Websites for Accountants: Bare-Bones Requirements for your Home Brew Website

I’ve been asked by many Do-it-Yourselfers over the years what they ought to put in their accounting sites. The out-and-out minimum you need to supply your visitors is adequate information for them to contact you so your site genuinly needs these pages:

  • Contact Us: With your details, a map, and perhaps an email contact form.
  • Our Services: Details about your core and added value services, plus contact names for specialist areas. If possible throw a contact form at the bottom of the page.
  • Staff Pages: The purpose of this page is to help your visitors feel like they’ve gotten to know you a little bit. Tell them a little about the firm and the people in it.
  • Firm Profile: The tone of this page should be highly professional and include a formal overview of your practice including some compelling reasons that a prospective client should want to work with you.

You should have no trouble creating this content yourself. Don’t expect too much from this site. It isn’t going to anything more than an online brochure. You should be able to put a site like this up yourself without any trouble. Just go to www.godaddy.com and set up a site with them.

Brochure Sites

This bare-bones type of site has very little real marketing value. It won’t help you with your networking, lure a lot of new clients into the firm, help you cut your operating costs, or help with client retention. It will keep you from looking looking like an out-of-date technophobe, and it will make it easy for people who are looking for you to find you.

If you are looking for a website that can actually help you increase your community exposure and bring new clients into your business you’ll need to add some real content to the site. Content like tax due dates and information, financial and business planning articles and blogs give your site depth, extra value for clients and a reason for visitors to return to the site. Unfortunately features like this also require frequent updates and, to varying degrees, real design skills.

Case in point: The online newsletter. This is maybe the most basic feature you can add to your site designed to bring in return traffic, It’s not hard to set up an online newsletter. By the time you’ve set up a brochure site you will have acquired all the skills you need to set up and maintain it, but doing it cost effectively is another matter entirely. After all, your time is valuable. The time you spend writing and compiling articles, posting them, and managing your mailings is time you’re not spending making money. Add that time together and I can pretty much guarantee that you should have just used a vendor. You can get a complete content package, including a newsletter and a bulk mail system, for less than $50 a month.

Standard Content Package Features

Once you’re ready to step up to a more advanced site it’s time to look into a content package. Most content packages include hosting and email, but you can also use them to augment your DIY website. These packages include a broad range of features designed to turn your website into a marketing powerhouse.

News stories and free reports are a great way to draw visitors to the site. It’s important to have your content change from time to time. In geek-speak we call this “dynamic” content. Search engines and clients alike love to see sites that get updated regularly. If you try to DIY a news page be warned: if you have news, you need to keep it up-to date. A “news” page that hasn’t been updated for six months or more makes you look lazy and unreliable.

Financial calculators, downloadable forms, and useful links are pretty much standard elements of a modern accounting website. These interactive elements offer visitors lots of great reasons to keep coming back to your site and really boost the marketing value of your site.

Finally you’ll get a client portal that allows your patrons to send and receive large files securely over the web.

I don’t need to tell you that somewhere along the line you’re going to need to find a real CPA website design service. If you try to develop this much content yourself it will cost you thousands of dollars and eat up scores of billable hours. Fortunately there are a number of designers that specialize in creating content for CPA websites. They will be able to provide you with affordable content packages.

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