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CPA Website Design- Focus on Your Real Market

     I'm always astonished at how many accounting sites I see, stunning nicely coded websites, that fail to acceptably target an audience. The first thing you ought to do when you kickoff planning your CPA webs is work out and focus on the audience that will bring in the best return for your practice. Every accounting business is unique, and a site should be designed to lure that specific firm's clientele. There is a somewhat informal "standard". I use a starting template with this in mind. It's not cost effective to start from scratch with every website. If I didn't use a starting template each set-up would cost thousands of dollars. I have to start somewhere. But in every case it's necessary to modify the template to suit the business.

Some firms have very unusual practices. These tend to be a lot more work, but they're also a lot of fun. There aren't many unusual accounting archetypes I haven't already built websites for, but the diversity of specialty firms continues to surprise me. Some are pretty common. Construction accounting websites lead the pack, followed closely by bilingual sites. Many accounting website designs focus on a particular industry specialty. Hotels and restaurants are common. I've also designed specialty sites for accounting firms specialized in car dealerships, vineyards, funeral homes, and many others. CPAs with a CFP have particularly strict guidelines they must follow.

The very first thing you need to do when you decide to publish your website is identify your target market so you can design it to appeal to this audience. This is actually pretty easy to do. A lot of web designers just don't bother. The big advantage to having an industry specialty is that the client doesn't need to teach you her business. You can easily demonstrate this by adding content to your website design. Include some articles about accounting challenges common to their industry. Let me use my own business as an example. My target audience is accounting firms, so unlike other website providers I increase my support hours during tax season and make it a point to set your account up in such a way that I don't need to contact you between January and April.

The antithesis of good accounting website design is the vanity site. A lot of accounting firms have a poor understanding of marketing and these clients often design "vanity" sites. These sites are only appropriate if you have no need to use your website for marketing. They will not attract new prospects: they're not designed to. Instead these sites are designed to appeal to the site owners. These sites tend to be elegant and smart. This is not always a good thing. It's easy to go too far. These sites tend to be stuffy and boring. The people are overdressed and the bios read like bad resumes. The writing is dry, verbose, and overly technical. I suppose there may be some big corporate accounting firms for whom sites like this are appropriate, and it would be a blast to design one, but so far I've yet to be contacted by anyone who didn't want to attract new clients with their site. Vanity sites tend to scare customers away. Making a visitor feel small and/or stupid is not a good marketing strategy.

A friendly site is much better for conversions than a "l33t" one. Don't get me wrong. You want a nice site, just be careful that you don't go over the top and make it intimidating. People don't like to call people they don't know, and a friendly looking website full of smiling, easy to relate to people will go a long way to easing a prospects natural fear of strangers. Write your content at about a sixth grade level. If you write over your prospect's head you'll very likely leave them feeling frustrated, confused, or (worse yet) stupid. Accounting website templates, even mine, come with lot's of stock photos of thin professionals with fifty dollar haircuts. It's much better marketing to replace these pictures with images of yourself and your staff. This helps me sell websites, but it's not necessarily the best look for your finished design. It's much better to have pictures of actual people that people can relate to. You don't need to be pretty. All that matters is that you be there. It gives people a sense of empowerment to feel like they know you before they call, and pictures can help them in this respect.

You should work out your target market from the get-go. Before you jot down the first line of code take a few moments to figure out who your accounting website design will focus on. Build content that caters to your prospects. Stay focused on your customers and you'll see visitors will respond better to your site.

Article Source:

Brian O'Connell is the President and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the United States' leading edge web businesses dedicated exclusively to accounting website design.

Posted on 2011-02-08, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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