Q & A with Fervor experts: Senior Digital Strategist John Regan
On the Fervor blog, we’re taking a deep dive into the expertise of our team members. To continue our Q-and-A with the experts, Fervor Senior Digital Strategist John Regan shares the best questions to ask about your website, why you should be on WordPress and how digital strategy brings him joy.
What makes him a digital expert: John’s been building websites and interfaces for the past 20 years. You might be wondering, “Has the internet even been around that long?” Why yes, it has. And John’s been there, coding all along. For four years now, he’s held the distinct title of WordPress Core Contributor. That means John’s code is on every WordPress site in the world. His client experience includes JE Dunn, the city of Nashville, Houlihan’s Restaurants, Variety.com, USAToday.com, Rodgers Digital Media, MaxLucado.com and more.
Why he’s passionate about his field: “Websites are giving people a voice all around the world,” John says. “I might be writing code and working on the back end, but I know it’s helping people communicate. Think of people during the Arab Spring and other major events launching blogs to communicate with one another. WordPress calls it the ‘democratization of the internet’ or basically making the internet accessible to everyone.”
“In the end, it comes down to communication. Whether you’re a nonprofit or for profit organization, a solid website, digital marketing and SEO strategy ensures you have a real voice and your mission is heard by your Ideal Advocates.”
Why WordPress: “Up to 30 percent of the internet runs on WordPress. It’s open-source, meaning anyone can contribute to its code. Because of that, you have the best minds in the world all working on the platform. So even smaller organizations have access to that same software. Plus, adding content and making changes is simple.”
Your website matters because: “Think of your website as a digital storefront,” John says. “Put time and effort into it just like a regular storefront, but also remember anyone, anywhere at anytime can access it. So it should be nice, clean and attractive. Statistics show that when someone lands on your site, you have under 50 milliseconds (that’s .05 seconds!) to make a good impression. So your content should be easy to find and where people expect it. Everything should be organized.”
Questions you should be asking about your website: John recommends asking both qualitative and quantitative questions for a website. “Qualitatively, what is your website’s purpose?” He stresses the need for calls-to-action and a journey for your website visitors. “People need a reason to engage. If your website is just a brochure, there’s nothing for them to engage with. Capitalize on your opportunity to capture action.” On the quantitative side, John looks to the data. “If your website is taking three seconds to load, forget it. It needs to load fast or people will abandon it. You need to be looking at your data to continually improve your website.”
Keeping your website current: The digital marketing world changes fast. John recommends sticking to research and strategy to keep your website current. “The coolest, latest or most innovative design features won’t matter unless they resonate with your audience,” he says. “If I’m building a website for a 20-something crowd, it’s going to look and feel differently than if I’m building a website for a 50-something crowd.”
“Most of all, look to your own data. Google Analytics is free and gives you loads of information about how people use your current website. Analyze what’s working and what’s not, and make changes rooted in the data.”
What he’s seen go wrong on websites: “The biggest mistake is making assumptions about what your audience wants.” In the past, John built a website for a client who didn’t do market research and test their assumptions. “They came up with fancy features and bells and whistles, and they built this expensive, huge website. And it tanked. You have to test. You have to do your research. That’s one thing I love about Fervor. We test and question everything. We make sure it’s effective before we build the whole thing.”
Taking video content to new heights: A Fervor client recently came to us requesting video curriculum content. Understanding the client’s goals and their Ideal Advocates’ needs, Fervor recommended a digital platform to house the video content. “One solution could have been an out-of-the-box learning management platform. But, it would have been expensive and not customizable,” John says. “Many times, we hear ‘custom’ and think ‘more expensive.’ In this case, we were able to save money and customize every aspect of the platform. It was specifically tailored to our client’s goals. Then, we tested it and iterated. For example, I built a custom video player that reduced the load time on the site. That’s crucial for success on a video platform.”
A website’s role in digital strategy: Websites are a crucial piece of digital marketing strategy, but other channels play into it as well. “Your website is your digital hub. Social media gives glimpses of your mission and builds the relationship and trust with your audiences. Your website tells the whole story. Social media and websites both drive engagement to each other, but ultimately your website is about conversions fueling your business goals. ”
What brings him joy as a digital strategist: “Everyone has a message. Because so much communication happens online, in order for people to even see your message, you need a solid digital marketing strategy,” he says. “I enjoy working at Fervor because I’m able to use my technical skills to help people who are changing lives. When I come to work and write code, I know that what I’m doing can change someone’s life. That’s cool.”
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