Year 2019
Project Description

Keith McLaren received his CMA designation in 1986 and opened his own office in Guelph in 1992. 1992 was a long time ago! To put that into perspective, 1992 was the second-last time that the Blue Jays won the World Series. People still called Mark Wahlberg “Marky Mark,” President Bill Clinton told people he “didn’t inhale” marijuana, and Seinfeld wasn’t anywhere near TV’s top ten yet (although Jerry was a frequent guest on David Letterman).

After more than twenty-five years of business, Keith’s business was changing. When CMA Ontario began transitioning to CPA Ontario, Keith was required by law to update his logo, business card, brand assets, and — yes — his website. I was thrilled to get the first phone call about his website.

Visit the site →

A major update
Injecting personality into a brand

Keith’s previous site was built in-house with GoDaddy’s website builder. GoDaddy’s website builder is this place where good websites go to die, but Keith’s wasn’t bad. It looked a little old-school, but it was surprisingly semantic and ranked well in Google Search. But it didn’t match his brand.

But it didn’t capture much of of the firm’s personality. There wasn’t any easy way for them to update their services. There was no way for them to share any news. Changing an image was like pulling teeth, and since there was no documentation, people forgot how to make changes over time.

When I started talking with Keith about the possibilities, he jumped at the chance to make everything easier for his team. I worked with Keith and his team to make them a website that reflected their personalities and what they do. I wanted to make it clear: Keith and his team might have almost a quarter century of experience, but they’re more forward-thinking and playful than any of their peers.

How I did it
Interviews may be taxing, but they’re always worth doing.

I started by understanding Keith’s team as best as we could. I hung out in their office. We shared meals and drank a lot of coffee. Keith showed me how they used to file taxes before the Internet came along (which was horrifying), and what’s changed since (everything, thankfully).

Then I talked with some of Keith’s clients. They unanimously said they looked forward to seeing Keith. For most people, doing taxes falls somewhere between having a cavity filled and a colonoscopy, but Keith’s clients said filing taxes was a joy! It turns out that, beyond accuracy, people really value accountants with good personalities.

It was clear people valued how fun Keith and his team are, so my priority became emphasizing their personalities with their website. I wanted to capture their senses of humour, and make it clear that they’re not just people you call for a tax return. I wanted their website to be as delightful as they are.

Making it happen
Bold photography and fun ideas

To do that, I focused on Keith’s people. I took a myriad of headshots, which was my favourite part of the project. Everybody got to do a serious one, and a “prison mugshot,” as if they were stuck filing tax returns for all eternity. Sometimes a little silliness really elevates a brand.

Those images get used all over the website. They’re featured on the Team page, the individual bio pages, and they even rotate out on the home page. When you refresh the home page, you’ll get a random selection of a zoomed-in mugshot image featuring a close-up of Keith’s signage.

Finally, I wanted to increase the ease with which people could get in touch with the office, so we put a contact field in the footer of every page of the site. This reduces a little bit of friction; people don’t have to go looking for the Contact page every time they want to call their accountant.

And, of course, the site is responsive and spankin’ awesome on little phone screens.

Screenshots of the Team page on Keith's website

Our Results

The site went live a few months ago, and in that time we’ve been able to slowly collect data about how the new website for Keith R. McLaren, CPA is performing. I’ve watched site visits per month consistently climb and performance in Google search results climb up.

One thing I’m incredibly proud of is that half of the website’s hits in the past few months since our update have come straight from Google, which means our search engine optimization is working as it should. And they’re getting queries through the contact form, which never happened before. Boo yah.

Last week, I spoke with Keith on the phone to make sure things were going well for him with the site. The feedback we got? He just hired somebody new and can’t wait to add her bio to the site. I’m excited to see that too.

Working with Nathan is a great learning experience. He teaches, coaxes and refines your image when it is hard to do it yourself.

Keith McLaren, CPA