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Accountancy Practice Websites – Are They Fit For Purpose?

Accountancy Practice Websites – Are They Fit For Purpose?
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As skilled as they may be at carrying out your bookkeeping and giving tax advice, accountancy practices, on the whole, are not renowned for their impressive website designs. In a traditional field like accountancy this may not come as a surprise. However, with more and more business and communication being carried out online – especially in the times of Covid-19 – having a web presence that is at least functional and easy to navigate is a must. In this article we take a look at 5 accountancy practice websites from a visitor’s perspective and ask: are they fit for purpose? 

1. KJW Accountancy – South Birmingham

The first accountancy practice website we looked at was KJW Accountancy based in Stirchley, South Birmingham. Our first impressions were that this site was nothing special from a visual perspective – a standard stock office photo with a fairly basic logo to accompany it. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out KJW Accountancy are doing a lot right when it comes to handling the web side of things.

What they’re doing right

Contact Details: Their telephone number and an email address are right at the top of the site if you’re looking to get in touch quickly, with a separate contact page containing fuller details, a map, and a contact form.

Services: It’s easy to find out what services the firm offer. There’s a tab at the top of the homepage which expands to a dropdown list containing an Overview page of their services in brief along with individual pages for each type of service, for example, Compliance, Taxation, or Investments & Pensions.

Prices: KJW Accountancy’s website provides a list of their standard fees for various services as well as highlighting that they offer a free one-hour meeting to prospective clients.

Factsheets: The site contains a collection of factsheets summarising information about different topics, such as Capital Taxes, VAT, Pensions, and Corporate and Business Tax. These provide clear and useful information that the visitor can easily read and digest.

Resources: KJW Accountancy also have a Resources section on their website. This contains valuable tools such as online calculators, downloadable Companies House and HMRC forms, a list of tax rates & allowances, and a tax calendar. This adds a lot of value to the website as a whole.

What could be improved

Overall Aesthetic: Visually, KJW Accountancy’s website is forgettable. The colour scheme is bland, the images generic, and the logo is less of a logo and more of a fancy font.

Firm and Staff Information: The website does have an About Us tab, but the information offered about the firm and the people who work there is scant. There is no Who We Are page introducing the visitor to the KJW team and while the Overview section does contain a brief paragraph about the history of the company and its founder, it’s so lacking in detail as to stand out like a sore thumb on an otherwise informative website.

Software Information: There was no information that we could see to let a visitor know which accounting software KJW Accountancy uses. In an industry where cloud accounting in particular is on the rapid rise, failing to give some sort of indication as to what packages the firm deals in is an important omission.

Conclusion

8/10. There’s work to be done for KJW Accountancy, but considering how accessible, informative, and helpful the site is on the whole, these are minor tweaks. The factsheets, online calculators, and other resources they provide make this an accountancy website with real worth.

2. Klein Evangelou – East London

Next up, we paid a visit to Walthamstow-based Klein Evangelou’s website. The first impression was not great – a small, basic homepage with no images and no information on display. Would things improve as we delved deeper?

What they’re doing right

Honestly, we’re struggling with this one, but if we had to pick a section that Klein Evangelou scraped through on, it’d have to be:

Services: There is a fairly informative Services page on the website. It lists the services they offer as a firm – for example, audit, accounts preparation, VAT, company formation – and then gives a bit of information about each.

What could be improved

Everything. No, seriously. Everything on the Klein Evangelou website could benefit from a makeover. Including (but not limited to):

Overall Aesthetic: The visual appearance of the website is old-fashioned, basic, and amateurish. The font is small and uncomfortable to read and there are no images of any description anywhere on the site that we could see, except for the maps on the Contact Us page.

Contact Details: There is a Contact Us page on the site containing the office address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address for the firm. However, there are no contact details on the homepage and there is no contact form for prospective clients to get in touch directly from the website.

Prices: There is zero pricing information on the website. In fact, the only reference we could find to price was the following on the About Us page: “Whilst our fees are competitive, the service we offer is a professional but personal one, our preferred growth continuing through personal recommendation.” If it sounds like waffle, it probably is.

Firm and Staff Information: The About Us page contains a brief outline of the history and the partners of the firm, but it’s far from extensive and there’s no indication of other people who might work there let alone any information about their backgrounds and experience.

Software Information: There’s no indication whatsoever of the type of accounting software the firm use to carry out their services.

Client Information: Klein Evangelou have included a Clients tab on their website but clicking on it just takes visitors to a long list of professions – everything from Actors to Writers with Historians and Sound Engineers in between. Without any client names, case studies, or testimonials, it comes across as meaningless. This list is in capital letters too when the website has a lowercase style overall – for example, the tabs across the top of the homepage are all in lowercase – making it look off-key in comparison to the rest of the site.

Conclusion

2/10. If Klein Evangelou really do prefer to do business via personal recommendation, then perhaps the website doesn’t matter to them. However, if they’re hoping to attract new clients through it – or even recruit new Accountants – then they’d do well to think about giving the site a complete overhaul.

3. Lewis Evans – West Kirby, The Wirral

Third on our list was Lewis Evans based in West Kirby on the Wirral. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a sleek modern-feel website and had high hopes for what we might discover beyond the facade.

What they’re doing right

Overall Aesthetic: Lewis Evans make a great first impression. Their website is clean and sharp, with a muted colour scheme and bright, simple, eye-catching images. It comes across as very professional and by extension makes the visitor feel that they’re dealing with a professional firm.

Contact Details: If you want to get in touch with the firm, the phone number is easily visible at the top of their homepage, along with links to their Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their Contact Us page also contains the office address, a map, a contact form, and a link to email them.

Services: The firm have a Services tab and also a link to each individual service they offer right on their homepage – for example, Audit & Assurance, Accounting, Tax, and Corporate Finance. Each link leads to a page giving more information about that particular service. There is also the option to get in touch at the bottom of each page.

Firm and Staff Information: The About Us section is detailed, giving information about the firm, how they conduct their business, their service guarantee, and their core values. There is also a separate profile for each of the two partners, describing their backgrounds and experience as well as throwing in some personal information too.

What could be improved

Prices: There’s no pricing information visible on Lewis Evans’ website. This may be deliberate – many firms choose not to include their prices or any sort of pricing guideline – but if a visitor is looking specifically for an idea of how much a practice’s services cost, then they may choose to go elsewhere if they can’t find the information.

Software Information: There was no mention that we could see of the sort of software the firm specialise in. With more and more accountancy work moving online, firms that know their way around packages such as Xero and QuickBooks Online are missing a trick by not advertising the fact.

Conclusion

7/10. Lewis Evans has all the necessary information to hand and it is presented in an accessible, modern, and attractive way. While the firm’s website is visually more appealing than KJW Accountancy’s, the substance may be less valuable to potential visitors, especially if they want to know how much certain services might cost them.

4. Morrisons Chartered Certified Accountants – Glasgow

We went north to visit Glasgow-based Morrisons Chartered Certified Accountants’ website next. Our first glimpse was pleasing to the eye, a screen-filling shot of rugged natural beauty with simple white lettering superimposed over it. It made a nice change from the generic stock office shots. But what lies beneath?

What they’re doing right

Overall aesthetic – kind of: The homepage has arresting images and a simple layout, creating a unique impression. However, explore beyond the homepage and the aesthetic gets more vanilla. It’s not bad, it’s just not that impressive. There are also some random pieces of code floating about on some pages. But for a first impression, Morrisons have got a homepage that sticks in the mind.

Contact Details: There is a telephone number and email address at the very top of the homepage and, at the bottom, a contact form. There’s also a separate Contact page that includes a map as well as another contact form.

Software Information: Unlike the other accountancy practice websites that we’ve looked at so far, Morrisons have logos on their homepage denoting them as QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors and Xero Certified Advisors. There is also a FreeAgent logo. This is a big plus if a visitor to the site wants to know if the firm are adept at working with specific software packages – a factor that is growing more important than ever.

Personality: Of all the sites we looked at, Morrisons was the one that gave a real flavour of the firm’s personality. It’s not an easy thing to achieve for a business – getting the tone of your website just right can be a real mission – and it can easily backfire if you try to be too wacky. But Morrisons manage to walk the line between individual and professional.

E-Books: Morrisons has a section offering free downloadable E-Books, which adds value to the website as a whole.

What could be improved

Services: There’s plenty of information on Morrisons’ website about the sort of services they offer and the type of clients they cater for. However, this information isn’t organised in a way that makes it immediately clear exactly what those services are. To keep the visitors you’ve attracted to your website, you need to offer them what they’re looking for at a glance.

Firm and Staff Information: There is information relating to the firm and its founder available on the website, but it’s not particularly detailed and focuses more on convincing the visitor that they need a qualified accountant than it does on outlining history and experience.

Prices: There is no pricing information or guideline on the firm’s website. There is mention of a Contractors and Freelancers Package payable over 12 months but nothing more concrete than that.

Proofreading: There are some minor mistakes scattered throughout the site. Missing words, typos, little things that aren’t a huge deal but just take the edge off the professionalism.

Conclusion

6/10. We liked the overall tone and personality of this site but there are elements that might have visitors clicking back and trying elsewhere. If someone wanted to know pricing or services at a glance, then they might abandon the search and choose a firm with a better organised layout.

5. Shacter, Cohen & Bor – Manchester

We headed to the North-West next to visit the website of accountancy practice Shacter, Cohen & Bor based in Manchester. We were immediately confronted by a fairly basic looking homepage with sports-themed imagery – a strip of silhouettes working out in the gym at the top and a pair of boxing gloves further down. We weren’t sure whether this worked particularly well for an accountancy firm but decided to reserve judgement and explore further.

What they’re doing right

Contact Details: Shacter, Cohen & Bor have got their full contact details – office address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address – at the bottom of each page of their website. There is also a separate Contact Us page that includes a contact form and a route planner where visitors can input their postcode to receive directions to the firm’s offices via Google Maps.

Services: Almost all of the tabs on the website relate to the services that Shacter, Cohen & Bor offer. There are separate webpages for Audits, Taxation, Business Planning, Corporate & Investment, Start-Ups, Forensic Accounting, and Probate. Each page then sets out the different services under that particular heading, for example, the Corporate & Investment page lists Projections, Management Accounts, and Due Diligence (amongst others) and gives some detail about what clients can expect.

What could be improved

Layout: When we first clicked on the site, an allow cookies message appeared at the top of the page, completely covering the tabs for each of the webpages. Because of this, we initially thought ‘Our People’ and ‘Contact Us’ were the only pages on the site other than the homepage. Not everyone bothers to click the accept button on cookie-related messages, and in this case that would mean the visitor would never realise three-quarters of the website existed at all.

Overall Aesthetic: The website looks very simple and basic. There’s no logo to speak of and the text is small and uncomfortable to read at times. We weren’t convinced by the sports-related images either. For saying the practice has an office address in central Manchester, their old-fashioned website could benefit greatly from a complete overhaul.

Firm and Staff Information: There is some information about the firm and its people on the site. Unfortunately, however, it’s scant in the extreme. The homepage states that the firm was established in 1946 and yet there’s no further information about the history of the practice. Likewise, the Our People page contains a list of names of the partners but zero information about them. There’s also what looks like a stock image of some random people in suits standing in a line. Oh, and an image of a list of New Year’s Resolutions – none of which seem to involve sorting out taxes or getting the bookkeeping in order.

Prices: There is no information on the website about the sort of prices Shacter, Cohen & Bor charge for their services.

Software Information: This might be slightly unfair as the firm do have a Sage Certified Member logo on their homepage, which is more than some of the websites we visited managed. However, most practices are capable of finding their way around Sage packages – the fact is that more and more clients are going to be looking for Xero and QuickBooks experience these days. Do Shacter, Cohen & Bor deal with these software packages? We have no idea, the website doesn’t say.

Conclusion

4/10. The firm makes it easy to get in touch and find their offices and gives quite a bit of detail relating to the services on offer. However, the overall impression of this website – and therefore the firm by extension – is outdated, old-fashioned, and impersonal.

So, Are Accountancy Practice Websites Fit for Purpose?

Yes and no. We were pleasantly surprised by some of the offerings, although they all had areas that could be improved. While most of them were functional – at least at a basic level – not many of them wowed us. Many accountancy practices have long got by without a significant web presence – or a web presence at all in some cases – but that won’t serve them in the future. The world is now online more than ever. Practices who don’t take the time to get their home(page)s in order may well find themselves left too far behind to ever catch up.

Author – this article was written by Chester Web Marketing. Accountancy practice is an area of business that tends to lag behind most other companies in having websites fit for purpose. We are not sure why!