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Websites: How much have you spent?

Wondering how much people have invested in their practice websites? Has anyone gone for a DIY version using any of the many self development tools available on the web?

Have you gone cheap and cheerful circa £500 (?) or signed up with the likes of Accounting Websmiths or Practice Web etc? If the latter, how have you found the payback as in client generation versus ongoing costs?

For those using their own sites or medium priced site, do you invest in SEO PPC etc?

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By charlb
18th Apr 2012 17:07

I'm a sole practitioner and don't have the time or money to invest in a state of the art website, the updating that it will need and the marketing of it (I get most of my clients from referrals).

So I self-designed my website on the basis that I just wanted to use it as a calling card for potential clients to visit so that they could see who I was, what services I offered etc. 

I did search high and low for an easy to use, cheap web design service and bought the domain name which costs about GBP10 a year and developed it using wix.com. I can't sing enough praises for wix.com - it's great as you even get free hosting. Yes, you get a www.wix/mysite.com address at the top of the page but you just forward your own domain ie www.mysite.com to this address and to be honest I don't think many people once they have typed in the initial address look at what comes up in the address box once you have gone to the page. If you want to go more upmarket at a later date then you can just upgrade. Wix.com is by far, out of all of the programs that I have tried (which has been many), the most easy way for a complete IT novice to build a website. And of course the fact that it's free obviously helps. Can't go wrong with wix.com :)

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By yamisen
26th Nov 2012 07:10

I need to create groups of accounts for a company in Tally or other accounting software. I have 2 merchant accounts with different credit card companies. One of them credits my account in their bank and only sends me a statement of amount and commissions - other sends me a cheque after deducting the commissions. - How do I account for such accounts while making entries in to accounting software? Thanks for your time and help.
I appreciate your answer Mr. Soni. My question was for a merchant account where customers pay me using their credit cards and then I receive the amount from credit card company. One directly credits my account with them while the other sends me a cheque. How do I open these accounts - under which group? Thanks again for your time

 

regards,

phlebotomy schools

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19th Apr 2012 09:10

Website costs

I looked at Practice web, Mercia etc but they seemed to be quite expensive, and I felt that the content would be similar to other accountants.

I wasn't sure about the free/cheap websites that are around, so went for the middle ground. I spoke to a couple of local web designers. First one seemed expensive, couple of thousand for a site with a fixed number of pages, and then if I wanted to make changes to the content there would be a charge each time, and hosting fee on top.

I opted for a one man band web designer who has built the site for £650. In adition I pay £20pm for hosting and unlimited support. I can go in and make changes to content myself and add/delete pages etc. So far am happy, but site only went live last week so too early to say how it will do in terms of SEO etc

Feel free to PM me if you would like the contact details

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By BOD
19th Apr 2012 13:02

 

 

Thanks for replies. I am still undecided. I may go for the free/low cost option as I really need to start bring in some work before I invest too heavily.

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BOD - if you want to go cheap for a "business card" style site just start with a simple one page template listing your contact details and what you do. Just keep it short, sweet and to the point. Spend time laying it out well.

Buy a domain for £10.

You can host it for next to nothing.

£30 for the year and all your emails:

http://www.openmindhosting.co.uk/uk-hosting/windows-hosting.cfm

Just buy a template (of get one for free) and upload it.

Then later on, add more text and get a web designer to put a better quality design in.

Re SEO you can read up on if you are time rich but cash poor. Its really not hard to do 90% of it yourself with only a basic understanding which runs along the lines of "google looks for key words on your site, put them in these places in your site.....". The other 10% is far more complex but we are talking doing the basics on the cheap here, not doing it all wonderfully.

I hope that helps.

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What do you want?

Do you just need a website up and running so that you do have a presence or are you looking to get a significant amount of business from it?

To be honest, unless you are prepared to spend a load of money on it, just go for the first option.

If you write most of the content yourself you can easily get a 4/5 page website which has a professional looking layout for £300-£400 if you go to a small web designer.

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20th Apr 2012 12:25

Minimum and maximum

@BOD - what I have found is that a Website usually throws up things like developing the firms strategy and branding. These can make a profound difference and they needs to be done before the Website is design and built.

As regards the Website, I recommend you work backwards. I assume you want a Website to bring you leads? It could be (should be) that you get one new client a month at £1,000 for five years = £60,000.

What is a reasonable percentage to pay?

In terms of a budget, I would suggest you go for a bespoke solution at around £2,500 with no monthly commitment. I have written a report called Trashing the Template which suggests ready made site are not the way to go.

Bob Harper

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By marian
24th Apr 2012 12:25

BOD

I have a cheap and cheerful website.  Yes there are better ones but yell did a survey and very few people looked at it. So is it worth spending more?  Dont think so most clients are referrals and want your name address (map insert is good and easy) and email address.

 

Keep it cheap and build on it

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Websites for accountancy firms

This is an unashamed advert really, but I thought it might help someone.....

We are 2 chartered accountants who have become web developers.  We offer unique, bespoke sites from as little as £495 plus VAT, and because we are familiar with the profession we are more likely to understand your requirements than an 'ordinary' web developer.

We can either do the design for you, or you can let us know what you want the site to look like and we will build it for you.  We are experienced SEO people and we will host your site for you and provide a domain name if required.

Much better than a template, excellent support and much easier than doing it yourself....

You can visit our website at www.outerbridge.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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24th Apr 2012 11:50

Started free and launched professional site today

I started off with a website coded by my husband (an engineer) back in 2009 which was intended as half a dozen pages for people to check us out from our mailshots/networking. It actually generates about one query per month in addition to being a route in from other marketing.

I have done my own SEO; updating content at least once a month and blogging once a week so we are usually top of google for our town+accountant.

Today we have launched a professionally designed website written by one of our client companies rather than another accountant. Price around £500 plus hosting and training to maintain it myself. We don't do any online sales so nothing fancy required beyond a contact page.

I didn't want a website that looks like another accountant and our clients tend to pick up the phone or email rather than using any online stuff. As websites should be designed to get people to contact us it would seem a backward step to make clients find information online.

Happy to recommend our designer http://www.technology-partner.co.uk/

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24th Apr 2012 12:02

Office 365

For £4 per month, you can get web hosting (with templates) and hosted emails with office 365.

you don't need to be a web developer to create something pretty simple, be it one page or twenty.

For domain hosting i've always used 1&1 and it normally costs around £5 for two years.

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24th Apr 2012 12:35

Company website - Do it properly or don't do it at all.

Your website is an advert.  If you want potential clients to think you are a good quality business, have a good quality site.  If you go for a naff looking site, then clients could get the wrong impression.

If a potential client receives a referral to use your business, I bet 9 out of 10 will go straight to the internet to check you out before they bother to ring you.  

If you haven't got the budget at the moment, then atleast have a smart looking one page summary of your contact details.  That is the minimum.  But make sure it looks really good. 

I agree with the above advice, you need to spend time 'branding' your business, work out what you do do and more importantly what you don't do.  Have a story and a clear focus.  This should then be included in your website so that visitors get a feel for who you are.  Lot's of pages of tax rates and allowances fill the site, but that is what lot's of Accountants feel they need to do, bit boring though!

I paid around £850 for my site.  I am still happy with the design, but I need to update the content as I have been reading alot about 'branding' and I need to find time to do some!

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24th Apr 2012 12:36

I am with Bob on this....

if you want a decent 'active' website then £2,500 sounds like a great starting position.  If you just want a place on the web then I am sure £500 is more than enough but depends what you want out of it.

 

I do think there is a limit to the amount of people who actively search for an accountant online, but where referrals are given i suspect in the majority of cases they may view the website before approaching the accountant.  So suddenly a static presence does not look so great.

 

In the end you get what you pay for.....

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24th Apr 2012 13:46

Carts and Horses!

Bob Harper is so, so right!

Start with a Marketing (not just promotion either!) and Selling strategy, then develop this into a tactical action programme which may well include website development.

And, as Bob also says, don't consider the charge as a cost.  Look on it as the investment that it is in the future success of your business.

David Winch

Make Sales Without Selling and Get Paid What You're Worth

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24th Apr 2012 15:05

Focus

A website is another tool to attract and inform potential clients well enough for them to want more from you.

Like Bob says you need to plan. The cost and method of producing the site will fall into place once you know precisely why you NEED a website as well as the other methods of attracting clients like referrals, networking, telesales, guru recognition, etc.

Is your site there primarily to reinforce the message that you expect your referees to give out about you?

What is your message, why should I choose you rather than your competitors?

Do you have specialisms in certain vertical markets (for example - contractors, nursing homes, musicians etc) or services (like tax planning)? If so then stories, examples, testimonials etc will promote well with a good website.

Use the search engines to search for the services you want to provide and find out how the higher page ranking firms present themselves in your niche. Do you have a niche? A niche can be location, specialism and so on.

Once you know your niche and your message, what else will you do to attract a response. What response do you want? A phone number, an address, an email, come to an event, come to a free 'surgery' or what? Will you offer a free download to attract a response?

Will you use other sites in your niche to become known for something, or to post a blog or write articles etc. Will you attract links from them and promote links to them?

If you intend to have an active rather than a passive site, will it have content of genuine benefit to clients in your niche, perhaps in the form of downloadable reports and will it have a forum facility that you can invite clients and others to contribute to so that the site is worth regular visits.

Will you use video and audio presentations?

Most of the above can be accomplished with sotware like Wordpress and either DIY or a freelance designer relatively cheaply and easily extendable.

To repeat the key is to focus on your message and who it is for.

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By JC
24th Apr 2012 15:37

Very varied responses ...

@Outerbridge Pen - Wordpress. There are many free templates for Wordpress - also bottom section of landing page seems to be missing on your site

http://wordpress.org/http://wordpress.com/

Almost anyone can use Wordpress (from novice to experienced) and futhermore, it is free and consequentially content upgrades are also free

@HudsonCo - http://www.technology-partner.co.uk/ - not a good look; far too many keywords - restrict to under 10 max

@Sloane Walker - agree the website is your face to the public

£500-£2,500 is reasonable price depending upon dynamic content & being able to update yourself

Certainly a 5 pager for £500. Also you need to make life easy for the developer - most will factor in an element of wasted time. If the entire job was done in one sitting of 2/3 days then it is far simpler that asking questions and getting replies 10 days later

Don't promise images and fail to deliver for weeksRespond quickly to questionsCome prepared and don't design on the 'fly' or worse change your mind after the page has been writtenThe more bells & whistles the greater the costIf you want a video then stick it on uTube & reference it. Greater exposure & under your control

Really all common sense but you would be surprised .....

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26th Apr 2012 10:54

Websites and Social Nomics

Your website is so important - it is your advert to the world about your company.  I generally look at an organisations website before meeting up with them - just to gather some information and of course you form a picture.  Just in the same way that you would not attend a meeting in a track suit - your website should be professional.

I had mine made - it didnt cost the earth - I looked at other work the designer had done and discussed with him what I wanted.  Its been worth its weight in gold!  I drive traffic to it and use LinkedIn a lot to connect with people.  I also use it for marketing - in these days of socialnomics I would invest in a website with a person who knows what they are doing just in the same way I dont try and mend my car (but I dont take it to the dealership either).

 

Good luck.

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26th Apr 2012 14:30

Agree with Sloane Walker

Do it right or not at all, it's a 24/7 statement about your practice.

We bit the bullet and went the PracticeWeb route over a year ago. 

It felt stupidly expensive at the time and still isn't necessarily 100% what we want, but it fits with our branding and marketing and, just as importantly, I can confirm it has paid for itself in new business and more. 

Having the site managed by a third party also means we can spend time with and on clients rather then doing our own SEO and updates.

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Online Practice

Has anyone here used Online Practice (www.onlinepractice.co.uk) whose system incorporates DocSafe, which is like Dropbox, but configured for accountants with more security and granular client access. I'm looking at using it, as it looks like a very good system. I've also looked at PracticeWeb, which looks good, too, but without the DocSafe functionality. I'm interested in anyone's experience of either.

Re points made above: yes, anyone can make a simple web site, just as anyone can design their own logo and have business cards printed. But it will look like rubbish if you don't have design skills. And why would you want to learn SEO skills for one-off use on your own site? Do your clients learn tax or ask you to advise them? You can get a good, simple, static site from professional web designers for a few hundred quid. At minimum (and just to show existing clients that you have heard of the internet :)  ) put up a static, single page with your logo and contact details (which many teenagers can do for you in a few minutes) and ignore SEO, as this sort of site will not bring you new clients. If you want to use it to drum up business, you need it professionally designed.

@charlb I'd avoid any system that forwards your domain to a system like Wix, as you lose the branding in the URL (web address). You say "I don't think many people once they have typed in the initial address look at what comes up in the address box once you have gone to the page." I would disagree with that. Your brand is key. Don't dilute it. It’s like giving out your business phone number which is answered with a generic “Hi. Welcome to the switchboard. Which company shall I put you through to?”

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26th Apr 2012 19:57

Website

To OP, go with what you think is right for YOUR business.  Your website is your shop window and a very important aspect of your marketing but that does not mean that you have to throw silly money at it to make it work.

The more you spend on the site will not always equate to more leads.  The opposite can actually be true in that overly slick sites can put off some smaller businesses.

What is your target market?  Is it large corporate firms or smaller, owner managed businesses?  This is a relevent question that so far hasn't been asked, the answer to which can have some bearing on the type of site right for you.

The overiding reason to have a website is to have a web presence to attract potential clients to pick up the 'phone and book an appointment.  Not all and sundry, but the RIGHT clients for you.  Your website can be a powerful marketing tool and also a powerful filtering tool, in that you deliberately try and put off the WRONG clients for you.

There is no correlation with expensive, singing and dancing websites to increased sales.

More importantly, your wording needs to strike a chord with what businesses want from their accountant, your target market needs to see a good potential 'fit', you need to make it easy for them to contact you, and you need to ensure that your site is current, optimised, well presented and reflects the personality of you and your business. 

Dont bother putting tax tables on there (thats your job to know, public not interested) don't overcrowd it, don't use red text, and whatever you do don't have games on there!

If you have a limited budget at present, I would suggest that you get a presence first, get it optimised, and then build on it in the future when your cashflow permits, if that is your want.

Jason Dormer

Seahorse (UK) Ltd - For Accountants and Bookkeepers 

 

 

 

 

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26th Apr 2012 23:55

checkout websmiths

we run three sites through them and have no complaints and lots of compliments, we do fall down a bit on updating our own content but it does get a tick in the client attractor box

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29th Apr 2012 10:38

Plenty of good advice above

A couple of years ago I wrote an article here: The top five accountants’ website mistakes which lead to a related discussion that may also be of interest.

Mark

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