June 2002

Website of the Month: GrantThornton.com

By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University

The homepage of Grant Thornton’s website (www.grantthornton.com or www.gt.com) is understated and potentially confusing. It looks more like a newsletter than a first introduction to the company and does not really focus the user’s attention on what Grant Thornton has to offer. The most useful area on the homepage is the navigation bar at the top that connects the user to the main resources. The major content is quite good, but the user will need to be persistent to reach the areas of interest.

Potential clients. A potential client can take several approaches to access general and specific information about the firm. Buttons at the top of each screen link the user to areas such as “press room,” “services,” or “industries.” On the home screen, links on the left-hand side will take the user into “about Grant Thornton,” with basic information about the firm in “fact sheet” format.

The website does a good job of compactly listing both the services that the firm provides as well as the industries in which it specializes. Indices are provided on the left-hand side, and moving from one screen to the next is easy. A keyword search is also available. But should an enthusiastic potential client wish to contact the firm, the link for doing so is somewhat hidden on the right-hand side of the screen under “other related links.” Unfortunately, no direct contact access for services or industries is provided.

Potential employees. Job seekers may want to explore the webpages on Grant Thornton’s services and niche industries. A “careers” button at the top of the homepage links the user to general career and internship information, as well as to specific job postings (on HotJobs). Users can submit their resume through the website.

General information seeker. Grant Thornton’s website offers two kinds of general information: press releases and publications. Press releases are easily accessed through an index. Contact information for a specific Grant Thornton professional is provided for each press release topic. Publications are also indexed and the website gives a short description of each publication, which can be ordered through the website. Some of the firm’s surveys can be accessed under “other related links.”

Overall. Grant Thornton’s website does an excellent job of providing information on potential employment as well as general topical information. The career screens make it easy to access information on specific job opportunities and submit a resume. The press releases provide specific follow-up information, and publications can be easily ordered online.

The website is weak in selling the firm’s services or making it easy for potential clients to contact the firm. The homepage and “services and industries” area may want to follow the example of the “career and publications” section by providing clearer, more obvious indices and links, along with direct contact information. The press release information should be kept in the “pressroom” section rather than occupying space in other areas.

Editor’s Note: Over the coming months, this column will review the websites of some large international, national, and regional public accounting firms (if can we still use that term), and perhaps of some smaller firms as well. Although all accounting firms attempt to communicate essentially the same information, their approaches vary considerably. These reviews will attempt to assess the websites from diverse perspectives: potential client, potential employee, general information seeker and overall.

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