From the Nov. 2009 Feature on Website Builders for Tax & Accounting Firms.
CPAsites.com began offering their services in 1997, focusing on building custom websites using their own staff of professional designers, rather than an online do-it-yourself product. A typical website will contain about 12 standard informational pages, and nearly 100 pages of additional content. The process begins with submission of existing brochures, images, logos and other content provided by the tax and accounting firm.
This results in professional looking websites, each with a unique look and feel. If a firm already has a website hosted elsewhere, they can move it to CPAsites.com with no setup fee and a one-year commitment. The additional content provided can then be integrated in as appropriate and as available with the service level selected. Upgrades to higher service levels are always available.
The reference sites provided are clear, direct, easy-to-navigate, and have a very professional look and feel. The variety of firm sizes and website depths illustrates the flexibility of the design services offered. CPAsites.com will work with the client on web page updates; the client may email changes or do the changes themselves using the Website Manager. In either case, CPAsites.com appreciates the potential of a website to do more than show the address and phone number.
As a design and hosting service dedicated to tax and accounting firms, CPAsites.com has deep experience in knowing what works best in acquiring and keeping new accounting and tax clients. Visitor and search engine statistics are available for the firm to analyze and learn from. CPAsites.com expects it to take two to three weeks to get a brand new site designed, approved and online, which seems like a very realistic time frame. Do-it-yourself types should ask themselves if website design is the best use of their time and think about the chances of a site visitor coming across web pages in the process of development. Remember the rule about first impressions.
Monthly rates range from $25 to $150, in four steps (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum), with increasing levels of pages, services and features. CPAsites.com has the ability to take on an existing website and will do this with no setup fee. New clients can receive initial website design free with an annual commitment at any service level.
Should a firm decide to move to another host in the future, it can rest easily in the knowledge that all their custom web pages are owned by the firm, not CPAsites.com. Obviously, this would exclude standard content such as calculators. CPAsites.com estimates that new websites designed from the ground up will cost $950 to $3,500, depending on complexity, and include support for Flash technology and client-provided images. Typically, the one-year commitment will cover the cost of a certain number of web pages.
Advanced offerings include online calculators for common topics such as mileage, monthly customized newsletters for your clients, and downloadable tax forms. The number of calculators and standard content varies with each service level, allowing the firm to match the website features with a budget that is reasonable.
All sites are hosted at Hosting.com, boasting a T1 connection to the Internet, reliable RAID servers, 99.9 percent up-time, and nightly backups. All domain names are unique, not branded to CPAsites.com, and are owned by their client firm. CPAsites.com stresses its belief that website designers should not advertise or promote themselves using their clients’ websites.
Hosted email accounts are available, as well as support for existing Exchange servers operated by the firm. For those who want a professionally designed website built by people who understand this market, and for those who also want the ability to make minor changes if desired, CPAsites.com is an excellent resource.
The following websites were built using CPAsites.com: