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The National Society of Accountants Computer Center, updated 08/03/97

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Preparing an Internet Site for the Affiliated State Organization (ASO)

    1. Deciding what you want on the site
    2. Who will contribute to the site
    3. Maintaining the Site
    4. Hardware and Software
    5. Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML)
  1. Deciding what you want on the site
    1. Public Site
      1. Newsletter for public should contain all relevant news
        1. Tax help section for the public
        2. This can be used to help get clients for members from the member list for the public
      2. Newsletter for accountants – potential members
        1. Should contain teaser articles and information, and promise more for members when they join
        2. Should point out benefits of membership
          1. Benefits should include member services that make membership a bargain. Promotional literature should explain the math. For example:
            1. Maryland uses a "free" accounting seminar that is 16 hours of CPE for all members for an administrative fee of $25
            2. Maryland offers, at $30 to $50 reduced cost, four-hour mini-seminars monthly for members and guests only as a member service.
            3. Maryland publishes a 64-page award-winning bi-monthly Newsletter for members
            4. Maryland offers significant discounts of about 15% or $30 per course to members on its entire range of CPE courses
            5. Maryland provides members with four free publications each year
              1. Tax update
              2. Fall tax planning, which can be printed with firm name and logo and sent to client or used as grist for a free or at-cost client seminar.
              3. IRS and State changes and information
              4. Etc.
        3. Teaser to full newsletter contents of tax news and other things for potential members.
        4. Special newsletter for the public that will help promote members’ services.
          1. Tell the public just enough to know when and how they need an accountant’s services.
      3. "find an accountant" feature for non-accounting users.
        1. Should include phone, email, and website
        2. Should include neighborhood
          1. For example, in Baltimore you need to include whether it is in Arbutus, Essex, Towson, Eastpoint, Canton, Catonsville, etc., since the post office just uses Baltimore for a far too large an area to locate a "local" accountant.
        3. This is a referral service so that the public can find our members and employ their services.
        4. Offer expanded coverage for accountants who need web presence but only a few pages of web hosting.
          1. Charge $1 a page per month per simple normal sized page (which should not exceed 25 KB) as a member service since your entire ASO web site of about 5 to 25 Mb should not cost more than $50 per month.
          2. Should you use web creation services, find an outside business owner to partner and provide these services at reasonable rates. Rates range from $50 an hour to $250 an hour for web creation, or may have a fixed cost per standard page with extra charges for links.
          3. Teach web creation classes so that members can create their own pages, if so inclined
          4. Members’ mini sites should contain specialties, biographies and links to information on the ASO site for the public, such as the tax newsletter for laymen.
      4. Should contain goals and objectives of society
      5. Should contain legislative goals
      6. Should contain committee goals
      7. Public relations should also have a presence here
      8. Scholarship program should figure prominently in public section
        1. Copy of scholarship application
        2. Ability to print off website is important
        3. Copy of requirements
        4. Copy of recipients list over the years
          1. Include pictures of recipients
          2. Include biographies of recipients
          3. Include schools
          4. Include information for scholarship committee contact person.
        5. Amount of money given should be stated
      9. Board of directors should be listed
        1. Name, address, phone, and fax
      10. Consider an "ask an accountant" feature
        1. Have an accountant online to answer questions and suggest answers to web surfers who need to know more about accounting
        2. Refer questions to local accountants willing to provide this service
        3. Be very careful not to give away the farm
        4. This is a promotional thing to get members clients - not a free accounting advice service
        5. never tell the public that.
        6. Just tell them enough to convince them that they need professional help, and refer them to a member accountant.
      11. Continuing Professional Education
        1. organized catalog of all courses offered
        2. complete with online ordering with credit cards
      12. Products catalog
        1. Publications catalog
        2. Complete with online ordering with credit cards
    2. Private Site
      1. Only for members
        1. Not for corporate sponsors, so that you can continue to sell your name list
      2. Links to other sites
        1. Local government
        2. Legislators
          1. Get legislative committee to help out
          2. Include email addresses
        3. Tax authorities
          1. Get tax committee to help out
          2. State
            1. Sales tax
            2. Real estate tax
            3. Payroll tax
            4. Problem resolution
            5. Etc.
          3. Federal
          4. Local
        4. Accounting publications
          1. National Public Accountant
          2. NSA Software News
          3. Accounting Technology
          4. Accounting Today
          5. The Electronic Accountant
      3. Member directory
        1. Names
        2. Addresses
        3. Phone
        4. Fax
        5. Committee affiliations listed also
        6. Email – should be linked so that all you have to do is click to initiate an email message in the browser
        7. Website – should be linked so that all you need do is click to be taken there
        8. Member legislators should also be listed by member to make them easy for members to find, with their email and sites listed and linked.
        9. Important legislative committees should be listed and linked
        10. Suggestions for how to talk and write to legislators should be included and linked in prominent locations
          1. This area should have at least an entire page on its own.
      4. Newsletter
        1. All articles published
        2. Complete HTML links to available information
        3. Full HTML index of publications
      5. Should contain a legislative section
        1. How to find your legislator
        2. How to write to your legislator
        3. Where ASO stands on legislative issues and why
      6. Board of Directors
        1. Listed with full contact information same as a phone directory
      7. Committees
        1. Members and chairs listed complete with full contact information
          1. Email and website needed
        2. Goals and objectives of committee stated
        3. Name and address of contacts needed to join committees
        4. When the committee meets
        5. Minutes of committee meetings
        6. List obligations of committee members and needed skills
      8. Help area
        1. Staff continually gets asked questions
          1. Have staff keep notes on questions asked and answers given
          2. Get the web staff or committee to put help section up in an organized fashion
          3. This should extend to all areas of the business
            1. Tax questions
            2. Operational questions
            3. CPE
      9. Private areas for committee business
        1. Only accessible by committee members and certain board and executive members
        2. Use to post all committee communications as a convenient file feature.
        3. Get all committee members on email
  2. Who will contribute to the site
    1. It is imperative that all staff members, committee members, and board members participate in web content and web creation
    2. It would be more efficient if these people communicated written information via the email and the web
    3. Therefore these people must all know HTML or must use HTML capable word processors, such as Corel Word Perfect or Microsoft Word
  3. What web creation program will you use?
    1. Word 97
      1. A Microsoft product - usually reliable and well supported
      2. Word 97 and Office 97 Suite have primitive web creation routines
      3. May be just the thing for those with little desire to learn more about HTML
      4. Word 97 has some problems in formatting web documents, which may be worked out later
      5. Find more information at http://www.microsoft.com/msoffice on the web
    2. Corel Word Perfect 8
      1. Similar to Microsoft Word 97
      2. Seems to have better HTML integration
      3. Less buggy than Microsoft Word 97
      4. Corel is a committed, dependable company
      5. Find more information at http://www.corel.com
    3. Internet Assistant for Microsoft Word
      1. A lower cost alternative to Microsoft Publisher
    4. Publsher 97
      1. A Microsoft product
      2. More complex version of a web creation program
    5. Front Page 97
      1. Professional web creation and management software
    6. Hot Dog Professional 97
      1. Easy to use
      2. Inexpensive, under $100
      3. Program is available for 15-day free trial at web site
      4. Support is very difficult to get – so what else is new?
        1. The company is in Australia
        2. http://www.sausage.com
    7. Data Base web creation programs
      1. I do not know what these are, but I have done some research that at the time escapes me. The national office needs to do more research on this area and report back
      2. This is the area of the future, and in the future all web sites will be of the database type.
      3. The database type of web site has dynamic link creation: that is, it searches the site and automatically establishes links to other pages in a link section and in the text.
  4. What is HTML all about
    1. HTML is easy
    2. Philosophy
      1. People often see one-half page or less on screen while other people print things out to read them. You must be aware of both of these and design accordingly.
      2. Those who look at the screen include everyone.
      3. Some rules:
        1. While many used "location, location, location" as their watch words, web masters must use the words "organization, organization, organization" as theirs.
          1. Web pages must be logically organized
        2. Menus should appear in the portion of the screen that loads first, so that people coming to your page can immediately jump to the section they want before the page loads completely, to accommodate slower bandwidth modems.
        3. Have an internal search engine so that people can search your site for information. Many people like the convenience of a search.
        4. Have an alphabetical index system for articles and information, even if you have a search engine. People like to look at indexes to see what is there
        5. Print should be dark, not necessarily black; but black has advantages to those people using color printers since printing your site will be less expensive.
        6. If you use light colored print, have a warning section with instructions on how to turn on the "print text in black" feature in the printing options section of the web browser.
        7. Frames and dark colored bands are annoying to people when they print or transfer text.
        8. Make frames small, or consider using menus instead of frames strategically placed on the page
        9. Always use return to top or return to menu buttons throughout the text.
        10. Remind people to bookmark your page at the index or menu page, so they can conveniently return to your page later.
    3. Formatting requires basic knowledge of a few codes:
    4. <P> and </P> indicate paragraph designations (open paragraph and close paragraph, which separate a long section of text (often called a "string") from another by a skipped line at the top.
      1. The close paragraph is superfluous in most situations. Simply use the <P> at the beginning of every paragraph for best results
    5. <BR> inserts a line break or ends the line at this point. Any text entered after the break will print on a separate line.
      1. <BR><BR> will put a blank line after a string of text, achieving the same thing as the Paragraph in situations where you do not want to skip a line after a bold text as a different heading presentation than shown below.
    6. <h1></h1> is the heading designation which will put a bold heading of larger point type above the text.
      1. Headings have skipped lines above and below them
      2. Heading size can be changed by changing the number after the h from one to five, with five being the largest and one being the smallest.
      3. Has "disadvantage" of having a space free above and below, see above. This wastes space which is important not to waste on the web.
      4. </h1> turns off the bold text, returning the text after it to regular font size and shape.
    7. <center></center> when bracketing text will center it, left to right or side to side on a page.
      1. for example: <center>This is the National Society of Accountants</center> will center this text left to right on the page.
      2. Center can be used in conjunction with other codes. For example: <center><h1>(insert your text here)</center></h1> will center your headers. Un-centered headers will line up on the left margin, which is called left justification for those who format text.
    8. <b></b> will make the text bracketed bold.
    9. Can also be used in conjunction with other codes; see above for related examples.
    10. A graphic looks like this in HTML code:
      1. <src img="(full universal resource locator)">
      2. you can add dimensions to the picture such as:
        1. width=150 or
        2. height=200 to determine the size in pixels.
        3. Most pages are 640x480 but many browse the web now in 800x640 pixel resolution modes for their monitor.
        4. Designating size loads pictures after text which speeds up page loading. People can read the text while the pictures are loading, which gives them something to do so they are less bored and less inclined to click out of your site.
      3. You can also determine where the picture is with the align command.
        1. Align=right puts picture on the right margin
        2. Align=left puts picture on the left margin
        3. Align=center puts picture in the center of the page
        4. Aligning the picture allows the text to flow around it without requiring the entire vertical space for the text.
    11. Outlines, bullets and lists
      1. <OL></OL> controls the numbered lists in HTML.
        1. When <LI> is placed at the beginning of a line between <OL> and </OL> each <LI> preceded text is numbered automatically from 1 to the last number in the list.
        2. <OL><LI>dogs and <LI>cats</OL> looks like
              1. Dogs and
              2. Cats
      2. <UL></UL>controls bulleted text, so that the above illustration would now replace the numbers with bullets when the <UL> and </UL> codes replaced the <OL> and </OL> codes.
      3. Using multiple </UL> or leaving them out in sequence causes the order to become an outline and promote and demote numbers and bullets.
      4. More complex information is available in an HTML course.
    12. Tables can also be created in html with the table commands.
      1. We need to cover an advanced issue like this in an HTML course.
    13. A link looks like this in HTML code:
      1. <a href="(full universal resource locator)">(put your text here or graphic)</a>
      2. Clicking on this link on the site immediately transports you to the location of the link
      3. This is the basic premise of the web, the ability to link to other sites and locations on your site
      4. Substituting a graphic for the text using the <img src="(URL)"> code will put a clickable graphic link on the page.
    14. An email link looks like this in HTML code
      1. <a href="mailto:(insert email code here: ie: email@isp.com)"> (appropriate text)</a>
      2. Clicking on this link in the text will launch the email window addressed to this person
      3. There is a way to insert a subject into the email, such as the page it originated from, but I don’t know how to do it.
    15. Music can also be added to HTML sites
      1. Several options exist here:
        1. Music can run in the background and loop continuously
        2. Music or sound bytes can run once and shut down
        3. You can give the members control of the music volume and whether to run it again with a mini control center, built into the page
        4. An option which I have not been able to figure out yet is the juke box option.
      1. Running the same music on the site over and over again may annoy people.
        1. Those who spend a lot of time on a page will want to turn it off eventually,
        2. unless the music changes, as in a juke box, or the music only runs once and shuts down.
  1. Hardware and software for your own web server
    1. Why?
      1. Cheaper, and perhaps can offer space to members as member service
      2. More timely postings
      3. Site looks and works the way you want it
    2. Why not?
      1. Pain to keep updated
      2. Easier to pay someone else
      3. Hardware and software become obsolete every 12 to 24 months
    3. Consider a partnership with an ISP
      1. An ISP, or internet service provider, is a local company in the business of providing web services