Designing your accountancy firms website

From provoking popups to loused-up links, we look at the seven deadly sins of accountancy website design

Devilish distractions

You want to have plenty of information on your website, but you don’t want any part of it to look cluttered – especially your homepage.

Every word, image and tool on your website should serve a purpose. It shouldn’t just be there because you think it looks cool or because it’s something you’ve seen on other accountancy websites. Indeed, the whole rule about not following the crowd applies just as much to website design as it does to every other aspect of life.

Two examples which spring to mind: snapshots of your social media feeds can clutter your homepage with no real benefit. Social media is a great way to build ongoing relationships with your customers, so you should certainly include your handles, but they’re usually enough on their own.

Be sparing with links to other websites, too. In a news article, you absolutely should back up facts and figures by linking to the source, but other than that, it’s best to avoid directing your reader away from your website for obvious reasons.

Tenuous testimonials

If your website doesn’t feature testimonials, you’re missing a huge trick. What better evidence could there be of your excellence than clients who are so happy, they are prepared to publicly endorse you?

Unlike you, these people are not trying to sell your reader anything, which gives their claims credibility – especially if they’re people that your readers can relate to, for example other small business owners. An accountant telling you they can save you money might sound ridiculous; but when a customer with no agenda says you saved them money, it’s worth heeding. And they might say positive things about you that you would never have thought to mention yourself.

The key to effective testimonials is detail and attributability: full names, details of what the person does, pictures, and as much information as possible.

Covert contact details

Your contact details should be really easy to find. You can put them at the top of every page, as long as they’re clear and visible rather than shouty and desperate.

If your firm is a limited company, somewhere on your website you need to state the company’s registered number, its registered office address, and the fact that it is a limited company (including Ltd as part of the company name is enough). This is a legal requirement.

Measly maintenance

Once your website’s built, that’s just the start of the process. A website is like a pet; it needs regular love and attention. Content needs to be kept up-to-date, new pages need to be added, links need to be checked to make sure they’re working. Broken links, or content that was clearly written several years ago and hasn’t been updated since (“we plan to do this in 2017”) suggest that no one is paying attention to the detail of your website. And attention to detail is a pretty crucial quality in an accountant. Broken links will also harm your SEO.

So the more up-to-date you can keep your website, the better. It’s like housework – it’s easier to keep on top of it little and often than to let grime build up. Make sure you’re using your social media to encourage people to visit your website too.

Install an analytics tool so you know how well the different parts of your website are working. Google Analytics is the most popular, but there are lots of alternatives.

Indefensible images

One of the purposes of your website is to differentiate you from all the other accountancy firms out there. Not only do poor quality stock images not look great in themselves, they don’t tell your reader anything about you.

Pictures of your team, on the other hand, are a great idea – you’re instantly more relatable if people can see who you are and that you look friendly and helpful.

Jarring jargon

Anyone from any background should be able to come to your website and understand what you do and what you have to say. This means no jargon and no convoluted language.

Your website is the first step in building a relationship with your customers. Complicated language stands in the way of that – how can you engender confidence and trust if your readers don’t understand what you’re saying?

Pesky popups

Intrusive popups are truly one of the scourges of the internet – and alienate readers faster than you can say “gimme your email right now!”

Can you not let your reader look at your website in peace? If they want to sign up to your email newsletter, live chat you or call you right now, they are perfectly capable of summoning up sufficient initiative to do so, without you doing the internet equivalent of walking up to them in the high street and shoving flyers in their face.

Not only have you interrupted them as they try to find the information they want from you, you’ve shown them that it’s not about them, it’s about you.

And don’t use the generic live chat services offered by a lot of websites. We know that’s not really Grace offering to talk to us, because we’ve seen her on two competitor sites within the last half hour. Again, it looks fake and impersonal.

At Whitefish Marketing, we specialise in website design and website building for accountants – and have five years’ experience of working with happy clients across the globe from our offices in Kent and London. To chat to us about how we can design the website you want, call us on 01303 720288.

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