Website of the Month: Accounting Software 411
By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University
Accounting Software 411 (www.as411.com) offers a directory of accounting software products and provides descriptions, reviews, and selected downloadable demo software. The site also offers connections to software consultants for some of the products. Consultants and vendors can provide information about their products and services on the website. Users can also read or submit accounting software reviews and articles related to accounting technology.
The website’s directory of accounting software can be accessed from the home page’s top menu bar. Users can then search for software in three ways:
Users who know the specifications they want can use the “power search” function. Some categories have a better selection of software than others, and it appears that software is listed only if the vendors submit information. Vendors can submit a request to have their software listed on AS411.com through the “suggest software” button on the left-hand side of the home page or on the “help” page.
Two excellent features are the software descriptions and comparisons. Users can select software products to be compared either under the classification selection index search or by choosing “Side by Side” from the left-hand index and making selections from a drop-down list. Individual software profiles and multiple product comparisons provide product descriptions, contact information, pricing, operating system requirements, software functions, and (in some cases) links to downloadable demonstration software.
Users can also choose “third party reviews” on the software directory page for links to reviews by outside parties. Users can submit information on an outside review or on a review they have written, via a small button at the bottom of the review. Some software products have no or only limited reviews listed, and the external links may not connect.
Another important feature is the information in the “consultant directory,” accessible from the top menu. The user can then search by specific software product or by entering keywords into a text search. Some software products have more consultants listed than others (some have none). Prospective consultants can register to be listed on the website.
The website offers a discussion board feature for users to ask questions of other users. Discussion boards exist for each product and for selected topics, and the features include an automatic response notification and an expert response program. Although the site information indicates that this is “arguably the most powerful area” of the website, this feature appears to be currently underused. Most of the discussion traffic is in the general discussions area of the topic-related boards, which might be the best place for an information seeker to submit a question.
AS411.com offers access to news articles and current events in a variety of ways. News and events are listed on the home page and can also be reached via the top menu bar. The website offers an assortment of up-to-date articles on accounting software and technology. If the user would like to submit an article, going to the “help” screen seems to be the only direct route.
AS411.com is very easy to use and to navigate. The top menu bar and left-hand navigation appear on most screens and are fairly self-explanatory. Moving back and forth in the site is generally very easy, even when link connections don’t work. The summarized information on available software products is excellent, and the flexible search options work well.
Some of the links to software demos I chose to download didn’t work; however, the ones that did connect downloaded quickly. The link for users to submit third-party reviews is difficult to find. Reviews and new articles were not always accessible. On the positive side, an employee of the website responded quickly when I asked for help with the links.
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