How many practices, I sometimes wonder, are paying an expensive professional to design and manage their CPA websites? There´s almost nothing worse for your professional image than having a tired site full of obsolete content and out of date “news” just because you´re avoiding the expense of updating it.
The way CPA websites are built and managed has changed enormously. A good deal of education was required to be a designer a decade ago. Web designers had to be proficient with HTML editors like Dreamweaver, and they had to be fluent in bizarre programming languages like HTML and ASP.
Well, stuff changes.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. These people are still major components of the website design industry.
There is an astonishing new instrument called a “CMS”, or “Content Management System” that renders them much less essential in the construction and upkeep of just about any individual small business website. Any moderately computer literate person on your staff can likely use these tools to manage your site.
A CMS is essentially just a “point and click website editor”. It can be used to add and remove pages. All CMS also have what’s oftentimes referred to as a “WYSIWYG” editor, a simple word processor that permits you to alter pages. As usual the lingo isn’t nearly as daunting as it may sound! WYSIWYG is only an abbreviation for “What You See is What You Get”. It permits a user to arrange the pages, upload photos and other images, and construct tables. By allowing you to make alterations to the website’s Navigation Menu you can also set up a site’s whole experience .
All the tasks that took a master coder hours to do only years ago can now be promptly and without difficultly fulfilled by nearly anybody with the help of a Content Management System.
A complimentary or inexpensive content management system is available from very nearly any leading hosting provider specialized in respectable CPA websites.
Obviously the outstanding difference between a CMS and a custom website designer is expense. For most small CPA firms this is a big difference. Despite making make upwards of $25 an hour, most website designers are normally not as motivated as you are to get your tasks completed in a timely manner. It´s not uncommon for waits on pro web design jobs to be a a month or more.
If these costs seem high to you brace yourself: they don’t even include the cost of actually designing the site. Constructing CPA websites from scratch can easily take 200 hours or more. That translates to months of lost time and thousands of dollars spent.
CMS web site providers void these costs by creating the websites in advance and presenting menus of “ready-to-use” templates.
More and more CMS providers are able to tweak their existing templates quite inexpensively, if not straight-out re-create your current site, for those site owners who are already very happy with websites they have already spent lots of money on (or those who just protest using “templates”). While this is a recent technology it’s disseminating fairly fast.
Of course the trouble with sites built in this manner is that, while inexpensive and simple to manage, they often lack essential content. The requirement for industry specialized content has given birth to a whole side industry encompassing the demand for CPA specialized content, so before running off to a general purpose or retail website provider, do a Google search for providers that focus on superior CPA websites.
CPA Site Solutions is the best of these, as far as I’m concerned. For more than ten years we have innovated fantastic CPA sites.
If you’re not a CPASS client, or if you’re a new client and you’re still not sure what your new CPA Site Solutions website has to offer, Take a look at this video demo and you’ll see what we mean when we talk about “CPA specific content”:
Make a note of the tools built principally for website owners in the CPA field: free reports, tax due dates, links to tax forms and publications, a portal for transferring accounting files, interactive financial calculators, email… A website like this may be comparatively utile for a very limited number of companies outside their intended market, possibly a head-hunter or business consultant could use much of the content on this site, but it would be squandered on a business like a retailer.
For selected large national CPA practices it´s worth the time and cost of retaining expert designers, but for nearly all small and medium sized firms, especially in these hard economic times, it´s time to consider new solutions. Finding a CMS that specializes in accounting websites will cut your costs and at the same time improve your management over your website.
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