After five years in its current guise, AccountingWEB is shedding its old skin and taking on a new, more modern character.
As we put the finishing touches to the brand new AccountingWEB over this bank holiday weekend you will not be able to comment, create or edit content.
While we say goodbye to an old friend, it's worth noting how AccountingWEB has grown up over the past five years. In its current form, the number of monthly visitors to AccountingWEB has nearly tripled from 200,000 in 2011 to 586,000 this year, and the average number of pages read has gone up from just over 1m to 1.9m a month.
During that time, we have seen social media have a major impact on all forms of media. There has also be a growing emphasis on new forms of communication including podcasts and videos. From next week, the new site will give us more flexible opportunities to present that kind of material for you.
While we undergo the transformation, some elements from the old site will disappear, including our Discussion Groups and the Opportunities page. Don't worry, they will be back within the new site, but we wanted to get the new platform bedded in before we worked out how to accommodate them in the new platform. The version of AccountingWEB that you see next week will offer a baseline of functionality, with our programmers adding new features over time.
One big change that has been driving our agenda has been the rising use of mobile phones to surf the net, best represented by this chart of mobile traffic on the site since 2011:
AccountingWEB mobile users 2011-16 (% of total visits)
As you can see in the chart, mobile phone growth has increased fivefold from 5% in 2011 to 25% today. We fully expect that growth rate to continue. To cater for that demand, the new AccountingWEB will be able to accommodate mobile users with a site that looks and operates the same whatever device you use.
In the meantime, we also thought it would be nice to mark the occasion of our refit by remembering some of the highlights seen on our pages during the "v7" era of AccountingWEB (we're heading into our 8th incarnation in 19 years, referred to in-house as the new Publishing Platform, or "PP").
Who can forget the first stirrings of agent self service? Back in 2011, Rebecca Benneyworth described HMRC’s Agent Strategy as the “biggest thing to hit the profession in a generation”. The best hope we have of making the reforms work, she continued, “is to respond wholeheartedly to this consultation, by telling HMRC firmly what won't work, and pushing it towards acknowledging where it can improve its own service levels”.
As we launch the new AccountingWEB, the government’s new Making Tax Digital plans have so far received a similar reception from AccountingWEB members as the Agent Strategy. We’re sure, Making Tax Digital be just as popular on the new AccountingWEB.
While AccountingWEB celebrated its new incarnation, 2011 was not a good one for HMRC’s then permanent secretary for tax, Dave Hartnett. Private Eye branded Hartnett “Britain’s most wined and dined civil servant” following his enthusiasm for networking with tax experts and large businesses. Then the campaiging group UK Uncut called for Harnett’s resignation over his role in agreeing multi-million pound tax settlements with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs. We haven't heard as much from UK Uncut or Dave Hartnett since then, but thanks to the Panama Papers and UK Uncut sympathiser Richard Murphy, the tax avoidance issue certainly hasn't gone away.
The year of iXBRL
AccountingWEB’s need to modernisation reflects the rapid change in technology over the last five users.
Five years ago, the tech buzz swirled around Apple's new tablet the iPad, and whether the growing collection of associated iPhone and iPad apps would be much use for accountants - Excel, for example, was not compatible at that time.
The surge of cloud accounting and add-ons since then have made that argument redundant. While we used to devote quite a lot of time to reviewing PCs and laptops back then, our last review appeared in September 2011. Who would have dreamed that one day accountants would be kitted out with MacBooks and all kinds of other Apple gadgetry?
2011 also saw the introduction of mandatory efiling of Corporation Tax returns accompanied by accounts in iXBRL format. Despite professional bodies and accountancy bodies urging the government to delay compulsory iXBRL, Treasury minister David Gauke said: “There will never be a perfect time to mandate filing in iXBRL.” But after continuing problems over data integrity and waves of inaccurate penalty warnings, he did relent on imposing automatic penalties.
New era for the community
In 2011, AccountingWEB went interactive. The functionality of v7 allowed us to produce interactive quizzes such as What kind of accountant are you?
The current site also allowed us to play around with rich media, with the ability to embed videos into articles, and conduct video and podcast experiments.
Recently, the AccountingWEB members gave up their time during the busy self assessment season to give us feedback on the new AccountingWEB, completing surveys and participating in user testing. The AccountingWEB community provided the same expert analysis back in 2011, improving this present version for all of the members. We'd like to thank all those who took part then and now for their efforts.
The demise of Ralph
Waving off AccountingWEB V7, we are reminded of another fallen friend that tugged at our heartstrings during this time – Glennzy’s beloved old Casio, Ralph.
After passing his CIMA exams in 1995, Glennzy’s colleagues had a whip round and bought him a Casio. “Ralph has been with me, man and boy. It was worked through five different jobs and now, my own company,” he said.
But tragedy struck when Ralph tumbled out of Glennzy’s bag in June 2013 and shattered into several pieces. Fighting back the tears (we’re sure), Glennzy wrote: “I held him in my hands one last time hoping to knock out one last sum, whilst his screen flickered and went onto standby for the last time. I tried to resuscitate him without success he had flatlined. I had lost my career-long side kick.”
Ralph’s demise brings us to our own fallen comrade. As we gently push the old AccountingWEB pyre out to sea, we hope you join us in wishing it a fond farewell.
But like the tax return, nothing lasts forever. So we hope you join us on Tuesday morning to welcome in the brand new AccountingWEB!
You can read further on the different features and functions of the new AccountingWEB, and the research we undertook in crafting the new site in our Editors' blog series:
- Public profile, user account and private messaging
- Any Answers changes answered
- A Blog about blogs
- Same, different, changed
- How we researched and made decisions
- Why change?
- Survey results
What were some of your memories of the last five years? Let us know below what grabbed your attention during the past five years on AccountingWEB. Don't hang about, though, v7 will be frozen for comments and posts from 9am on Friday 29 April. But make sure to come back on Tuesday to let us know what you think of the new version.