Websites for accountants say a lot about their firms. Their accounting site is usually the first impression that visitors get of a new firm, so when they visit an accounting site having a first-class design is indispensable. Having a site that looks outdated will imply that your firm is also outdated. Here are a few ideas you'll want to keep in mind when reviewing your own company website.
Leave It to the Pros
If you don't already know how to do it, and your not already good at it, don't try to build your website yourself. Everyone's first websites suck. Even seasoned professionals will admit their first two or three websites were just plain bad. If you really want to attract clients (or, at the very least, not turn them away when they visit your site) you'll want a website that looks like it was professionally done. Yes. It's going to cost more. But you get what you pay for. If your site looks unprofessional, you look unprofessional. It's really that simple.
Less is More
There were days when flashy websites with fast-moving images, loud backgrounds and music were all the rage. In just a few years this has changed. With HTML 5 Flash is teetering on the brink of obsolescence, and as people become more sophisticated they are becoming less impressed with, and even somewhat annoyed by, gimmicks like animation and sound. Maybe if you're selling heavy-metal music that type of site will still work for you. But every 2-3 years website designs become outdated. Technology changes, but as "simple" sites are coming back into fashion that's not really a big deal at the moment. What really changes are design trends like site layouts and color themes. A few short years ago the most popular color scheme for websites was what we called "microsoft blue". Now, for obvious reasons, blue has become something of a website design cliche and "fall" colors (browns, golds, and oranges) are exceedingly popular (with reds and burgundies looking like the up-and-coming trend). You want a website that's easy to navigate so that the user can quickly find what they're looking for. There's no excuse for having old school static menus and hub pages any more. Use "drop down" (or "fly out") navigation instead.
If you can create a home page that isn't text-heavy, and that maybe incorporates some imagery to break up the text, this will be an attractive feature to your visitors. When viewing a website, a viewers attention span isn't very long. Don't overwhelm clients or potential clients with all of the details of your company on your home page. Give a brief overview with links that will take the user to other places on your site. Let the visitor decide what's important. This will keep your homepage crisp and clean and substantially reduce your bounce rate.
An Issue of Personality
Stock images are fine on a website, but using your own photos can add a personal touch that clients or prospective clients feel they can relate to. Obviously you need to put some thought into it. It's a lot more work than using stock photos, but it's also much more effective. Include an "About Us" page with staff pictures. Y'all don't need to be pretty, the idea is to make the prospect more comfortable by giving him some idea who's picking up the phone. It's about building a sense of trust.
While the trend on content pages is moving away from gimmicks that can distract the visitor like animations and music, "splash" pages remain popular. This type of page tends to be a bit more on the "flashy" side, with some rotating images. Mind you animations and rotating images are entirely optional. What make a splash page different is the look and feel of the page. Splash pages tend to be light on content, and the style, even navigation, is unique; different; from the rest of the site. It's intended to give you a quick overview of the key features that the user will find within your website. It does tend to be a bit more showy than the other pages of your site, so having a splash page can be a good way to show clients or prospective clients that your company is modern.
A Look at Color
There are a lot of theories behind what different colors imply. Some people say that red suggest anger, while blues and greens suggest calmness. Personally I don't worry too much about color. Every monitor displays color differently, so rather than worrying about exactly what shade of green to use, I try to find a color that represents your company. Look at your existing brand. By looking at your logo and existing marketing materials you can choose a color that's consistent with your branding. If your main company logo colors are green and gray, you probably won't want a red website. Some folks are willing to modify their practices logo to match a website they particularly care for, but think wisely before fiddling with your branding. It's best to stand consistent with your existing brand. Use your online presence as an extension of your present-day marketing efforts, not a replacement of them.