How to set realistic expectations for your website design & build

website design & build projects

Getting a new website built for your accountancy firm is one of the most exciting marketing actions you can take.

It’s also one of the most frustrating, difficult, and costly actions – which is why so many accountants avoid it for so long.

When you’re considering launching into a new website project (which I fully support if your current one is not performing well), you can prepare yourself mentally for the whole process in this way:


1.Recognise that it WILL take longer than you think.

When we first started building websites for accountants, I decided we were going to be different than all those other website designers (as in, every website designer and developer, ever, in the whole world). We were going to deliver websites on time, on deadline, without fail.

That’s a lofty goal – and we continue to strive to do better in our own setting of (and keeping) milestones for website builds. But after years of projects with a variety of people – those who are keen, those who aren’t sure, those who reply to emails straight away and those who give up partway through – I’ve learned that website projects are always fraught with challenges. And that’s okay.

A website is a combination of so many elements – your brand, strategy, content, design, technology, and most of all your face to the world. It’s really, really important to get it right. There can be issues with the WordPress template or the moving graphics. You might approve the content and then change your mind once you see it actually on the page. Things change in your firm partway through the project.

That’s all normal, and expected. And in my experience it’s far better to recognise that this project will take longer than you think – not because things go wrong, but because your business is changing and you’re continuing to adapt.  That’s absolutely spot on.  The day your website launches, you’ll want some more changes, too.


2.Be flexible, and open.

It’s great to have a picture in your mind of how your website will look and what it will do. But if your website designers and developers suggest new tactics or point out issues with your latest idea, be open to the conversation. Flexibility in marketing is one of the most important skills you can have.


3.Look at the big picture.

Accountants tend to focus on the small details of a website – the exact colour of blue, the font that needs to be Light instead of Medium, the icon to be shifted 3mm to the left.

Having a solid, clean, and impressive website is absolutely important. But the buyers of accountancy firm services are far less concerned with the minutiae and more concerned with the big picture. What kind of people are you? What will happen when they get in touch? What expertise do you have, and can you solve their problem?

Amazingly, the odd spelling mistake or a button that doesn’t do what it’s meant to do is not the end of the world for a prospect. I’ve even seen instances where they’ve wanted to share what they noticed, and it’s started a conversation.


4.Remember that it will never be perfect.

You can either have a perfect website which never launches, or you can have an imperfect one that people actually visit.

Please understand that when I say “imperfect”, I don’t mean “bad”, or “an absolute mess”. Of course it needs to be good quality, and give a good impression of your firm. But ultimate perfection is impossible in this life, and launching something that is good and clean and fresh and modern will go a long way towards giving you more leads and more business. Far further than the perfect website which is still sitting in draft mode.

This is an important distinction for any marketing efforts. “Not perfect, but done”, is something I’m continually telling my clients. Just as relevant is “not perfect, but good”. It doesn’t have to be the height of perfection, but it does need to impress those who visit. That will absolutely happen, and that is an achievable goal.


5.The day your website launches, you will not be “finished”.  

Websites are meant to change. I was running a webinar recently and was asked, “How often do I need to change my website?” My instant answer was, “Every day would be good.”

Your website is your accountancy firm’s face to the world. It’s still your marketing hub, the place your messages come out from and come back to. So slight edits and new ideas and fresh content are always a part of a website – whether it’s just been launched or you’ve had it for years.

Add landing pages. Write new blog posts. Change team photographs. This will not only help your prospects to recognise you’re not stuck in a rut, but it will also enable Google to be your friend. Google wants to return search results that are relevant, helpful, and current.


6.Stay excited about it!  

When you start your website project, you’re beyond excited. It’s going to be the best thing ever, and every accountant within the near vicinity – nay, beyond your borders and around the world – will crowd around with envy and cry, “If only we, too, could be like this accountancy firm!” Website visitors will sign up in droves for everything, clicking every button frantically to do business with you straight away. Other website developers will weep, and possibly give up their jobs entirely because you have achieved such perfection.

Six weeks, or three months, or six months later, you are absolutely sick of it. You don’t even want to see the website draft anymore. All you can see are the errors and the page links that don’t work and the fact that those quote marks are single instead of double. You don’t have an opinion on images because they all look the same, and some other accountancy firm launched their new site and it’s really, really good. Which is depressing.

Hang in there.

Your site will be good, too. It will be the envy of other accountants (I’ve seen it happen often). Your clients and prospects will be  impressed, and will use it, and over time it will become the hub of good marketing it was built to be. But it does take time.

You’ve likely seen the image of the two men digging with the pickaxe – one keeps going, and the other turns around and gives up only a few inches from the diamonds.

two options

That’s how it goes with website design & build projects, too. If your enthusiasm is waning, take a break. Tell your website designer about it. Brainstorm some new things.

And remember that it will be worth it, in the end!