Prosper Agency
January 7, 2021

'Off the shelf' websites vs 'bespoke' websites - What's the difference?

In this article, I'll discuss what I see as the differences between ordering an 'off the shelf' website for your accountancy practice and working with an agency to design a website specifically around your unique brand.

Website Design
W

hat is an 'off the shelf' or 'branded' website'?.

There are numerous marketing companies that will offer accountants an 'off the shelf' website. An 'off the shelf' website is one where the layout and design have already been designed (and is in use by other accountancy firms). Often the client will be asked to 'choose' their website from a list of pre-made layouts. The colours can then be tweaked, and the company logo can be added to the website. These website are not designed in collaboration with the client and they will almost certainly be purchasing a design that is in use by numerous other accountancy practices. Case in point; Our research into 500 accountants branding and website designs found two accountants in the same Essex town with identical websites, (except, or course, for a subtle difference in colours).

What is a website designed around your brand? 

When an accountant works with a branding agency such as Prosper, the agency will spend time discussing the website requirements with the accountant, often during a 'Discovery Session'. The Discovery Session will seek to gain an understanding of the goals and motivation behind the clients new website.

The Discovery Session will seek to gain an understanding of the goals and motivation for the new website, your target audience and company personality.

Typical questions might include: 

What makes your company different?

Who is your target audience? 

What is your company personality? 

How do you want people to feel about your company when they visit your website? 


Our research into 500 accountants branding and website designs found two accountants in the same Essex town with identical 'off the shelf' websites.

At Proser, regardless of if we are branding or rebranding our client prior to undertaking a website design, we always carry out a Brand Strategy workshop, which asks questions far beyond the scope of a website design to gain a better understanding of our client's objectives. 

This workshop will underpin the copywriting we provide for our client's website and helps unify the business owners and stakeholders in an agreed approach. In short, this places everyone 'on the same page', allowing a website to be designed to meet the clients objectives, which is not possible if we simply ask a client to 'choose' their website design from pre-built templates. 

Download our free guide to differentiating your accountancy practice brand from our resources page here
An 'off the shelf' website is one where the layout and design have already been designed (and is in use by other accountancy firms).

The completion of this questionnaire is followed up with a meeting to discuss the answers. This essentially forms part of the strategy that a good agency will undertake prior to designing a website to ensure it communicates a point of difference and speaks to their clients target audience. 


Why you might choose an off-the-shelf website

You need your website straight away

You have a limited budget

You view a website as a cost

You're short on time to discuss your brand, values and target audience with your design agency

You're not worried about differentiating yourself from the competition

You're not sure if your practice is particularly different from the competition


Why you might choose a website designed around your brand

You view your website as an investment

You've previously invested in your brand and brand identity and you want a website that is an extension of that

You understand your target audience and you need a website that communicates to them

You want to work with a copywriter to produce copy that speaks to your audience and clearly explains what you do

You're keen to differentiate your firm from the competition

You do not want a website design that is used by accountants



We have several guides available to help accountants make the most of their website and their brand. Visit our resources page to find out more...

Download our free guide to help your accountancy practice website stand out here...


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