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Websites: if you don’t have one already, you probably are thinking about creating one. Having your own website is an important part of building your web presence, but not every course creator approaches this the same way. My website has evolved a lot over time, in part thanks to Greg Merrilees and his team at Studio1Design. That’s why I had Greg on the show today. We’re talking all things related to online course websites!

“Look at your data to figure what’s working… and be prepared for it to change.”

– Greg Merrilees

Greg had some awesome tips about how to identify your website needs as an online course creator. I hope you enjoy what you hear!

In This Episode, We Talked About: 

  • (2:09) Web design and finding balance
  • (3:04) How my web design choices have evolved with my business
  • (10:45) Introducing Greg and what he does
  • (13:19) Is it important for course creators to have a full website?
  • (16:13) Why I stopped designing my own websites
  • (18:09) Must-haves for great conversion rates (and examples from my own website)
  • (25:18) Observations on some big website mistakes
  • (28:51) Where does Greg see web content going in the future?
  • (32:23) Something I’ve been testing recently on my website
  • (34:04) What to expect when working with Greg
  • (35:48) The value of social proof
  • (42:47) Final thoughts from Greg
  • (44:04) David and I discuss takeaways from today’s interview

Thanks for listening and learning along with me today. Stay tuned for another great episode coming soon!

Jacques Hopkins: I have a lot of software and tools that I rely on to make my online course business run well, and let me tell you about two of them right now. First, there's click funnels. I've been using click funnels in my online piano course business for over four years, and I love it because it does so much so well.

I host my course there. I have my amazing sales funnel, their order forms and so on. If you want to try click funnels free for 14 days and get all of my templates I'm currently using to crush it with piano in 21 days. And get a course. I put together on how to best use ClickFunnels as a course creator, head to the online course, that's the online course, next is deadline funnel, which allows you to easily integrate scarcity into your online course sales funnel in an ethical way. And the folks at deadline funnel have generously offered to. Double the free trial for listeners of this podcast.

So to get your 28 day free trial of deadline funnel, head to deadline, C G for online course guy. Once again, that's deadline C. G now let's get on with episode one 23. What your online course website should look like.

Regular people are taking their knowledge and content, packaging it up in an online course and they're making a living doing, but not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way, and I'm here to help course creators actually succeed with online courses. Hi, I'm Jacques Hopkins, and this is the online course show.

And off we go. Welcome aboard. Glad you're with us. This is the online course show. I'm your host Jacques Hopkins, and here with me is our cohost David. Rosie.

David Krohse: Hey, what's up.

Jacques Hopkins: And we're excited to dive into all things online courses with you today, David. It's episode one 23 and we're going to go into a very, a specific topic. On the episode today, and that is web design. What do you think about that? What's the first thing that comes to mind when I talk about, when I say web design?

David Krohse: Oh man. I mean, it's just like things have changed. I mean, I grew up in the early days of the internet and so I think back to these really ugly sites and then there was like that period where flash was everything.

Like a, you know, a musical artist would have, like, their website would be just move in every which way and it so cool. And now we've kind of come full circle where things are simple. So I mean, things, things change in web design. So yeah.

Jacques Hopkins: And you've got to find the line between things looking good and things selling well. You know, where, where is that line? Hopefully we can have a both. That's what I strive for is I want, I want. You know my presence online too, to look as good as possible. But then of course, I'll also convert and sell as as good as possible too. And so we'll play, we'll play an interview for the audience here in a little bit of somebody who knows a thing or two about web design, but I kind of wanted to, to, you know, to step, to set the stage for that by kind of talking about my history with web design as far as, you know, my online course piano in 21 days goes, does that sound good to you?

David Krohse: That sounds good.

Jacques Hopkins: For the longest time, my, if you go to, if you went to piano in 21 it was just a single page and it was basically the entry point into the funnel. It was the, the opt in page for my free workbook and there's nothing else. There was nothing else you could do, right? There was no about page, there was no testimonials page, there was, there was nothing else, and this was probably, this was probably 2016 timeframe and I, I asked myself like, okay, is this, is this, is this good enough? Is this serving my customers as well as it could? Right? Not, not being able to go to an about page or a homepage or a testimonials page, right? Is, is my business just an online course and just a funnel, or is it, is it a, is it a full fledged business that's legitimately trying to help people in every way possible?

And. I decided that I needed a full website. Right. And I didn't immediately go out and, you know, hire an expert web designer or anything like that. My process was, okay, I found a website on the internet that I liked. I had a guy who was very good with WordPress that I'd used for things, for other things before, and I said, Hey, make, make a site for me that looks like this site and here's the content I want on it.

And he did a great job with it. And that was the first full website for piano in 21 days. Dot com back in 2016 and I kind of cry, you know, I was looking at the design for it earlier and I kind of cringe when I look at it now. It's, it wasn't spectacular or anything, but it was for the first time I had those extra pages on my site where people could navigate. And when you went to piano in 21 it wasn't the, it wasn't the opt in page. Right. But that original original design still had the same. Look and feel on the homepage that I do today, where it's just, Hey, it's my picture. And it's like, Hey, I'm Jacques. You know, I help regular people learn to play their favorite songs with the fastest online piano course, you know, get started here.

Big old button right on the homepage. And then that would take them to the opt in page. That used to be the homepage. And so that's how I kind of got started in web design. At the time, it didn't really, it didn't really occur to me to kind of get my site custom designed. Right. I wasn't too familiar with even what proper web design was.

I thought proper implementation of a website was more important, and so I paid the money to, to somebody who knew WordPress well to implement my ideas, but it never really occurred to me to get a custom web design. So the next, the next iteration was I, I, I started to not really like my design, so I went into click funnels and I started kind of designing what I want the site to look like next.

And I was going to hand that off to my WordPress guy and say, here, you know, put this in WordPress. Well, that actually went pretty well. It went so well that I was like. What if I just leave all this in click funnels. And so I had a whole website on piano in 21 for over a year with an about page and testimonials page and all these pages just click funnels.

And so that was kinda cool, but there were limitations, there were limitations. So eventually I did convert it over to WordPress. Literally it was on, it was on just click funnels for over a year. But I went back to my same WordPress guy and said, Hey. Here's my site. It's active, right? Build this for me in WordPress.

So then he built that for me. Then I came across a website, I don't even remember what it was, but I was like, this is a really well designed website, and instead of going back to my guy and be like, look, make my website look like this one. I saw at the very bottom of the page, it said, this website designed by studio one design, and I clicked on their page and I went to it and I was like, wow, these guys seem to really know a thing or two about web design. I was like, wonder if I should. Actually pay and get my site, give me a custom design that's just mine. It's not modeled off of anybody else's on the internet and get my site professionally designed. I think up to that point, this was probably a couple of years ago, maybe two, two and a half years ago, and so I reached out to Greg at studio one design, and him and his team did a phenomenal job with my site, and that's essentially the site you see at piano in 21 days, dot com custom, completely custom designed by them.

Now, I will say that I still took their designs and handed it to my same WordPress guy that I've been using for years and years and years, and he implemented it for me, but it was really cool too, for the first time, have a website designed professionally and not by me. And I think that is probably a point where people should strive to get to eventually, maybe not start that way cause it's expensive, right? It's, well it's, it's not super expensive, but it's not cheap. But eventually get to that point. So that, that's my history there. Any questions about that sequence of, of web design on piano in 21

David Krohse: No, I think you did. I knew that you had it hosted and click funnels for a bit, and then I was trying to model my site on yours and I was like, how do you get this drop down menu at the top? And is that one of the things that click funnels just wouldn't let you do as an actual dropdown menu on mobile?

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, on mobile for sure. They have a, they have an element called the navigation menu, but then there's no drop-downs within it and it doesn't look any different on mobile. So that's just one of many of the limitations in click funnels. Right. But yeah, so people, people have definitely noticed that they, they, they go to my site and they're like.

Hey, cause I have a YouTube video out there that said, it talks about how I was able to create my entire site and click on those. They were like, wow, you know, you've really taken it a long way. Like how are you doing this, this and this, and click funnels. I'm like, well, I actually graduated and back to WordPress now. And you can't do those things in, in just click funnels.

David Krohse: Yeah. That's good to have that full frame of reference.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And then, you know, on the other side for you, I think you've, you've always just done things. In click funnels. Right. I don't know that you even have a WordPress site at this point, do you?

David Krohse: I don't. My my main business, my chiropractic office has a WordPress site. Yeah. So that one I've had some experience with both, and I've done some tweaking on that with just Beaver builder. But yeah, I've seen both sides of it.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And maybe for those that are just listening to this episode, this is the first episode, they're listening to you, your main thing is you're, you're a chiropractor, you have a brick and mortar shop, you're a chiropractor, and you have kind of a side hustle as your online course where you help chiropractors and even other professionals get more clients. That's, that's your online course. So you have a WordPress site for your main business, but for your online course, you're just in click funnels and to your w with the kind of the level you're at with the amount of sales you've made, the amount of customers you have. That's, that's probably good. But I would imagine one day you might want to expand out and get something professionally designed like I eventually did.

David Krohse: Definitely.

Jacques Hopkins: With that stage set. Why don't we go ahead and play this interview? It's actually the guy who runs studio one design who designed my site that I just told you about, Greg, and we talked about all things web, web design, some best practices and things to avoid. And so let's go ahead and play that for you and we'll be back on the other side.

Hey, Greg, welcome to the online course show.

Greg Merrilees: Thank you for having me, Jacques. It's awesome to be here, buddy.

Jacques Hopkins: It's good to see you, man. It's, it's been, it's probably, it's been too long, I would say. But look for the audience out there who isn't familiar with you and your work, why don't we start by you just letting us know who you are and who it is that you help.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, totally. So, yeah, we, my business name is Trudy one and yeah, we help a lot of businesses that have online funnels, essentially. So a lot of membership businesses and various other niches as well. But yeah, so we, you know, we've got a team of 20 people, and I guess. Yeah, just a quick backstory, like we haven't always had a successful business like that.

I actually started out as a tee shirt designer and then the industry started pivoting and, and, and sort of going down. So like the, our clients were wholesalers that were going vertical and, and squeezing out, you know, our clients. Right. So. What it meant was I had to look for online opportunities and I actually started my own membership site, right?

So, which I've still got today, and it's a membership site just selling tee shirts. It's not a course membership site, it's just selling tee shirts in the form of a recurring membership, right? So that's where I kind of cut my teeth on the whole online marketing team, figuring out that, you know, you have to lead with value and, and just a lot of other things that we'll get into on this call.

But yeah, that's. Kind of led me to just designing websites for some of the top marketers in the world, essentially. You know, we've, we probably do about 20 websites a month, and yeah, we've designed, you know, literally thousands of websites now.

Jacques Hopkins: Well, just to provide overall context on my side as well. You know, I want, I want to share with the audience where I came across you and your work. It was probably a couple of years ago. It was just browsing the internet like I do on my day to day, you know, in my day to day work. And I came across a website that I particularly liked and I saw all the way at the bottom who it was that designed the website. So I clicked on it and then I immediately saw your, you know, your face there and got in touch.

And. And so it was a, it was a couple of years ago that I had you guys, you and your team completely redesigned my piano in 21 website. And you know, I'm obviously thrilled with how that turned out. Probably probably should have had you on the podcast sooner, but I'm excited to dive in and talk a little bit about, you know, web design, best practices and, and I know you've got plenty of tips to share with regards to that and conversion for, for this audience. So if you're good with it, let's, let's dive in.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. Awesome man. Yeah, and thanks for choosing us as well. Yeah, you'll Saudi's awesome. And yeah, I guess throughout this banter, let's sort of work out, I will let people know what's working for your website, because I especially want to touch on that testimonials thing you've got.

Jacques Hopkins: Right on. Let's do it. Yeah. Feel free to fire away questions, any questions right back at me if you want to, but let me, let me begin with this one. I want to, I want to know in your opinion, if you think it's important, for course creators who, you know, the majority of this audience. Or people that have courses already or who want to have a course, right?

Maybe they're in the beginning stages, but is it important for course creators to have like a full fledged website or can we get away with just a sales page? And just to give you a little more context on that question, I see people start courses, they sign up for something like teachable and then they'll just use teachables built in sales page. And like that's basically their website. They have a sales page and then they have a course. Is that okay? Or should we have a full website.

Greg Merrilees: I think it depends if you're starting out or if you're an established business, right. So I would say when you're starting out, definitely use tools like that or click funnels is probably a better tool, as you know. And yeah, and obviously, you know, you want to test your offer, you want to make sure you've got a market for this thing. So I would say don't go and invest in a website if you haven't tested your offer first, because you might just be wasting a whole, whole bunch of money.

Jacques Hopkins: All right. So once our offers tested. Once we, once we believe in the product and other people believe in the product, then maybe it's time to use the word invest in a website. Well, some people just, you know, you've got your domain. Maybe that costs $10. You can get a free WordPress template or something, you can start putting things in yourself like, what do you mean invest in a website?

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, so I guess what I'm talking about, it depends on the level of your business. Let's say you're making $300,000 a year from your, from your courses, right? That's probably the starting point where you really should be looking at your business model and Simos should I be. Working on websites myself, right?

Because you're probably at that level where you can afford to invest in a professional to do it for you. If you're under that, then it's probably a good thing to do it yourself because you know, I mean, you can do a lot of things yourself online these days, right? There's lots of templates and page builders and all that sort of stuff, but I would argue that once you get to a certain level of income, 300 to 500,000 you really should be looking at, you know, investing in a professional that does it for you.

And I would also say, take it one step. Further and not just invest in a website, but invest in your brand and invest in, obviously a website designer that understands conversion. So you can take your business to that next level. Just through the, you know, the conversion focus design.

Jacques Hopkins: It sounds kind of like what I did. When kind of when I was reaching out to you as well, because up until that point, I had always designed the website myself, and now I like to look at a website, a new website, or a website redesign. Really, there's two phases, and I'd imagine you'd agree with me. We've got the design side, and then we've got the implementation side, right?

They're not the same thing. And. I have, I've always designed my site myself, but I haven't always implemented in myself. Like I've got a really good WordPress guy, so I'll, I'll kind of cook something up, dream something up and say, Hey man, can you make this happen? But it just kinda hit me one day, you know, a couple of years ago, as I was browsing and saw some of your designs, I was like, you know, I've never really had my site professionally designed of how to professionally implemented. So that's kind of my history with it. But what side of it do you help people with? Is it both sides?

Greg Merrilees: It is both, like we've got 20 people on our team, but we have 14 on the design team and only six full time developers, right? So we focus more on the design and then we give our clients the choice like we did with you to have it implemented elsewhere and coded and built on WordPress or wherever. Right? So yeah, we focus on that design piece because. That's my background.

You know, I've had my business for 20 years and you know, design is my passion essentially. And now I've got lets other designers to help me. But yeah, so I would say if you're looking for a website designer, there's a huge difference between a designer and a developer, right?

So the developer is the implementer basically. But normally it's very unlikely for them to understand conversion, focus, design or design in general. They're good at building things, but you know, having them design it is a totally different story. So. We're not developers by hut. You know, we've got more of focus on the design side.

Jacques Hopkins: I got it. I got it. Yeah. And it worked out really well for me because like, like I said, I had, I had a guy, I had a developer slash implementer already that I trusted, and it just, it's just that. The design behind that. Up until that point was basically me, and I'm not a designer like I have. No, I've no experience in that.

I think I know what looks good, but it was so nice to be able to hand that off to you guys and then keep using my existing developer. So next, let me. Oh no, go ahead. Go ahead.

Greg Merrilees: I was gonna say, you'll see it doesn't, didn't look terrible. A, that wasn't too bad, but you did decide, okay, I want to take it to that next level, which is obviously, you know where we helped out.

Jacques Hopkins: Now you're just being nice, Greg. All right, next, let's go here. I've got, I've got a question written down here for you that I really want to ask you. So let me read this one. What are some of the biggest must have principles on a website to boost conversions?

Greg Merrilees: Totally. Yeah. So this is a big answer, but look, there's three main principles that you have to have, right? So number one is clarity. Number two is strategy, and number three is perceived value, right? So what I mean by that is using design, what we like to do is, let's say for instance, somebody is looking at your website and they're picturing something in their head, first stop. They only care what's in it for them, right?

But they're looking at it and they're thinking, Hmm, okay. Does this look like it's, you know, does it, does it look really good and does it look quality and am I going to get a lot out of it? So if you design it yourself, there's a good chance that's not really going to look that way. Right. I noticed one of your, I won't say his name, but one of your previous guests that is kind of a competitor has a site.

You know, I think lets his business down because it just doesn't look as professional as obviously his courses and things like that. Ah, so it's the perceived value that people have when they come to your side. So really, yeah, you want to make sure that it does look up to date. It does look professionally designed, you know, the colors appeal to the target market, the images of professional photos and not just, you know, stock images if possible.

And then, yeah, you really just want to make sure. Yeah. I guess the main thing is that it appeals to your target market. So that's really the perceived value pace. But then if we just take a step back and go to clarity, right? So when somebody lands on your site, you have about five seconds to capture their attention.

So cause they're going to be looking at you and your competitors and that sort of thing. So you just really want to answer what's going through their head. And. That's questions like, you know, what's in it for me? What is it that you offer and what's in it for me? So what I see a lot of business owners do is they just write copy themselves. And I'd say, another thing you need to invest in is copywriting. We can talk about that later. But yeah, there are a couple of themselves and, and it's like, you know, I am awesome. He is, he is what I do buy my stuff. Right? So it's just not a good solution. So really people just want to care. Sorry, people only care about what's in it for them, how they'll benefit from your offer, why are you the trusted authority for me to buy from?

And do you have proof that your stuff works. All right. Sorry. Cause they're going to be looking at all your competitors as well. So that's kind of the clarity pace and just make sure you have a clear pathway and fold them, you know, based on whatever the funnel is, which is really the next step. We're talking about strategy, right? So that's the number two principle, and that really is Laden with value. So, you know, obviously you've got a, a, on your site, you've got a free course, essentially. And that's somethings that I guess a lot of people might struggle with initially when they started out. They just want people to buy this stuff.

So it's kind of counter intuitive to give it away, but you want to give away your best stuff for free. But then after that you want to have a strategy that takes them through a funnel. Because that's a good opportunity to build trust and get them saying yes to the next thing that you have, and then eventually they'll buy, but don't try and push the sales straight away.

Jacques Hopkins: So of those three, I would say I'm probably doing the strategy part the best. I'm pretty proud of my funnel. So I do want to go into this a little bit deeper and use my, my website as an example, piano in 21 and you guys designed this for me a couple of years ago, but I've certainly done my fair share of tweaks over the past couple of years.

Including, you know, especially that testimonials page that you alluded to a little while ago, but running through these, these three things that you've mentioned. Let's talk clarity. I mean, when you go, you said, you know, five, five seconds, right? People, people give you about five seconds. You go to piano in 21 How good is the clarity right now, do you think?

Greg Merrilees: I think it's fantastic. Yeah, I think it's a, it's a really, really well-written, like you're telling people exactly what you do. I help regular people learn to play their favorite songs with the fastest online piano course, but that's pretty good. And just your, your domain name, your brand name, piano, in 21 days, it's pretty obvious how long it's going to take.

So there's a lot of clarity there. And then underneath that you've got a little bit of a, you know, featured vibe. Penis and CNBC, Forbes, et cetera. Tim Ferriss, which is killer. So that's a little bit of an authority boosting piece as well. So you've got my attention, right? I, I trust you, I get what it is that you do, but you also have a little sentence or paragraph should say underneath that sort of main headline.

And that takes. Your USP, which is a unique selling proposition at the top into more details. So yeah, it says, you know, if your, if, sorry, it doesn't need to take years to learn how to play. So you kind of position yourself as the opposite to, or that's your enemy essentially. And it's good if you can put your enemy in there, whether it's time, whether it's you don't want to use a competitor of course.

But. You know, it's something that you are the opposite too, and so you go into more detail and you say you don't have to only play songs from hundreds of years ago. Right? Learning piano can be fast and more fun and easier than you thought ever. Sorry. Then you thought, let me show you how. So to me it's like you're, you're giving people a different mind set into, into what learning piano is all about. I reckon that's really clever.

Jacques Hopkins: Well, it's my website and you're basically the one that designed it. So we're probably not the two best people in the world to critique this site. We're both a little biased and they're just worried about perceived value. You feel like the perceived value overall is pretty high when you, when you land there.

Greg Merrilees: I do, and I look, I've got your, your old site up as well. And I'm just comparing the two. And even though it was kind of similar, like we use a lot of the same, you know, copy and things like that and just gave it a design overhaul. The quality of photos and the way we implemented it, photos, it's just a little bit more professional, a lot more, you know what I mean?

So. Therefore, if somebody comes to your site now and it looks really good on mobile as well, which is super important, I think there's no doubt in their mind they'd be thinking, right, well, this is the real deal. This is, you know, this is high quality.

Jacques Hopkins: Now, you mentioned copywriting a little bit a little while ago, and how important that is as well. When you're, when you're designing a site for somebody, do you help with copywriting as well?

Greg Merrilees: No, we don't look, we see a lot of websites obviously, and we have copywriting partners. We have about 10 copywriting partners that we'll refer people to based on you know, their, their location, their budget, what they actually need the mountain they'd copy for just a homepage or a full funnel, email marketing, that sort of thing. But it is super important because, you know, getting that message in. Ryan. Can like, what a good professional copywriter will do is I, they'll generally interview your customers or your prospects if you've just got people on your list, if you're starting out, but then they'll interview them and then they'll write the copy.

That's persuasive copy using the words. That they got from those customers. So it's in their words, because what a lot of business owners do is they're a little bit too close to their own website. And so they use technical jargon, you know, things that are relevant to their industry. But a newbie coming in might not understand that language. So a copywriter will use the language of what your existing customers actually use.

Jacques Hopkins: So let, let's go here next. I could only imagine somebody like you just browsing the internet on a daily basis. Somebody who is such an expert on web design, you're just constantly like judging the different pages and websites that you see.

What are some of the, what are some of the biggest mistakes out there? You see? And maybe what are, what are, what's the one or two that just really make you cringe when you see them.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, look, there are a bunch, but honestly, it's selling on how low. I think that's the biggest mistake. So we designed a site called FitLife dot tV, which is essentially a credit in a community. You know, it's like a membership where they, you know, they offer weekly training or twice a week. They do training. And what they used to have was, they, they own this site called Organifi by, you know, I think it is. It's, you know, it's a supplement, sort of juicy type business.

But so what they had was just by now. And so what we found was that people weren't buying, now they weren't going to that cause I hadn't built enough trust with the brand. And that's the whole purpose of your website to build trust. So what we did instead was. We led with value. We had a free lead magnet, you know, a free PDF download. We put some social proof up, their impact metrics, you know, how many social businesses he has, which is absolutely millions. And then we went with these mindset Mondays and he's, you know, whatever his Thursday, whatever he has. So all these educational pieces. So it's just. Changing the, the, you know, the approach to leading with value, and then you get a much better result doing that.

So that's the biggest mistake. Just don't sell on. Hello. another mistake would be no thank you page offer. So people opt into a free download or whatever. Take him to a Frank thank you page and it just says. Thanks for downloading my free stuff, whatever. I'm instead put a video that get people excited and let them know what they're going to get from that free PDF download and then invite them to the next step of your funnel and have a call to action there. But I would say a face to camera video is the best way to build trust. On the thank you page.

Jacques Hopkins: Greg. On that note, let me tell you what's worked really, really well for me. People go, you know, obviously all throughout my site, I'm trying to get people to download that free workbook. You know that you mentioned the optin.

That's the start of my funnel. Then on the thank you page, there's a video of me. Just tell them, you know, welcoming them, telling them what they can do on this page, but there's not just one thing on that page. It's not just view the view of the workbook. That's step one. They can do that, but step two is register for an evergreen webinar, and a lot of them.

A lot of people will have the evergreen webinar actually as the optin right? Come, come view my free workshop, come view my webinar, but I've found that I get about twice as many. You twice the conversion rate on my workbook. Then I do the evergreen webinar, but then I place it on the thank you page as your kind of what you're suggesting, and then that's, there's such qualified people that are landing on that thank you page that I make so many sales right up front. You know, on the same day somebody introduced to me through that evergreen webinar that I might not have been able to do. Having that same webinar offer. Before the thank you page, I think. I think that's fantastic advice to, to ask for more things and give more things on that thank you page.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, I do the exact same thing, to be honest. I've got a lead magnet as my, as my opt in, and then I have a recorded webinar straight on there, like on the thank you page. So yeah, I do the exact same thing and it works. It's awesome. It's really, because they're super cold lead when they download the free thing and then you've warmed them up a bit in that video and then you're asking them to give it. Give me a bit more time, which you can't really do at this stop because I don't trust you enough yet.

Jacques Hopkins: All right. Next let's talk about kind of trends and the future of websites, like what are, what are some of the newest website trends that you're seeing, good or bad, I guess, and what should we be aware of and where do you think like websites are going in in the next five years?

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. Well, I guess virtual reality and augmented reality might change things a lot and women might not have a job then, but until then, yeah. So I'd, I'd say that, look, I mean, we don't, we do follow trends and we want to try and be trendsetters. Right? But as a website owner, don't be. Too. Don't follow trends too closely because a lot of these trends are not conversion focus trends, so just be very wary of some trends.

I'll give you an example. Let's say, you know parallax effects, which is a technical term for when you're scrolling down a website. You have all these things. Flying in and backgrounds move in and all that sort of annoyance stuff. And that's what it is. It's annoying. And people get confused from that. And like we're signed for clarity wins every time. So when you confuse, you lose, right? So what we want to do instead is just keep everything static and only things that you want moving would be things like. I mean you can't, you can have Colts actions juggle or whatever, but social proof numbers, metric numbers that might, let's say you've got a million YouTube visitors or fans or whatever, then you want to have potentially that counting up to a million.

So it just grabs a little bit of attention, but don't have things moving and image sliders of let's say testimonials and things like that, have them static, allow the user to click through. So say the next, the next, next day and have things moving unless the user, you know, wants them to move. But yeah, so that's, yeah, that's really some trends you want to avoid.

Well, some trends in general, like obviously it's all about, you know, you want it to feel like when somebody comes lands on your site, you want it to feel inviting and fresh and modern and clean and that sort of thing. But once again, and that's a trend really clean, right? But once again, don't be too claim because the messaging is more important than having a super clean design.

I find that's a problem with a lot of, yeah, non conversion focused designers. I think clever wins, but clarity wins every time. But yeah. So apart from that, like honestly, I just wouldn't follow trends too closely. There are little trends that actually I might have to leave it there. I can't think of any. Sorry.

Jacques Hopkins: No worries. So what about going forward, and specifically, I'm wondering about like mobile, right? Cause I'm, I was looking the other day and I've got more mobile visitors to my website than I do desktop visitors. So does that mean that the next time I do maybe redesign my site, I should. Design it mobile first and then breaks range out to the desktop version. What are your thoughts on that?

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. Look, once again, a lot of designers have that approach, right? So what we do, we design desktop first with mobile in mind while we're designing, right? But we purposely don't design mobile first because of the fact that there's not much brand personality you can put into a mobile first design. Right? Now, don't get me wrong, it's super important. And if a site, you know, comes to us so. And, and they said, we want, you know, mobile is far more important. Well, yes it is, but if we can't put any brand personality in differentiate, you know, your site to your competitors, then what's the point? So what we do is design, you know, a full desktop version first.

And then once the customers approve that, then we'll show them how it'll look on my about. We'll still put in as much brand personality as possible, but we want it to have, you know. Minimal sort of minimal design elements so that it loads quickly.

Jacques Hopkins: Next question for you. Greg is going to be in the low in the weeds a little bit here. I'm testing something right now on my site and that's, that's an exit intent. I don't know what popups the right word. It's more like a, a screen takeover and I'm testing it because I, I've, I've heard that it converts really well and so far it's converting pretty well. But you know, as a, as a user of various websites. It's, I find it a little bit annoying. So what are your thoughts on on potentially annoying things like exit intense.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. So I think what you're talking about when it takes up the full screen is a welcome gate. And look, personally, I find them super annoying as well, but it's not about what we find in NOI. It's about what converts, right? So, but to me, it's finding that right balance. So I would test these things, and if you know, if you. Putting anything new on your site, just test it for a week and see what happens to your conversions. But not just optins, but conversions of sales. Because what you might be doing is ruining your brand integrity by annoying people. So much. So don't have a pop up. As soon as you land on the page, like a welcome gate or something that pops up straight away. Instead have it as an exit intent so people get to leave, then it'll pop up. Or you can use a tool like opt in monster has all these other triggers, like how far you've. Scroll it on the page, how many pages you've visited, how long you've been on the site, all these other triggers you can set, which are far less invasive than a an entry pole.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, and that's, that's exactly what I've been using the test and I've been enjoying it so far. Optin monster, so people can check that out. I'm, I'm liking it so far. All right, so let's talk about more about your company and kind of your process. If somebody is listening to this and like, yeah, you know, you're right. It's, it's probably time that I get my site professionally designed, kind of like jock did. What is your process like? What could somebody expect if they start working with you on a new website?

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. So for a start, what we like to do is we like to make sure they're a good fit, you know? So what we do is we ask them a few basic questions first, and then we gave, give them, you know, ballpark estimate, right? And then if they want to take you, take it further, we'll send them a design questionnaire, which can be really detailed and quite annoying for people to fill out. But it's crucial if we're going to get them a good result. Right.

And then after that, we jump on a call like this zoom call and . Dive deeper into their answers to the questionnaire, and then we feed the recording of that call and the design questionnaire into the design team. And then they start designing basically. And then we offer unlimited design revisions on everything we do. So we want to get the client feedback and we're supporting the client with, you know, letting them know why we've designed what we've designed in, in that process. And then, yeah, it's usually like a four week process all up to design an entire site. And then we'll give them the quote for the, for the build phase, or they can have it built elsewhere.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, very nice. if anybody wants to see some of your work, you know, they can just go to piano in 21 Listeners of this podcast who would also be pretty familiar with ne Dotson as well, a micro greens so I know you guys did his site as well. Yeah, absolutely. You sent night to us and yeah, I love his side as well.

Greg Merrilees: He's, he's a great guy and he's got a really good niche there, so yeah. It is, isn't it? Yeah. That's awesome to say. Yeah. We've done quite a few other membership sites, but yeah, if you go to on have a look at all of the other folio images there.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, 100% and, and, and this isn't like a sponsored episode or anything. I reached out to you. I was like, Hey, let's, let's share some value about proper web design. And that's, that's why I wanted to have you on here. One of the things that's most different about my site piano in 21 since you guys designed it would be that testimonials page and that's something I just launched here recently. I've been updating the audience on on that cause I'm super proud of it. I think two episodes ago is when I told people, Hey, it's ready. Go check it out. Piano in 21 testimonials. What do you think Greg?

Greg Merrilees: Man, I'd absolutely love that. It's so smart the way you've got those filters in there, because you've got so many, what you're doing is letting people know who they can. Like prospects come to your site, they can filter by people that are more likely to be like them, right? So it might be age, it might be, you know, whatever the case is. There's a lot of filters in there. You can have about 20 filters, which is really, really powerful. So, yeah, to me, I mean, I don't know how long you've had that on there, but. Are you finding you're getting good feedback from that? you're getting more sales because of it.

Jacques Hopkins: It's, it's so new. It's hard to, it's hard to say if I'm getting more sales because of it, but I, I know that a lot of people tell me that they purchase because of the Testament. Monique, even before I launched the new one. Right. So I know how important testimonials are. To sell something, especially for me, like people want to see my students playing their piano. What do they sound like after the 21 day program that's so important? And the where I got the idea for the filter was about half of my students want to sing while they're playing and the other half just want to play like me.

Like I, I'm not comfortable singing. Like I just play my piano there. There's that two distinct types of people and if I want to learn how to sing, like if I want to. Play the piano while I'm singing, then I only want to see the testimonials where people are doing that, you know? And vice versa. If I, if I don't want to sing, then I don't really care how you can see when you play. I want to just see how you're playing. And so once I, I wanted to filter between those two different groups and then I was like, well, why stop there? Let's, let's, let's do some additional filters. And so that's, that's how I came up with the idea. And I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, it's amazing. And how do you incentivize people to give you testimonials?

Jacques Hopkins: Well. I, I, you have to ask. That's the key is, is asking every single person that goes through my course gets, gets asked multiple times for testimonials. I try to not do it in too, too annoying of a way. Right? But after about 31 days, right? So after about a month in the program, they get their first. They've they, they get their first paying for like a written review and if they don't review their about a week after that, they get another paying. Hey, just wanting to follow up for a written review and then after a three month period, Oh well let me jump back. If they do leave a written review and it's positive. Then my assistant will, we'll manually reach out to them and say, Hey, I'm so glad you had such a great experience. Would you then be interested in doing a video review? Yeah. And then after three months, they get, they get asked again about a written and a video review if they haven't done anything yet to this day, because a lot of times, you know, it's a 21 day program, but they get lifetime access. So a lot of times they barely started by day 31 but maybe they're more, more into it by day. By day 90.

Greg Merrilees: Got it. Yeah, and I think you touched on something then, like lifetime access, maybe people listening, I have a course that's only six weeks or whatever the case is. You might want to incentivize them by offering them lifetime access if they give you a video testimonial after they've done the course.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. There's certain certainly things you can do like that, but at the very least, like you got to ask, right? Even if you're not incentivizing me in any way, if you're not gonna get any testimonials or you get very few, if you don't even ask the question.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, but social proof, it's just one of those psychological drivers that you kind of have enough on your side. It's not like, Ryan, I've got 10 that's enough. But the more the better. Right? Yeah, and so that's just one of the psychological drivers that we'd like to put on every website. Now. Six that really can help boost your conversions. And they're based on the book by Robert Cialdini called influence, right? And so what we do is we like to use those six things as authority, social proof, reciprocity, consistency, liking, and then urgency or scarcity, right?

Which I know you use deadline funnels, which can really boost. Yeah. When you open up the white list, that sort of thing. But yeah, so there's a lot. I mean, if we've got time, we can sort of dive into them a little bit. Those things are super important.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, we, we, we certainly can. You know, when you mentioned that book, I've definitely have read that book. And one of the things that I remember most from that book is this one story where, where a girl is telling her parents like, you know, she had to drop out of school and she got pregnant and just like all these bad things, and then she's like. Actually, I'm just kidding. I just failed this one class. And so you remember that story is like, she was so nervous about telling your parents that she failed that one class, that she, she used the principles of psychology and concocted this much, much, much worse story.

And then when she broke the news of just failing the one class, it was almost good news, you know? And, I don't even remember what principle that fell under. But when you say influence, that's the story that comes to mind.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah, totally. Totally. But yeah, and just, you know, like if we think about the authority, like if your, a lot of people, you know that have courses, they build their, their audience on social media platforms, right?

So it might be YouTube or whatever. And if you've got a lot of fans, you want to let people know when they come to your site. Show those metrics. Yeah. That's going to boost your authority. And then, you know, I have professional photos that'll boost your authority, professional design as well.
But you know, everything that is going to sort of boost your authority, you want to put on your side. It might be, and a lot of people that start their own courses, they were an expert, you know, sometime in their life. And so you want to show people what those credentials were that position you as the authority. Right. And then what we'd like to do. Touch on this quickly.

The about page is a super important page. A lot of website visitors will go to your about page to learn more about you and you know, why did you choose you? And what we like to do, and I know you've used this as well, is have a timeline of your story and you just want to use milestones in your journey that help position you as the authority, all the things that happened in your journey, even if it's not. Like, like it might be before you started your website and let people know why, but telling your story in a timeline can be a really nice visual way. Yeah. To get your point across.

Jacques Hopkins: That was one of the things that really jumped out at me about that website that I liked, that you guys had designed before I knew who you were. I was like, wow, look at this about page. I hadn't seen anything like that before, and of course now I've got that slash about it. It's like a vertical looking timeline as you scroll down the page. Really, really cool.

Greg Merrilees: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, we get a lot of, a lot of great feedback from our clients and their clients and yeah, it's pretty powerful.

Jacques Hopkins: Right on. Well, Greg, it's been a pleasure to catch up with you and I appreciate all the value shared with the audience here today. Just wrap this up, let us know if there's anything else you can think of that you think might be a value and then let people know where they can, you know, get in touch with you and, and see if it might be a good fit to have their site designed by you and your team.

Greg Merrilees: Sure. Thanks man. Yeah, so just realize that a website is never finished. You're always going to pivot in business, have new offers or whatever the case is, and obviously trends do change as well, so you want to just make sure you're using tools like Hotjar and Google analytics and, and just look at your data constantly to figure out what's working, test new offers all the time, and yeah, it'll just keep getting better over time if you constantly test it. And yeah, be prepared for, for it to change cause it will change. And then, yeah, if you want to connect, just reach out. Go to studio one, we've got a free resource, which is forward slash checklist, and that'll show you 50 things that you can change on your website from a no to a yes from not having them, to having them, and you'll boost your results.

Jacques Hopkins: Greg from studio one, Thank you so much.

All right. That's a wrap on the conversation with Greg. David, welcome back.

David Krohse: Thank you.

Jacques Hopkins: Hit me with some takeaways, man. What you got?

David Krohse: Oh, I thought that was great information about, just again, I mean, I think the key takeaway is it's actually simplicity. I loved his three keys to conversion based design, which is clarity, strategy, and perceived value and making it clear. And the strategy, I guess more than anything, is getting people to actually get on your list. So I enjoyed it.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And man, my, you know, my biggest takeaway is that it's. I think really great design, and when I say takeaway, I'm talking about just like overall, this whole web design thing. When you have really great design, it just makes you, it makes you look like you're in the big leagues. Like you're like you are a professional. I mean, I'm, I'm constantly like reaching out to course creators to see if they'd be a good fit for coming on this podcast. And so I get to see. All kinds of different websites, right? That range from just a single page leading into a funnel. Like I ha like I originally had to a full fledged website, whether it's designed well or not, and you can really tell the people that seem to be doing really, really well or maybe are still just a one man show doing everything themselves and, and haven't had things professionally designed and that really stands out to me.

Given where I've come from and where, where I am now from a web design perspective. And I know when people come come into my world, they start seeing my stuff. I want to present myself as professionally and just as good as possible to the world. And we can do that with a website. And so I think that once you get to a certain point, it's, it's, if you're not a, if you're not a web designer yourself, you should reach out to somebody like Greg and get a professional web design.

David Krohse: You kind of talked about this in the introduction before we listen to Greg's interview, but just when to hack, so to speak, and just say, this is what I like and ask somebody that you found on Upwork, like just say, just create this for me and when to really hire a professional. I, I don't know what, what was it about when you went and viewed Greg stuff that originally that convinced you to actually spend the money and are you able to give us some rough estimate of like what the cost was? I know that's always helpful for people thinking about this.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I think, I think so. I don't think Greg would mind. I mean, keep in mind, when I went through the process, it was a couple of years ago, so his prices may have increased, but we're talking about $3,000 on the design phase and about the same to implement as well, if you use his company.

And that's one of the things I learned about in this process, and I mentioned that in the interview, is that there's. You got to think of web websites in two phases, two completely separate phases. And you don't want the same exact person to do both phases because typically web designers are not good a web implementers and vice versa. Right? And so Greg Scott, you know, he's got the two separate teams that do that. But fortunately, I had my, my implementer, already who was a less expensive than that, and, and I wa and I knew he did good work already. So. Keeping it separate like that. Now, what was your, I like to get on a tangent. What was the question again?

David Krohse: What was it that pushed you to actually spend the money or was there a debate for a little while?

Jacques Hopkins: Well, it was just this concept of, Hey, for the first time, maybe I should actually get my site professionally designed, and Greg and his team were in the right place at the right time. I saw this website. There was no one thing that jumped out. I mean. There was a, it was just a, it was just a super professional, well done website. And you know, he mentioned how they like to do those. The on the about page, like the timeline flow in vertical, you know that, that's certainly one thing that jumped out at me on this person's website that I was looking at.

But like I said, just right place right time. It was. It was. I was already debating this. I saw that site. I clicked on, I clicked on studio one design studio one liked everything. I had the T here there. Went through the process with Greg, talked through him, got a quote from him, and it all just made sense and they were great to work with.

I mean, they, they, the, the initial design they sent me, you know, isn't what you see today. We work together over the period of several weeks to get it exactly how I wanted it. And they were not going to. They were not going to stop until I was completely satisfied with their design.

David Krohse: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And at that price level, I mean, I, again, I remember your story pretty well, but I know for a period of time you were spending over $3,000 a month on like SEO strategies. So I mean, at that point, if you say, well, if I'm spending the money on SEO, I should put my best foot forward. And that's where, yeah, I mean that sounds very reasonable.

It definitely like a longterm investment. I know. You know, in my world, trying to help people have healthier backs. It's like if somebody spends a couple of grand on a mattress, but it lasts them 10 years and keeps them feeling better, it's like you can make, you know, you can make long term investments that. It might sound like a lot of money until you say, well, if it helps a little bit over that period of time, it's, it's worth it.

Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And you can certainly spend 10 or 20 grand or even more on, on web design. You know, I think, I think Greg's price point is a, is a good kind of happy medium because you can also go the other way and, you know, hire somebody on Fiverr or maybe Upwork and spend $500 on web design. But I think Greg's. Company does a great job of, of finding that happy medium between, you know, not, not completely breaking the bank on the cost, but also doing, incredible quality of, of work. And so it was, you know, I liked, we kind of mix things up in this episode here. It wasn't just another, you know, successful course creator story here.

And, and like I said earlier. This wasn't a sponsored episode or anything. I don't really do a lot of those, but I, I reached out to Greg. I was like, Hey, you know, we haven't really talked a lot about web design on the podcast. I'd love to have you on to talk about that. And for those of you that are interested in reaching out to Greg, we did set up an affiliate link for this audience. So you can go to the online course, The online course, and then that'll take you over to Greg's website. And the way it works is you just kind of, you kind of apply and you give them information about what you're looking to do and you jump on a call with Greg to see if it's a fit.

They don't, they don't work with just anybody. And that's one thing I like to see in a company, and you guys know that are rarely recommend a product or service that I don't use myself. And this is obviously something that I use myself. So if you're interested, once again, the online course, any final thoughts here on proper web design?

David Krohse: No, I don't think so.

Jacques Hopkins: So guys, thank you everyone out there for listening. David, thank you for joining me again for another episode, for all the notes and links from today's episode. You can find those awesome show notes done by the wonderful Emily by going to the online course, 23 and . Guys, if you're enjoying this podcast, I would sincerely appreciate a review on whatever platform you're using.

If you haven't left a review for us on that particular platform, then we would very much appreciate leaving a review. And if this is your first time listening, then welcome and I would recommend the very next episode you listened to would be episode 89 that's our online courses one Oh one episode.

Thanks again everyone. We'll talk to you next week.