Is there anything better than using a service that takes care of all the hard things for you? The only thing I can think of is sweet ice cream or a group of rollicking puppies, but those are all different categories. When it comes to creating a website, having all the hard work taken care of for you is as good as it gets.
Who’s got time to learn all about how to code a website when all you need right now is a website that’ll just work?
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Squarespace has built up an entire service based on the idea of “making your next move” as quickly as possible while still ending up with a website that’s sure to wow anyone who sees it. They’re pretty groovy that way.
However, while they’re able to do a whole lot for so many people at once, they’re not able to customize their service for every individual person using it. That’s not a knock against them; nobody's able to be everything to everyone. This just means there are some additional things we need to do for ourselves.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with being self-reliant. In fact, I celebrate it.
We’ve got a handful of settings to adjust that’ll help us set up our websites to run efficiently and safely, but those settings can be tough to figure out sometimes. Let’s clear things up with this post.
The first thing we’ve got to do is super easy: in the Squarespace menu, click on Settings. Done and done. You rock. Let’s keep going.
Region and business information
I’m going to group up the first settings we’ll be customizing. These are:
- Language & Region
- Business Information
I feel we can think of these as the most basic steps to take when we’re setting up our business website on Squarespace. We’re telling the system where we’re located and how we can be reached by others. These settings will be unique to you and your business, but let's go through them anyway.
In the Language & Region menu, we’re presented with a large grayscale map. When you drag your cursor over the map, you’ll see gray circles with accompanying city names follow you around. This allows us to select our time zone in relation to the major city we’re closest to.
As you can see, I’ve got Los Angeles selected because it’s the closest major city to me in California.
You’ll also notice some drop down menus below the map. The first is a complete list of cities that Squarespace provides for setting your time zone. This is followed by menus that allow you to choose your preferred language, your general location in your country and/or state, and your preferred standard of measurement.
Choose what fits you best here in each menu and give yourself a quick thumbs up for getting off to a good start.
In the Business Information menu, we’re presented with the options for including our contract number, contact email, physical location, and business hours.
None of these text fields are required to fill in, so don’t feel an obligation to enter, say, your home address if you don’t have a physical business location. The information in this menu is mostly used to display in certain templates (usually in the footer of the site).
Fill in what you’re comfortable sharing with the world and then move on to the next thing. I will say that if you do have a physical business location that’s accessible to the public, then it’s a good idea to fill in all the fields in this menu. Making your business easier to find is never a bad thing.
Connect your social media accounts
Next on this list are the Social Links and Connected Accounts menus. This is another set of related menu options that we’ll cover under one heading.
Social links are essentially just the URLs of our personal/business social media accounts. Squarespace attaches the URLs we enter here to their respective icons in the Social Links block that we can place on our site. When a visitor clicks on the icon for, say, Instagram, they’ll be directed to the Instagram account we’ve entered in the Social Links menu.
I’ve got my Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles connected. Those links correspond to the Social Links block I’ve placed in the footer of my website. You can add a URL for nearly every prominent social media service out there, as well as any email address you want to make available.
In a related way, the Connected Accounts menu also creates a bridge between your website and an account you own or manage elsewhere on the internet.
The major difference between social links and connected accounts is that the latter is actually able to communicate with the accounts they’re connected with.
For example, a “social link” to my Instagram profile redirects visitors to my profile. A connected Instagram account lets Squarespace pull in my latest photos and display them wherever I place an Instagram block on my website.
Likewise, connecting my Pinterest account allows me to “push” my weekly blog posts to my Pinterest account. This way, every time I hit post on a new blog entry, I’m also creating a new pin on my Pinterest account at the same time without any extra work. I’m getting two birds with one stone.
These two menus present powerful ways to connect your non-website presence on the internet directly to your website. How cool is that?
Unfortunately, these aren’t the chocolate chip variety, but they may be just as important.
I’ve written before about the importance of telling your website visitors that you may be collecting information about them. Give that post a read (and also learn how to style your cookie banner while you’re at it).
Because we live in a world where our personal privacy is more important than ever, it’s critical that you inform your visitors of any collection practices you may be doing. Thankfully, it’s easy peasy.
If you want to customize this a bit more, then you can consider altering the cookie message, choosing between a bar and a pop-up appearance, and what sort of analytics you want Squarespace to collect, among other features.
Consider unchecking both the Disable Squarespace Analytics Cookies and Enable Activity Log buttons at the bottom of the menu to anonymize the data you collect even further. This helps protect your visitors and that’s always a good thing to do.
A lot of what can be changed in the Blogging menu comes down to personal preference, but let’s get into it anyway. I’ll talk about how I’ve chosen to set up my blogging settings. You can do what I’ve done or alter it to how you see fit for yourself.
I believe it’s the current trend to remove the date information that can be automatically placed in the URL of your individual blog posts. It makes sense to me. I think it’s good to keep your posts timeless.
In the Post URL Format field, remove any text you find there and type in “%t” (minus the quotation marks). This way your URLs won't be cluttered up with a bunch of needless date information.
In the Comments Settings sub-menu, you can decide if you want to allow comments on your blog posts, how they’re posted by others, and how they appear on your post pages. I’ve chosen to allow blog posts because I believe it encourages more engagement on my website. It’s all about engagement these days.
Additionally, if you have a Disqus account, you can connect it to your posts, allow “liking” of your posts, and choose to present them in the Google AMP format.
We’re going to get to this final settings menu by clicking on Advanced and then SSL.
This menu is all about helping to secure your website, so I believe these are important settings to configure. It can be easier than ever for bad people to access your website and do nasty things with it. Quickly checking a couple buttons here will go a long way toward protecting you in the future.
That’s never a bad thing.
For the most part, everyone should check both the Secure (Preferred) and the HSTS Secure buttons.
That’s all there is to it here. You shouldn’t ever notice any issues with how your website works. Clicking a couple buttons is enough to turn your website into a mini Fort Knox.
Squarespace, in all its grooviness, just can’t predict the needs of every single one of its many millions of users. That would be impossible.
Likewise, I can’t predict your exact website needs. However, I have built many websites and I’ve come to find that the suggestions I’ve made above are enough to give your website a good dose of personalization and make it more secure than ever.
Those suggestions will go a long way toward helping to give your website the strong foundation it needs to be a success.
Set it up the right way, cats.