Squarespace is wonderful.
It’s the service that allowed me to craft and build a business that lets me live the life I want to live on my own terms. I may have eventually ended up in a similar position with some other website creation service or software, but I’m glad Squarespace was there as an option when I started out.
Its continued focus on creating an intuitive and powerful platform that just about anybody can understand is one of the reasons why I appreciate it. I think it’s also one of the reasons why it’s not just sticking around, but also thriving.
People love Squarespace because of what it allows them to accomplish, as do I.
However, Squarespace tries to offer many, many starting options to a whole lot of people. In some ways, they’re trying to be everything to nearly everybody.
That can create some serious confusion, so let’s clear things up.
There's just so much
Nowhere is the confusion more immediately apparent than when you’re first tasked with choosing a template for your future website. They have so many templates to choose from. I’d wager that there are easily at least fifty to choose from. If you told me it was nearer to a hundred total, I wouldn’t be surprised.
The wealth of options they give you is a double-edged sword. There’s no shortage of options for you, but well, there’s so dang many options for you. That can be a little overwhelming and frustrating when you just want to start building your site, for cryin’ out loud.
But there is a solution.
Brine to the rescue!
I’ll start out by mentioning that “Brine” isn’t just a single template that can act as the magic template for anybody and everybody. While there is a specific Brine template, that name also encompasses a whole family of templates. Currently, they include:
Phew. Okay, that’s definitely a lot of templates to choose from, but it’s still a relatively small sampling when compared to the complete list of Squarespace templates you can choose from.
What I can assure you of is the versatility of any template in the Brine family. There are several other families that may look good, but they can limit what you’re able to accomplish if you ever want to adjust or fine-tune the appearance of your website.
You may not need every single one of the styling or layout options that a Brine family template can give you, but I believe it’s always better to have those options when you need them.
Would you rather be stuck in the middle of a flowing river without any sort of paddle? I know I’d rather have too many paddles than float alone without any.
Brine stands well above any of the other template choices because of the abundance of features it gives you.
I’m talking about the mega list of features you can find in the Site Styles section of the Design menu. Other font families will all give you the ability to change your fonts or alter the look of your photos, but they stop short of any more intricate power. Brine does no such thing:
These are features like image layout settings, site margin and padding settings, and intricate header and footer settings, to name a few. Other template families take a more “opinionated” approach to their design and far fewer features than you can get with a Brine template. Take the Site Styles from a York template, for example:
Sure, you can start digging into the source code of those limited website templates and make considerable alterations to their appearance using some CSS code, but if you’re at that point, then you should probably be considering another template anyway.
Index Pages are the best
Another feather in the cap of the Brine family is its strong Index Page offerings. As Squarespace itself says, ”The Index Page collects images and content from different pages and arranges them visually, creating a single destination where visitors can browse content from multiple sub-pages.”
Basically, one page can have many different sections.
I love Index Pages and made extensive use of one on the old Dandy Cat Design homepage, as you can see below:
What you’re seeing there are two separate pages—a personal introduction and a teaser for my latest blog posts—that are combined into a single flowing page. It’s all thanks to the versatility and magic of the Index Page.
You can create a long page full of every single content block that Squarespace offers with an Index Page. Galleries, banner images, buttons, and all the rest are there for you to use.
If you want to get really inventive with an Index Page, you can even create a single-page website, meaning that your entire website is contained within that one Index Page. Check out an example of this by looking at Squarespace’s own Sofia template demo. I’m a big fan of those sorts of websites.
Other template families allow for the use of Index Pages, but if you happen to choose one that doesn’t, then the only way to start using them is to install and use another template. Believe me when I say that’s just a headache waiting to happen. My early days using Squarespace were full of annoying mistakes like that.
The navigation bar of your dreams
So you want your website logo to be in the center of your header and your navigation links to show up on either side of the logo? Brine will let you do that.
Oh wait, you want the logo on the left side of the header and the links in a line on the right side? Yeah, do it with Brine.
No, you want your logo to be in the middle, but you want the navigation links to be in a row beneath the logo? Hey, Brine’s got your back.
The Brine family lets you place the items in your header navigation just about anywhere you want them to go. It’s really handy and helpful like that.
The coolness doesn’t stop there, though. With the Brine templates, you also have some extensive control over what you can put in the footer of your website. There’s a dedicated place in the Pages menu where you can put links to other pages in the footer.
You can also place any other content block in the footer because Squarespace is cool like that. I don’t know why you’d want to put a whole video down in your footer, but if you need that ability, then a template in the Brine family will let you do it.
Really useful Banner Images
Banner images are the photos you can have displayed across the full width of your website. They’re one of the great features that makes a Squarespace website look modern and able to catch the eye. I’m using a banner image of myself in the screenshot shown above in the Index Page section of this post.
Banner images weren’t always so capable. It used to be a feature that only served one purpose: looking good. Sure, that’s a desirable trait in any website, but why should it stop there? Why can’t a banner image also help give information or allow a visitor to interact with your site?
Now they can. Since the banner image is just the background image of a standard page, there’s no reason to remove the ability of a standard page to accept any sort of content block you want to place in it.
As you can see in this picture from my old website, I have a styled Markdown block placed on top of the image, a navigation button underneath that, and a Spacer block placed on the right side of the page making sure that the other two blocks aren’t extending past the center. It’s useful and allows for a huge amount of personality.
Want to learn more about the Spacer Block, one of the best Squarespace blocks ever? Give this a read:
The Brine family of templates is the clear standout amongst the many other Squarespace templates. They all offer a staggering amount of personalization features that allow you to make a website unique and personal to you. They help make the big decision of choosing a website template into a much easier one.
With all that said, there are times when a Brine template isn’t the way to go. For instance, if the main purpose of your website is to serve as a blog for your readers and you desire an infinite scrolling list of blog posts or need to have an automatic sidebar on your blog pages, then Brine isn’t going to be useful for you.
For most every other website, Brine should be considered your best template friend. Squarespace really knocked it out of the park with these templates when they started making them.
Not only do I suggest a template within the Brine family to all of my past clients, but I’ve uses templates based on the Brine family for Dandy Cat Design, as well.
Create something great, cats.
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