are.
For a simple portfolio website, try Avenue, Ishimoto, Wells, Wexley, Lange or Flatiron.
Have fun building your site, and if you get stuck, get in touch.
A Squarespace website designer based in Oxford, UK, I'm on a mission to turn uninspiring, unloved websites into interesting, relevant experiences that show instantly what you offer and why people need you in their lives. More info.