Website Design Guide for Accountants
Six common website mistakes made by accounting firms and how to overcome them
A free practical website design guide for accountants from Designer Websites.
In one year, there are 36,000 searches in Google for the keywords ‘accountant’, ‘accounting’ and ’tax’ by New Zealanders – is your website getting a piece of the action?
A 1% click rate of these searches equates to 360 enquiries - does your website draw this many? That’s a lot of visitor traffic and potential enquiries you may be missing out on.
This guide will help get your website to the top of Google, receive quality enquiries and differentiate your practice from the competition by giving you practical solutions to the six most common website mistakes made by accounting firms.
1. A DISTRACTING HOME PAGE WITH CONFUSING NAVIGATION
Accounting firm websites often have a tendency to try and show on the homepage all that they can offer. This usually results in a jumbled array of links to newsletters and articles, long dropdown lists of partners and office locations, toolkits and so on. While you may think this is shows how great your practice is and how you can ‘swing it with the big firms’, from a visitor’s perspective it’s just plain intimidating.
If your website sounds a bit like this, put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. Who are they more likely to contact? A company whose website is clear and engaging, or your firm whose website shouts at the visitor from all manner of different directions?
Statistically, if a visitor can’t find what they’re looking for on a website in the first seven seconds of landing on the site, they’re likely to leave. So creating a homepage – and remember this is your 24/7 shop window – which invites and not intimidates, is far more likely to convert the visit into a contact and from a contact to a client.
The key to any company’s success online is to have a website that people can find easily, loads quickly, gives instant credibility in appearance and allows visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for.
2. WEBSITE BUILT ON AN OUTDATED SYSTEM
Many accounting firms have old websites built on template systems marketed specifically to the accounting sector. While the technology powering other content management systems has moved on in leaps and bounds over the last five years, these template systems have been left behind.
In comparison to websites built on a modern content management system, many accounting firms still have clunky, amateurish looking template based websites that are hard to love. If yours is one of those, ask yourself this question, ‘If I owned a shop, would I want the shop window to look like an Opshop or a Smith and Caughey or Kirkcaldie and Stains?’ Which is likely to attract more enquiries?
Accounting software like Xero is changing the accounting landscape forever and clients are more likely to choose a firm which looks future focussed and not stuck in the past.
A website built on a modern content management system has much greater flexibility in terms of design and navigation and will make your firm look like it belongs in the 21st century.
3. INFORMATION OVERLOAD
Take a good look at your website. Be honest, is it stuffed with paid for generic content, calculators, boring tax facts, internet links and technical text that no one except you understands? If so, you’re not alone – many accounting firms have template websites drawing information from the same central source.
The problem for you is that sites like yours generate few online enquiries. Few visitors are going to come to your website because they love your calculators or your calendar of dates. They'll go to to the IRD website for that. Your firm's focus should be on providing a compelling reason to enquire by clearly outlining your key services and how you are uniquely qualified to perform them.
Bring your firm’s partners to life on your website by talking about them as human beings, not just listing their qualifications. Talk about their connection to the local area, what they are passionate about, what their plans are for the future.
By establishing a personal or interesting connection between your firm and your website’s visitors, you will help create a level of trust, which will in turn lead to more enquiries – particularly from the local area.
4. PROMOTING YOURSELVES AS ACCOUNTANTS
Of course we know you’re accountants, of course you know all there is to know about tax, acquisitions and preparing annual accounts. The question is, does your firm’s website say anything else about you? If not, then a visitor to your website is not likely to see your firm as offering anything more than they would expect.
An accounting firm which promotes itself as a business partner to their clients, a trusted advisor and a wealth of ideas for growth is far more likely to stand out from the crowd. Your website is the perfect medium to do this through testimonials, video, case studies, online articles and so on.
An accounting firm that’s also a trusted business advisor is far more likely to attract and retain clients than one which just looks after the books.
5. YOUR WEBSITE IS RARELY UPDATED WITH RELEVANT CONTENT
If your firm doesn’t care about your website, then why should Google? And if Google doesn’t care, then it’s highly unlikely that your website will rank highly in a search engine result. What Google looks for are websites that are updated regularly with relevant content. Those are the websites which Google gives a higher ranking and are therefore more likely to be ‘seen’.
New Zealanders search for words related to ‘accountant’, ‘accounting’ and ‘tax’ approximately 36,000 times every year. If you’re firm’s website is looking like it’s stuck in a time warp and hasn’t been updated since the person in the office who knew how to edit it left a few years ago, then your website is highly unlikely to feature highly in these search results. That’s a lot of visitor traffic and potential enquiries you are missing out on.
The simplest way to create rich, relevant content is to have a blog on your website. And before you roll your eyes and say ‘who cares about what I had for breakfast?’ – that is not what you should be blogging about.
Your blogs should be about what is important to your firm, recent happenings that are relevant to your clients and prospective clients, what the potential impacts are and how your firm can help. You can then share your blogs on LinkedIn or include them in your newsletters to help drive more traffic to your website.
6. NOT PRACTICING WHAT YOU PREACH
You live and breathe numbers, ratios, performance indices and so on, but do you measure the performance of your website? If not, then how do you know it’s working for you?
You live by the motto that ‘what gets measured gets managed’ and you should apply the same discipline to your website. Otherwise, you’ll make all these changes to your website, but will have no way of measuring their effectiveness.
Also, do you measure the number of enquiries that come through your website and how many of those convert into business? If not, then how do you know they are even being picked up and actioned?
Registering your website for Google Analytics (which is free) and embedding the Google tracking code on your website will provide you with a wealth of information about the visitors to your website. It will tell you how many visits you get, which pages are the most popular, how long visitors stay on your website for, and so on.