What user experience do you want to create?
Before you start browsing templates and get stuck into building your new site from scratch, my biggest piece of advice would be to spend some time thinking about the user experience you want to create. A website is way more than just pretty pictures and well-crafted copy, it's a huge part of your brand and what you share with the world online. How do you want your readers/customers to browse and view your site? Instead of just going in head first to build your sidebar and different pages, take the time to really craft a user experience that is both purposeful and engaging.
questions for you:
How do you want your readers to feel when they browse your website?
What is the path you'd like visitors to take when engaging with your site? For example, what are your Call To Actions and in what order would you like them to explore your pages? How can you build your site's experience in a way that works for you?
What Do You Need From Your Website?
Your website works for you - I touched a little on this topic in this post on How To Build A Website That Works For Your Blog. As much as design and aesthetics are important, this biggest thing I would recommend is building your site in a way that works for you, your brand, and your business.
What is the main purpose of your website? To build community? Connect with your ideal readers? To convert readers into clients and customers? To grow your business?
On a daily basis, what do you need your website to do to help you work towards your goals? For example - direct people to sign up to your mailing list? Convert possible clients? Share your expertise and knowledge?
What story do you want your website to tell?
There's no point building a generic site that lacks in personality or personal branding. When starting from scratch with a new design you have the awesome opportunity to really tell a story via your website. It's the perfect place to make a great first impression and really portray what you and your brand are about. Instead of just being another website in the sea of people in your niche, you can use this opportunity to create something a little special and unique to you.
Questions For You:
What first impression do you want your website to make? How do you want people to perceive you and your brand?
What parts of your personality, design tastes, and personal brand do you want to build into your sites design? How can your website tell part of the story of who you are and what you do?
What are the essentials?
So before we dig into templates and building your Squarespace site, I think it's super important to really explore and pinpoint the essentials your site needs. As all Squarespace templates have different functionalities, knowing beforehand a general outline of what features your sites needs will help you hone in on which template is for you.
Some things to consider:
Do you want a separate home page or the landing page to be your blog?
Do you want a sidebar for your blog?
Do you want a page with continuous scroll?
Do you want a heavy focus on visuals, copy, or a mix of the two?