I love finding out different uses for things that are advertised for a particular purpose. It gives me sort of a life hack thrill to discover a new way to use my favorite, say, website building tool, garage storage product, or even spatula.
Do you find yourself browsing through long lists of the most unique ways to use simple distilled vinegar? I know I have. Nobody can resist the siren call of a list of neat ways to use items we all thought could only do one thing.
When I started investigating how I could turn Squarespace features on their heads and come up with something completely new, I felt like a life hacker extraordinaire. There’s a whole lot you can do with the basic features that Squarespace gives to everyone. More so than it first appears.
Curiosity is a great thing, right?
Squarespace helps you get started with the basics, but they don’t go too deep into the more unique ways a person can use them. I’m going deep today.
I want to talk about the Cover Page. This is a tool that anyone can use to create a page on a website whose information and features exist solely on that single page. That means no scrolling to get to any buttons, no searching around for information, and nothing extraneous. They’re built to look good and encourage visitors to perform a desired action.
Just because they have a seemingly simple purpose at first glance doesn’t mean we can’t increase their usefulness by a factor of, oh say, 11. They’re not just going to be used for the single purpose Squarespace suggests. We’re going to make them work in nifty ways today.
Let’s talk about the cool things we can create with a Cover Page.
As a newsletter sign-up page
One of the more handy and helpful ways to use the Cover Page is as a destination for visitors to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list.
Typically, a newsletter sign-up form gets buried someplace far down a page on a website or is part of a pop-up window. The first one is hard to find and the second tends to just upset people (sometimes rightly so).
I firmly believe that a website should present an enjoyable experience for all who visit it. There shouldn’t be anything to impede, confuse, or frustrate a visitor. Hard to find forms or annoying pop-ups are just the sort of things that are likely to be confusing or frustrating.
It’s the job of every web developer to assist the website visitors in whatever goal they have when visiting a website.
One way to be helpful, in regards to signing up for a newsletter, is to make the sign-up form the star of the show. It’s a simple process, too.
After creating a Cover Page in the Pages menu on Squarespace, navigate to the Action menu within the Cover Page editor.
You’re presented with two separate options: selecting an Action Type and a Submission Type. The Action Type involves directing a visitor to someplace away from the page. The Submission Type, the one we’re after here, let’s you create a form that a visitor can put information into.
In the case of signing up for a newsletter, they can enter their email address and, when they click submit, that address will be added to either your Squarespace Email Campaign, your Google Drive, or your Mailchimp account.
The beauty of this tip comes in what URL you give to this Cover Page. For instance, I could call it dandycatdesign.com/signup and then direct everyone to that particular address to sign up for my newsletter.
Now people won’t have to search around my main website or be annoyed by a pop-up pestering them for their information. They’ll go to a page that has a clear and singular purpose.
As an event registration
In a similar fashion, we can also create a Cover Page that will act as an event registration page. Instead of trying to get your visitors to find a button for an important form somewhere on your website, you can have a single, easy to locate page that anybody can visit.
Cover Pages work particularly well for event registrations because most people don’t want to browse around on a website before or after registering. It’s a task that doesn’t invite a lot of extra curiosity. People want to register and get on with their lives.
We’re going to create this registration page the exact same way we created the newsletter sign-up form. After adding a Cover Page, navigate to Action menu in the Cover Page editor screen.
Under the Select Submission Type heading, ensure that Form is checked. Enter whatever text you want in the field underneath that button. Clicking on Edit Form below the text field will open up the Edit Form window.
In this window it’ll be up to you to add whatever Form Fields you’d like. This being an event registration form, collecting names, phone numbers, and email addresses is a good place to start.
Under the Storage tab in the Edit Form window, you can connect this form to an email address, Google Drive, Mailchimp account, or extend the form’s functionality with Zapier. You can also make alterations to the form’s look and behavior under the Advanced tab.
Like the newsletter sign-up, giving this event registration page its own easy to use URL will make it a handy tool. Giving someone an address like dandycatdesign.com/registration is a fantastic way to encourage them to sign up for the event without the distractions of a larger website.
As a 404 redirect page
The 404 Error page is what pops up when someone navigates to a page on your website that doesn’t exist. Either by navigating to a broken link or entering a URL that isn’t spelled properly, that visitor will be greeted with a notice confirming that the page they’re on isn’t actually a page.
Squarespace already provides every website with a standard and informative 404 Error page, but what if we want to spruce things up and create a page that’s more in line with our website’s appearance?
That’s where a Cover Page comes in handy.
You can feel free to style this page however you’d like. I recommend keeping the look of the page in line with the rest of your website. It’s also important that you give people the ability to return to a working page on your website, such as the home page.
In the Action menu of the Cover Page editor, select Buttons under the Select Action Type heading. Fill in the Button Label field and then add your preferred URL in the Click to add URL... box next to it. The button will now be able to direct them elsewhere.
To complete this process, navigate to Design -> Not Found/404 Page in the Squarespace menu and select your new 404 Error page in the drop-down field.
If someone accidentally ends up on a page that doesn’t exist, they’ll not only know about what happened, but they’ll be presented with a page that resembles the rest of your site.
I created a custom 404 Error page when I built the first Dandy Cat Design website. It informed people what happened, directed them back to the home page, and reinforced my website’s style. Hopefully, nobody ever had to see it, but I felt good knowing it was there in case anyone lost their way on my website.
Talk about some great website life hacks!
Squarespace does a stellar job of creating tools and features that make creating a website a breeze, but they don’t always talk about how those tools can be used in other ways.
There’s always something new and interesting to find out when you do a little digging. Or if you want to leave the digging to me and just check out my findings here on the blog, then I’m more than happy to do that, as well.
Hack it up, cats.