My approach on choosing a Squarespace template (Part III)

Tricky isn’t?

Even if this isn’t your first site, it’s always difficult to choose one of Squarespace templates, mainly because there’s no ONE template that has everything.

But let me tell you something: you don’t need everything.

 

Sure, it’s nice to know you have all the features you MAY use at the click of a button, but as long as the template you choose gives you the options you need to meet the site’s goals, you’re golden.

 

Oh, but before we go any further, you might want to check out PART I and PART II of this series to learn how to establish your site’s goals and plan the content around them.

All caught up? Ok!

 

So, Squarespace templates. Which one is for your client's site?

Well, the answer is: it depends...

 

The difference between Squarespace templates

You might not know this but Squarespace templates are put together into families for a reason: they all have the same underlying features.

 

That means that when a family has 5 different templates, those are 5 different styles you can achieve with ANY of those templates.

 

They showcase all the styles in their template selection page to show you all the different layouts you can create, and also to make it easier for DIYers to get started with a site of their own, by going with the template that already has the features they want all set up.

 

My point with this short explanation here is that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of options, because your decision should be based on the underlying features you need and want to build your client's site, not on the style you see in that template selection page.

 

With that out of the way it’s time to ask yourself two questions: what do you NEED, and what do you – and your client – WANT?

 

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

First, you need to think about the site’s organization – which came out from your sitemap, which came out from the site’s goals – since this is the main factor that will determine which features you MUST HAVE in the site.

 

Going back to your flower arrangement website, we have that your sitemap is as follows:

  • Home
  • About
  • Gallery
    • Whimsical
    • Traditional
    • Minimal
  • Reviews
  • Blog
  • Contact
  • Become an ambassador
  • Terms and policy

 

From here, and from the content you previously planned to showcase on each of the pages, we know the following:

  • You NEED to have the option for gallery pages, since these will help your client's photography stand out a lot more than simply using gallery blocks.
  • You NEED to have a blog page, which means you now have the dilemma of going with a sidebar or sidebar-less template. Let’s say your client isn't inclined to either option, and you want to keep it clean, so you'll go with the sidebar-less trend.

 

And speaking of want, that’s exactly what you need to think about next...

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Now, so far we haven’t talked about a general style for the website, are you going bold? minimal? will you add a parallax effect?

Right now it’s a good time to think about those things your client doesn’t necessarily need but either of you WANT to include in the design.

 

So let’s say she wants her arrangement photos to be the main focus of her site, regardless of the page her visitors’ are in – so, not limiting them to the gallery pages.

 

To achieve this, you could go with those banners that can be set as backgrounds and create a lovely alternated layout with them.

This means you’ll need a template that allows for indexes, Stacked Indexes – to be more precise – as Squarespace calls them.

If they have parallax effect that’s ok, if not, that’s fine too.

 

Now, how about you keep the menu minimal by using a collapsed menu instead of a regular one, and set her logo in the dead center of the header?

 

Ok great, I think we know now what we should be looking for.

Let’s see what we can find with this.

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Squarespace released a pretty handy template comparison chart here that you can use to check which template has everything you need and want for this website:

  • Gallery pages
  • No sidebar
  • Stacked indexes
  • Parallax (optional)
  • Collapsed menu
  • Centered logo

 

Both the Pacific and Brine family offer most of these features, however the Pacific family doesn’t allow parallax and the Brine family doesn’t have a native option for the collapsed menu.

 

Therefore, you can go with the Pacific template!

 

Now, you might be thinking this example was too easy and that your template choice has to be based on many more features that your client needs/wants for her site.

Well in that case you, as a designer, need to weigh the pros and cons of choosing between two templates, considering what features can later on be coded in and which can’t, and then come to a middle ground with your client considering which are the non-negotiable features.

 

Once you’ve honed down on the perfect template for her site, it’s time for the next step!

 

Until next time,

B.


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