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The trouble with WordPress websites for accounting firms

No matter how small or niche-oriented your accounting practice is, a high-quality website is essential. An established web presence is associated with authenticity and legitimacy, and it’s something modern consumers expect.

When it comes to website creation, the popularity of WordPress is indisputable. It is undoubtedly the most widely used platform, mainly because it is easy to use and free (at least initially). Unfortunately, those seemingly irresistible perks can also be the Achilles heel of a WordPress site.

When to avoid free and easy

Free and easy, what more can you ask for? When it comes to lunch, maybe nothing, but when it comes to your accounting practice website, a lot! No one’s denying the appeal of these advantages, and it’s true that anyone can sign up and create a free WordPress site. But like most “free” services, there’s an upsell. That’s where the bells, whistles and customization — like a well-developed theme and paid plugins to keep a website running smoothly — come into play.

1. WordPress websites are easy to hack. WordPress appeals to users who lack programming skills because its open source platform makes site creation and customization simple. In terms of software, “open source” means the application can be viewed or changed by anyone. From WordPress’ perspective, that’s a positive because in addition to making it easy to use, the input of literally anyone and everyone stands to improve the product over time and even rid it of errors. The grave problem with this open source approach is that because the coding is freely available for everyone to alter, it’s not only easy to use, but also easy to hack. When it comes to website security, this is where WordPress falls short and leaves users vulnerable. And even if you’re lucky enough to avoid security shortfalls, there are other issues to consider before giving your business over to “free and easy.”

2. Consider your knowledge of code and maintenance before choosing WordPress. HTML, CSS and PHP — you understand that, right? If you plan on creating your own WordPress site, it helps. To make certain changes in WordPress, at least a minimal degree of coding knowledge is needed. Personalization, enhancements and even minor changes like adjusting the size of a header image can require coding skills. A hit-or-miss approach won’t serve here. You stand to make changes you don’t even realize you made and then you’re left with a site in disarray.

Once a site is in place, site management and maintenance are ongoing. For example, the plugins required to run a website are updated often. Those updates sometimes conflict with other plugins and can even cause issues in other areas of a WordPress site. Without programming knowledge, this poses a significant and persistent problem. And while you may find at least a partial solution to your issue on one of the many WordPress forums, ask yourself if you really have hours to spend searching, understanding and then fixing an issue that wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if you left your accounting website design and development to the pros.

If you have some savvy coding skills in your back pocket and plenty of time on your hands to create and manage a website, WordPress may work for you. But if you’re like most accountants, and you’re working long hours to grow your practice and manage your clients, WordPress could be the black hole you’d rather not go down. In that case, a website from a company that is dedicated to the accounting industry would be well-advised.

3. Where are the tools? Integrated tools are what make the difference between just a website and an important component to your online marketing and practice management. WordPress lacks some of the online tools that most accounting firms need. If you want to send and manage an email newsletter, you’ll need to seek out a third-party service outside of the WordPress platform. You also won’t find a secure file share portal or an online payment tool available. That’s why going with a website development company that works exclusively with accountants is ideal to take advantage of integrated tools built specifically for your practice.

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