Build a Smarter, Better Web Site

This summer, my law firm and tax preparation franchise unveiled brand-new websites. While updating your company website's design and look is a good idea, redesigning your entire site just to give it a facelift is a wasted opportunity. I had three goals for my sites' respective redesigns.

First, I wanted to update the look; we recently completed a companywide rebranding effort, so the sites  needed to reflect the new look. Second, I wanted to simplify existing content and tools, and add new information. Finally, I wanted to make our sites easier and more intuitive to navigate. What's the point of having a beautiful, informative website if no one can find anything?

Of course, I'm not a web developer. Honestly, I'm nowhere near as tech-savvy as I'd like to be. To make up for that, I have an incredible IT team. When these IT geniuses get talking, I have no idea what they are saying most of the time, and that's OK. I cannot possibly know everything needed to run a business. So for those gaps in my knowledge, I believe in hiring the smartest, most hard-working people I can find to pick up where my knowledge leaves off. That means my incredible IT team gets the credit for building these brand-new sites. Other people were involved, as well. Marketing helped write easy-to-understand content and create a beautiful look, attorneys contributed their enormous brainpower, and everyone provided feedback on how the sites look and function.

Both companies are tax-related: Roni Lynn Deutch, a Professional Tax Corp. and  Roni Deutch Tax Center. Most ordinary people find tax information confusing or downright boring. That had to be at the forefront of all decisions when building these sites. So with that in mind, we built extensive tools to help people understand their taxes better. For example, we added a glossary of common tax terms and a variety of tax calculators to the Roni Lynn Deutch site to help people see how taxes impact their daily lives.

The key was to make all this high-quality information look friendly and approachable. Our old sites were littered with links and way too much text to scroll through. Many people found them intimidating and would click away before finding what they needed. So the team put together a smarter architecture with more clickable options that take you to the information you are looking for, rather than asking you to search for it.

I really wanted the sites to be interactive. We achieved this with the above-mentioned tax calculators, and also with more video and audio components. The sites include a variety of multimedia plugins, including video testimonials and clips of media interviews. People like having the option to see it, rather than read it.

Of course, like any project of this magnitude, there were challenges. We had a few false starts. Just determining the look of the sites was not as straightforward as I thought it would be. I learned the hard way that what looks good on paper does not always make for good web design. So after several design versions, I finally realized I was not equipped to make good website design decisions. After months of back and forth, I finally called in outside help. We hired a consulting firm to do a website review. I told the firm what I wanted and received feedback on how to achieve it.

If you ask people at my law firm how long this took, you will get different answers. My managing attorney will tell you nearly two years. My IT guys will likely tell you a little over a year. Marketing will have still another answer. But as long as it took, everyone agrees that in the end, it was entirely worth it.