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Thomson Tax & Accounting — Web Builder CS



From the Dec. 2007 Feature on
Website Builders for Accountants

Formerly branded under the Creative Solutions name, Web Builder CS is a website
development system for accounting and tax firms that provides a robust collection
of content, user tools, firm management options and client collaboration functions.
As a part of the CS Professional Suite, the system also offers some integration
capabilities, allowing for secure document storage and transfer. Web Builder
CS websites are hosted on Thomson’s secure servers, and firms using the
system can register and retain ownership of their own website address. Websites
also come with free firm e-mail addresses.

Web Builder CS management console simplifies the process of initial website
setup, providing the user with dozens of template designs and customization
features, including the ability to use Flash or other action graphics on practice
websites. The company also offers design services to assist in creating these
images. Websites have good personalization options, with pre-written text areas
for common page types (like About Us, Firm Services, Planning Tools, etc.) that
can be edited with a very easy-to-use text formatting tool that resembles the
formatting functions in Microsoft Word. Any number of ‘completely from
scratch’ pages can also be created. Traditional images and logos can be
added to page content areas, but the system uses stock photos for page template
areas instead of allowing the use of a practice’s logo. The initial setup
process is guided and fairly simple and results in attractive websites with
generous client-focused content. Search engine submission services are available,
and Thomson includes free online and phone-based support for users. Custom design
services and domain name registration are also available.

Web Builder CS’ interfaces include the Site Editor, Page Editor and
Site Tools for setting up options and selecting content to include on the site.
Firms can create websites with an unlimited number of pages that include financial
tools like calculators and calendars, state and federal refund tracking, and
stock tickers. Included are calculators for mortgage amortization and qualification,
refinance breakeven point, retirement and Social Security, lease versus buy,
and life insurance.

Most notable is the tax and accounting-focused content like the thrice-monthly
PPC Tax & Business Alerts newsletters and a library of tools and content
from ForeField Knowledge Trust that includes more than 350 articles, FAQs and
interactive functions. All of this content, including the newsletters, is branded
with the practice’s name and other information. Another cool feature of
Web Builder CS is the built-in Surveys function that allows the creation of
online client/visitor questionnaires using the Quick Polls function. An automated
visitor feedback form is also included, while a customized practice events calendar
is available and can be used to provide website visitors and clients with tax
due dates, firm holidays or other calendar items. More PPC content can also
be added to firm websites for an additional fee.

Sites built with Web Builder CS also offer clients secure login access to
online tools and integration functions for firms also using other CS Professional
Suite programs. This includes document sharing options, like access to UltraTax
1040 Portals for sharing tax returns and other client documents, as well as
online tax organizers. Clients can also login to TTA’s Client Bookkeeping
Solution, an online accounting program for small businesses, through a firm’s
website. The system integrates fully with Thomson’s tax, write-up and
other financial applications. For professional staff, the website can act as
the starting point to access all of their programs through TTA’s Virtual
Office CS.

Web Builder CS has an initial setup cost of $250; monthly subscription costs
are $60. It is simple to use and customize, and provides excellent financial
calculators, planning information, tax content and newsletter options. It can
be used independently of the CS Professional Suite, but the integration capabilities
that are available make it especially valuable to those practices using those
programs, allowing clients to access bookkeeping products, share data files
and documents, and use other service-enhancing functions.