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 websites 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 Prosper, 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.
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...
Written by Ben Stanbury
Ben is a branding and naming consultant. As the owner of Prosper he regularly blogs on the topic of branding, naming and differentiation for professional service firms. Among other things, he likes horror films, mountain biking and collecting vintage movie posters.