PracticeAccounting FirmsWeb reviews: Surfing with the Top 50

Web reviews: Surfing with the Top 50

Websites are more than a luxury for accountancy firms. They are essential marketing tools, vast research databases and - for some - even a platform through which they can trade with clients. And in troubled times like these for the industry, they are the key that might just open the door to public acceptability once again. Here in this special feature, Accountancy Age reporters assess the websites of the firms listed in our Top 50 survey. For some, it will make for uncomfortable reading, while for others it will confirm their IT investments are worthwhile

BIG FOUR

1 PricewaterhouseCoopers
www.pwcglobal.com/uk
*****
Everything you would expect the website of the world’s largest accountancy firm to be. Fast, easy to navigate, colourful and without too many flashing features which tend to be a distraction rather than a help. Just a shame about the URL.

2 Deloitte & Touche
www.deloitte.co.uk
***
The site had not been fully updated to include the Andersen UK ‘takeover’ of ‘certain’ assets. However this information is sure to be included soon. Overall, slightly disappointing as it seems to lack any imagination or life. All the content is available, but not packaged well.

3 KPMG
www.kpmg.co.uk
***
Very difficult to judge the site any differently to that of Deloitte’s. The look and feel is similarly bland. Could have been designed in the early 90s. No doubting the content and archive facilities and indeed, the speed of the site search engine allows you to move around quickly.

4 Ernst & Young
www.ey.com/uk
****
This site does not fall into the same trap as Deloitte and KPMG. A fresh, modern and clean feel without being bland. Slightly disappointing that some of the weekly news links were almost three weeks out of date, a factor which disappoints in an otherwise good website.

Large Mid-tier

5 Grant Thornton
www.grantthornton.co.uk
****
A clean and simple site, continually kept bang up-to-date, including its acquisition of some Andersen US offices. Includes a very useful ‘ten tax tips to help you manage your tax bill’. Disappointed that some links were unavailable, such as ‘How we help with your personal finances’.

6 BDO Stoy Hayward
www.bdo.co.uk
****
Very colourful and busy site full of useful facilities such as the ‘company car tax calculator’. Very simple and user-friendly graduate careers section serves well to encourage university leavers, although news section appears to be sparse and not regularly updated.

7 Baker Tilly
www.bakertilly.co.uk
***
A classic and uncluttered website, although it features a disappointing jargonbuster which is merely fairly useful rather than what could be a comprehensive point of contact. Overall, a good site detailing all the firm does, but not sure it leaves users with the impression that it is a ‘youthful firm’ as boasted in the graduate area.

8 PKF
www.pkf.co.uk
**
PKF’s site comprises interesting news-related articles on the homepage, which invites the user in. However, the site tends to lean towards the slow and clunky rather more than those of its nearest rivals. Simplistic site which could be misinterpreted as uninspiring.

9 Tenon Group
www.tenongroup.com
*****
Good use of graphics that gives the impression that thought and effort has gone into Tenon Group’s website. Useful links to its separate audit arm and details of its share price are available. Also, useful file size gauges on press releases. Share price graph is useful – even if the share price is moving in the wrong direction! Impressive overall site.

10 Moore Stephens
www.moorestephens.co.uk
**
One of the most exciting sites on entry; you could almost be on a StarWars site. Quirky use of map for users to choose the location they wish to learn more about, however can be an effort to get there. Good use of graphics, but feels slightly dated and a little heavy to navigate.

11 Smith & Williamson
www.smith.williamson.co.uk
****
Not the most exciting site in terms of look and feel, however exceptionally clear, concise and fast. Includes useful news and surveys, while the overall emphasis is clearly on people and wider business issues. Has the feel that it is regularly updated.

12 Mazars Neville Russell
www.mazars.co.uk
*****
Very busy homesite, which easily links into a facility where it is possible to email any of the partners of all the regional offices across the globe. Clean and easy to use with a splash of colour. Useful archive links and simple to navigate, which cannot be said for all Top 50 sites.

13 RSM Robson Rhodes
www.rsmi.co.uk
**
A site which is extremely easy to move through, although its home page does not do it justice and could do with a facelift. News service looks a little poor and the site leaves you with the impression it is not updated very regularly. The site features an excellent shortcut to its surveys and reports free of charge.

14 Horwath Clark www.
www.horwathcw.com
****
Modern-looking colourful site, and especially useful is the HCW Tour which gives a simple and easy to digest overview of the firm. With this site, as well as providing all the usual information firms offer, the site actually feels like the user is gleaming a snippet of the flavour of the firm’s culture and feel.

15 BKR Haines Watts
www.hwca.com
****
Lovely site. Great use of colours, simple design and some smashing features. Particularly liked the ‘Ask the Expert’ function on the site which allows you to receive answers to your queries so long as you leave your details with the firm. Also includes ‘Business valuation’ and ‘Company car tax’ calculators. Can be slow to navigate at times however.

16 Numerica
www.numerica.biz
****
Another colourful site with some interesting features such as ‘Numerica Friends’ a service you can sign up to and which is like an old school network. Additional features include a ‘job seekers’ section. Well thought out, clearly defined and laid out. Solid in an unspectacular way.

Mid-tier

17 Macintyre Hudson
www.hughes-allen.co.uk
*
Perhaps unfair to review this site at present because it is only a temporary outline of what the company does. A new one should be in place later this year.

18 Saffery Champness
www.saffery.com
*
Considering the firm sits inside the Top 20, its site certainly doesn’t reflect this status. It’s old-fashioned and the font ‘welcoming’ users looks like nursery school text. Useful links service but generally very basic.

19 Kingston Smith
www.kingstonsmith.co.uk
***
The site is a mixed bag. Particularly like the ‘Questions of business’ run in conjunction with The Sunday Times. ‘Knowledge bank’ is an extremely useful tool for directors looking to find decision-related info.

20 Chantrey Vellacott DFK
www.cvdfk.com
****
An extremely useable site. The firm has spent a lot of time and effort on its web presence. However, it can sometimes be slow which is a shame as the content is A1.

21 Bentley Jennison
www.bentley-jennison.co.uk
***
The site has a modern feel, which puts some of its larger competitors to shame. Useful ‘IT health check’. Let down by neglected news updates.

22 Hacker Young
www.hackeryoung.co.uk
***
Extremely useful features including ‘Accounts explained’, which is a concise run-down of regulations and disclosure requirements. Insolvency assistance is cleverly displayed. More thought could have gone into the presentation of the site.

23 Solomon Hare
www.solomonhare.co.uk
**
Let down by the length of time since certain aspects were last updated including the news and current issues section. Nothing clever but nonetheless a solid site.

24 Vantis
www.vantisplc.com
***
Considering the site was only launched this year, it doesn’t feel cutting edge in terms of design and features. A clean website with useful information such as share price news, but nothing out of the ordinary.

25 Menzies
www.menzies.co.uk
***
A fantastically practical website with many useful features set out in an uncluttered and uncomplicated manner. Easy to sail through.

26 Haysmacintyre
www.haysmacintyre.com
***
Has the look and feel of a site associated with a bigger firm, easy to navigate and fast and simple to use. Great use of colours but offers nothing original.Useful links from services offered the relevant partners in that area with a brief synopsis of their backgrounds.

27 Wilkins Kennedy
www.w-k.co.uk
**
Plain and bland despite some original graphics. All the usual company information, but it lacks any cutting edge or features. Maybe it’s time for the firm to look at redesigning. The URL is not ideal either.

28 Armstrong Watson
www.armstrongwatson.co.uk
**
Looks like the site is at least 10 years past needing an overhaul. Out-of-the-box package, and doesn’t look like the firm has spent much money on it. Nice drop-down features.

29 Buzzacott
www.buzzacott.co.uk
*
Not a pleasant-looking site, but serves its purpose and tells users all they need to know. Font is not the easiest to read, while text very often appears chunky and over-bearing.

30 Scott Moncrieff
www.scott-moncrieff.com
***
Another out-of-the-box looking site, but tidily laid out.Extremely easy to navigate and as a result has a slimline feel. Fast to navigate.

31 Reeves & Neylan
http://www.reeves-neylan.com
****
Interesting site in terms of design. Fast links to items such as company newsletter. Information on company car tax has a nice look and feel.

32 Cooper-Parry
www.cooperparry.com
****
Excellent looking site, full of easy to digest text, presented in a well-thought out manner. Modern feel and excellent links to PDFs to scroll through information. Serves its purpose well and has the feel of a dotcom.

33 WBS
www.wbs.co.uk
***
Pleasant, easy-to-navigate site with good use of colour. Excellent features such as ‘Information request’ – free newsletters for users wanting more in-depth information.

34 Littlejohn Frazer
www.littlejohnfrazer.com
*
Horrible gateway to the site, which looks like it may have been designed by a deranged school teacher. If you can bear to get through the horrible homepage and even worse links to the different areas of the site, the rest of it is pretty good. Must sort out the early pages.

35 Rothman Pantall & Co
www.rothman-pantall.co.uk
****
Great website with easy to navigate features and an excellent search facility where users are able to track anything from individual companies to directors. A job well done.

36 CLB
www.clb.co.uk
***
Original looking site which features pictures of individuals on the homepage – a personable idea. Quality of pictures used a little debatable, but it a solid base to work from.

37 Lovewell Blake
www.lovewell-blake.co.uk
***
Not a very inviting homepage and is generally unfriendly-looking. But has arguably one of the quirkiest ideas of any site with its ‘LB Jolly good pub guide’ – a jolly guide to ensuring the smooth running of a business.

38 Price Bailey
www.pricebailey.co.uk
****
A fast-moving, user-friendly site, which draws in readers.Incentives to register and a facility to report likes and dislikes regarding the site leaves a sweet taste. Good effort.

39 Larking Gowen
www.larking-gowen.co.uk
****
Moving scroll-down latest news feature is a pleasant surprise and shows imagination. ‘Weekly briefing’ feature is a great idea.

40 Blueprint Audit
www.blueprintaudit.com
*
Very disappointing. Working from a blank canvas, the firm had an opportunity to create something novel, but instead has plumped for the minimal. Does the job it was created for – just about.

41 Johnston Carmichael
ww.jcca.co.uk
***
Bright and lively site with plenty of options and information. Slightly dated look and feel goes against it, but overall a good effort.

42 AV Audit
www.avaudit.com
****
Recently-launched site and it shows. Ultra-modern look and feel with easy navigation. Uncluttered approach could be confused for a lack of content. You wouldn’t guess it’s the home of the audit arm of Numerica.

43 AGN Shipleys
www.agnshipleys.com
***
This website was designed by a Graham Parry, as proudly boasted on the homepage. It would have to be said that Parry has done a reasonable job too. An innovative way in which users can find out more about the firm’s partners is one of the nicer touches.

44 Morley & Scott
www.morley-scott.co.uk
**
Very basic-looking package driving the site. Annoying pop-ups do not help users. Looks like the site was hurried ever so slightly and not much imagination went into its creation. Shame, as this is probably not the case. More care needed.

45 Jacksons
www.jacksongroup.com
**
Clearly laid out in parts. Leaves you with the feeling that it was half well thought out and then hurriedly finished. Features include tickers and illuminating graphics. But the contents panel is cluttered leading to poorly signposted information.

46 Mercer & Hole
www.mercerhole.co.uk
**
Another mixed bag. Confusing links to regional offices, with only the London link able to take you anywhere. Graphics look a little overdone. A number of areas of text look like links but are not. Leaves the impression of a rushed job.

47 Pridie:Brewster
www.pridie-brewster.com
***
Extremely fresh feel to the site, even if the links look a little simplistic. Extremely easy to navigate and has a modern feel to the homepage.

48 Simmons Gainsford
www.simmonsgainsford.co.uk
***
The homepage is extremely simplistic and yet inviting. However, once you have made a link, the cool graphics and colours are spoilt by the pages that follow, which are extremely cluttered and amateurish.

49 James & Cowper
www.jamescowper.co.uk
*
Don’t like to say it, but this website is woeful. On first sight, it looked like a trainspotters’ site (no disrespect). Could have been put together by a schoolchild, which is a shame because there are some interesting links and information available.

50 Barnes Roffe
www.barnes-roffe.co.uk
****
Useable with a modern and light feel. Much effort has gone into the site (it appears) and it has lovely touches, including mini A-Z maps on how to find the regional offices. Excellent use of graphics, but let down by signposting where more than one link brings you into the same area.

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