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7 Considerations Before a Website Redesign

     -     Aug 8th, 2013   -     Accounting Marketing, Accounting Websites   -     0 Comments

If you are ready to take the plunge, or if the conversation is just beginning, a website redesign is a big step for any CPA firm. Below we’ve offered seven sanity savers your firm should consider before starting the website redesign process.

Set goals for a redesign, beyond the design.

 A redesign can be an appealing endeavor if you are looking to spruce your brand image, but what other goals have you set for the project? Consider the idea of increasing new business opportunities, recruiting leads, more targeted messaging, or better content.  You don’t have to know how to achieve these items, but developing your RFP based around goals that will improve your company will allow design firms to give you a solution based approach – not just a pretty website.

Rebranding your firm and a company philosophy.

Take some time to reflect on your existing site, has your brand or image shifted since your last website design? Consider a color overhaul if your company’s image or philosophy has changed, otherwise remain consistent for the sake of brand continuity.  When a user sees a change in brand, they typically expect to see a change reflected within the brand philosophy itself. Be consistent.

Who are you talking to?

It’s extremely difficult to narrow down your target audience if you’re trying to reach ‘anyone we possibly can’.  Unfortunately, being too broad can hurt more than help you.  Try to think about who your ideal clients are and position your website to speak directly to them.  For instance, if your firm specializes in auditing benefit plans – make this messaging key on  your website.  Yes, you might do other things, but if this is your bread and butter, don’t fight it.  Embrace it and position yourself as the expert in these services for that particular market.

Not every department should be on the home page.

We’ve seen a lot of home page turf wars in our time, and we recommend you lay down the law before the design of your new website begins.  Developing an internal strategy for prioritizing space on the homepage is very important.  Everyone wants to be on the home page for obvious reasons, but this is a space that you need to simplify and prioritize.  What are your visitors coming to your website for? What topics or information will attract them to explore additional pages on the site? THAT is what you want to put on your home page.  Avoid employee features, trivia, and internal office news on the home page – instead, remember who your target is and why they are visiting your site. .  Back to our previous example regarding benefit plan audits; you might decide that a large banner about Benefit plan audits makes a nice attention-grabbing piece at the top of the page.  Then you might put an area that features a list of your current clients, and in another area a section that talks about your experience in performing benefit plan audits, and lastly somewhere a call to action for prospects to submit their RFP. Engage your target audience on your home page so they want to perform another action.

Who will manage the project?

Avoid design by committee at all costs.  Choose a partner in the  firm who can see the bigger picture and will make fair decisions on everyone’s behalf – and then trust them. Nothing slows a project down more than when every single person  has to give a unanimous vote to move forward. If this happens, you could be stuck in design purgatory and never make it to the implementation stage.  Make sure that everyone at the company understands they will not all get their way, or their department feature on the home page, and make sure that the decisions you are making are in line with the firm’s goals (remember the first consideration in this article?) this way you can always justify the direction you chose.
The person who is chosen to lead the project on the firm’s behalf should not be overwhelmed by their own projects within the firm, and they should have the time (at least 5 hours per week for the next 4 months) to dedicate to working on the website redesign.

Realistically, what can your firm commit to?

If you are swamped with work and barely able to finish reading this article because you have that little time, you may want to consider outsourcing the project to a consultant.  But if you think you can spare 5 hours per week to work on parts and pieces for the website then you may be able to manage the project in house.  Consider however, that there are many different levels of a website redesign and you may not have to do a complete overhaul of your website to get the results you seek. Consider the following items and decide what level of change might be right for your firm before you undergo a complete overhaul:

  • Have you considered changing out the imagery on the pages? Professional photography vs. stock photography can do wonders to spruce up a tired looking website.
  • Consider adding new elements that work within the existing framework of your site.  Are you sure you want to start from scratch? Or could adding 3 services boxes below the rotating banner on your home page give you the change you need and the space you desire?
  • Could search engine optimization help you achieve the lead increase you are looking for?  Do you desire a redesign simply to increase lead generation? It may be best to consult with an SEO expert to see if you can achieve what you are looking for without having to rehash the look of your site.
  • Does your content just need a facelift? If you are dissatisfied with your content, don’t put yourself through the pain of a complete website redesign just as an excuse to overhaul the copy on your site. Consider developing a new sitemap and implementing a new content strategy first.
  • Resources at CPA firms can often be in short supply, so its important to consider what your website really needs before you commit time and financial resources to a project that may not be entirely necessary yet.

Do you have all the parts ready to begin?

In the end, don’t forget that your design and development firm can only do so much on your behalf.  Think about what it is you really want to incorporate – and have as much of it ready for your design team as early on as possible.  For instance, if you have wanted to increase your social media presence and integrate that in your new website design, make sure you have already created a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn account for your company – beyond that, ensure that your company is active on those platforms.  Integrating those items into your site is not the hard part, the hardest part is finding the time to create and manage those accounts.  Do you have your new website content ready? If you know that you want new content to be a part of your website overhaul, then get to work now and develop that content.  Waiting for your website developer to tell you they are ready for it is not a good time to start it.  Instead, come to your design team with all the necessary parts to implement into your new website and watch how much faster the process goes.

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