Welcome to Module 1, Lesson 1! I hope you’re as excited as I am. In this lesson we’re going to go over some very important, if not super exciting, things that need to be done before you even sign up for your Squarespace account. In order for you to have a great foundation for what’s to come, we first need to do a little organizing and visualizing. 

One of the beautiful things about Squarespace that attracts a lot of creatives is the fact that most Squarespace templates look great right out of the box. If you were in a huge hurry you could pick a template, slap your logo in there, and have a pretty decent looking site right out of the box. However, the downside of those great looking templates is the fact that they tend to be pretty restrictive. You either have a blog sidebar or you don’t. You have banner images or you don’t. There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to customize the structure of your website without writing code. And if you start working with a new template and then find out it doesn’t have something you need it can be super frustrating to start over. 

That’s why we’re going to do some legwork first, before we choose our template in the next lesson. You wouldn’t build a house without having a plan, or at least a pretty good idea of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need. The same goes for a website. There are some things you need to know before you get started so that you aren’t just poking around hoping to create a nice site. So what do you need to think about, and where do you even start?

First, what type of content will your site need to have? Write out a basic list of the pages your site needs to have and try to think through how the site will flow. If you’re more artistic try sketching out what you want on your front page. 

Will your site focus more on showing off your goods and services, selling products online, or just providing a single informational landing page? There’s not a one size fits all answer for this one. Different sites will require different levels of information. Maybe you’re a budding photographer and your site only needs to include a few pages including an About page, a Contact page, a listing of your services, and a gallery. 

I’ve done plenty of one-page websites for book launches, and the sales page for this course was one scrolling page. On the other hand you may need a blog page, an e-commerce shop, a page to house client testimonials, and individual case study pages for certain projects. 

To help you think through which pages are necessary for your site grab the Site Map Worksheet download below and work through it. There’s even a list of sample pages in there so you don’t have to waste good brain power remembering every type of website page you’ve ever seen. 

A few things to keep in mind while you’re working through the worksheet:

You can add more pages later

Squarespace gives you up to 20 pages on the Personal plan and unlimited pages on the Business plan. We’ll talk more about those later, but don’t get hung up on outlining what your site needs to look like down the road. During this step we’re trying to come up with your basic site map, not every page you’ll ever need.

There are a few basic pages most visitors will expect your site to have. 

These can all be on the front page (see the next tip), but I would advise making sure you at least have an About Module and a Contact form. If you offer services you’ll want a page describing those, or a shop page if you sell products. There’s not really a minimum amount of acceptable pages, but you want to make sure you’re giving visitors enough information to be useful. 

If you are just starting out and have very little content it is okay to have a one page site. 

One page websites have become incredibly popular. There used to be a myth that you needed any important content on your website “above the fold”, meaning that if a visitor couldn’t see it without scrolling they would never see it. Consumers now are more than used to having to scroll for the content they want, and laying your content out in this style can make it feel like you have more to say than you actually do. We’ll talk more about this one in Module 3, but if you feel like this is a direction you want to go continue with this step but consider what Modules your homepage will have instead.

ACTION STEP: Use the Site Map Worksheet from your workbook to brainstorm your content and how you’d like it to be laid out.