july 2015

Choosing the right Squarespace template

Click on this pin to find out 2 steps to choosing the right Squarespace template for you. #Squarespace #Templates #Business #Freelance #Design #Website

Compared to Wordpress, Squarespace doesn't offer many templates. This is a serious deal-breaker for many, but for others it's amazing. It limits your options and stops you from overthinking. 

Even though there aren't many templates, you can still make your chosen template unique by adding lots of different features and page layouts.

It's important that you take your time when deciding which template is best for you. Even though you can switch templates at any time, you don't want to waste any time tweaking the wrong template. 

Related post: Why I switched from Wordpress to Squarespace

There are 2 steps to choosing the right Squarespace template for you.

1 . What is the goal of your website?

  • If you're an online seller, your main website goal is selling stuff! So you'll need a template that includes a product-display you like the look of.
  • If you're a hardcore blogger, you'll probably need a template that includes a blog sidebar. Not all templates do. 
  • If you're a photographer, or you need to display lots of large images on your website, you'll need to choose a template that focuses on visuals. 

I'm sure you get the point here; get clear on your goal before you choose a template. When you have a Website Goal in mind, browse through the Squarespace templates looking for ones that help you achieve your goal. You can select templates that are specifically for shops, portfolios, businesses and more by using their menu on the top right. 

2. What features do you want to include in your website?

Now that you have a goal in mind, find a template that includes features that help you towards your main goal. 

  • Blog sidebar. As I mentioned, most bloggers want a sidebar where they can include social media links, categories, popular posts and more. Only certain templates include this. Those templates are: AvenueBedfordDovetailFiveFrontrowForteGalapagosIshimotoPeakWells
  • Gallery/portfolio. Even though you can add a gallery to any template using the drag-and-drop Gallery widget, some templates include unique Gallery designs, such as full-width galleries that fill the screen. If you're a photographer for example, you may want to choose a template like this to really showcase your photos. 
  • Shop page. All templates can include a shop, but some templates have unique shop designs. If your main purpose is to sell products through your website, look for a template with a shop design you love.
  • Navigation menu. Some templates feature a navigation menu above the header, below the header, or no menu at all. Decide how important it is for your visitors before choosing a template. 

Related post: Squarespace vs. Wordpress

My 5 favorite Squarespace templates for creative businesses

Click on the images to go to the template page. From there you'll be able to view the demo and view websites using that template. 

1. Galapagos

I use Galapagos for this website. Other great examples of small businesses using the Galapagos theme are Krishna Solanki and Think Creative.

2. Five

I love the simplicity of this theme. The fullwidth photo is a great feature. Jess Creatives and Kayla Hollatz use this template nicely.

3. Montauk

This is a simple and minimal template for business owners who want the focus to be on their work. Thread and Stone, Ally Allison Events and Sophisticaited are a great example of how this template can look. 

4. Pacific

Ten Twenty One use this template for their photography business, and I can see why! This template includes lots of fullwidth images, making it the perfect template to show off photos.

5. Anya and Deven

Even though this template is for weddings, it can be used for businesses who only need to showcase a few things online, like their open times, business information and photos. I think this template is great for brick-and-mortar businesses. Christina Liang uses this template for her photography business. 

Tell me- which Squarespace template is the best fit for you? How have you altered yours to make it more unique?

How to create a brand board

Designers - learn why you should be creating brand boards for your clients and why. Just click on this pin to find out more! #Designers #Freelance #Business #Streamlining & Automating #Design #Branding

After spending the last few months working on my course, Organize & Automate, and recording lessons to help designers automate their design process, I thought I'd share a snippet from the course! So here it is.

Let's dive into brand boards and why you should be creating them for your clients- and how!

A brand board is an at-a-glance document containing all your brand elements- from your main logo to your color palette. You may have seen them floating around Pinterest but not understood what they were. Or, if you're a designer, you may want to start creating brand boards but you don't know where to start. 

Let's start with why you should create brand boards. 

Brand boards show the client every element of their visual brand- all together in one neat document. They're important because they help convey a brand’s values, attributes and personality in one glance.

When you’ve designed blog graphics, prints or anything else for your business (or for your clients), its helpful to look at the brand board and check that what you’ve designed is in line with the colours, fonts, graphics and overall identity that is on the board.

That isn't the only reason brand boards are important though. If you're a designer like me, have you ever thought about what you're going to do if one of your clients comes back to you for work and you're not available?

You'll need to refer them to another designer. If you made a style guide for them, their new designer will be able to use that to expand on their branding without ruining all the hard work you put in to make it look so damn gorgeous in the first place. 

Clients benefit from brand boards because they can easily find their color codes and font names on them.

Would you be a very happy client if you went away from the project with lovely branding, but no idea what fonts and colours were used? No idea how what to use to create additional brand materials in the future? I wouldn't. 

Brand boards are totally different to style guides, so try not to confuse the two. 

Style guides include instruction on how to use your brand elements, such as how much spacing a logo should have around it, or what backgrounds your logo can and can’t be used on… I prefer to think of style guides as identity guidelines. They can be pretty complex, but brand boards are simple boards that only include your brand elements — not instructions on how and where to use things.

(Psst! I talk all about creating style guides, moodboards and other time-saving templates in my course, Organize & Automate.)


Download your free Photoshop brand board template!

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Here's what I include in my brand boards:

1. Main logo

The main logo is used on the client's website, on their stationery and usually on PDFs etc.

2. Logo variation

This is another version of the main logo, with a slight difference. It could be a vertical version, it could have a shape around it, it could be in another color, or it could be textured...

It's a good idea to offer your clients a logo variation because you never know when they might fancy changing things up. Clients don't want a basic brand- they want a brand that's cohesive, but still interesting! 

3. Sub mark

A sub mark is another element that is pulled from the main logo. It's usually smaller than the main logo, and is often used as a favicon or profile picture.

Sub marks are especially helpful to brands with long business names because they provide a simple alternative to their main logo. Sub marks also make great watermarks because they're usually in a circular shape and fit nicely in the corners of photos. 

4. Main color palette

I create a main color palette that consists of 5 colors. These colors reinforce the 'vibe' of the brand.

For example, a feminine brand may choose pastel colors to help add to their romantic brand vibe, and a corporate agency may choose dark or bold colors to give off a feeling of power. 

On your client's brand board, make sure you include the hex codes for their colours. If you want to be even more helpful, you can provide the RGB, CMYK and Pantone values!

5. Supporting palette

A supporting colour palette is a set of extra colours that compliment the main colour palette nicely. These colors can be used in blog post graphics, social media posts and other brand graphics to inject more variety while still remaining cohesive. 

6. Supporting pattern

A pattern is a nice way to add to the aesthetic of your brand. For example, a feminine brand could strengthen their girly vibe with a polka dot pattern! Patterns are usually used on print design, social media designs and PDF designs. 

7. Fonts

Fonts have to be chosen very carefully when creating a visual identity for a client. Just like a color palette, fonts can make or break the brand vibe you're trying to give off.

Script fonts are often used for feminine brands, whilst chunky sans serif fonts could be used for modern brands. Whatever the font, make sure you include all font names and their uses in your client's brand boards. Tell your client which fonts should be used for paragraph text and headers. 

These elements make up a visual identity, but there's also so much more you can add! Once you have the basics in place, you can create social media branding, PDFs, print designs, course designs and more.

Brand boards contain the very core of your client's brand identity. They guide every visual decision your client will make, so make sure you include one in your client's final files. 

Do you have a brand board of your own? If you're a designer, what is your favorite part of the design process? Leave a comment and let me know!

Download your free Photoshop brand board template!

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