Editor’s note: Squarespace recently announced Squarespace Refresh, its annual release of new features and updates (including video monetization and custom merch tools). We’ll be updating this content with additional information in the weeks to come.
If your blog is your bread and butter, you’d better be sure it’s baked into a decent website. Being able to categorize posts, lay them out in an easy-to-navigate way, and break up walls of text with eye-catching imagery are all musts to keep readers engaged. (And if your site isn’t optimized for search engines, you probably won’t even have readers in the first place.)
Squarespace is the go-to website builder for many a blogger thanks to its hundreds of ready-made templates, which feature drag-and-drop page design tools that make it fast and easy to create a beautiful, functional site without a crumb of coding knowledge. Better yet, all of those templates are mobile-optimized for SEO purposes so you can reach readers wherever they are.
As we’ve written before, the hardest part about getting a Squarespace site up and running is really just settling on a template; from website metrics to SSL security, ecommerce tools, and video storage, the platform itself takes care of the technical details so you can focus on your passion project. Below, you’ll find Mashable’s guide to choosing the right Squarespace template for your blog (plus a selection of our current favorites in 2022).
What is a Squarespace template?
A Squarespace template/theme is a pre-made demo website that’s meant to serve as a “starting point to help inspire your site’s design,” according to the platform’s support center. You’re free to keep it mostly as-is or customize it from top to bottom with different content blocks (like text and galleries) and personalized branding elements (like fonts and colors). Either way, the fact that there are 234 of them to choose from means there’s an extremely slim chance your finished site will wind up looking like anyone else’s.
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Squarespace versions 7.0 and 7.1 are the two iterations of the platform that are currently in use, and each one treats templates a little differently:
Version 7.0 organizes its 91 options into “families“; every family contains multiple templates with the same underlying structure, rules, and unique style elements (like the Brine family‘s parallax scrolling effect, for example). Many Squarespace veterans prefer this version because some of its advanced design capabilities still aren’t available in version 7.1, but newer users may find it inflexible.
Released in early 2020, Version 7.1 scrapped the family categorization and gave all 143 of its templates the same basic formatting and features. They’re a little more cookie-cutter than version 7.0’s templates, but it’s way easier to switch between them and you don’t run the risk of losing any content when doing so. Version 7.1 sites also have the option of being built with Fluid Engine, Squarespace’s next-gen content editor, which comes with an intuitive grid system and more flexible mobile layout options.
It’s technically possible to move between both versions of Squarespace, but keep in mind that doing so will require a full rebuild and may affect your site’s search ranking. (Pro tip: Take advantage of Squarespace’s free 14-day trial if you’re not sure which one is right for you.)
What kind of blogging tools does Squarespace offer?
Squarespace lets you play around with a slew of settings in the back end of your blog no matter which version of the site you’re running. That includes:
Enabling and disabling comments on posts
Editing and customizing post URLs
Adding alternate images for social sharing
Organizing posts with categories and tags
Adding post excerpts to the blog’s landing page (which displays them as a list or a grid, depending on your template)
Automatically sharing posts to social media
Enable AMP formatting for faster loading on mobile
Check out Squarespace’s blogging guide for tips and best practices on how to utilize these settings effectively.
How do you choose a Squarespace template for blogging?
Squarespace’s Templates tab lets you sort its library by type, including Online Store, Portfolio, Memberships, Scheduling, One Page, and yes, Blog. (You can narrow down your options even further by sorting by topics like Food, Travel, and Fashion.) But just because a template isn’t officially categorized as a Blog doesn’t mean it won’t work as a blog with a little customization; you can technically add a Blog Page to any template with just a few clicks in the back end.
If you’re having trouble choosing between templates, Squarespace recommends dialing in on the “specific colors and layouts that appeal to you” rather than focusing on the demo content. That being said, “you may find it easier to start with a design that’s already close to how you want your site to appear,” it adds. Here’s an example:
Credit: Squarespace / Mashable composite
You can see that the Mérida template (on the left) has a magazine-style layout that lends itself well to blogging right off the shelf, whereas Maca (on the right) will need its ecommerce elements shuffled around or removed to bring its blog page front and center. You can get a great-looking site out of both of them, to be sure, but one will require way more tinkering than the other for this specific purpose.
Is Squarespace better than WordPress for blogs?
The “Squarespace versus WordPress” debate will come up a lot when you start looking into website builders. There’s no clear-cut winner when it comes to blogs, but answering the following questions will help make your decision easier:
Do you want a free website? Pick WordPress.
Do you want a super basic website that you can set up within minutes? Pick WordPress.
Do you want an all-in-one package with lots of built-in features and tech support? Pick Squarespace.
Is your blog heavy on visuals? Pick Squarespace.
Are you selling something? Pick Squarespace.
Are you planning on switching up your blog’s design from time to time? Pick Squarespace (specifically version 7.1).
Are you an expert programmer (or someone who’s willing to hire one) who wants to build a completely custom blog with powerful plugins and premium themes? Pick WordPress.
If you’ve decided to give Squarespace a shot — good choice — keep scrolling to explore nine templates that can work really well for different types of blogs right out the gate.
Note: Most of our recommendations are from Squarespace version 7.1, but we’ve sprinkled in a few options from version 7.0 that continue to stand out. Templates have been labeled accordingly.