Episode 82

Published on:

19th Sep 2023

#82 Do I need to know HTML to run my website, and what is it anyway? Plus Prepping for 2024


  • Jonny Ross
  • Pascal Fintoni

Welcome & Introduction

  • Celebrating the launch of a new program and the completion of the Website Best Practice Webinar Series.
  • The aim is to make you proud of your website again and help it work harder for you.


You Ask, We Answer

  • Question: Do I need to know HTML to run my website, and what is it anyway?
  • Summary: Discussing the basics of HTML and its role in website management.
  • Key Takeaways:
  • Understanding HTML isn't essential but is beneficial for customization and effective communication with developers.

Website Stories

  • Featured Article: "Half of personalised content is boring and unhelpful" by Duncan MacRae for Marketing Tech News.
  • Summary: Examination of the pitfalls of personalized content.
  • Key Takeaways:
  • Importance of meaningful insights and relevance in content.
  • Focus on specific customer groups for personalization.

The Website Engine Room

  • Pascal's Pick: Statista - Portal for Market Data, Research, and Stats
  • Jonny's Pick: Coolors.co - Fast and easy-to-use color palette generator.

The Website Call To Action

  • Jonny Ross: Improve content readability with bullets and subheadings.
  • Pascal Fintoni: Set up a research project team to gather data for 2023 retrospectives and 2024 forecasts.

Contact Information:

Jonny Ross

Pascal Fintoni

Feel free to send us your questions, share your preferred apps, and links to your website updates! We'd love to give you a shoutout in the next episode. 🎙️

See you next time!


Do I need to know HTML? [00:02:32]

Discussion on whether content marketers need to know HTML and its benefits in website customization.

Half of personalized content is boring and unhelpful [00:09:06]

Analysis of a report on marketers' approach to personalized content and the negative reactions from consumers.

Understanding your audience [00:10:23]

Importance of not trying to cater to everyone and the need to create relatable content for a deeper connection with consumers.

Understanding Your Audience [00:11:43]

The importance of deeply understanding your audience's mindset, pain points, and journey.

Identifying Key Customer Groups [00:12:48]

Using a mapping exercise to identify the customer groups that are most relevant and important to your business.

Using Data and Research for Content Strategy [00:13:42]

The value of using website analytics, reading industry magazines, attending conferences, and engaging with customers to gather insights for content strategy.

Planning Ahead [00:23:40]

The speaker discusses the importance of planning ahead and suggests that listeners should start working on their 2023 retrospectives and 2024 forecasts. They recommend putting together a research project team and utilizing local universities and authoritative data sources.

Aligning Efforts with Data Sources [00:24:45]

The speaker emphasizes the need to align efforts with reliable data sources in order to produce meaningful 2023 retrospectives and 2024 forecasts. They suggest following industry authorities, universities, and institutions on Twitter to stay updated and ensure the accuracy and depth of the research.

Improving the Online Experience [00:25:50]

The speaker discusses the importance of creating a more meaningful relationship with designers to enhance the online experience for audiences. They mention personalized content, understanding HTML, and the use of brand colors as tools to improve website design and planning for the future.

Jonny Ross:

Good afternoon. Good evening. Good morning. Wherever you are. Thanks for joining us. We are live on YouTube. We're live on Facebook. We are live on LinkedIn. You might be listening to us, though, or you might be watching us on the podcast or on YouTube for the replay afterwards. And thank you for being here. It's episode 14 of the 90 day website Mastery Podcast. I've got my very good friend Pascal Fintoni with me. How are you?

Pascal I am very well. Number 14. No, those episodes, they start to really mount up, you know, for something that we started, as you'll mention in a moment, as a celebration of the our work on the 90 day website Mastery program, the great fun, you know, short form content for your life. It's a very good discipline to have as well. It really is. This, as you say, is celebrating the launch of our new program and the completion of the website Best Practice Webinar series.

Jonny Ross:

We wanted to find a way to continue to share more advice and insights about making your website work harder and for you to feel proud of your website. Again, we have four segments in each episode. In today's episode, it's jam packed. As always, we're going to be looking at do I need to know HTML to run my website and what is it? But plus lots of prepping for 2024 with our standard you ask, we answer. We have website stories, we have the website engine room and of course we have the website call to action where myself and Pascal will give you one change or adjustment that you could be making on your website right now to help you start feeling proud of your website again, we'll start straight away with you. Ask. We answer. Thank you again, Gianni, for this great introduction to the podcast and the program. So this actually is a question that was asked last week doing a demonstration of a new website. I was kind of the strategist and the guide between the client and the designers to relaunch a website, and we had the demonstration of the WordPress CMS.

Jonny Ross:

And during that demonstration, the designer was flipping between the visual version of the content management system and the text version and was making, you know, kind of links between what you could see and the HTML code. And this was a zoom call, by the way. So a very, very quickly picked up some of the factual expression of people frowning to try and decipher, of course, what they could see onscreen. Literally, someone asked a question you mentioned a moment ago, do I need to know this? You know, do I need to pay attention to this thing? And by the way, what is it? What does it mean? And I must confess, confession time. I got stuck because I've been using the term or the acronym for such a long time. I remember what was was for I remember what L was for but got stuck. I couldn't remember what M stood for. I had to look it up. But do you remember what stands for? Do I remember? Well, I had a similar issue and I also had to look it up.

Jonny Ross:

And but luckily I did find the answer. And it was hypertext markup language. But you're right, Pascal, there was no way that I knew that off the top of my head, even though I've been using the phrase for many years now, you know, don't feel bad. So, you know, I give myself essentially excuses, thinking, well, listen, you know, this was thanks to certain Berners-Lee and colleagues from CERN. This was first invented and released in 1993, A long time ago. Right. An evolution from where they were using themselves. And this is all designed really to be a form of shorthand narrative to explain to machineries, really. And of course, web browsers how to lay out primarily copy and and pictures. But let's go back to the first half then of the question, do I need to know HTML if I am just a mere content marketer and not a web designer? Well, the answer to the question, I guess, depends on lots of different factors. It depends on what your website's been built in in the first place.

Jonny Ross:

It depends on how hands on you want to get. And it depends on, you know, the sort of conversations that you want to be having with your developers, with your website providers. I think the the short of it is that knowing a bit can be absolutely helpful, but you certainly do not need to know any HTML to be able to produce content, you know, especially if you're using website builders like Wix or Squarespace or Shopify or WordPress. All of these are very much a built into the templates and and typically it might be a developer or an agency that's then customizing the code, but knowing a bit can certainly help you understand how to display content in a better way. So whether that be adding bullet points, whether it be changing colors, of course there's dashboards to be able to do that, but you can then you can then customize things and it also gives you the ability to be able to have better conversations with your developer in terms of understanding what and what can and can't be done. So being able to knowing how works and the purpose of it gives you the ability to turn around to the developer and say, well, actually, you know, can't you just write some code in the HTML to using to be able to give me a better bullet point, for example.

Jonny Ross:

Now I like that. And I think back to that, you know, for me and why you're not such fans of a website design project is that it's about long term relationship with your extended team. You know, the people that you've chosen to to bring on board as your suppliers. So to have better conversations. But also, you know, just be curious. So look at the recent article you've written, whether it's on WordPress or in any other platforms, and just be curious about, you know, the behind the scenes stuff, you know, the code, the text, and you'd be surprised how much you can understand just because it's logical. You know, this was created by people who wanted to find a universal way for website to be read by browser, but also people, no matter actually their native language. And very quickly you'll notice the abbreviations, you know, the shortcode and some of the things that Jonny as recommended many a time on this podcast, you know, taking care of your headlines, taking care of your paragraphs and so on and so forth.

Jonny Ross:

Yeah, I mean, even just being able to add a line space sometimes adding it in the visual editor doesn't always put the line space in, whereas if you go into the HTML editor, it allows you. Pascal, You know how I love an analogy? And I came, I was trying to think of an analogy. All for this. And I'm and I was thinking it's a bit like being a being able to drive a car but not knowing the the goings on under the hood, under the bonnet, how the engine works, how the the gasket works, all of those sort of things. And you typically would go to a car mechanic to get these things thick fixed. But if you have a bit of an understanding, not only does it become a bit more cost effective, but you tend to be able to be more empowered, to have far better conversations, to understand, to have a far better deeper understanding of expectations and to be able to customize things. So it's, you know, you don't need to be a mechanic to drive a car, but understanding how something works within the car can really help you have a better experience overall.

Jonny Ross:

And I think there is a bit of analogy on how website in fits together. I think it's a very good one. And he just described my relationship with cars as well. Very, very aptly so. Thank you very much. So yeah, the message be curious. It would benefit you the relationship with your designers, and it might give you some ideas as I'm moving forward. And I just could only imagine for a live audience and on replay when you mention adding the the line break, people saying, yes, you know, how do we do that? So maybe that's something we'll cover in a future episode. But for now, let's move on to our next segment, website stories. So for episode 14, John chose an article written by Duncan Macrae. This is actually the second time we mention this amazing digital journalist, and he wrote an article for Marketing Tech News, which was a reaction to a report on essentially the way in which marketers are approaching the content creation and how to make it more personalized.

Jonny Ross:

And it has a really quite blunt and striking title of half of personalized content is boring and unhelpful. Nothing like getting straight to to to the meat of the subject. So the report that was put together by Optimizely, which was called personalized to personal report, it was a survey of marketers and online content consumers suggest that 51% find that the alleged targeted content that they receive online is often boring and unhelpful. And when the, you know, the research was done to find the cause behind that reaction to content, it was find that of the surveyed marketers, 83% did admit that they are relying relying heavily on assumptions or would say past the sending of their customers as opposed to high quality insights. One the barriers to that only was tech. People aren't sure which tech to use, or they have a feeling that the tech could be slightly out of date or as good as it could be. And what's the impact? Whether the impact is simply lost in, you know, generation and sales? Because ultimately, of the consumers that were interviewed, 65% fell.

Jonny Ross:

They were more loyal to a brand that understood them and spend more time enticing the content for a more deeper, meaningful relationship. There was a very interesting comment made by, you know, Duncan around then, you know, the how to go about it. And I thought that was very important to suggest. This is not about, you know, being on your own, looking at lots of different kind of data crunching devices and platforms is suggesting that this is all about organizing your team into a dedicated workspace to come up with great content and crafting, refining the content and spending time on admin task. That is to say, to create lots of very, very boring, you know, report that lead to not that much better conclusions. Yeah. And one of the things here is this all goes back to understanding your audience and not and not making the mistake that so many businesses, so many organizations make in terms of trying to be everything to everyone and just end up being, you know, vanilla and and the word that I was about to use is completely escaped but generic and that that becomes the issue that if you if you try and be a voice to everyone, you will not be relatable to anyone.

Jonny Ross:

So it's about how can you be absolutely relevant, relatable, not boring, How can you be very resourceful, very helpful? Well, the only one of the only ways that you can do that, as well as what Pascal's just talked about there in terms of having strategy, having the the team around you. But, you know, one of the elements here is pick an audience and really understand them. And I'm not talking about the sort of demographics and the, you know, the age and location I'm talking about. What are they actually thinking? What's in their heads, what's their mindset? And really deeply understanding their pain points in their their journey and where they where they currently are in. I guess you're buying a journey that reminds me of some of the workshops you know, have been running. You know what? We asked people to do a mapping exercise where it's very simple. It's a piece of paper you call. You can all do this today. You put like a circle the word website in the middle, and then you put together some of the archetypes and some of the customer groups that are important to you.

Jonny Ross:

And the closer they are to the website, the more relevant or the more recent the exchange has been with them. And what this exercise allowed us to do and demonstrate, Jonny, was that they had far too many groups in mind. The website couldn't serve them, all of them very, very well. But in fact, you know, if they put under pressure of the eight, ten, 12 customer groups they could come up with, there was only 2 or 3 that would really would make a difference to the business. So we used to circle that in red, if you remember, and then say, Well, these are the people to concentrate on and love. You know what Duncan is talking about? This idea of a dedicated workspace had a service called the Content Marketing Studio. If you remember this idea of the studio of an architect, of an artist and getting together and if I may link it to the 90 day website Mastery program, that's where you and I do. And we bring people together into collective because this is far too important to try and work it out on your own.

Jonny Ross:

And in addition to using the data that you can get from all manner of analytics, my view would be to also go back to the old fashioned way of doing thing, which is read the magazine of your customer's industry, not just yours. Go to their conferences and listen to what's going on in terms of conversation on LinkedIn and pick up, you know, really what's important to them from, you know, their own kind of daily, weekly behavior as opposed to your assumption from six, 12, many years ago. But even if I may, I would suggest that there's a risk as well of using only website analytics, because, of course, the website can only give you the data borne out of the current content of the content they should be doing or the content that you're missing. Yeah, you need to go out and ask and and research and, you know, use it as an opportunity. Use that as an opportunity to engage with people and say, you know, I'm just I'm just rethinking about our content strategy, you know, what's what's currently going on for you? What's what's happening in your business? What are the key issues? And use that as a actually as a way to engage, but also to research.

Jonny Ross:

So yeah, there's lots of different points that you can get. I love going back to the archetypes and that sort of website circle and drawing the different types around and then picking the ones that are closest to the center I think is really helpful. I know that there was an organization I worked with, they had, I think over 15 archetypes, but when we did that, it was clear that there was just sort of 2 or 3 that we really needed to engage. And it was, you know, don't try and produce content that isn't focused on a particular archetype and doesn't talk directly to them because otherwise it talks to no one and that becomes the issue. So, yeah, let's let's stop the unhelpful and boring content that's out there and let's try and be relevant. Excellent. Thank you very much. I'm going to finish this segment with one analogy that we don't have used a few times in a workshop, so that we used to say, you know, if you try and impress everybody, you'll please nobody.

Jonny Ross:

But we used to say as well, we understand your entrepreneurs out there. You want to save the world, this time with one city, you know, Batman. And you looked after Gotham. He couldn't look after everybody else. Superman was Metropolis and and so on and so forth. So think about it. If you want to be a superhero for your audience, absolutely right. But you have to pick one city, not the entire universe. So thank you very much for allowing this film analogy. And we're going to move on to our third segment, the website Engine Room. So in each episode we recommend two apps software solution, even sometime some physical kit that can make life easier as a website manager or content creator. Jonny, what is your commendation? Well, I don't know how to pronounce it, but its colors echo but with A00, so it's cool. C. L o r. S. Of course, in the show notes we'll put the links, but this is a I love this little tool.

Jonny Ross:

It's a great way to come up with color palettes for your project. So whether you've got no starting point whatsoever or whether you've got some brand colors already, you can use this to come up with similar colors or colors that work with each other. And there's the the superfast generator where you can then start. It's a bit like in the olden days. Well, it's not the olden days, but the fruit machines where you could hold, you know, you're trying to get the cherries in a line and you hold, hold one of the cherries. And then the second one comes, you click Hold on that one. It's the same thing. So as you start liking the colors, you hold the color in the palette and it starts finding colors that are related to those colors. It's a great way to produce a perfect palette or just to simply be inspired. It's a free tool. There is a paid version, it's colors. The link will be in the in the show notes. And if you're looking for color ideas, it's definitely a place to start.

Jonny Ross:

I think it's a great name. I think they've done which is called portmanteau in branding, you know, taking the adjective cool and then the term colors and then bind it together. Um, I have a confession to make. This is the second one on this episode. We normally compile the show notes, but we don't really look at them. You know, we want to surprise each other but did cheat on this occasion and went on coolers and was super impressed because there's a function where you can upload a photo. So uploaded my one of my PR shots which has had some interesting red and gold colors and you can pick a part of the photo and it gives you the full palette if you wanted to then combine this into some kind of content creation efforts. So I forgot one of the I forgot one of the best features. It's absolutely true that yeah, the fact that you can just upload a photo and it pulls the key colors out of the photo. Brilliant, don't you? Please. I broke our own rules for the 90 day Mastery program.

Jonny Ross:

So, um, my recommendation, which is almost a precursor to what's coming very, very soon as we are approaching the end of this calendar year, is prepping for some content that is inspired by stats and data crunching and and insight and so on. So there is one platform that I turn to regularly called Statista, So it's like stat and then Easter as in Vista. So Statista is a portal which is a term I've not used for a while now whereby, you know, it's a global gathering of market research efforts from different brands, including theirs. It's looking at behavior across all manner of life. Of course I tend to focus on marketing or usage of social media or website visits and that kind of things. But literally I would go on to statistics. There's a free and premium version and just look at the stats for your industry, but also the behavior with regard to content consumption and where people spend time in your country or in your sector using that platform. There's plenty of others out there journey, but this is the one that I tend to turn to on a regular basis to inspire or inform some of my content creation efforts.

Jonny Ross:

Brilliant. Yeah. I mean, it's just it's full of facts. And one of the interesting things that I like about that website is even just the social media facts that are on there in terms of social media usage around not just per city, per country, but but globally in terms of what platforms people use, I think it's a really insightful platform for so many different types of stats, but certainly in my field or in our field, even understanding social media usage around, you know, if you're trying to engage with particular different countries, understanding that, you know, TikTok might not be the platform or Facebook might not be the platform, etcetera. So yeah, I like it like that. So, you know, if you combine the two, then you've written the article, you've got a header photo for your article, you can use coolers to tell you how to maybe do the bar charts or the kind of summary, the headers and so on, so that everything has that cohesion based on your research on statistics.

Jonny Ross:

So it's just great, you know, And so far, therefore, you know, we fast approaching 30 different apps, you know, that we've been recommending on this podcast is just amazing. Yeah, absolutely. I love the fact the the bank of data that we're compiling together here. And with that in mind. We have the next segment, which is two apps that you could two things that you could do right now on your website If you want to start feeling proud of your website, things that you little changes that you could start making instantly. And we call it the website call to action. So, Jonny, what is the one adjustment, the one change you would like us to make on a website for things to work even harder for us? I think this goes back to the boring and unhelpful content because what we're trying to produce is content that's really engaging. Now, whilst the actual words and the language and the the what you're actually saying has to be engaging how we present it makes a huge difference.

Jonny Ross:

And the, the, the just using extra line spaces, using short paragraphs, using shorter sentences, using bullet points and using subheadings to ultimately break content up, makes it easier to read. It becomes more engaging, it becomes scannable so that somewhat so that a user can have a look down a page hook onto a particular subheading and start reading at that point way better than a whole page of content that's just got no breaks whatsoever. That's all the same font, all the same size. And you've then even got people that are going to read or people that are just going to be put off straight away and not even start reading the page. So my one quick adjustment is to find some of your major important content and just start adding some bullet points and breaking some of the paragraphs up and adding some line spaces. There were some tests done with user behaviour using Heatmaps and it was clear as day that people stayed long on the page. When there's more whitespace and the use of bullet points, you can literally see the, you know, the system that we're using, where the idea was was kind of staying a bit longer, scanning the bullet point as opposed to a chunky paragraph.

Jonny Ross:

So it's definitely a style with with doing so for me, it's all about planning ahead. And as I mentioned a moment ago, we are approaching this time of year where you should all be looking at looking back at the year that was and making prediction into what's coming around the corner. So you should be working on planning your 2023 retrospectives and looking into 2024 forecast. And you can have fun to see whether or not your forecasts were right midway through the following year. And to help you do that, my kind of call to action is to put together a research project team and you should also consider using local universities and getting, you know, graduates and and looking at the schemes that are around. And step number one is to find your own industry and your customers industries, data sources. I'll give you one to begin with, Statista. But there will be, you know, the real authorities in your sector and that of your customers and actually could be universities as well. And they could be institution, they could be societies.

Jonny Ross:

They all be in a business of data crunching to look after the future of your sector and your customers. And it's important to start to align your effort to follow them on Twitter, to earmark them into your system so that you can swiftly put something. Actually, those in depth are meaningful because the danger is that when people don't plan ahead but they know they have to do the 2023 look back and the 2024 forecast. It's rushed, it's superficial and people can tell. Yeah, this goes back to understanding and researching and and coming up with a plan and, and there's so much data out there. You've got to make sure you pick from the right source, which I like you said, using, for example local universities. You know there's there's lots of appetite for students to engage with businesses. There's lots of work that's been, you know, done that a lot of time and has been invested into some of the research that's out there. And I think it's it's worth tapping into some of this. Yeah.

Jonny Ross:

So strangely, I'd want to be accused Unai to, you know, be really, really smart. But somehow, in the compilation of episode 14, we've had two running themes. You know, we've got audience understanding, both born out of data and drama, you know, as in looking to the power, the networking and so on. But we also have this idea of more meaningful relationship with your designers so that the online experience is just superior for your audiences. But are you in the process of filling front of your website and making it work harder? You've kind of taken the reins. You've taken control again. Yeah. And we've we've looked hard at personalized content. We've looked at whether you need to understand HTML or not. And actually maybe it's not as scary as you might think and a little bit of knowledge can really help. But, but at the same time, you don't you don't need to know it, but it can help a bit. And as I said, we look to that personalized content.

Jonny Ross:

And I think I think Duncan McRae has really made us think, you know, we need to step back here and up our game a touch. Great tools that we've looked at as well in terms of the stats and the research, but also trying to come up with those brand colors and and helping ultimately plan for 2024. What a jam packed episode again. Again. And you know, once again what we've covered, what we are suggesting well, we are encouraging you to do is actually simple. It's just getting that discipline in place and reconnecting with a website project, which is probably a long time ago. I mean, the one that I mentioned at the very, very start, the last time they actually did a redesign was many, many years ago. They was just they were completely disconnected. And to see them smiling at the prospect of updating the website moving forward, which was really, really quite a joyous moment. Absolutely. We. Listen, we are here to help, but also to make your website work for you and for you to feel proud of it.

Jonny Ross:

That's it for today. This was episode 14 of our new podcast series, The Audio Companion to the 90 Day Website Mastery Program. For more information, please visit 90 Day Marketing mastery.com and you'll be able to book a call with either myself or Pascal. We'll be back with another episode. In the meantime, feel free to send your questions, share your preferred apps links. Send us your links to your website once you've done some changes so that we can give you a bit of a shout out. But that's it for now. Bye now for everyone and we'll see you soon. We'll leave you with a fun video and audio montage whilst you go through your notes and actions. See you soon. Take care.

Show artwork for Jonny Ross Fractional CMO

About the Podcast

Jonny Ross Fractional CMO
Getting marketing done
Join Jonny Ross, Fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) & Digital Marketing Strategist, in his podcast The Jonny Ross Fractional CMO - formerly the Jonny Ross Audio Experience.

Full of stories, marketing tips, tricks and strategy, along with interviews from inspirational business leaders.

Looking for marketing strategy? Jonny delivers marketing consultancy, marketing training and marketing campaigns on a daily basis. This podcast is a place to share his wealth of knowledge with you, and to find experts across many different business fields and bring their inspirations and learning tips right into your ear!

Find Jonny over at:

His website https://jonnyross.com
On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonnyross/
or on Twitter https://twitter.com/jonnyross.

He is also Founder of https://fleek.marketing and also runs a local Yorkshire Business Club https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheYorkshireBusinessClub/.

About your host

Profile picture for Jonny Ross

Jonny Ross

Jonny Ross, Founder, Digital Strategist and orator of Fleek Marketing

Having worked in business management (including retail) for over 25 years, Jonny Ross understands the needs of business owners. He has a proven track record in SEO, social media, website design and website development, including experience of successfully unlocking Google penalties.

Jonny is also an established SEO and social media speaker and trainer and was recently listed as one of Business Insider’s “42 under 42” business leader rising stars.

In his spare time, Jonny enjoys spending time with his family, running, cooking and hosting dinner parties.

Jonny is a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD), a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and is also a qualified optician.