Squarespace DIY: Which Template is Best?
Squarespace has positioned itself as an easy DIY website builder for the masses.
Before I started building websites for clients, I used Squarespace to build a website for my previous business. It took some time to figure out, but I ended up with a website that I could be proud of, even with my unreasonably high standards.
If you’re building a website for yourself and you’re not an award winning designer, it’s more important to pick a template that is closest to your ideal website.
If you find a template that you really love, you can substitute your own content for the Squarespace demo content and voila! You’ve got yourself a website.
One of the problems with this is that there are literally millions of Squarespace users, so it can be easy to end up with a site that looks like every one else’s.
If you want something unique and you don’t know where to start, you can either consider hiring an expert to help you out, or you can choose a template that provides the greatest number of customization options.
In this post, I’ll explain the template family structure and give an overview of the best template to choose for your website whether you're building for yourself or for clients.
What is a template family?
A Squarespace template family is a group of templates that share the same underlying code base and style options. For example, the ‘Skye’ family has a great blog layout and has a unique navigation menu style. Skye is the name of a template and also the name of a template family. Skye, Tudor, Ready, and Indigo all share the same blog layout and unique menu style.
There are multiple templates within a family. This allows Squarespace’s designers to demonstrate the design options for each family. It would be impossible to demonstrate all the design possibilities with a single template demo.
Clear as mud? Good.
Which Template family is the best? Brine.
I’ve actually switched existing client websites from older templates to Brine to make my own life easier with respect to future updates and changes, and it didn't affect the design of the website in the slightest.
Templates in the Brine family, which include: Aria, Basil, Blend, Brine, Burke, Cacao, Clay, Ethan, Fairfield, Feed, Foster, Greenwich, Hatch, Heights, Hunter, Hyde, Impact, Jaunt, Juke, Keene, Kin, Maple, Margot, Marta, Mentor, Mercer, Miller, Mojave, Moksha, Motto, Nueva, Pedro, Polaris, Pursuit, Rally, Rover, Royce, Sofia, Sonny, Sonora, Stella, Thorne, Vow, Wav, and West have the greatest flexibility and number of style options.
This is why the Brine family is the best for DIY website builders and web designers alike:
1. Tons of style editor options
There are a lot of situations where you may want to deviate from Squarespace’s design choices to match your own brand. In the past you might have had to root through forums to find custom CSS for the changes you wanted to make. Templates in the Brine family have an abundance of style editor options including: navigation positions & styles, ajax loading, index gallery styles, header padding, page padding, scroll indicators, and more.
2. Parallax Scrolling
Parallax is when background images move at a different speed than foreground elements when scrolling, creating an illusion of depth. Parallax scrolling is very trendy right now and Brine family templates are some of the only templates that include this feature.
3. Vertical height options
These templates allow you to define the vertical height of your pages. For example, you can fill the viewers browser with your banner image equal to 100% of height of their browser window, regardless of the size of their browser window and monitor size. You can also set it to 50%, 75%, 86%—whatever your heart desires. Setting vertical height as a percentage of overall height ensures that the viewing experience is the same for all visitors.
4. Mobile style options
Brine family templates offer an abundance of mobile stying options that allow you to adjust the logo size on phones, change the menu icon, create a sticky header that stays in place when scrolling (a great option for long pages), adjust the menu overlay colour, and more. This is increasingly important as mobile traffic increases and mobile browsing experience becomes more important to users.
5. Slideshow banners
The Bedford family is the only other collection of templates that allows for this option, but it’s not nearly as versatile as the Brine slideshow banner. Slideshow banners in Brine have several options for slide transition styles and speed, next & previous control styling, indicator styles and caption text options.
6. Blocks on top of banner images
There’s no other template family that allows this, but it is crucial to design flexibility. Within Brine you can place any block on top of banner images to create a truly modern looking website. You can create some awesome designs when you pair text and image blocks on top of banner images with parallax scrolling.
Picking a Brine family template
There are over 40 templates that share Brine’s underlying code base. So which one do you choose?
As a professional Squarespace designer, templates act as a starting point only, followed by more advanced customizations with scripts and CSS. The novice designer can follow this same strategy.
Since all the templates in this family have the same styling options, you can choose any one of them, theoretically. However, the best strategy is to choose one that is closest to the style you want to end up with to save yourself time changing fonts, colours, and content layouts.
Times when Brine may not be the best option
Brine templates are not always the most appropriate option.
There are some other super interesting template families, and some lone templates that are not part of a family at all.
I hope that one day all the templates will share every design feature to eliminate the agony of choosing between form over function. Until that happens, you may have to choose one of the templates that are better suited for portfolios or blogs. I will admit that brine templates leave a little bit to be desired when to comes to blog styling and there are better templates for showcasing photography and art with interesting navigations and pages built specifically for creative projects.
Whichever template you choose, you’ll be much further ahead to make sure the design is closest to your end goal. All of the templates are beautifully designed, but Brine templates allow you to be much more granular if you’re as fussy about details as I am.
If you don’t even know where to start, there are tons of amazing Squarespace designers out there who can help you out.