What you need to know when designing your accountancy website
You’re awesome at audits, brilliant at bookkeeping and magnificent at mergers – you can handle anything the world of accountancy throws at you. The role of your website is to convey that awesomeness to the rest of the world. So is it succeeding? Or is your homepage more downheartening than a 40-minute phonecall to HMRC?
At Whitefish Marketing, we specialise in online marketing and website building for accountancy firms. Here are some of our top tips on creating web pages where everything adds up.
Focus on the reader
The purpose of your website is to let your reader know what you do, who you are and why you might be useful to them.
It’s not there for anyone other than your current and prospective customers. It’s not there for you, or your competitors, or to win awards and accolades. It’s not even there for Google, though you do want to make it Google-friendly, a process called SEO.
Clear, concise, useful and interesting are your bywords. You need to grab your reader’s attention and tell them how you can help them – reasonably quickly and in terms they can understand. If you can’t tell people why they should work with you, then who can?
Think about who your clients are. Why do they come to you? What are the problems they want you to solve? What questions do they tend to ask? And, just as importantly: who are you? What are your values; what do you stand for? How do you work?
Of course, there’s also the million pound question: what makes you different? Out of all the accountants out there, why should a customer pick you?
Get the look
You can have the most eloquent, compelling words in the world, but if they’re presented in a way that’s hard to read, your reader may just not bother.
Key to both accountancy website design and copy (words) is not expecting your reader to do the work. You’re the one who wants their custom, so make it easy for them to find out about you.
Cramped, multicoloured text; pages that take too long to load; fonts that give you conjunctivitis; the internet is full of crimes against design. As with the words, clear and simple is the key.
Ideally, copy and design should be part of the same creative process, with writers and designers developing ideas together, because each aspect influences the other. How can you design a web page when you don’t know what the words are going to say; how can you write words with no idea of the context they’ll operate in?
You also need to make sure that your website is responsive, so will adapt to the device it’s being viewed on, whether that’s a desktop computer, tablet or mobile.
As an accountant, you want to come across as credible and authoritative. This means the spelling, grammar and punctuation on your website need to be impeccable. If you aren’t clever enough to use apostrophes properly, how can you be trusted to understand the ins and outs of equity and EBITDA?
Not all your content has to be sales-focused. Informative content – such as blogs, videos, ebooks, webinars and podcasts – serves several purposes.
It shows prospective customers that you have expert knowledge. It also shows you can explain complicated things clearly – which is really important for an accountant. Your customers don’t just need you to do the calculations for them, they need you to explain their finances to them so they have the information they need.
It also is sales content, even though it’s not sales-focused. If you write a post that solves a problem a reader has, or clears up something they didn’t understand, you’re a prime candidate to help them with the rest of their accountancy issues. They may have been searching for information about a particular topic, and don’t need an accountant there and then – but they’re more likely to remember you when they do. They might even decide they need one just from reading your post!
Original, relevant and frequently updated content is also an important part of SEO – it’s one of the things Google looks for when ranking your website.
One tip on videos. We’re often told video is the way forward, but some people will always prefer to read rather than watch. So if you make a video, provide a transcript – those people will appreciate it.
Any business of any size can face a cybersecurity threat, and they come in many guises: password hacking, fake websites, scam emails, malware and viruses, to name a few. So you need to make sure you’re properly protected. There are lots of measures you can use, including captcha (those letters you have to type in to prove you’re not a robot); encryption using an SSL certificate, which protects people’s data, like credit card details and logins; and firewalls, which block illicit access to your network.
It’s important to know how your website is working. How do people find it? How quickly does it load? What’s the first page people visit? Where do they go from there? Which pages are most popular? How long do people spend on your website? Do they contact you? Which pages result in people leaving the site?
Those are just a few of the questions you’ll want to be asking – and to answer them, you can use analytics tools. Google Analytics is the most popular; it’s free (unless you want the really sophisticated features) from www.analytics.google.com. But there are dozens of alternatives as well – Kissmetrics and Matomo are just two.
SEO a go-go
An SEO expert will help you design a website that ranks well in search engines, using tools like meta tags (page titles and descriptions), alt tags (little descriptions of images that your readers don’t see, but search engines do), and schema markup – code which you put on a page to improve the information Google shows about it in search results.
Our team at Whitefish Marketing has been building websites for accountants across the globe for five years – we’re specialists and it shows. We know how to make your pictures perfect, your copy convincing, your SEO superb and your analytics accomplished – and have won numerous awards for doing just that. To chat to us about designing your accountancy website, call us on 01303 720288.