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The High Cost of HTML

     -     Apr 9th, 2012   -     Accounting Marketing, Accounting Websites   -     0 Comments

HTML websites are a fast, cheap, and easy to find solution to the CPA and Accounting firm that wants a web presence with no fuss, and no hassle.  A CMS website often takes a little more planning and consideration, and the upfront expense is typically much high however the long term rewards are greater.  In this article, we’ll discuss why an HTML website is actually the most expensive website solution, and why a CMS site will save you much more in the long run.

You’ve probably seen an ad for a $1.00 website, or a ‘Have your website in less an hour’ call to action – these websites are most often built using standard HTML.  HTML, short for Hypertext Markup Language is the main programming language used to build web pages – basic building blocks.  Using tags, it can embed scripts, and CSS. Lots of website have been created using this most basic language. HTML is very basic however, and to make a website look like something your ten year old nephew didn’t build overnight, a more advanced coder will be necessary.  As an expert, he/she will be able to implement more complex scripts, and write more advanced programming to accomplish your goals – perhaps you want a styled contact form, and an image rotator on your homepage – both of these things would need to be accomplished by your programmer.  Working with a programmer using straight HTML, it shouldn’t take more than a week or so to accomplish these items and launch your website!

Now imagine that you pay your coder, wish them well, and go out and promote your website – you tell all your clients, co-workers, competing firms and then someone suggests that you add another field to your contact form that says ‘How did you find us?’ so that you can track your lead sources, and someone else suggests that you add another image to your homepage in the rotator that highlights your EBP Audit services because Winter is just around the corner and it makes sense.  Both are exceptional ideas, so you call your programmer – he happens to be traveling out of the country and won’t be able to make the changes until he returns in 3 months. What do you do?

As far-fetched as the above might sound, it’s not as uncommon as you think.  There are plenty of website providers who will give you a beautiful website and take their paycheck and go on their way.  This is completely acceptable – except when you need something and suddenly nobody can help you.  Even if your coder was still in the country, there would be a steep cost to making HTML changes to the website after launching, and for every single change – big or small – there WILL be a cost.  Soon the things you never realized you needed on your website will start adding up.

In today’s constantly evolving digital world, you will be hard-pressed to find any company who launches a website and never modifies it, plus the repercussions to your organic search results for SEO alone will be horrible. All of these changes will be costly, there will always be something that you are waiting on your programmer to do for you – maybe even something as small as fixing a glaring typo on the homepage.  So sure, your .99 cent website looked GREAT when all you needed was a quick website – but now that you want to grow your business through online marketing, you’re finding that the increasing costs have actually surpassed your original website budget.  What’s the better solution?

CMS, or Content Management System.  CMS is a PHP based application that lets you create and manage your website using an administrative access point.  Editing or adding a webpage in a CMS is as easy as creating a new Word document, it is specifically made with the non-coding person in mind.  Below are just a couple of other advantages to using a CMS:

  •  Google Friendly: Install Google Analytics easily, no need to venture into the code.
  • SEO Friendly: You can have control over the URL, title, meta tags and all aspects of content without having to learn any programming languages. Most systems will create a dynamic sitemap output simple code making it friendly to the web crawling, content indexing robots and spiders.
  • Organization: Once logged it, your pages are clearly laid out in a pages section, and blog posts are separated.  There are no ‘directories’ or hidden technical languages, everything is very simply and intuitively labeled so you can find what you need immediately.
  • Multiple Templates: One of the most awesome features is that you can easily assign a template design to a specific page, in other words if you have a two column layout and a three column layout for your interior pages – you can easily choose one or the other for every page that you create.
     

The biggest advantage is the financial reward; making changes to your own website will cost you nothing.  Your web company has put you on a CMS to empower you to take care of the little things yourself.  This doesn’t mean you won’t need to call them on occasion if you need something serious added – like a second home page rotator, or a new content section on your home page – but all the minor things you were being nickled and dimed for will be eliminated.  You’ll also find that with this greater control you can easily spend more time developing content and strategizing better SEO and lead generation.

As I said before, a CMS is going to cost you more up front – they can range in cost from $3000.00 at the low end and go up depending on complexity and number of templates needed.  They are more difficult to install and initially put a design into (for the programmer) – but the cost is easily recovered when you are empowered to make changes and upgrades to your website independently for its lifetime. And, if you are wise enough to avoid proprietary CMS systems, there won’t be any licensing fees, so your long-term costs will only be for hosting. Flashpoint strongly suggests the use of WordPress CMS for its many advantages specific to CPA and accounting firms.  You can read more about that here.


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