What is the best Squarespace template? Brine. Here's why.
Updated: Sept. 4, 2018
Back in the day the answer to the question 'which Squarespace template is best?' was really based on what your site was for, and what functionality you wanted in your site.
Today however, within the Squarespace website designer community there's a pretty solid consensus on the best Squarespace template.
What changed? This new template came outfitted with just about every single feature you could want, and it's the most flexible of them all too, earning it the title of the best Squarespace template out there.
In fact, I know of a couple Squrespace designers, that exclusively build on this template and do not even consider any others.
Why does it matter what Squarespace designers think is the best template?
Well, we spend our lives in the back end of Squarespace websites, and are pretty darn familiar with the template options, so if we have a fav, you can be pretty confident that means something.
Hands down the best template offered by Squarespace right now is anything within the Brine family.
I don’t want you to blindly take my word for it though. In this post I’m going to:
- Walk you through exactly why Brine is the best template out there, and show you exactly what it can do
- Explain the few situations why Brine might not be right for you
- Explain how to pick the right template for you within the Brine family
- What Squarespace has to say about the Brine template
Let me quickly explain what a template family is though so that you understand this fully.
Brine is the name of both a template and a template family.
A template family is a number of templates that all share the same underlying code and therefore functionality.
Different template families have different functionality capabilities. Any templates in the same family have the same functionality.
Okay, so now we all know that same template family = same functionality. Why are there so many template within a family then, you ask?
There are many, many options within a template and because it's not possible to show the different capabilities on just one demo template, Squarespace has created many. Also, most new Squarespace users just look at the demo content, find one that has the same content as their business or style they like and choose that way. By having many templates within a family, Squarespace can show different demo content, different options in the template family and showcase different styles and vibes.
Within the Brine family there are many different templates.
The Brine family of templates includes: Brine (Aria, Basil, Blend, 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, West)
Any of these templates are the best templates Squarespace offers. Why is that?
The Brine family has the greatest flexibility and the most functionality options of all the templates on Squarespace.
(That’s the short answer, if you want the details to that statement, read on!)
As you can see in my template comparison chart, the Brine family has more options than any other template. Brine scored a ‘yes’ for the comparison chart features across the board, with just one exception.
Most other templates on Squarespace only have one or two of these features whereas Brine has almost all of them.
Also, Squarespace said this to Circle members about picking templates:
"When in doubt, pick a template from the Brine family. Brine is our newest and most customizable template family. Since Brine has our newest codebase, you’ll also benefit from the most support from Squarespace. While we fix bugs in all templates, bugs in newer and more popular templates like Brine are usually prioritized over others."
The Brine Templates Features & Functionality
1. XL in overall flexibility
In my template comparison chart, Brine scored an XL on overall flexibility, and there's only a handful of templates which got this rating. It also scored much better than most both in Mobile flexibility and e-commerce flexibility.
2. Sticky nav
Navigation is able to be fixed or ‘sticky’ on mobile (it sticks to the top of the page as you scroll down it).
3. The most versatile navigation
Brine has more navigation options than the other templates.
Brine has both a secondary navigation in the footer, and a 2 level header navigation.
The 2 level header navigation really makes Brine special and lets you get really flexible as to what goes where within the nav. You can set each of your logo, navigation links, social icons, shopping cart and search bar to be centered, left aligned or right aligned, and also decide for each item if it goes in the top or bottom of the double nav.
4. Style Editor options galore
Brine has a zillion Style Editor options, way more than the average template.
Spacing, padding, colors, Ajax loading, site border, site width, search icon styles, banner overlay colors, Index navigation, scroll indicators, Index Gallery layouts, mobile breakpoint, and a whole array of mobile style options makes Brine the best.
The average user won’t need to go searching through the Squarespace Answers page for some CSS to tweak the styles of their site, as many more style options are available in the Style Editor than most templates.
5. Parallax Scrolling
Just a handful of templates offer Parallax Scrolling, and Brine is one of them!
6. Slideshow banner
Just one other template family has this option, but the other template doesn’t have nearly as many other options as Brine has.
7. Banner images with any block on top
Okay, this is the piece of magic that Brine has over every other template.
This feature solves so many of the issues people were previously frustrated about. Not only can you place any block on top of a banner image, you may place those blocks anywhere you want on top of the banner. No other template is able to do this.
Want to put an opt-in gift in your banner image right at the top of the page? Want to have colored backgrounds to sections of pages? This is the answer.
Here’s a couple of examples of how people have used the Brine templates ‘put any block on top of a banner’ function.
Fake movement slideshow gallery blocks over a background color from amydemas.com
Scrolling testimonial quotes with a carousel summary block over a white parallax background with gold quote marks from amydemas.com
Carousel summary block of blog posts over a grey background from summerfield-delight.com
8. Intro areas on every page
Brine has intro areas for every page, including the blog.
Want to have some sort of welcome, or breakdown of categories or opt-in gift at the top of your blog page? Brine can do that.
Brine offers an ‘intro’ area at the top of every page, so even the ones you had little styling ability over before (for example, the blog page), you now can go wild with at the top of the page.
9. Index pages
When I first started with Squarespace, I didn’t understand the index page thing so much, but now, it’s what most of my sites are built with.
The index pages allow you to stack pages, galleries, and banner images one on to of the next, creating a long page of interesting visual elements, and clear sections to separate ideas, or products, or topics.
While you might not get into index pages all too much when you start with Squarespace, you’ll thank yourself later when you begin experimenting with them for having chosen a template with the index page option.
10. Custom share buttons
Previously we had to add certain 3rd party integrations onto our sites to get share buttons completely custom, but now a handful of templates include this, Brine being one of them!
Alright, so Brine has features and flexibility coming out its ears, more so than any other template.
We’re agreed on that now, right?
Right. Okay, moving onto the few situations why Brine might not be right for you.
When Brine Might Not Be Right For You
If one of these are a website mandatory for you, then you won’t want to choose Brine.
- You’re a blogger AND these features are a top priority for you: Infinite scroll, author profiles, auto-populated related posts
- Page animations are a top priority for you
- A vertical navigation is a top priority for you
- A pre-footer is a top priority for you
- A sidebar is a top priority for you (there's a caveat to this one though - read on)
These are the features which a couple other templates have, which Brine does not.
Granted, those other templates don’t have many of the features Brine has, so you’ve gotta weigh what is the top priority for you.
Brine doesn't have a sidebar - solution
Let me dive a little deeper into the last bullet point before we move on because ‘I need a sidebar’ is something I commonly hear from people, but honestly most of the time, they really don’t.
The people who say this tend to fall into 2 categories, bloggers or people with large websites with many pages.
Either way, I’m here to say, a sidebar is not the way to go.
First, let me address my fellow bloggers. As they say these days ‘content is king.’ The focus of your website should be your amazing, value-adding content. Stripping your website of the sidebar lets you connect with your readers and prove your expertness to them, not distract them and take them away from your site with that sidebar ad.
Sidebars were historically used to plop a bunch of ads in, but we’ve now all learned to hate and ignore ads, so if you’re hoping to make money off your sidebar ads, I have bad news. It’s going to be a long and painful uphill battle, and I predict it’s only going to get worse.
The way bloggers make money these days is from sponsored content and selling something your readers find useful (courses, ebooks, services, products, etc).
For both of these methods, you need to create great content either to promote said product you’re sponsored to blog about, or to build trust so readers will buy your stuff.
Either way, the focus needs to be your content, not your sidebar Amazon ad where, in the rare occasion someone clicks, they leave your site after you worked so hard to get them there.
For those people with a lot of pages, adding in 25 links in your sidebar in addition to your options in the top navigation is going to lead to analysis paralysis.
It’s much better to lead visitors to a page which cover a topic (say, services), give a little summary of each and then let them select the service which fits them best.
Now, I realize no matter how much I try to convince people, some want a sidebar regardless. There's a CSS plugin which I reviewed in this post which you can add to your Brine template to add a sidebar.
How to pick the right template within the Brine family
As I mentioned before, Brine is a whole family of templates, they all have the same functionality, style options and level of flexibility.
So how do you choose the template within the family?
Choose the one where the example is close to the styles and layout you would like in your website.
You should still change the style editor options and play around with the layout a bit once you’re in the editor so it doesn’t look the exact same as the example, but choosing a template style-wise and layout-wise you like will cut down on the time you’ll spend designing the site.
Lastly, if you're still unsure about all the template picking things and want the really in-depth explanation on features and differences between template families, this 1 hour video goes into it thoroughly.