From the Dec. 2007 Feature on Website Builders for Accountants
CCH’s ProSystem fx Site Builder is designed to give accounting practices a website development tool that simplifies creation and editing of a firm website, while also providing the firm’s clients and online visitors with a variety of tools and content, including calculators, personal finance resources, calendars and publications. Through ProSystem fx File Share, firms and clients can also transfer documents and collaborate through a secure portal accessed via the practice’s website. Calculators are included in the basic package, and some articles and alerts are also included in the basic package. CCH’s additional optional content includes business and financial toolkits, additional online storage for file sharing and e-mail, and the CCH Tax Guide. The company can also help with the creation of introductory splash pages using Flash.
Firms using ProSystem fx Site Builder can register their own domain name (www.yourfirmname.com), or can use a subdomain (www.yourfirmname.prosystemfx.com). CCH can assist in obtaining a personalized name, and hosting of the website is included in the annual costs. Firms maintain ownership of their domain names, and the system includes basic website visitor data statistics. When logging into the system, users have access to general website templates and styles that incorporate intuitive menus and navigation features. Initial setup is aided by an easy-to-follow 12-step process that helps users ensure that they have performed all of the necessary tasks and results in an eight-page website with sections for services about the practice and contact information.
Text fonts and styles are preformatted depending upon the template chosen, but users have the option of further customizing these and other items using HTML. A basic reference guide shows users how to do this, and the system allows users to preview page changes prior to making those changes live. CCH offers customization services for an additional fee, but technical support is free with the package. After following the process and entering text and content, websites are professional in appearance and include good materials. With the exception of a customized Flash intro page, websites created with this tool have a stamp that reads “Site Created by ProSystem fx Site Builder” at the bottom of each page that cannot be turned off. Also, and once again with the exception of the optional Flash page, additional web pages or content sections cannot be added to websites.
CCH has long been one of the most respected producers of accounting and tax content, and has made much of this material available for use through websites built with its system. The company’s eContent materials essentially act as a syndicated system with more than 500 pages of articles, and automatically update when new information is available with no action required by the accounting practice. Likewise, the very large array of available calculators and client tools is impressive.
The basic package includes Alerts, calendar, forms and a monthly newsletter. Premium Content includes news and advice written for clients. Specialized toolkits with materials for business owners and financial planning are also available, along with the Client Life-Cycle Reading Rack, which provides a series of tax information guides for businesses and individuals, organized into sections for common needs. The eContent can also be used by firms with existing websites.
ProSystem fx Site Builder also allows offices using ProSystem fx Tax to give their clients online access to their CCH Tax Notebook organizers, which directly feeds data into the tax program. Links can also be added to the website to give clients access to GainsKeeper Pro or to CCH’s do-it-yourself tax package, allowing the practice to gain revenue from self-filers. Another notable feature is the ProSystem fx File Share tool, which allows professional staff and clients to securely share documents and other files (including bookkeeping program files) through an online portal that clients access from the practice’s website.
ProSystem fx Site Builder is exceptionally easy to use, with a step-by-step guide that lets the user know exactly where he or she is in the process. The core website development kit costs $895 annually, with a one-time $250 setup fee. It is a little limited in its selection of available templates and tools for editing text styles, but with just a little HTML knowledge, users have increased customization capabilities (and a basic HTML guide is included). Above all, the system has outstanding content options, including the Reading Rack and eContent offerings, providing clients with reliable information on taxes and financial matters.