Blog

How much does a new website cost for my accountancy firm?

Feb 7, 2018

Website builds

This is one of the first questions we’re asked by accountants who are considering having PF help them to build, or redesign, their firm website.

As you can imagine, it’s a tough question to answer straight out of the gate.

You’ll have experienced the exact same situation when a prospect comes to you to ask a pricing question in relation to the services you provide. “How much are your accounting services?” Or the question may be more specific, such as “How much do you charge for bookkeeping or payroll every month?”

The answer, of course, varies. You need to know things like the size of their company, sales, customers, employees, number of sales transactions.

It’s not that you don’t want to answer the question: it’s that you’re aware that you need to know a few things before you can answer it; and also that your prospect needs to understand how you work (which may be different from how they expect an accountant to work).

In addition to that, there’s your level of expertise. If you work in an exclusive niche, like we do, there can be a premium on the ‘typical’ cost because of the extra layer of expertise provided which would not be there with another provider who does similar work.

This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in at PF when an accountant asks how much a new website will cost.

We don’t want to avoid the question by any means. We give rough estimates on our Websites page so you have a vague notion, and if you’re not ready for that level investment you don’t have to go round in circles to find that out.

But the more conversations we have with accountants, the more variety there is to our answer of “how much will a website cost?”

Some accountants need a full, start-from-scratch, customer journey website, as well as a branding project at the same time.

Others simply need a slight website refresh, putting their existing site onto a new WordPress or Rocketspark template.

Most of the time, the honest answer to the website cost question is, “Probably a lot more than you would like it to cost.” But when you begin to learn what a website actually is, what its primary job is, and how it interrelates with every other aspect of your marketing, your perception of the cost may change a little.

If you’re simply comparing price with price when it comes to a new website for your firm, we’re absolutely not the cheapest. (We’ve had people involuntarily swear out loud when hearing it.) But this is because, after building websites exclusively and only for accountants for over six years, and learning more about them with every site we build, we’ve given up on simply making your website look prettier. If all you want is a little “design magic” sprinkled over your existing site so it’s cleaner, with more white space, and some better images, any other agency can do that for you. We suggest you go talk to them.

Our website process is based on several key principles:

  • Your website is your marketing hub. It’s your starting point for amazing marketing from this point onward. It’s your branded place to train, educate, inspire, and enthuse your prospective clients.
  • Your website will be fully integrated with every other aspect of your marketing: Your brand, style, tone of voice, logo, colours, fonts, imagery, videography, social media, team, emails, forms, questionnaires, to name a few.
  • You want your website to look and sound like your firm, not anyone else’s: You do not want to write the content yourself (although you’re perfectly welcome to give it a go and see what we think, or take what we write and edit it to your heart’s content).
  • You’re open to our advice, to the point that if our website design team, developers, and the rest of the PF team strongly advise against your brilliant brain wave, you will sacrifice the brain wave in light of our expert opinion. (Naturally we will go to great lengths to ensure that you understand clearly why we advise differently, and what the repercussions are if you go ahead despite our advice.)

Here is as comprehensive a list as I can put together of the things we consider when working out the cost for your new website design and build:

Do you have a clear brand that you are proud of?

Many of the questions we ask an accountancy firm in relation to their new website are directly related to your brand. Do you have a clear brand identity? Are you absolutely confident of who you are, and how your style sets you apart from other firms?

Answering those brand questions is going to tell us whether you’re ready to kick off with a new website, or whether you want to take a step back and address your brand. Some firms start with a Branding Workshop to ensure that those branding questions have been answered, before they even begin the website build process.

How clear are you on your lead to sale funnel?

Part of our website build projects is working with you on your “customer journey”. What happens when someone finds you? What do they do first? What information are they looking for?

The reason this is so important is that your website is merely a starting point for interested prospects. Few of them are going to get in touch straight away – pick up the phone, fill in the contact form. Rather, they’re going to read a few blog posts, visit multiple pages, peruse every picture on your About Us page, do everything they can to determine whether you are trustworthy and interesting and human and the type of firm they want to work with.

The more vague your lead to sale funnel is, the more work we’re going to need to do with you to sketch that out.

Do you have really good, personal photography and video to use?

The most impressive accountancy firm websites we’ve built – by which we mean the ones that accountants most often say “Ooooh, I really like that one – can you build me one like that?” – are without exception the ones that include personalised photography and videography that is unique to that firm.

Here are three examples:

Whittaker:

When we started the website project with Whittaker, we shared with them the critical importance of real photographs of their team and offices. They took this to heart, researched photographers in their local area, hired one they really liked.

Most importantly, they made sure to send specific instructions to their photographer about what kind of photographs were needed (landscape or portrait? Colours to include or exclude? Amount of empty space?) – and they got that information from us so that the photographs were not only custom to their firm, but uniquely integrated with their site.

Spark:

This firm already had photographs of the team and case study videos to use when they hired us to build their website. We were thrilled to have these available and used them to make our plans for certain website pages better.

Thriveal – Deeper Weekend:

This membership organisation was running an event for accountants in the USA (a target market we know a little about!). As part of our sponsorship of their event, we built a simple event site for them in Rocketspark. The number one most helpful thing that Jason and Julie provided was a Dropbox folder of all the professional photographs they had taken of previous Deeper Weekend events, and of Jason himself. As you can see, the site gives a real, honest view of these events. No stock imagery here. This builds trust.

How well do you know the type of people who are your dream client?

This is directly related to the content we will write for you. You can call it a ‘buyer persona’, but even that exercise isn’t entirely the answer. When you think about the perfect client who comes to you ready, educated, and needing your services, what do you know about them? What annoys them about accountants, and how are you fighting against that? What questions of theirs can you and your team answer? Part of every website build is the content of every page of your website. You have the opportunity to review, edit, and change it – hack it apart until it only barely resembles what we started with, if you like.

But in our experience an accountant can stare at a box of Lorem Ipsum text for days or weeks or months with no idea what to say… and yet if we create a website page with a header that says “Accounting for website developers and startup tech companies”, suddenly you’re thinking about what works better. Is website developers the right word? Do you really want to focus on startup tech businesses? How appealing is this to them, anyway? That’s exactly the right approach, and it’s why having us build a website can cost you a lot more than if you went somewhere else.

How important is it to you that your website designers understand the accounting industry?

This is the primary reason some accountants choose us over other providers – even those who are cheaper, physically closer, with personal connections, perhaps even an existing client. You don’t have to explain things like Xero or Quickbooks or ReceiptBank. We’re familiar with Making Tax Digital and VAT returns and F/S and B/S and P/L.

We have hundreds of accountants who thought their niche was “limited companies” or “small businesses between 500k and 5m in sales” and by sharing with them that nearly every accountant says that, we’ve helped them realise that’s too broad.

You can absolutely have your site built by someone else – and there are reasons that might be a better fit for you. Farnell Clarke have an amazing relationship with a creative agency they’ve used for years, so they worked with us on the strategy and customer journey and content for their site, whilst having the other agency do all the design and build. Spark Accountants already had their brand identity project underway when they came to us, so we gave our opinion on the final brand direction and then built the site around that. Raedan got the brand identity and then made changes to their website on their own.

Those tend to be the exception – by the time you go through all the branding and strategy conversations, it may be just as easy to have us build the website too – but these firms worked with us on a portion of their creative project because they valued our expertise in the accounting industry.

Once you’ve looked at all those aspects, and if you’ve decided you’d like to explore a new site build with us, you’re looking at something that starts in the £8k – £10k range and goes up depending on the integrations, custom design work, regional edits, or other elements that you need. If you want to bring in a full branding identity from start to finish, including a new firm name and logo and brand guidelines, you could spend as much as £25k – £50k for the entire process.

Here’s a video to explain the different types of website builds we do, and what we include that may be different.

Similarly, you could spend £2k – £3k on a little strategy and a home page wireframe, or to go through the strategy and customer journey process. Or get a website refresh in the £1.5k – £3k range.

Whoever you use to build your website, be involved in the process. Give a little content writing a go. Take some photographs or shoot video and share them with your designers. Ask your team members what they think. Read books and articles and get training so you understand the purpose of your website. (Our Marketing Masterclass is a great place to start.)

And whether you work with us or someone else, we’re always happy to have the conversation. If we’re not the agency you want to work with, or you still find it too expensive, or it’s not time yet for the ‘big project’, we have smaller sessions we can run with you to get you started – or we’ll send you on your way to another agency with our best wishes. (We’ll even recommend a few we know are good.)

More than anything else, we want to encourage you to get the site you dream of, the kind of site that will appeal to the best quality clients and bring them in on a drip feed.