Lots of CPAs have limited options regarding setting up a website. One option is to exploit a template; a pre-designed website that has been created by a professional designer for sale "as is". There are hundreds of sites that sell templates, and nearly all web hosts offer them free bundled with their basic offering (or at an extremely low cost). They are ordinarily displayed with dummy text on them which gives viewers a full look at what the final website would look like.
One of the main decisions that you will need to make when opening a site will be whether or not to make use of a template, or build from scratch. A pre-made template offers you the ease of production, as well as a lower cost of the design. It also gives you the ability to then customize a few things, here and there, to make it more personalized. Custom website design is expensive. For some uses this expense is justified, but for most small or medium sized accounting firms this cost is exorbitant. The custom design process can drag, and this can really drive up your expenses. If you weigh the benefits and decide to take this route be aware that each time you redraft or add to the site your costs are going to rise significantly.
This is why, for most firms, it best to use a template from a company that specializes in designing websites for accountants. These sites are usually very attractive. They often include premium design features like flash animations and almost always include third-party plugin and HTML support.
Remember, before selecting a template, you will need to identify the goals for your website. What do you want the site to look like? How do you want it laid out? Don't be afraid to browse the web for ideas. What colors do you want to use? What images? What kind of pages do you want to offer. Planning is key. The more organized you are when you begin the design process, the less time and money you will need to spend implementing your ideas.
Here are some typical advantages of using a template...
* Templates provide the basic page and navigation layouts.
* Templates provide a consistent look and feel for the site.
* Templates include professional graphics. Filling a site with professional photos can be expensive and time consuming. The alternative, looting the internet for images, is usually illegal. Templates also allow you to customize those graphics to a more personalized look.
* It is usually easy to edit the content on the template by using almost any HTML editor.
There are other advantages, too. Template sites that come as part of a hosting package will be updated regularly automatically. Of course these changes are particularly relevant if your website template is provided by an industry specific host. There are a lot of companies that specialize in websites for accountants and CPA's. These companies usually offer website packages that include tools particularly useful to CPA and accounting practices like file transfer portals and newsletters. They also automatically update pages that are generally specific to websites for accountants like tax due dates and accounting specific "free reports".
Like everything in life there are some possible limitations you need to keep in mind as well:
* Graphically templates usually come "as is" unless you can code in HTML and have access to graphics software like Photoshop. Some companies will make changes for you for a small fee, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
* Some website managers are easier to use than others. Many templates make it very difficult to make changes unless you know HTML. You'll still save a lot of money over a custom design from scratch, but be aware you will probably need to use a professional web designer to set up and maintain the site.
* Any interactive features have to be integrated into the template, unless the provider has built it in.
* The right to use a template does not imply ownership. Unless you specifically buy the copyright to the template the designer will be able to sell the same template to other website owners.
Of course you want your website to stand out. Using pre-designed templates is one way to accomplish this; you can get a good looking site with an established layout and structure. Even if it's not quite "perfect" it's still cheaper to modify an existing template than it is to build a new site from scratch.
Some firms, especially larger practices, may prefer to use a fully blown custom site. It will cos a lot more. Custom sites start a about $2000 but you'll have complete creative control over the entire process.
If you decide to go with a template, choose a good one. Since many of them come in a variety of specific themes and color schemes, you should be able to find one that is right for your site. The template provider also matters. Find a service that specializes in websites for accountants and includes appropriate content and updates rather than making yourself locate each feature piecemeal. It may not only save you money, but also the aggravation of asking any questions to a number of different vendors, rather than one.
Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com
Brian O'Connell is the President and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the nation's most successful web companies oriented solely to Websites for Accountants.
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