Websites can become a great source of new leads and brand awareness. The bonus? Once you have your website online, they are a relatively passive marketing activity. Meaning you do not have to spend too much time maintaining it.
The catch? Getting the best accountancy website - a great website that will work hard for you - isn't just about having a great design. Understanding website strategy, user behaviour, and giving your audience what they need all plays a part.
So, to help you get the most out of your website, we've put together 15 tips to help you improve your website.
Design your accountancy website for your users, not your personal taste
Set an objective for what you want your website to achieve
Have clear call to actions that encourage conversions
Use clear, concise language and format your content to be easy to read
Hire a photographer to avoid using stock images
Regularly update your website content
Use free analytical tools to understand how people use your website
On this page:
1. Always consider your website users
Tip 1: Know who your target audience and website users are.
One of the biggest traps companies fall into when getting a new website is that they focus on their own personal likes and dislikes. The problem with that though, is your website users aren't you.
The overall design of accounting websites should be based around your target market. So, before anything, start to get an idea of who your ideal customer is.
And this matters quite a lot as it can have a huge impact on what your final website looks like and the information on it.
For example, does your accounting firm specialise in local small businesses? Or are your clients larger regional or national companies?
Each of these will have different needs that you will have to address. Small business owners might need more hand-holding. Or they are seeking a personal touch.
In comparison, a large company might be more concerned to see if you firm has similar sized clients. Or what your business credibility is.
Knowing who your website users and audience are, has an impact on so many parts of your own website. Some areas it can impact include:
Type of page
Tone of Voice
Design & Branding.
2. Design & Branding
Tip 2: Ensure your website design matches your potential clients' expectations.
Admittedly this does come down to how a website makes us feel more than anything. And it's a hard thing to articulate. Particularly as every website still needs to look professional.
So, let's look at some examples.
Marks & Spencer's and ASOS are both clothing websites. But notice how they look so different. Each has its own design, branding and feel.
The excellent use of font styles, colours and images all help to create a different style of website. A style which is targeted to their specific audience type. ASOS feels more youthful and energetic with bold colours. Whereas Marks & Spencer's feels more reserved, mature and clean by using more subtle colours.
Check your website design. Do the colours, fonts and images all create a feeling that would resonate with your target audience?
3. Set an objective
Tip 3: Focus your website around one business aim.
A website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. But because of this it can easily become overburdened with lots of objectives.
Increasing sales. Generating new leads. Providing support through client portals. Improving brand awareness. Obtaining high SEO value.
Trying to meet all these objectives, and more, can easily strain a website.
As a result, the website is in danger of becoming confusing for your audience. What are your users meant to do? Where are your users meant to navigate to?
Confusion over what the ultimate aim of a website is for your website users will make it less likely they complete any of your objectives.
How do you solve this problem then?
Every website should be set with one primary objective.
This objective should match your businesses goals or marketing strategies.
Example of website objectives:
Typically, there are three main objectives to a website:
Lead Generation/eCommerce - with the aim to create new business, more leads and sales directly from the website.
Brand Credibility - where the purpose is to build brand recognition and reputation. Sales are made indirectly through other marketing strategies.
Cultivating Relationships - when the focus of the website design is to serve existing customers and enhance ongoing relationships.
Ideally, one of these three objectives should be the foundation of your accounting website design.
That's not to say the others should take a backseat or a lesser role. A website that's objective is to cultivate existing relationships, can still generate new leads or build brand credibility.
But the purpose of a single primary objective creates a powerful tool to allow for making clear-cut decisions. For example, if your firm had the objective to cultivate relationships, would a lead generation pop-up interfere with that? Most likely, yes. Therefore, you would want to steer away using website design features like that.
4. Clear call to action
Tip 4: Have easy access to the action you want your website visitors to do.
A website needs a clear call to action which matches the overall objective you are hoping to achieve.
Creating a powerful call to action that works is tricky though. However, there are steps that you can take to create one that is clear and effective.
1. Avoid terms like 'Read More' or 'Click Here'
These are overused terms which most websites users tend to ignore.
2. Use a strong verb to start your call to action
Added a strong verb to the start helps tell users what they will do, e.g. 'buy', 'order', 'download', 'subscribe'.
3. Evoke emotion through strong word choice
Enthuse your audience by provoking emotions, e.g. 'buy now for 50% off!' or 'start your dream business today'.
4. Tie your call to action to your USP
Where possible, link your call to action with any of your unique selling points (USP), e.g. 'call today for a free consultation'.
Having an effective call to action is only half the battle.
Once it is set up, you need to track its success. Is it generating enough leads? Are people clicking on it?
To track the success of your call to action you can use tools like Google Analytics. When set up correctly, you can find out how many people click on it and how effective it is.
And once you have tracking set up, you can try out different messaging on your call to actions. This will allow you to discover which is most effective messaging to generate the most leads.
5. Make it obvious what you do
Tip 5: Clearly call out what you do so users can understand in less than a second.
It takes websites users less than a second to form a judgement of a website design.
This includes understanding what it is your business actually does.
Think of the journey a new user might take. First they start with a Google search looking for a local accounting firm. This then presents them with a list of results and click on the first one.
Once landing on the website, they will look for clues that it is in fact an accounting firm website. Users will seek out clear and quick signs. But what are they looking for?
Where do people look on a website
Fortunately, eye tracking studies have shown what areas of a website people look at first on a landing page.
First they look at the logo in the left-hand corner
Secondly, they look at the main menu bar
Finally, their eyes are drawn to the biggest text on their screen.
So, how can you use this to your advantage?
It's quite simple really. You know you need to make it clear that you are accountants. And you need to do this within a fraction of a second. You also now know the first three areas that are looked at on a website design.
Ultimately what you need to do is include a relevant word in at least one of those locations. For example, could you incorporate the phrase "accountancy firm" within your logo? Maybe you could have a section of main menu titled "accounting services"?
Or perhaps the easiest and quickest route, making sure the word 'accountant' is clearly seen in any text that sits at the top of the screen.
6. Clear, concise language
Tip 6: Avoid using complex words and keep text simple.
How long do you think people tend to spend on a website?
Three minutes? Five minutes? Maybe more?
On average people spend no more than 45 seconds on a website. Probably a lot less than you thought.
What this means, is that you need to brief with the information you share.
Get straight to the point with any messages you want to say. Be sure to impart value onto them straight away and without any fluff or exaggerations. A clear message will be quicker to read and understand in less than 45 seconds.
Landing page content on your website needs to identify your audiences' problems quickly. It then needs to deliver how you can help solve their problems.
Avoid wasting time by 'setting the scene' or using unnecessary words.
How to write concise website content
An easy way to create concise text is the 50/50/50 rule.
Start off by writing your content as you would normally. Then you want to slim that down by cutting 50% out. From the remaining word count, you then want to repeat the task and cut another 50% out. Finally, you want to repeat the task one more time.
The power of this task comes from reducing your word count dramatically. Leaving just the most important details. From example, using this technical you can turn a piece of content that was 500 words, into one that is around 60 words.
7. Format your text
Tip 7: People scan read websites. Format your website design to take advantage of this.
It is often assumed that people read websites similar to the way they read books, newspapers or leaflets.
This is not true. In reality, people scan read websites.
Why? Because people visit a website to either learn something or do something. This means they are there because they either know, or they think they know, what they want.
As a result, this leads to a habit of scan reading. Users will certain bits of content and web design features that stand out or catch their eye.
How to format website text
Therefore, you need to format the text on your accounting website to aid scan reading. Tactics to achieve this include:
Avoid long paragraphs. Keep them to one, two or three sentences
Utilise bullet point lists to break up walls of text
Add key words and phrases to the beginning of sentences
Have multiple headings and sub-headings to help draw the eye
However, try to insert playful copy where possible. This can be particularly powerful at the beginning of a text section where you can lure readers in. Yet be careful. You do not want to force this tactic into places where it does not fit.
8. Avoid stock photos
Tip 8: Invest in custom photography where possible.
When looking for a new accounting website, it can be easy to ask your web designer to use stock photos in your design.
Using a stock photo can seem like a good idea. They are a great resource for professional images. And compared to a professional photographer, a lot cheaper.
However, studies have shown people can notice the differences between a stock photo and non-stock imagery.
Generally speaking, stock photos tend to not fit with your brand's story or be irrelevant to your messaging and company values. Most importantly, stock photos can be used by anyone.
For example, how many times have you seen this photo on the internet?
Instead, invest in a photographer and have your own imagery taken.
Replacing your photos, be it team member photos or a background image, with your own photography is a simple but dramatic change. With the right images, a website design that looks a poor-quality website, will instantly look and feel different.
9. Built to be responsive
Tip 9: Ensure your website can be used on any device.
These days you can never be sure what type of device someone might be visiting your website. It could be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
Regardless the device, you need to ensure that your website design still look good.
This is where responsive websites come into force.
Responsive website design ensures your website will flex and change depending on the technology it is built on. Your web designer should take into account how different screen sizes will impact the design. Then they will need to alter the design of the pages to fit.
10. Regular updates
Tip 10: Make sure content and dates are up to date.
So, you have a new accounting website for your business. It's up and live on the internet.
A website should not be something you invest in once and leave there. It needs to be regularly updated and a key part of your digital marketing strategy.
On the simple end of the scale, there is things like making sure the copyright date in the footer of the website is set to the current year.
Then you have things like a blog or news section. Here you want to make sure you're posting new content regularly. For example, having big gap in dates can make it look like your business has closed. Would you trust a company if the last time their news section was updated was three years ago?
Creating new content can be a time-consuming activity though. Especially for small businesses and accountancy firms who do not have the time resources to invest in it.
Fortunately, Mercia offers the ability to have content written by accountants uploaded directly and automatically to your website.
11. Interactive wizards
Tip 11: Enhance website visitors experience with interactive features.
One of the biggest struggles for companies is to keep users on the website. The longer someone is on a website, the greater the chance that they will convert.
A way to help increase the time someone spends on your website in the use of interactive wizards to create cool features.
Interactive features on an accounting website
Fortunately, accounting websites have multiple opportunities to utilise these. Some suggestions include:
As well as useful tools, you can even go down a playful route with something like a 'Millionaire Calculator' so people could see how long it'll take to become a millionaire.
All these help enhance the user experience by offering them something to keep coming back to your website.
This in turn will help them generate a positive impression of your brand through providing them with useful features.
12. Build Social Proof
Tip 12: Use a third-party review platform like Google Reviews or Trustpilot.
People like to use businesses that other people use and trust. This is no different for accounting services than it is for a local builder.
Potential clients will research you before they contact. And this is likely to include looking for reviews.
It is tempting to incorporate testimonials or reviews directly into your website design. Particularly ones you can have control over.
The truth is though that people are likely to just ignore these. People understand that these are easy to fake, therefore will always assume the worse.
Instead, invest in a third-party review platform that is seen to be more independent. For example, Google Reviews or Trustpilot. And ask your web designer to link these to your website.
Because these are independent, people are less likely to assume they are fake, and therefore more likely to trust them.
Don't worry about negative reviews
However, you may still be worried about the lack of control. What happens if your five-star rating is damaged from a bad review?
There are two reasons why you shouldn't worry about this:
People are more likely to trust a business who has a star rating between 4.5 to 4.9 than they are with a business that has all five-star reviews. This is because all five-star reviews are seen as fake - "how can people be so perfect?"
When people see bad reviews, they are most interested in how the business responds to the criticism than they are about the review. They want to know how they will be treated should they have a complaint. This is why it is so important to promptly handle negative reviews.
13. Work on the SEO
Tip 13: Get higher ranks on Google through SEO.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is the act of trying to get your website to rank higher on search engines. This is by working with search engine algorithms to give enough positive signals that when someone searches a relevant term (e.g. accountants in my area), your website will rank high.
For accounting websites, you'll most likely be looking to perform for an area of SEO called Local SEO. Essentially speaking, this is targeting search engines in a way that you appear for searches made in your local area.
It is often thought that to improve SEO you need to concentrate on your website design and content.
But this is not necessarily true. Particularly for Local SEO.
How to build Local SEO
Instead, one of the things you could do is look at increasing the number of signals to your website that indicate you belong to a local area. This is actually relatively easy to achieve. For example, you could:
Sponsor local charities
Do a joint project with another local business
Host local events
Provide press releases to local news papers
Team up with local educational providers (schools, colleges, universities)
Ideally what you need from these activities is a link from their website to yours.
Finally, investigate to see if your Google My Business and Bing Business are set up correctly and fully complete.
By working with local business and filling out relevant business profiles on search engines, you will be creating SEO signals that you're a local business.
14. Improve the Site Speed
Tip 14: Ensure your website is fast.
A slow website annoys everyone. People do not have the patience to wait for your website to load. If it is not quick enough, it is likely your potential customers will visit a competitor's website.
Therefore, it needs to be quick.
Ideally your website will need to load in at least two seconds. Quicker if possible.
You can check the speed of your website by visiting Google's Page Insights. This is a tool that tests how fast your website page loads and highlights which areas can be fixed.
What slows down a website design
Fixing a website speed can be tricky and you may need to ask your web designer for help. The most often causes for a slow website are:
Large image file sizes
Slow server speed
A quicker website will also help improve your SEO ranking too. Google, for instance, prefers faster websites. So, making your accounting website faster will not only improve the experience for your potential customers, but could also improve your Google ranking.
15. Review the data
Tip 15: Add tracking code and use it to make inform decisions.
Websites need to evolve. Simply putting one up on the internet and expecting it to work, is very unlikely.
The best websites are reviewed constantly and amended to meet the business and user needs.
Fortunately, this does not need to be expensive.
Must have (free) website tracking software
Three must-have pieces of technology that can help improve your website are completely free. These are:
Google Analytics - Provides details on what your users are doing on your website, how they interact with it, where they came from and how long they stayed.
HotJar (free version) - Allows you to anonymously record user sessions on the website and create heatmaps. These can allow you to see how individual users interact with your website design.
Google Tag Manager - whilst this may require expert advice, Google Tag Manager grant you the ability to track user behaviour in more detail. For example, which buttons are clicked, which form fields are completed, how far users scroll down a page.
Once you got your data, you want to analysis it. Useful things to explore include:
Which pages are people visiting?
Which landing page is getting the most attention?
How long people are spending on your webpages?
How are people arriving on your website (social media, SEO, email, etc.)?
What is the split of your users between new and returning visitors?
Understanding all the information available from these tools will help you make decisions on how to make your accounting website design better.
Getting the best website for your accounting firm business is more than just creating something with an excellent design. It needs to have a purpose for your potential clients.
The above lists some tips and features that you can incorporate into your accounting website to help you stand out as a professional accountant. By combining technology with a firm understanding of who your clients are, you can showcase your accounting service on your site in a way that helps increase conversions.
Are you struggling to design your new accounting website? Take advantage of Mercia's fully managed website services. Not only will you get a website that is designed to meet your business needs. Its is also a website which comes with SEO, Automatic Content Updates, and built in Interactive Wizards. All for only £99+vat a month.