I think preserving history is one of the most important things humanity can do for itself. We can learn from history. We can become inspired by it. We can work on contributing to it in some meaningful way.
Or we can make it a place to live for all of the many thousands of words we’ve written into blog posts. If you’re not preserving that history in an easy to access place, then just what are you doing with your blog?
Why should you have an archive?
A blog archive page is an easy way to give your current and future readers access to everything you’ve ever posted. Instead of leaving them to scroll through page after page of your blog, they can visit the archive and move through an easier to manage and complete list of your past work. And it’s all on a single page, which is the beauty of an archive.
It’s just one more thing you can do to make your website more accessible to all of your readers. That’s an important consideration. You want your visitors to keep being enticed to read more of your words. If it’s hard for them to get to those words, then why would they stick around?
A blog archive page is the perfect solution to that question and it’s one of the easier things you can create on your Squarespace website (or any website, really).
Creating a blog archive
It’s important to note that Squarespace doesn't currently offer a way to automatically create a blog archive page when you start posting blogs on your site.
Perhaps they’ll add this functionality into their service at some point in the future, but in the meantime, we can do this for ourselves. Who doesn’t prefer to do it that way? It’s pleasing to know everything will be exactly how you like it because you made it that way.
What Squarespace does do, however, is offer a couple of Content Blocks that will allow you to create the archive page of your dreams.
You dream about archive pages, right? Is it just me? Yeah, it’s probably just me.
Anyway, let’s delve into the first method of creating an archive page.
Method 1: Using an image gallery
This first method is one that I used to use on the Dandy Cat Design archive page. What I did was create a running list of blog post thumbnails that will lead a visitor to their respective post page when they click on any of the images.
I used this method because it gave me the ability to include a visual component to the list of blog posts. However, it does require a relatively significant amount of extra work to keep the archive up to date.
Instead of an auto-updating list of blog post titles, I had to manually upload a new image and direct it to a specific link whenever I published a new post. There’s always a compromise, it seems.
Let’s go through the steps here.
- Make a new page by clicking the “plus” button in the Pages menu. This new page can be added anywhere on your site.
- Give it a catchy page and navigation title. Perhaps something like “Archive.” Yes, that’ll do.
- After you’ve styled the page in a way that stays consistent with the rest of your website, add a new Grid Gallery in your preferred position on the page.
- Upload whatever image you want to use to represent the post you’re referencing.
- Once the image is uploaded, click on the Image Settings gear located above the image when you hover over it.
- Click the Clickthrough URL field in the Edit Image window and add the appropriate URL for the image.
- Click Save on the Edit Image window, Apply on the Grid window, and Save on the page editor window.
Voilà! You’ve now got the start of a blog archive page with some eye-catching visuals to go along with it. Repeat the same steps listed above to add in any additional posts you may not have on the archive page yet.
Method 2: Using the Archive List content block
I may have been a bit too critical of Squarespace earlier in this post, because they do offer a dedicated Archive content block that you can place anywhere on your website. This is especially useful if you’re running a Squarespace 7.1 site. They’ve changed the way image galleries work, making it harder to add a Gallery Block anywhere on a page.
With a few clicks or taps, you can include a running list of all your blog posts. Bonus: the list will automatically update every time you publish a new blog post. Bummer: the list is a text only option. There’s no easy way to add images along with this content block.
But hey, not everyone needs an archive page overflowing with hundreds of images. In fact, having a whole heck of a lot of images on a page is a decent way to slow it down. Your visitors aren’t going to appreciate that.
Let’s get down to these steps.
- Create a new archive page and name it whatever you’d like, as we did in step one of the first method.
- After styling the page, click a content block insertion point in you preferred place on the page. Scroll down the Content Block window a bit until you reach the “Filters & Lists” section and click on Arhive.
- You’ll be presented with an Archive window. Select your preferred blog page under the “Blog” heading. The Archive block will populate itself with all of your blog posts.
- In the “Display” tab of the Archive window, you have some options:
- Layout: choose from an Index, List, or Dropdown style for your Archive block, as well as whether or not you want to break the block into multiple columns.
- Choose your preferred text alignment style.
- Group By: choose between grouping your posts together by Month, Year, Author, Category, or Tag.
- Choose how to sort dates (depending on how you group the list), and whether or not you want to show post dates or how many items are in each group.
- Click Apply in the Archive window, followed by Save on the page editor window.
Ta-da! Now you’ve got an auto-updating and very effective running list of posts you’ve published onto your website. Ideally, this is something you shouldn’t ever have to touch again until you decide to redesign your website or if something goes terribly wrong.
Hopefully it won’t be the second option.
A more accessible site
An archive page is a great way to make your website more useful to the people who choose to spend time on it. Not only does it allow them to see just how many awesome posts you’ve published onto your site, it gives them an easy way to find what new thing they may want to read.
When they’re busy looking for new things to read on your website, that also means they’re engaged with what you’ve created.
Engagement usually means satisfaction.
An archive page is a fantastic way to keep people on your website. It’s a great way to keep them happy. Who knows, it could be a reason why they choose to work with you or purchase one of your products.
Keep your history alive, cats.