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Custom Vs. Template Vs. The Sparrow Way

At Sparrow Websites, our goal is to inform all of our clients (and potential clients) about everything they need to know about creating websites for their small business and all the available options.  We want you to be fully informed before making a decision about which route to go so that your business doesn’t suffer from choosing an option that doesn’t suit your needs long-term.

While researching your options for creating a website, I’m sure custom website and template websites have come up as your two main options.

What exactly are the differences between a custom and a template-based web design? That is what we are here to help explain. 

We will go over what each one is, give the pros and cons, show some examples, and explore which kind of businesses are best suited for either custom design or template-based. 


A custom website design refers to all the aspects required to build a site from scratch.  Everything, from layout to logos, images and the text (called “copy”) and color scheme, would be created and designed specifically for a brand to give it a unique look.

Design companies would spend lots of time with you learning about your company in order to deeply understand your business, the kinds of customers you want to attract, and your long-term goals.  They would take all that information and design a website crafting it for your optimum return on investment (ROI).  Your website would have features built-in that would help you manage your site for the future and accomplish your business goals.

You also would need a pay a trusted hosting provider each month to keep your site fast, secure, backed up each day.


  • Unique
  • Flexible
  • Functional & Expandable
  • Secure
  • Future support
  • Compatible with multiple tools and interface integrations
  • User Friendly
  • Dedicated hosting environment


  • Very pricy
  • Require maintenance and updates
  • Not speedy in the design process

Custom Website Examples

  • High level of design and continuity
  • Future client’s goals are clearly displayed
  • Company logo and font all match
  • Call to Action buttons are highly visible and draw the eye
  • Custom functions and features
  • Complete home-shopping design
  • Lots of white space
  • Very aesthetic and minimal
  • Muted tones and very calming design
  • Complements the physician’s personality
  • Customized business research


A template website is created by, you guessed it… templates!  Designers have created various themes and layouts for easy conversion by nearly any business or individual who desires a website. 

The layouts are aesthetically pleasing and very familiar to anyone who is visiting.  They are also preset with certain features but are not truly customizable in that the sense of the ‘sky is the limit’.  An individual doesn’t need any programming or web designing experience to create their own website.  They can use their own photos and choose their color scheme and fonts to personalize it; but since anyone can purchase that template, the website will not be truly one-of-a-kind.

The other reality to a template website is that you are the acting-strategist, making decisions based on what you like or feel – and the actual best practices and data may not be there to back that up.

Hosting a templated website is usually directly on your ‘template provider’ platform – like SquareSpace or Wix or GoDaddy – so you don’t have as much control over whether it’s a ‘shared’ platform with 1,000+ other sites vying for speed and bandwidth, or a dedicated server with just your own website using the provided space. Shared hosting platforms can be cheap, but they are also more vulnerable to data hacks and slow performance.


  • Inexpensive
  • Quick setup
  • Attractive layouts
  • User friendly


  • Not unique to target audience
  • Very basic in features
  • No custom support from template company
  • Lack of security (unless you purchase SSL)
  • Shared hosting environment

Template Website Examples

  • Designed on Squarespace
  • Very simple layout
  • Not unique framework to the business
  • Very content-driven; lots of text
  • Call to Action is hidden; does not draw the eye
  • Basic layout
  • Pictures are homey but don’t tell the story clearly


We at Sparrow Websites have created the best of both worlds.  We are not simply a template-producing company; nor are we providing fully custom websites from scratch.  We have developed a system for designing a custom structure with individual industries in mind.  Hours of research goes into creating a skeleton onto which we can add the features and various elements every business within that industry needs and wants for the most successful customer experience. 

Our team takes time with each client to listen to their needs, desires, and future goals and guides them toward a specific framework to best highlight their company’s strengths. As an added service, we give weekly talks on areas of interest for website maintenance and even marketing tips with time left for Q&As regarding any issues or business strategies you might have about your business.

A sparrow has been a symbol of simplicity and community.  We believe in the future of small businesses.  We are here to join with you in a spirit of teamwork to make your business succeed to its best ability… without taking advantage of a budget and maxing out your marketing dollars so that you can invest where you need it.

We provide secure cloud-based hosting on Flywheel or Kinsta servers so you can trust your website will be fast, secure, and on the industries best server platforms for WordPress websites.

Benefits of the Sparrow Way

  • Highly researched website design by industry
  • Valuable industry-specific marketing advice
  • Round-the-clock maintenance
  • Cost-effective and specialized options
  • Personal relationships with the Sparrow team
  • Ongoing training and videos tutorials
  • Best hosting environment

Sparrow Website Examples

  • Professional branding
  • White space and intentional placement
  • Well-researched layout designed to perform at the level of custom designs
  • Call to Action is clearly marked and draws the eye
  • Best conversion practices are taken into account
  • Vibrant colors and branding
  • Clearly explains what they are advertising
  • Descriptive text, but not overwhelming
  • Simple action steps clearly marked
  • Compelling copy
  • Clearly defined calls to actions (buttons) on each screen of the site
  • Custom photos
  • Lead generating forms
  • Automated lead and form follow up
  • Visual conversion cues with colors, borders, and animations


How much time would it take to create a brand new website for each of the different types of design options?

A custom website can take from 1 to 6 months; while setting up a template website by yourself could take an initial 4 to 8 hours and up to 30 hours for everything, from adding photos to writing your initial content and setting up blog posts and linking all of your social media.

Sparrow Websites can set you up with a Launch Kit completely in 5 days.

What platform and tools does Sparrow use in creating these websites?Sparrow has designed all of their design structures in WordPress and have also provided unlimited access to a whole host of plugins and tools that, should you sign up for each of them separately, would cost you almost $2,000/year. 

How much input do I have in the Sparrow process?

You have complete control of the content and style (images, colors, font) of the website.  We will set up a “discovery call” in the beginning of the process just to listen to you and learn about your company and your vision.

Will my website look good on multiple devices?

Yes, your website will be fully responsive on all devices. You will also have complete control of how your website will look on each of those devices, as controlled through the Elementor program.

Who maintains the site once it’s up and running?

You, having full ownership of your website, would have complete control in making changes to your website. We provide a full set of training videos on how to edit your site, as well as weekly strategy calls on best practices and advice on how to keep it fresh and updated for continued success.

Sparrow is responsible for the functionality and security of the website including daily backups which are stored for up to 30 days just in case something malfunctions.  We can then use your prior history to restore the website to completion in just a couple of hours.

You can sign up for our unlimited updates and support service as an option.

Will I be able to update the pages myself?

Yes.  Clients have full ownership and full access to their website once it has been created.  Sparrow provides thorough training with videos to teach you how to update your website and happily responds to any questions as they come up.

Who writes the content for my website?

Content creation is a very personal thing… and you are the best person for that job.  As part of our Sparrow family, we can walk you through a content writing framework to help you, but your website needs your own unique thoughts.  If you feel you are not the best writer, we can help fit you with some options.

When do I pay for the LaunchKit?

All of our clients pay for the design and build service up front (starting at $500). You will have your website in five days and then it will be a continued $50/month for the rest of Sparrow’s services.  

LaunchKits come with a full refund within 30 days if you’re not 100% satisfied with our services.

Do I have to be local to work with you?

No, you do not have to be local to us.  We have worked with clients in 5 different countries and in most of the United States and would love to work with anyone trying to establish their small business.

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