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Michael, Matt and Ben from Honcho. We're accountancy website providers.

Accountant website homepage design

Out of the hundreds of accountancy websites we’ve analysed, it’s amazing the number of firms that aren’t getting the homepage right.

Even the firms with massive digital marketing budgets.

But no matter what your budget is or how small (or big) your team is, you can learn and implement the web design and marketing techniques from the accountancy websites that focus on converting visitors into leads and get thousands of visitors each month.

The more visitors you get to your website, the more chance you have of turning them into leads for your firm.

The most important thing on your accountant website

At the top of the page is usually the main navigation.

We’ll cover the pages the navigation will need to have in another section — but on the homepage, right below the navigation is something we call the ‘hero’.

The 'hero' section on a website a for an accountant
The 'hero' section on an accountants website design.

It’s a strange name — but it does have its own (very short) Wikipedia page, which reads:

In web design, a hero image is a large web banner image, prominently placed on a web page, generally in the front and centre.

The hero image is often the first visual a visitor encounters on the site; it presents an overview of the site’s most important content. A hero image often consists of image and text…

The hero is your first opportunity to connect with and make a great first impression on your visitor.

This may seem counterproductive at first — but you should not use the hero section to talk about your firm.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment...

Instead of talking about your practice, use the hero section to show and tell your visitor how you will make their life better.

A key thing to understand is: at the core of almost every decision in life, people are evaluating how this 'thing' they are about to do will make their life better.

Whether it’s buying a car, a house, or a cup of coffee, the reason we choose the things we choose is based on whether or not we believe they’ll improve our life.

This comes into play even when choosing a new accountant

You need to make sure that in the first few seconds a visitor arrives on your website, the image and the text in the hero clearly state how you — the accountant — will make their lives better when they become your client.

If you can get that bit right, you’ll trigger a response, buy a few more seconds of their time and keep them engaged on your website.

You can assume that the visitor is likely to be a business owner or perhaps a sole trader.

Whether they realise it or not, their decision about choosing your accountancy practice for their business isn’t necessarily just about price or being local to them.

If they believe you understand their business and can help them overcome their problems, they’ll be more inclined to take a step towards becoming your client.

Your visitor will subconsciously be evaluating:

  • Will you save me money?
  • Will you save me time?
  • Will you make my life less stressful?
  • Will you make my business legally compliant?

It very much boils down to very basic needs that we can all relate to.

People often think that they’re buying a product or service to fix an external problem.

But in reality, it’s more often a solution to an internal problem that triggers the decision to make a purchase.

As a business owner, having someone to do my accounts fixes my external problem of me not having the skills to do my own accounts.

But the peace of mind that comes from knowing my accounts are getting done correctly and on time — so that I don’t end up in prison — is actually the main reason I choose to pay for an accountant.

I’m buying peace of mind

People usually buy when they believe that you can help them with their internal problems, not their external problems.

On your homepage, it’s tempting to use the hero section to talk about how great your firm is — and that’s what so many firms do — but visitors won’t connect with that.

Talking about how great your accountancy practice is doesn’t relate to the visitor’s problems, hopes or aspirations.

Along with making the visitor’s life better, you should also try to position them at the centre of the narrative, and position your firm as the guide who can help them become the hero in their businesses story.

Think of it as if your firm is Obi-Wan Kenobi and your client is Luke Skywalker.

Everything in this upper section of the homepage should focus on your visitor, their life, their story and helping them achieve their dreams in business.

Using that narrative for the text and image will connect at a deeper level with your visitor — and will better position your practice as a choice for becoming their accountant.

#TIP

Don’t use image sliders on your website.

You’ll see them everywhere on the web but they don’t work.

Multiple images will water down your message and only 1% of visitors will actually click on them.

For more about why sliders are bad, take a look at this Yoast post.

Choose the right accountancy website images

The image you choose for the hero section of your website is extremely important.

The service you offer is for people — and people connect with people.

Use an image of a real person.

Someone whom the visitor would aspire to be like: happy, confident and successful — but without being cheesy.

Showing a smiling, assured, successful person as the main image of your website subconsciously says that their life is good because they use your firm.

A woman smiling on a website a for an accountant
Websites for accountants need to choose the right images.

You’ve seen these types of marketing images thousands of times for a reason: because they work.

It may seem obvious to use people as the main image — but you’ll be amazed at the number of firms (even within the Top 50+50 Accountancy Firms) using their office building as the focal image.

Don’t use buildings as the main image.

People don’t aspire to be buildings.

People aspire to be happy and successful — so that’s what you should lead with.

If you can get permission to use real clients in the photo — go for it.

It’ll add an extra layer of trust and realism to your message.

Don’t use yourself or your staff here.

Remember, the homepage isn’t about you — it should all be about your visitor.

#TIP

Need good stock photos but don’t have the budget? There are some great free stock photos available at:

Good headline text for accountants websites

The next element of the hero section is the text.

The text and the image work together to reinforce the message you’re conveying.

The two main points to convey as quickly and clearly as possible are:

  • What you do (Accounting)
  • How you make life better (Saving money/time/stress)
Headline text on a website for an accountant
Accountants website need to use the right text in the right places.

The text adds context to the story of the person in the image. E.g: Be the business you’ve always dreamt about

Some guidelines for creating good text for the hero section are:

1. Be clear — not clever

Clever headlines can be fun — but most of the time they’re too ambiguous and can often be attributed to any business.

For example: ‘Just Do it’. We all know it’s Nike — but it could work for McDonald’s, Adidas or even Durex.

Until you become a global mega-brand, just stick to being clear and address the core principle of how you’ll impact the life of your visitor.

2. Don’t use generic or clichéd text

‘We’ll be there to help you succeed.’

‘Delivering results every time.’

Generic is forgettable and clichés make you sound insincere — even if you’re not.

Similarly to the clever headlines, generic headlines are also too ambiguous and can be ported to almost any industry.

Nike: ‘We’ll be there to help you succeed.’

You get the point.

3. Don’t say ‘We’re different’

Remember the annoying kid at school who was ‘different’? Well, that’s what visitors will think of you when they read the most overused phrase in the accountancy industry.

The irony is that the firms that say ‘we’re different’ are the ones that have probably copied it from other firms.

4. Check you’re not using the word ‘we’ too much

If you are, then you’re probably talking more about yourself than you are about your visitor.

5. Don’t include anything about your firm's history

At this stage, no one cares that you’ve been in business since 1878 or who the founders were.

As the accountancy world marches forward and embraces new technology, using your company history as the primary digital marketing message becomes stale and irrelevant.

I know for a fact that there are forward-thinking firms less than five years old that obtained more leads through their website last month than some hundred-year-old firms have had through their website in the last five years.

If you must, there is a place where you can talk about yourself and your company history — but it’s not here.

Coming up with the correct image and text to convey your message is difficult. However, if you know who your ideal client is, it makes these decisions a whole lot easier.

Call website visitors to action

The hero section can just contain an image and text.

But for the perfect accountancy website, you’re going to add one super important element to yours:

It’s called a ‘call to action’.

Multiple "Calls To Action" on a website for an accountant
Accountant website design can use multiple calls to action to show the visitor what to do next.

A call to action is an element intended to direct the visitor towards performing a specific act.

Typically in the form of an instruction.

In this case, the call to action will be a button with an instruction, telling the visitor what you’d like them to do next.

You’ve told the visitor what you do and how it’ll improve their life (the internal problem).

Now you need to tell them what action they need to take next to become your client.

The call to action button on the hero could be:

  • Call us now
  • Book a discovery call
  • Request a callback

The call to action should give a clear and specific instruction, following on and related to the text above it.

Don’t assume a visitor will know what to do just by reading the text in your hero section.

You’ll need to guide them and tell them what to do by using calls to action.

Now, a little bit of science... pay attention, class!

When people look at a website on a desktop or laptop computer, their eyes track across the page in an F-shaped pattern.

From left to right, top to bottom.

Therefore, to reinforce the importance of your call to action, it’s sometimes appropriate to have two identical calls to action visible in the same view.

Visitors eyes track websites for accountants in an F shape pattern
Visitors eyes track websites for accountants in an F shape pattern.

If your primary call to action is ‘Email us’, then it would be fine to have this call to action in the hero section and again in the navigation.

Placing the call to action in the main navigation will mean that it’s visible on all pages of the website, and will reinforce the ‘call’ for the visitor to email you, no matter what page they navigate to on the website.

Having two calls to action in the same place at the same time is fine — but don’t have too many different instructions.

Giving the visitor too many options will confuse them and they may end up making no decision at all.

In Sainsbury’s, if I only had the choice of a bottle of red wine or a bottle of white wine, I could make a quick decision.

Easy!

But being spoilt with literally hundreds of options would make my brain hurt.

Only the fear of coming home to my wife without any wine would motivate me to make a choice.

So if you absolutely do need to use multiple calls to action, you can give emphasis and weight in the design to specific ones.

A use case for this scenario would be if you wanted visitors to get in touch via email or phone — but you’re a smaller accountancy firm and don’t have a specific person to man the phones.

You could give visual weight to the ‘Email us’ call to action so that the majority of visitors will get in touch via email.

That way your team can reply when it suits them instead of being interrupted from their important work each time the phone rings.

Websites for accountants can use "visual weight" to guide visitor towards actions
Websites for accountants can use "visual weight" to guide visitor towards actions.

Don’t offer a ‘Free Consultation’ as a call to action. Everyone does that.

Also as a general rule, be careful using the word ‘Free’ — it just smacks of sales.

Like the ‘we’re different’ tagline, it's an overused phrases that visitors have become numb to.

As a side note regarding the F pattern: even though the visitor’s eyes will look at your logo first, your logo should not be the most prominent element on the website.

The logo should NOT be the most prominent thing on a website for an accountant
Your logo should NOT be the most prominent thing on your accountancy website.

It’s very tempting to make the logo large and stand out — but don't.

Look at websites like Apple, Nike and Disney — their logos on their websites are small and confident.

Having your logo too big can distract visitors’ eyes from the call to action and can also come across as insecure and needy (or a bit shouty!).

Initially, visitors to your website (your potential clients) don’t care about your logo.

They only care about how you’ll improve their life.

So make that the priority and don’t let your logo distract from your main message or visually compete with your call to action.

The call to action should be the clearest, most contrasting thing on the hero section.

The visitor shouldn’t need to guess where to click or what the primary thing is you want them to do.

If your main brand colour is purple, use yellow for the button — a colour from the opposite side of a colour wheel — to give the button the most impact.

Colour Wheel
Use contrasting colour from a colour wheel to make your accountancy website design stand out.

Show visitors you're a modern accounting website

This part is optional — but if you can, add some logos to the hero section.

If you work with well-known brands or have industry accreditations or partnerships, adding those logos will give credibility and validation of your firm to the visitor.

I appreciate it’s not always possible to do this — but if you can, you should.

Use logos on your accountancy website to give you instant credibility
Websites for accountants can 'piggyback' the credibility of other services by using their logos.

Your hero section should now have:

  1. An aspirational photo of a happy (non-cheesy), confident business person
  2. Headline text saying:
    1. What you do
    2. How you’ll make the visitor’s life better
  3. A ‘Call to Action’, clearly stating what you want the visitor to do next

Getting the hero section of your website right can make the difference between a visitor clicking, scrolling and staying on your website or leaving within a few seconds.

Connecting with your visitor in those first few seconds is critical if you’re hoping they’ll progress on their journey with your firm online to eventually become a client.

Engage visitors on your accountancy website

Whether the visitor leaves or stays has an impact on something called your ‘bounce rate’.

This is a metric that Google measures when someone visits your website.

If a visitor finds something interesting on your website, they’ll stay and click through to other pages.

This will give your website a low bounce rate, which is good.

But if your website immediately fails to connect with them, they’ll leave without any interaction.

When that happens, your website will have a higher bounce rate (i.e.: visitors bouncing off the site without interacting), which is bad.

Google is super-secretive about their ranking algorithms, which determine where your website appears in their search results.

Though it’s never been explicitly proven, SEO experts believe that low bounce rates are strongly associated with higher Google rankings.

So, as a rule of thumb, the longer visitors stay on your website, the more important Google thinks you are, which will help improve the position of your website in search result listings.

Showing value with accountant website design

If you’ve followed the steps above, your hero section has connected with the visitor and now they’ll start scrolling down the page to investigate more.

The next thing you’re going to do is break down and show the value of what you’ll bring to their lives and businesses.

Again, keeping things clear and simple — you need to include the extra value that your visitors will get when they use your firm, distilling and expanding on how you’ll do what you’ve said in the hero section.

On their first visit the visitor will be skim reading — just getting a feel for what you do before making any further commitment.

#TIP

To quickly convey the value, consider using the following format to give the most impact:

  • An icon or image to represent the value
  • A title
  • A short paragraph/bullet points
Showing the value on your accountancy website
Websites for accountants must clearly communicate the value to the visitor.

What happens if they don't use your firm?

You’ve nailed the hero.

You’ve added your value points.

They clearly state what benefits you bring to the party.

The value points are clean, clear and simple.

Easy to scan and easy to read.

Now it’s time to add a little bit of pain.

A tiny bit of fear.

Here’s where you can show the consequence of what might happen if they don’t use your firm and that you understand their problems.

You want to strike a nerve with the visitor — but also show that you empathise and share the same values as them.

Since they’re visiting your website, you’re going to assume they have some pain points in their current situation.

Perhaps they’ve reached the point in business where they need an accountant for the first time — or perhaps they’re dissatisfied with the service their current accountant is giving them.

If you know your firm’s response rate to emails is lightning fast, then one of the pain points you could highlight — and give the solution to — might be this:

Still waiting on tax advice from your accounts?

On average our accountants reply to all emails within 25 mins.

The subtext here is:

We hate poor service too — we’re just like you.

Show you understand the struggles your visitor is having and they’ll think, ‘Wow, these guys really understand me!’

If visitors believe you understand them and have a solution to their problems — and that you empathise with them — they’ll connect and associate those feelings with the values of your business.

This will help put your business at the forefront of their mind when they’re ready to choose an accountant.

Designing testimonials on your accountancy website

You’ve shown the value you’ll bring to the client with simple, clear points.

You’ve empathised, understood and solved their pain points.

Now it’s time to add a bit more credibility and authority.

Not by talking about yourself — but by letting other people talk about how good you are, by using testimonials.

Testimonials show your visitors that people have gone before them and had success with your firm.

No one likes to be the first to do something and the testimonials avert some of the risk the visitor may be feeling.

When adding testimonials to your homepage, some rules to keep in mind are:

1. Less is more

Don’t overload the visitor with loads of testimonials — they’ll probably only read a few.

If you need more than three to convey what your clients think of you, then perhaps you’ve not chosen the right testimonials to use.

2. Only show one testimonial at a time

Don’t overload the visitor with lots of text. Let them only process and focus on one at a time.

3. Keep testimonials short

So visitors can quickly scan them.

4. Add photos

For extra credibility, add a photo of the person who gave the testimonial.

Make sure they’re good photos too — not pouting selfies!

#TIP

If you’ve got the equipment available, take the photo next time your client visits your office, so you can use it next to their testimonial.

5. Write the testimonial yourself

Now, let me be clear: Don’t make them up!

But it’s unlikely that a client will ever give you a perfectly formatted testimonial to use on your website.

So here’s how you can get a great testimonial from your client that is perfect to use on your website:

Let’s say you’re with a client and they have said something to you like:

‘You guys are amazing. I think, in total, we saved about £10,000 this year.

Things are going really well and now we’re able to take on Dave as an extra admin person!’

Make a note of what they’ve said, shorten it, reformat it and pop it in an email for them to approve, like this:

Hi {{ Client Name Here }},

Remember you said that we’d saved you £10,000 and now you’ve got Dave working with you? That’s brilliant! We’re stoked, too!

Would you mind if we used that as a testimonial on our website?

Here’s some text I’ve put together for your testimonial.

‘Our old accountants had no idea we could save an additional £10K each year. {{ Your Firm Name Here }} saved us £10K this year and now we’re able to take on a new staff member and grow the company.’

Is this OK with you?

Love,

Your favourite accountant x x x

(Love and kisses optional)

It’s no longer a rambling sentence.

It’s now a short story of transformation with three parts:

  1. Things were bad
  2. I met my accountants
  3. Things are good

People love stories.

People especially love stories about transformation.

You’ll see them everywhere.

  1. Luke Skywalker was a farm boy
  2. He met Obi-Wan Kenobi
  3. He saved the galaxy

If there’s a good case for it, you can also link the testimonial to a case study or blog post to expand further what you did to help your client.

But again, keep the long blocks of text out of the way for now.

If people want to read more, they’ll delve deeper later.

Video testimonials work really well too — but only if your client is comfortable on camera.

And you’ll need technical skills or resources to produce a quality video.

A poorly lit and sloppily edited testimonial filmed on your iPhone may give the wrong impression of your accountancy practice.

What do you want visitors to your accountancy website to do next?

The hero section is looking great.

You’ve shown the value you’ll bring.

You’ve empathised and understood the visitors’ pain points.

Your clients have said how good you are.

The next section is to show the visitor what they need to do to work with your firm.

It might seem obvious to you — but for many first-timers, they’re going to need it spelled out.

You’ve said what you do.

You’ve said how you’ll make their life better.

Now you need to tell them how to get it.

If they’ve got this far down the homepage, now you need to tell them how easy it is to work with you.

Again, keep it simple.

In just a few steps, show the visitor how they can go from where they are right now to becoming your client.

You could share your process to ease their anxiety about making that transition to becoming your client and address fears and concerns they may have, such as:

  • How are you going to help them switch accountants?
  • What do they need to do if you’re their first accountant?

And again, include a clear call to action, which may be similar to the call to action in the hero section.

If it’s relevant and you’re the type of firm that shows your pricing, then this is where you can add your pricing information.

Accountancy website homepage: In conlusion

That’s everything your accountancy homepage needs.

Simple — but with an underlying message of transformation.

If you believe your firm can save someone’s business money — and save them time as an individual so they can spend more time with their family — then that’s what you need to talk about on the homepage.

If you’re not talking about how you’ll make their life better, you’re just in the same boat as all the other accountant’s websites talking about when the company was founded or the awards they’ve won that no one cares about.

To learn more about why people buy, check out Donald Miller’s book Building A StoryBrand.

I’ve borrowed many of the ideas from there.

It’s not so much about website design — but in terms of marketing advice — it’s brilliant.

Next stop: the sections and pages you’ll need for the most impact.

What pages does my accountancy website need?

In the previous section, we walked through what your firm's home page needs to have.

In this section, I’m going to walk through all the other pages and sections your website needs — and show you what they do, why you need them and the part they play in this bigger picture of getting you more leads from your site.

OK, let's go!

An 'About' page that’s not about you

After the Home page, the About page is usually the second most visited page on a website.

If you’ve won the visitor over with your homepage, this is where they’ll start to delve a little deeper into your firm online.

Don’t bore visitors with a history of the company.

Just like the homepage, keep it brief, light and easy to scan.

Talk about your vision and core values — but be aware of the number of times you use the word ‘we’.

If you can, flip the language here to be about the visitor, not you.

Rather than say ‘We’ve been accounting since 1889’, try, ‘We’ve over 100 years of experience to guide your business’.

Yes, it still used ‘we’ — but the benefit and focus is now on your client, not you.

Use a testimonial or a short story from a real client whose business you’ve impacted.

A real story of transformation will resonate more than a vague statement.

‘We used our 100-year heritage and expertise to guide {{ Client Name Here }} to a 97% increase in turnover and to boost profit by 64%.’

I’m just making those figures up — but the details are specific and the story comes alive.

Simple accountancy services pages

You’re a service-based firm — it’s important that visitors know what you do.

But again, just like the homepage, don’t overwhelm them.

You should have a Services index page which clearly lists your core services — either as its own page or directly from the main navigation as a dropdown menu.

If the ‘tone of voice’ of your firm is less formal, instead of just calling the page ‘Services’, you can make it sound more personal by calling it ‘What we do’ or ‘How we can help you’.

The individual service pages can take a similar format to the homepage:

  • How will this service make my life better?
  • What will happen if I don’t use you?
  • What do I need to do to work with you?

If you have a solid pricing structure and you’re comfortable sharing it publically, you can also include your pricing here too.

But make sure to include a call to action next to the pricing options, so visitors know how to respond if they want to work with you.

Depending on your internal process, the first step you’d like your visitor to take would be to ‘Get in touch’ or ‘Book a discovery call’, which would open a form for them to fill in.

Keep the fields on the form to just the basics: Name, Email, Message — you can get more details from the prospect during the call, or drop them an email ahead of the call with a couple of extra questions that you’ll be asking them, so they’re well prepared.

Meet the accountancy team pages

People buy from people, so including photos of you and your team is a must.

Your staff might not want their photos on there — but you’re in charge, so make them do it.

The photos should be good quality.

Ideally not selfies from a phone.

Hiring a professional photographer for a few hours will make a huge difference.

While they’re at your office, you can also get them to take some unposed, documentary-style photos to use on other pages of your website.

Include a short bio for each team member on its own URL, e.g.: myaccountants.com/team/john-smith

This will help when people start to warm up to the idea of working with your firm — they will Google you, and having your own individual team member page will increase the likelihood of your individual page showing up in the Google search results alongside your LinkedIn and social network pages.

Keep the biography light and fun.

It doesn’t need to be your life story.

Share fun stuff about you as a person: footy teams, fave film, hobbies and unusual facts.

(I was once a roadie for the Chippendales. #truestory)

If you and your team feel comfortable in front of the camera, adding a video can help take a step towards the visitor getting to know, like and trust you.

It’s only then they’ll buy from you.

All your team should be on LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

When your practice posts new content, get the team to share it to their networks.

A team effort promoting your content will have a big impact on its visibility and reach across the web.

Add their social network links to their profile page and have them link back to your website from there.

The more links you have pointing to your website, the better.

Make it easy for visitors to find you in other places online — again, helping them to get to know, like and trust you.

Meet the Team is also a great place to promote career opportunities at your firm.

Accountancy FAQs pages on steroids

‘FAQs’ is an abbreviation for Frequently Asked Questions.

On a website, the FAQ page takes a question and answer format and lists common questions (and answers) that a business may receive from its customers.

More often than not, the question and answer format on websites is short and sharp, designed to let the user quickly find the answer they’re looking for.

You’re going to take the concept of the FAQ page further.

Instead of trite statements, you’re going to create in-depth articles and call it a ‘Knowledge Base’.

The role of the Knowledge Base is two-fold:

  1. It’s a place on your website where you can share your advice and expertise
  2. It can help people find your firm online via Google

Note:

Whenever I mentioned ‘Google’ in this context, what I really mean is ‘search engines’.

But at the time of writing, since nearly 70% of the searches are done on Google, it feels like the norm to say that. (And they’ve got their own verb too!)

Examples of Knowledge Base articles could be:

  • How to set up a limited company
  • Choosing the right accounting software
  • Avoid common mistakes made on tax returns

You could think of them as long-form FAQs.

Tried and tested help, advice or guides that won’t be updated regularly.

These types of articles are great for your firm to share with your audience.

They should be non-promotional, helpful articles which solve real problems and make life easier.

Which is the core of what your accountancy practice wants to do for its clients.

If your Knowledge Base articles resonate with the pain points your visitor has, they may bookmark the page or even share it with their network, which gives your firm more credibility and visibility online.

Knowledge Base articles are great for SEO.

If done right they can be the total solution for digital marketing for accountants.

Especially if you know who your ideal client is and what they’re searching for.

For example, in the suggestions above, if your ideal clients are start-ups, then there’s a good chance, at some point, they’ll google something along the lines of: ‘How to set up a limited company’.

With the right amount of keyword research, search engine optimisation (SEO) and well-written accountancy content, your website could appear in the Google search listings and they may click on your Knowledge Base article.

If the article resonates with the visitor, then you’ll be in the conversation when the time comes for the startup to set up their limited company.

This is the basic principle of using SEO as a way to drive traffic to your website.

The more traffic you can get to your website, the more chances you have of converting them into leads.

Your Knowledge Base articles can also play a key role in generating new leads.

Which I’ll explain in another section.

Accountancy website content that gets seen

This is the section that instils fear into the hearts of most accountancy firms.

You think you need a blog.

All your competitors are doing it.

But what do you blog about?

There can be a crossover here with your Knowledge Base articles, in terms of accountancy website content.

But that’s a good thing.

Your blog articles can link to and reference the Knowledge Base articles.

That’s where a good accountancy content strategy comes into play.

A good place to start is to look at the key dates for businesses — such as tax or self assessment deadlines — and create a ‘Content Calendar’ around these dates.

If you’re struggling for ideas for your Blog and Knowledge Base articles, I’d highly recommend the Blogging For Business course by AHrefs.

It’s nearly five hours long and will walk you through every step for creating blogs that get read — including analysing keywords and competitors’ blogs.

But if you commit to starting a blog, then commit to producing content for it.

Blogging is a great content marketing strategy for accountants but the hardest thing about marketing is constantly putting out good content.

#TIP

To help keep your accountancy website content production focused and on track, create a Content Calendar spreadsheet.

List all the key dates in the financial year and come up with article ideas for each event.

Keep adding to this as you and your team think of new ideas.

The mechanisms the blog should have:

  • A blog index for listing all the articles
  • The individual blog entries with the ability to add images and video
  • Share buttons to allow people to easily share the content online

Other options would be:

  • Blog categories for organisation
  • Blog search
  • Related articles

You can add a comments section to the blog too.

But there are various pros and cons:

  • These can be great for discussion and bringing people back to the website
  • But they can need moderating
  • Systems like Wordpress tend to get a lot of spam comments
  • Too many CAPTCHAs can spoil the fun of engaging
  • Third-party options are available like Disqus and Facebook Comments
  • Note that Facebook Comments relies on the visitor having a Facebook account

Blogging is great for marketing for accountants.

It will take time and commitment — but it will increase your visibility and Google ranking.

And if the articles are original and well written, you and your team can share these across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help drive traffic to your website.

#TIP

Never copy and paste text from a competitor’s website.

If you want to use some of their work, always give a reference and credit back to the original source.

Any accountant's content that you do use from other websites should not make up the bulk article but serve to enhance your own original content.

Use your accountancy website to recuit

Like most growing businesses, you will be on the lookout for good talent.

Having a Careers section as a permanent fixture on the website allows you to be in a constant state of receiving applications from potential new starters.

As well as basic info like name and email, you can add fields on the form so the applicants can select a specific role.

This form can hook up to a CRM, so at a later date you can easily find and filter people who have applied for specific roles.

The form should have a place for applicants to upload their CV from their computer.

But for mobile users, attaching a PDF or Word Doc isn’t possible, as there’s no filing system on most mobiles.

#TIP

To cater for mobile users, you can add an option for the visitor to upload their CV directly from cloud-based storage, like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Contact pages on accountancy websites

This one is pretty straightforward.

Include the usual: phone, email and office address.

Including your opening hours isn’t always necessary — but if you’re open earlier or later on specific days, let people know about it.

The email address should be a clickable link — but have a form too.

Not everyone will be on a computer or device which automatically opens an email program, so a form is better for these people.

Make the phone number clickable too.

When it’s tapped on mobiles, this link will open the phone app, so you can call directly from the website.

On desktops, the link will open the default telephony app; for example: FaceTime or Microsoft Communicator.

Showing a Google Map will give the visitor a quick visual indicator of your location, even if they’re not familiar with the town or city you’re in.

Easy!

Legal and cookies pages

If you’re collecting personal data like names and emails, you are required, by law, to include a Privacy Policy, which outlines how you intend to use (or not use) the visitors’ information you’ll be collecting.

Your privacy policy will vary depending on whereabouts in the world you are — but for businesses based in the European Union (EU), as of May 2018, a new regulation came into play: GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation.

I’m sure your inbox is still in trauma due to the number of ‘We’ve updated our Privacy Policy’ emails it received leading up to the date.

Make sure you’re familiar and compliant with the GDPR.

The fines are up to £500,000 if you get it wrong.

GDPR checklist for accountants websites

Privacy Policy

Your firm’s Privacy Policy.

Cookie Policy

If you’re tracking users with Google Analytics (which you should be!), you’ll need:

A Cookie Policy

A policy for how you use and store cookies about your users on your website.

Cookie Consent Notification

A dismissible notification to inform visitors that you use cookies on the website.

Privacy Policy Consent

Contact forms will need to include a Privacy Policy consent checkbox.

Users of the form will not be able to submit the form without checking the box.

Mailing List Opt-In

Any form that adds a user to a mailing list will need an opt-in consent checkbox, along with the Privacy Policy Consent checkbox above.

Your website should include tracking codes such as Google Analytics, which will tell you, amongst other valuable data, how many visitors are using your website.

Google Analytics uses cookies to ‘remember’ who’s visited your website.

In some cases, cookies can be used to give the visitor a more personalized experience on your website or to show specific adverts from other websites you’ve visited.

Since we’re using the Google Analytic cookie, we’ll need to include a Cookie Policy here, too.

And you should always include a notice about copyright and trademark. For example, ‘Copyright © 2020. Yourwebsite.com.’

Newsletter forms on accountancy websites

Websites for accountants can use a mailing list sign-up form to collect the email addresses of their visitors.

Why would someone sign up to your newsletter?

Newsletter forms on websites that just say ‘Sign up to our newsletter’, don’t work.

People just don’t care enough about your news to give you their email address.

If you have a mailing list on your website which says something like ‘Subscribe to our newsletter’, then have a look now how many people have signed up in the last month.

I doubt it’s many… if any at all.

My email address is precious.

I’ll only give it to people I want to hear from.

Unless your newsletter is going to offer me real, unique value that I can’t find anywhere else online, I’m not going to sign up.

Collecting visitors’ email addresses from your website is still a good marketing tactic — but there are better ways to do it than simply offering ‘Our latest news’.

#TIP

For email signup forms and mailing lists, use a third-party system like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.

Sending email from these systems will ensure a higher deliverability rate and help stop your email being flagged as spam.

Some firms think they need separate News and Blog pages — which is fine, as long as you can fill them both with good content.

Blog articles can be timeless — but visiting a News page that’s not been updated for eight months can be off-putting and raise doubts about whether the firm is still active.

If you’re regularly putting on events to market your accountancy practice, then you could add an Events section too.

If you have a dedicated web page for each event you run, you’ll be able to share that web address across social media and print too.

Technical aspects of accountancy websites

Like it or not, if you have a website for your firm, there are some technical things you’re going to need to know about, to make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment.

They say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

But a little bit of knowledge can also stop you having the wool pulled over your eyes by your developers!

Mobile-friendly, responsive accountancy websites

A mobile-friendly website will reconfigure to the dimensions of the device the visitor is using — so it’s easy to use, no matter what size the screen or whether you need to use a mouse or a finger to navigate it.

Having a mobile-friendly (sometimes called responsive) website is a must.

People no longer view websites just on a desktop or laptop computer.

If you’re running late for a meeting or want to check the details of a business whilst on the move, you’ll pull out your phone.

If someone gives you a referral at the pub or over coffee, they’ll most likely pull your website up on their mobile there and then to have a look at the website.

Having a mobile-friendly website is a Google ranking factor.

As of 2018, Google started rolling out their ‘mobile-first indexing’.

This means that Google will use the mobile version of the website for its search ranking and indexing.

This is Google's plan for all websites, since the majority of searches now come from mobile devices.

If the mobile version of your website serves different content from the desktop version, you may need to update it, or you could see a drop in traffic and/or ranking position.

#TIP

Page loading speed is a big consideration on mobile — especially when there’s a poor data signal.

You can test how your website performs against others in your industry here:

Google Mobile Speed Test testmysite.withgoogle.com

Fast accountancy websites: Speed matters

Website loading speed is a Google ranking factor.

If there are two accountancy firm websites based in the same location, offering similar services, and one website loads very quickly while the other loads very slowly, then the fast loading site will get a ranking advantage in the search results.

People hate waiting for a website to load.

A fast loading website will increase the number of people getting in touch and also increase visitor satisfaction.

People feel happier when they use fast loading websites.

That will carry through to how they perceive working with your business will be — and for slow loading websites, the opposite is true.

#TIP

Test your website speed at GTMetrix.

It will give you scores from both Google PageSpeed and Yahoo, and give you suggestions as to where improvements can be made.

Make your accountancy website secure

An SSL certificate is a file that authenticates the identity of a server against a domain name.

If you have an SSL certificate installed, you’ll see a small padlock in the address bar of the browser, next to your domain name.

An SSL certificate on a website
Websites for accountants must use SSL certificates

The SSL certificate will encrypt any data sent to and from the website, such as personal details sent via a website contact form.

Without the SSL certificate, hackers can actually intercept and steal the personal details of your visitors when they fill in your contact forms.

It’s serious stuff.

Google are ramping up their stance on website security.

With each release of their browser — Google Chrome — comes an update in the prominence of their warning to users of non-secure websites.

Google Chrome privacy warning
Google Chrome privacy warning for an accountancy website with no SSL certificate.

Currently, when visitors fill in any form on a non-secure website, Google Chrome (the most popular browser in the world) will display a ‘Not Secure’ warning in the address bar.

As well as being a Google ranking factor, in terms of trust and reputation, this can be massively off-putting to potential new clients.

Installing the SSL certificate is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.

There will usually be a fee from the hosting company or SSL provider of around £50 per year.

Content management systems for accountancy websites

Back when I first started building websites, if a client wanted an image updated or some new text added they’d have to email it to me and I’d have to make the change manually for them.

Fortunately, that’s no longer the case!

Content management systems (CMS) allow web developers to build a website on a framework that gives clients the ability to securely login to an admin area and make edits and updates to their heart's content.

If your developer is charging you for updating content, then it might be time to reassess your options, and gain some freedom as to when and where you publish.

When it comes to a CMS, there are literally hundreds to choose from.

Some do things better than others, so, it’s better to make a choice based on what you need it to do, rather than choosing a popular one and crowbarring in functionality that it was never designed to do.

Wordpress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over 30% of all websites that use a CMS.

For some websites, Wordpress is great.

It’s versatile, easy to use — and it’s free.

But it does come with a word of warning: Wordpress is the most hacked CMS in the world.

Remember the Panama Papers leak back in 2015?

That allegedly happened via a Wordpress plugin security vulnerability.

We sometimes use WordPress when it’s appropriate.

But you don’t need to use WordPress for your website — and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

#TIP

If you're worried about the security issues and functionality of Wordpress, try Craft CMS.

As website developers, Craft CMS is the best content management system we've ever used.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you insight into the users that are visiting your website.

It will tell you things such as:

  • What pages they’re visiting
  • What pages they’re leaving on
  • How long they’re staying on the website (including the bounce rate)
  • What device they’re using (mobile, tablet or desktop)

For a free tool, the data you can find out about your visitors is amazing.

It can help you make informed decisions about areas of your website and SEO that you may need to improve.

#TIP

Sign up for a free Google Analytics account here.

Accountant websites need good contact form UI/UX

One of the most important features of a website — but one that developers often get wrong.

If the main thing you want people to do on your website is to get in contact, then pay attention!

Whenever you have a form on your website for your visitors to fill in, keep the number of fields to a minimum.

The fewer fields there are, the less daunting and time-consuming it will be for your visitors to fill in.

For example, is it really necessary to have separate ‘First Name’ and ‘Last Name’ fields? Nope.

‘But what about my special CRM I’m paying lots of money for that needs separate First Name and Last Name fields?’ I hear you cry.

Well, in that case, you’d get your developer to write some code to split the single Name field on form submission.

Using just the label ‘Name’ (or ‘Your name’) feels much less formal, too.

More like a friendly chat than a government interrogation.

The fewer fields the user has to fill in, the more likely they are to complete your form.

#TIP

Always have a ‘Success’ page for successfully submitted forms.

It will inform your visitor that you have received the message and will give you a metric to log into Google Analytics to track conversion rates.

It’s tempting to want to bury your head in the sand about things you don’t understand (like accounting for me!).

But the more informed you are, the better business decisions you can make in regard to what your website is doing for your practice.

Some of the topics above should give you enough confidence to face your developers with good information, if you’re ever in doubt about what they’re telling you.

Website design for accountants

When business owners start thinking about a new website, it's easy to focus on what the website will look like: groovy graphics and flashing images.

As you’ll have seen in the previous sections, there is so much more to it than that.

A simple-looking website that is well written, understands the pain points of its clients and ranks well for relevant keywords will do much more for your business than a visually stunning website that misses the mark of generating traffic or connecting with visitors.

That's why I’ve intentionally left the design section until last.

Don’t get me wrong, though — there is still enormous value in a well-designed website.

At the end of the day, the design you choose is subjective.

You may be tied into making certain decisions based on your existing branding — but when possible, you should aim to tailor the design towards your ideal client.

If you’re going after the medical industry, introduce elements and colour schemes that they’ll recognise and connect with.

If you’re going after construction firms, then the visual design should appeal to them.

Does website design for accountants matter?

It’s been proven that people take 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about your website.

Factors such as structure, colours, font, symmetry, and spacing are all taken into account within this fraction of a second, culminating in a decision of whether the user will stay or leave.

It’s also been proven than 94% of first impressions are design-related.

This is why design matters.

If you can’t retain your user past the first second, how are they going to learn how awesome you are?

Good design builds confidence in your company.

A company that takes the time to produce a beautiful website suggests that they care about their business, take their industry seriously and want to look after their clients.

And remember, you’re not just up against other accountancy websites — you’re competing for attention with Facebook, Amazon, eBay and every other website on the Internet.

Visitors’ expectations of what good web design is have grown higher than ever.

Companies invest millions in UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) design because they know good design matters to visitors and can help win business.

Good design is hard.

Even using professional designers, getting the colours, structure, fonts and presentation correct takes time and effort, as does getting the design to ‘work’ for the company and for the target audience.

Developing a deep understanding of web design principles and best practices for websites takes a lifetime to learn.

It’s something I have had hands-on involvement with every day for 20 years — and I’ve still got a long way to go.

To start you on the right path, I’ve included an overview of the fundamental design principles that you should have in mind when looking at website design, or when talking to a design company about your website.

#TIP

If you’re going after design agencies — make your website look brilliant and pay attention to the details.

We really do notice!

Website colour theory

Colour theory is an enormous subject.

How colours influence mood, opinions and buying decisions would take a whole article in itself.

If a design agency created your logo and brand, then you should have a set of brand guidelines outlining your brand’s primary colours.

If your design company has chosen smartly, they should have picked colours related to your brand’s core ethos, your industry and your audience.

This is a good place to start when choosing colours for your website.

If you don’t have branding guidelines to work from, then through nature and nurture, colours have had meaning and symbolism attributed to them.

Here's a brief overview to make sure you’re sending out the right message:

Red
Danger, passion, excitement, energy
Orange
Fresh, youthful, creative, adventurous
Yellow
Optimistic, cheerful, playful, happy
Green
Natural, vitality, prestige, wealth
Blue
Communicative, trustworthy, calming, depressed
Purple
Royalty, majesty, spiritual, mysterious
Brown
Organic, wholesome, simple, honest
Pink
Feminine, sentimental, romantic, exciting
Black
Sophisticated, formal, luxurious, sorrowful White Purity, simplicity, innocence, minimalism

#TIP

Colour Accessibility — WebAIM has a calculator that can show how different colours interact with each other.

Colours that clash or are difficult to see should be avoided and you must ensure that your text is dark enough for people with visual impairments to read — but not too dark that it causes eye strain.

If a visitor is going to invest in reading your well-written articles, your font colour choice has to be easy on the eye: high contrast to be legible — but not overly contrasting, as this can cause eye strain.

Website font legibility

If you already have a logo for your accountancy firm, it could be the obvious choice to use the font in the logo throughout all your other digital marketing content and collateral, including your website.

In terms of branding consistency, this is a great move.

The more consistent your brand colours, fonts and imagery are, the stronger and more recognisable your brand will be.

However, if your logo uses a quirky or heavily stylised font, it may not be suited to larger blocks of text or even headings.

Reading the text on your website needs to be effortless.

A quirky font may increase the reader’s processing time — and thus make reading more laboured.

Choosing complementary fonts (ones that work with your logo) can help add structure and give visual indicators and break up larger blocks of text.

Having too many fonts can look messy and disjointed.

If in doubt, aim for 2-3 fonts max.

#TIP

There are thousands of fonts, though many of the best ones you’ll have to pay for.

However, Google provides Google Fonts.

It has a huge selection of good-quality, free-to-use fonts.

The number of fonts you use on your website will affect your page loading times.

The more fonts you use, the more (font) data a browser will need to download to view them properly.

If your website is taking a long time to load, reducing the number of fonts can speed up the loading time.

#TIP

Remember — page loading speed is a Google ranking factor.

The fewer fonts you use, the quicker your website will load and render.

Getting website font sizes right

Getting the font size right is crucial.

Too large and the visitor will be constantly scrolling to reveal the next lines of text.

Too small and they’ll be squinting and zooming in.

Mobile-friendly web design has changed the landscape of font sizing.

One size fits all is no longer the case.

You’ll need to change the font sizes depending on the size of the screen.

Depending on the font you choose, the main body text should be at least 16px on desktops and mobile devices for it to be easy to read.

Don’t neglect the other aspects of typesetting either.

Getting these right can make an average design great!

Line height matters on websites

Line height is the space between the lines of your content.

It’s also known as leading.

The general guide for the perfect line height is between 150% and 170% of the font size you are using — but it depends upon your font choice.

Line Height

Spacing between letters

Letter spacing is the space between the letters of a word.

It is also known as kerning. Your browser’s default letter spacing is often fine.

Sometimes you can increase or decrease the letter spacing to give the type a particular ‘feel’.

However, in general, you should leave it as it is to avoid accessibility issues.

Letter Spacing

Wide text is hard to read on websites

When there is a larger block of text on your website, consider the width of the column in which the text sits.

If the design of the page makes the text too wide, then the visitor’s eyes will have difficulty tracking back to read the next line below.

And if the design of the page makes the text too narrow — the visitor’s eyes will have to travel back to the left too often, breaking their reading rhythm.

The increased rhythm also tends to add unnecessary urgency to readers, making them begin on the next line before finishing the current one, potentially skipping important words.

The best line width is considered to be between 50-60 characters per line, including spaces.

The average desktop and laptop screen size is around 1300 pixels wide — but you must not ignore users with larger screens.

It’s not uncommon for visitors to use 30” screens that are 2500 pixels wide.

If not designed correctly, some responsive web designs will allow the text block to keep scaling wider to fill the screen width, often resulting in a couple of very long lines of text.

To avoid this happening, you should always set a maximum text block width.

Use familiar website design patterns

Over the last 20 years on the web, common design patterns have started to appear and solidify.

The navigation is usually along the top or down the left-hand side of the page.

The website logo is usually top left and is a link back to the homepage.

Web design standards such as these have arrived from user research — how we as humans use our bodies to interact with technology.

Most of the common design trends you see online haven’t just arrived because they look ‘cool’ or ‘pretty’ — but because they lead to the least cognitive load on the visitor whilst they’re trying to achieve whatever they came for.

When the web was in its infancy (which it still is!) none of this research was available.

It was a free-for-all in terms of design and layout.

There were no standards to follow and the landscape of varied design and layout ideas was even more vast than it is today.

#TIP

Want to see what the web used to look like? Use Wayback Machine to view archived versions of old websites.

I’m all for innovation — but unless you have a very good reason for doing something differently, then stick to the common design patterns that users are already familiar with.

Straying from the norm could cause confusion for the visitor and may even alienate them from your website altogether.

Facebook spent $23 billion on Research & Development in 2017 — it’s probable that a good percentage of that was invested in how people use their website.

Your website has to be easy to use.

So, if you’re struggling to think of a way to present a blog or a set of images, just go to other popular websites and be inspired by the way they do theirs.

Good artists borrow, great artists steal.
— Pablo Picasso

There is a reason so many websites adopt a ‘thumbs-up’ or heart icon as a way to review articles or products.

The icons are not only semantically appropriate but also a core feature of the social networks billions of people use each day.

They’re already familiar with icons and their purpose.

If you were to introduce a new upvote icon (instead of a thumbs-up or heart), the visitor might not instantly make the connection to what it does, and therefore avoid using it altogether.

#TIP

‘Don’t make me think’ is a term that was coined for web design in the early 2000s.

Essentially it means: don’t make the user think about what they are doing.

Navigating a website should be second nature, so if you confuse the user, you’ve failed.

Design creates your first impression, and good design keeps your users on your website longer and allows them to digest your accountancy website content more easily.

When in doubt, err on the side of simplicity.

Leave the innovation to the enterprises with considerable research and development budgets.

But feel free to borrow from the popular design patterns and standards that are shaping the web.

If your visitors have to think about what to click next — even for a second — you may lose them to a competitor who has a website with a clear value proposition and call to action.

Your website design plays a huge part in the perception of your firm online— but behind all the design bravado, there has to be good, well-written, helpful content from accountants.

When done right, websites for accountants, can have a significant and lasting impact on your business.

The Perfect Accountancy Website Book

Matt Ellis Honcho Manchester

Stand out from the competition & grow your firm:

  • Win new clients
  • Appear above your competitors on Google
  • Write key information your visitors need
Matt Ellis Honcho Sm Matt Ellis

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