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What We Talk About

So you’ve got yourself a website – awesome! (Or… is it?)

A lot of business owners toss together a website to “check off a box” and don’t worry about whether it actually performs up to standard.

But Jeff Fulkerson is committed to ridding the world of terrible websites – which might include yours! In this episode, he’ll share with us what you can look at to make sure your website is up to par and the steps you can take to fix it.

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Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:03
Lately, Jenny and I have been auditing our website, and recognizing that maybe we're not showing up the way we want online. And so when we met Jeff folkerson of Ferber web, and realized he does the same thing, and really is passionate about ridding the world, how did you say, Jeff, ridding the world of crappy websites,

Jeff Fulkerson 0:28
terrible websites? Yeah,

Alyson Lex 0:29
terrible websites, I added my own flair. We knew that because we're aligned. We had to talk to him today. And, frankly, Jeff, before we get started, I would just love to know about the origin of Ferb row web, because it sounds like there's a story there.

Jeff Fulkerson 0:47
Sure, there definitely is, I actually grown up always had short hair, like a crew cut or flat top. And it wasn't until high school when my mom was like, You should grow out your hair. So I finally did. And it turned out I had long curly hair, and I had a fro. And so that was kind of fun, because then suddenly, I had this thing that made me unique and made me stand out on campus. In high school, you know, people in the halls, random person will just feel my hair as they're walking by. And like, I don't know who that was. But it's kind of funny. And, you know, it just kind of made me feel good about myself to have something that people liked and were attracted to. And so in college, I was an RA. And there was another Ra, who also had a fro. And we were fro burrows. And so that's where that term originated from. And when I was creating my agency, I was thinking about how that fro kind of gave me a unique identity made me stand out and drew people to me, I want to do the same thing for other business owners, by essentially, creating a website that does that for them, makes them stand out unique grabs attention. So that's the short story behind that.

Jennie Wright 2:00
You were telling us a little bit earlier, and Allison sort of led you into it about ridding the world of these terrible websites. And if Furbo is meant to have people sort of stand out with a unique thing that makes them there, you know, really, really look good online and look good on the web. How do we make that happen? What makes a terrible website terrible? And then how is how are you fixing these things?

Jeff Fulkerson 2:28
It's a great question. I, there's, there's a bunch of layers to that. I think we can all agree, there's an intuitive sense when you land on a website, that's terrible, either because you got problems in your face, and you're just like, why are they doing this, or you can't find the menu option that's supposed to be really simple, or you have to wait a long time for it to even load. And you're like, I just wanted to do this, so I can get out the door, anything like that, that's frustrating you wasting your time, or it's just hard to use, I consider that a terrible website. So to make it awesome, you need to be aware of how you're coming across to your visitors, that means loading quickly, that means not flashing popups in their face all the time when they're just trying to get some tasks done. And looking professional, you know, if you've got different fonts everywhere, different sizes, you know, amateur graphics that you made in Microsoft Paint, like it all builds up right and it creates a representation of your brand that you know people are going to judge you based on that website. Bostock both on the look and feel of it, but also the experience of visiting that website and trying to interact with it. So rather than just having a website, as you know, check the box, they have a website for my business. You know, I had my cousin do it for me, actually treating it as an investment where you find someone with experience, who to put it together for you thinking about all of these factors, and then you will get a return on your investment because that's what it should be. It should be an investment in your business.

Jennie Wright 4:01
1996 Jenny feels judged because she totally made stuff on like, Microsoft paint and everything for her first website, which by the way, was a gothic poetry site.

Complete snow. Oh,

yeah, complete with a fake gray metallic background black accents. And a pop up

Jeff Fulkerson 4:32
was a pad in 1996, you know, the web was a little different. That was more common. Angel Fire. Or it was a MySpace and all those geo cities. Another one? Yeah. Geo cities. Yep. All right. So I mean, everybody just threw up what they had and

Jennie Wright 4:53
nothing literally threw up was the word there. Yeah.

Jeff Fulkerson 4:57
So we've come a long way but and I think people will expect Patients have increased as well, as the web has matured, and more and more businesses are online doing business online, there's a greater expectation for when you go to that website and see it. It's, you're expecting it to be good. And when it's not, it now stands out more. But I will say it's good to start somewhere, right? What if, if your budget doesn't allow you to hire someone, it's better to have a website than not have one. So if you have to use Wix or some page builder to start with, better than not having a website, though, not ideal. We can talk about that more, if you want.

Alyson Lex 5:38
I was gonna say, Jenny, and I prepare questions for these interviews. And you have now answered two of our future questions. So thanks for putting us on the spot a little bit later in this episode. And I just want to meet Jenny's Gothic poetry website with thank you this lead singer Brandon Boyd fan site. That was my and I built it on homestead, which was a site builder, which is now very similar to Wix or Squarespace. And it was mostly just shirtless pictures, because I was a teenage girl. And that's what we do. Okay, when it comes to moving on, that's why guys, I tried, you both just stopped me from it. When it comes to fixing the terrible website, making it not terrible. What do we focus on first? I mean, is there some kind of triage system that you have? How do you, because it feels like it could be just overwhelming to be like fixed the whole thing?

Jeff Fulkerson 6:37
Sure, I'd say you kind of have to assess what your starting point is. If let's assume for the moment you already have people coming to your website, then you need to look at it through the lens of that person visiting the website, you know, what are they trying to do when they come to their to your website? Are they trying to learn about something? Are they trying to make an appointment? Are they just browsing, and really get hyper focused on who that person is, and talk to them. So make sure the text on your website is talking to that person, and making it easy for them to do the thing that you want them to do. And don't have too many options where they're just overwhelmed, like, wow, I can do this or that or that. Make it simple, right? If you if you really are serving different types of people, that's fine. But then you should be creating separate landing pages that go into detail for each of those different clients. And then maybe on your homepage, you just have a question. Are you a business owner? Are you looking to start a business, you click the right button, and now you're on the appropriate landing page where you can go into detail talking to that person. So I'd say make sure that you're talking to the person that you want to be talking to, first of all, keep it simple. And then you can kind of work on the design and make it more professional contemporary. Make sure you're not flashing pop ups in their faces. I know I've mentioned that before. But yeah, I'd say that's, that's the first place to start.

Jennie Wright 8:04
I want to bring you back around to this whole Wix and Squarespace. I have opinions, many of them. And they're very, very strong. But I want to bring you back around to that because I want you to I want to get your stance on where you stand with this whole Wix and Squarespace and WordPress debate.

Jeff Fulkerson 8:23
Well, I think, like I mentioned is more of a budget thing. So if you don't have a budget upfront, sure, do a Wix website. But don't let that be your only website ever. That's a starting point. Because once your business gets going, you can afford it, then you should invest in a better professional website. I personally use WordPress for my sites, I find it to be the most robust, flexible platform for any business website. It's got the built in blog engine, and it's got the whole extensive set of plugins and developers that are making sure it's secure, and adding new functionality all the time. And of course, you can skin it however you want. So people don't even have to know that it's WordPress website. There are very large websites out there today new sites that use WordPress and you wouldn't guess that, but it performs well it works well. So my choice is WordPress. If you're savvy enough to set up a WordPress site up yourself, you can do that it is free to use. So that's a great way to go especially if you plan to improve it later. But the reason I even i My feelings are probably stronger than I'm letting on in terms of what platform to use. But I understand that when you're starting a business, it's hard to know where to allocate your capital and time and things. So I would say as soon as you can get a higher quality website than Wix or Squarespace they're not meant to be a lasting professional website in my personal opinion.

Alyson Lex 9:54
I think that when it comes to the WordPress idea, it can be really overwhelming for someone that's not aren't tech savvy to understand exactly what's possible? Because it feels like almost this whole new world of language and plugins and apps and integrations and APIs and all of these, you know, technical terms that somebody who doesn't understand technology or doesn't understand technology to that level would struggle with. Right. So what? Can you just give me a quick rundown of some of the different ways like I'm thinking, okay, I can use WordPress to host my blog. What other types of websites could I put on a WordPress site?

Jeff Fulkerson 10:43
Besides a blog community, besides a blog, you can have an entire ecommerce store built on WordPress, there are different ways to do that there are specifically WordPress oriented platforms like WooCommerce, which essentially transform WordPress into a an E commerce platform that leverages the underlying framework. Or you can do things like if you have Bigcommerce, or Shopify, there are some integrations that allow you to display the products from those, those platforms on your WordPress site. So that way, you can design the front end to look however you like through WordPress, and still keep your blog engine while linking directly to your products on Shopify, or big commerce, and use their checkout experience and payments and all that. So there's multiple ways to do it. So blogs, e commerce, even if it's just a simple business website, you can do it as a personal brand site, where you've just got information about yourself if you're trying to get speaking gigs, and you've got a contact form. It's it's really unlimited options for any type of website you want, you can build on WordPress. Now, I will say if you start to get to application based in terms of wanting people to do things in their browser, maybe collaboration tools like Google Drive, for example, you'd have to start coding something custom for that. But in terms of an informational website, or a business website, personal site, ecommerce site, the it's wide open.

Alyson Lex 12:15
Thank you for also telling us what the limitations are. And so would you recommend a WordPress site for hosting, for instance, membership sites or online courses?

Jeff Fulkerson 12:28
Yes, that I've seen a lot of great WordPress membership sites, there are some different plugins that you can use that, again, turn WordPress into more of a membership area, but it's the way they do it is leveraging the WordPress framework so that you can still have your posts and pages, but you just hide them behind membership levels, essentially. So that way, when someone pays to join, they become a member at whatever level, they get access to that content, the website still functions the same, just before it loads the page, it checks their membership level, and if they're logged in, and then displays them the right stuff. There are other good membership platforms for courses out there, Thinkific and Kajabi. And there's others mastermind.com. They're all good for different reasons. But at the end of the day, you can use WordPress, if if that's what you know, or want to stick with it, it's often cheaper to start with that. But there's always trade offs. I don't know how far you want to go into that specifically. But that's a

Jennie Wright 13:25
good topic to talk about. You're you're making some really great points. And it made me think of something that is a little bit close to what Allison and I are doing right now, at the time that we're recording this, we're absolutely looking at our website, for the System to THRIVE and our own personal websites, as a little bit of a thing that needs to be taken care of. And we're looking at, you know, we're really creating a bit of an audit and looking at what needs to be updated. Which makes me think of how often should I be updating my website not with intrinsically brand new information, but just to keep it fresh and, you know, relevant and never getting to the terrible website stage?

Jeff Fulkerson 14:04
That's a good question. I'm gonna answer it kind of in two parts. If we're talking about landing pages, like you're trying to sell a course or product, that's something that you should spend a lot of time on optimizing your headline, your sub headline and the text on the page, where to put the button and all that. And once you dial that in to get a good conversion rate, try not to touch it. Because that's why you spend that time upfront. And because that probably won't change too often. Occasionally, well, you should revisit but that will stay mostly the same. On the other side, you do want to have regular content added to your site. Maybe not changing the way you write everything on your homepage every week. But adding a new blog post or an article on a regular basis can be really helpful for your followers, but also the search engines like to see that you have regular fresh content all the time. And the more content you add especially If you're being intentional about what you're writing about, the keywords in those articles will get picked up by the search engines. And over time, you're going to rank higher in the results. And so that gives you more opportunities for visitors to find you when they're searching on Google. Does that help answer that question?

Jennie Wright 15:15
It does, actually. And it caused another follow up question, because you mentioned something about optimization and conversions. Which speaks in my language. Okay, that's definitely where I play. And I have a question for you. And I want to get your opinion, because I have again, strong opinions. Do you think that we can create high converting landing pages and sales pages right within, say, a WordPress WordPress site? Or do you recommend or no, that we could do better on things like click funnels and other another page builders?

Jeff Fulkerson 15:46
It depends on your level of experience. So yes, it's technically possible to build landing pages on WordPress, you don't need any external platform for that nice thing about Clickfunnels is they have a lot of templates that make you build it out quickly. So if you're new to building funnels, Click Funnels is a good way to go. Because you can kind of get a feel for it and just drop things in there. And it's kind of they make it easy to test it and try different things. Some of the trade offs with Click Funnels is you're now on somebody else's domain. And it might not load as fast as your own WordPress website, if you've optimized it well. So you ideally would want to keep all the domain authority on your own branded site. So, again, I hate saying it's always a wishy washy answer. But yes, you can build it on WordPress, if you know what you're doing. Otherwise, if you're new to funnels yet, Click Funnels is a great way to to get started.

Alyson Lex 16:41
I don't think the answers are wishy washy. And I say this as someone who gives frequent wishy washy answers, but thank you for giving us the pros and the cons of each to help our audience make a decision for themselves. Jenny and I are big Clickfunnels fans. So we'd like the Page Builder thing. Her opinions are much stronger than mine. I actually have a follow up question from Jenny's previous follow up question. On the updating of the website, how often should we do kind of a refresh? Or like an overall, I don't want to say overhaul but an overall a redesign? Yes, there's the word.

Jeff Fulkerson 17:21
It's if you're in touch with your brand, and your customers, I think you'll kind of know when it's time. It's not something you need to put on the calendar and say every six months or every 12 months, we have to do a totally new layout. No, I mean, if you spend the time, once to make sure the design matches your brand, and you do it and you're happy with it great, you know, you can always make incremental changes. Typically, I think the only time you would do a full redesign if is if you've changed if you've pivoted somehow, and maybe your focus is different. Maybe something changed about the market that you want to make sure you're capturing. Or even if contemporary styles have changed, and you're starting to look at your site and like hey, this doesn't feel fresh anymore. We want to still look professional and on the cutting edge. Okay, it's time to to redo it.

Alyson Lex 18:13
Or if and I'm not talking about any specific podcast duo at all. But if you threw your website together in 30 days, and now you've realized that it's time to make it look good.

Jeff Fulkerson 18:27
You know, we know, like I said, you'll know when it's time,

Alyson Lex 18:29
we know. Yeah, we

Jennie Wright 18:30
know that time is now now.

Alyson Lex 18:33
Yes. All right. You teased it earlier that we're going to talk a little bit about pop ups. What are your thoughts?

Jeff Fulkerson 18:43
I think pop ups can be useful. But often the way people use them is not useful and more annoying. So we give some examples. If if you show someone a pop up on your website, and they click the X, and then they pick their menu option, go to another page and that same pop up comes up again, they're going to be annoyed. You want to listen to the customer, if they say I don't want to see this right now. Don't show it to them again for at least a week. So it's actually pretty easy to do that with various pop up tools or page builder tools. If you're using Elementor or anything like that. You can set those triggers and requirements say hey, if they clear it, don't show it again. And what that does is it kind of tells the customer hey, these people listen to me. I feel heard. I don't feel annoyed. I don't want to run away. So that that's one thing. Number two is don't show the pop up immediately. You know I go to a page, I want to see what's on the page. I don't want it to suddenly be blocked by something else where I feel like you're pushing me on on something that you want, right? So I want a chance to look at the page first to read it. And then after maybe I've scrolled down to the page or been on the page for a few minutes, then show me a pop up. I'm more okay with that because it's feel is less invasive, it feels less like you're shouting at me. And the last thing I'd say is, if you are going to use that pop up, yes, delay it a little bit, listen to them when they dismiss it, but make sure that it's something they'd want to see. And it's not just something you want from them. So if you're just popping up, join our website or list right now, you know, give me your email, like, Okay, why I, I know you want me on my list. But if you're presenting something of value to the visitor, like, Hey, here's our list of Top Ways to Improve Your website, put in your email, and we'll send you a PDF report. Okay, I've now already read the page. So I see what you're about. Now I see the pop up. Hey, that does sound good. I get something for an email. Sure. Does that kind of paint a better picture of how popups should be used as opposed to, you know, the annoying way that they are often used?

Alyson Lex 20:55
I kind of see a lot of people, like if you think about the show Seinfeld and how Kramer just kind of throws himself in the door. Right? You know, knock, you don't ask, he just shows up. And that's pop ups were the way a lot of people use them. But, you know, I like Kramer anyway. Alright, so you have given us a ton of amazing information. And I know our listeners are gonna want to find out more about you. How can they do that?

Jeff Fulkerson 21:22
Sure, I put up a landing page just for your listeners. So if they go to frog or web.com/system to thrive, there'll be an option there to schedule a free 30 minute phone call with me. And that's not a hard sell or anything. That's literally just we can look at your website together, I can give you some pointers, things you can improve right away. And hopefully, hopefully, that'll be a helpful thing for them. I'm also on social media, if you go to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, it's all at proper web. And you should be able to find me there I post, I try to help post helpful things like I have a little internet glossary series that I've been doing where just tech terms that people might not be aware of kind of trying to do a simple explanation, so you can kind of grasp it, and other tips on how to improve your SEO and things like that.

Jennie Wright 22:11
I like that. Absolutely. And thank you for making that page. It looks amazing. And that's really, really kind of you to do that. So Allison, I want to say thank you so much for participating in this and doing this episode with us, we learned a lot. There's a little bit of selfishness in here, because we are at the moment when we're talking about this really going through a little bit of a redesign. So it's been really helpful to feel sort of validated with what we've been thinking what we've been hearing and hearing from an expert like you, which we really do appreciate.

Jeff Fulkerson 22:40
Sure. I'm glad to be here. Thanks again for having me on.

Jennie Wright 22:43
Absolutely. We've got a couple of takeaways from today's episode that we want to share. These are things that also and I listen and think of during the podcast itself and think this would be helpful for you. I'm going to start off with the first one, which is when you know, what are people trying to do when they actually come to your website? What is the actions that you want them to take? Are you overwhelming them with too many of them? And are you making it easy for them to do the thing they want to do because quite often and I as he was saying this, when Jeff was saying this, I was feeling it, like often I'm just trying to do something and then getting away from it and going and doing something else. I don't want to wait for the load times and the issues and the find this and the go to that and the six pages to find the thing. I just want to do the thing and leave. And that's how the website should be working.

Alyson Lex 23:26
For me, I really liked when you said treat your website as an investment in your business, don't just toss it up to check a box. Make sure you do it right to the best of your budget, your ability, what you have available at the time.

Jennie Wright 23:41
Although it pains me to say this, I do get it if you need to start with Wix and Squarespace. But don't let that be your only website ever. It's a great launcher or starter platform to use. However, I personally believe in I think Jeff and Alison both agree with me that there is some limitations in there. So you're limited a little bit by the options, but it's a speed to market kind of thing. And we totally get it. So do what's best in the time. But when you have the availability or the desire, look at having a little bit more of a, you know, more optional platform.

Alyson Lex 24:15
Listen to your audience and think about what they need. That was really, really a big deal for me when you were talking about the pop ups and you said is it something that's good for me? Or is it just something you want me to do? Right? So really think about your audience, they'll you'll know if you're tapped into your audience, you'll know that it's time for a redesign, you'll know that your pop ups are missing the mark, you'll know what kind of content to put out. The more you listen to your audience, the more into not just with your website, but your entire business is going to just you're going to be more in tune with it. It's going to be more successful. That's my big takeaway.

Jennie Wright 24:57
All those good things, too. Take a second right now and take a look at your own website, go to your website, right the second and just take a really constructive look. Is it what it needs to be for you? Can you make updates and changes that fit within your budget and your time allowance at the moment? Is it something that you can project for the fourth quarter of the year? What do you need to do right now to make sure that that works for you, or one better book a call with Jeff. So Jeff gave us the site, head on over there, we'll have it in our show notes for you as well and get the help that you need so that you can create a website that's going to be exactly what your ideal client wants to see and helps them take the action that you want them to take. Thanks so much again, Jeff. Really appreciate it. Make sure you're listening to this podcast, wherever it is that you're checking in on podcast, follow us, subscribe, do all those wonderful things. And we'll be back again soon answering another big question.

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