Many CPAs have created link-laden sites that are useful for their clients and fellow accountants, but few have done it with as much style, using as few resources, as Brenda J. Mizgorski, a sole practitioner near Monterey, California. In less than a year she found and organized some 650 accounting-related links as a service to the worldwide accounting community. This "intense hobby," as she calls it, received 5,000 hits between September 1996 and February 1997, and she's only beginning.
The site, called CPAnet, had its start when Mizgorski first began struggling to find resources for CPAs on the Internet. "I began collecting a few sites that I thought would be useful for me, and for other CPAs, so we could all find our way around." Now CPAnet has gotten attention from government agencies that come across it looking for financial links and from CPAs around the country and from visitors as far away as Taiwan. And it has two especially distinctive attributes: It isn't designed to market Mizgorski's services (although it is getting her attention) and she is planning to turn it into a viable revenue source on its own.
JUST US LINKS
The CPAnet home page is a gateway to 15 major areas. At the top is the CPAnet logo, a vividly colored geometric concoction with a motto: "If you are a CPA...you need CPAnet." This logo appears on every page on the site. The home page also offers visitors a chance to add themselves to an e-mail mailing list, which has 150 names and is growing by about 20 a week. The main advantage of an on-line mailing list is that sending to 15, 150 or 15,000 recipients costs about the same.
The home page links to other areas in two ways: The 15 areas appear on top in an eclectic mix of typefaces. Below is a "quick jump index" that lists each area again in smaller type, plus major subheads. "I've seen so many Web sites with useful links that were poorly organized," said Mizgorski. "A simple, logical flow was very important in setting up CPAnet." The 15 main areas in alphabetical order are articles archive, audit zone, CPA toolbox, continuing professional education, feedback central (e-mail), government roundup, international, Java break (purely fun stuff), news and magazines, new stuff, organizations and firms, real audio (for those with the right software, soundcards and speakers), tax zone, technical reference and search YAHOO. New links are placed in "new stuff" for a brief period before being sorted in one of the other areas, just...