The event website is vital to an event's overall success. It's where attendees find all the information they need about your event and, most importantly, it helps drive them to actually register. It's why effective event websites need to be professional, modern and engaging; and planners don't need a graphic design background to make that happen.
Yesterday, I hosted Aventri's first-ever LinkedIn Live video, with Solutions Consultant Jennifer Smeriglio, and we discussed her top five tips for designing an event website. You can check out the video below or continue reading a followup Q&A I did with Jenn to dive deeper into website design.
Q: For those planners who have never designed an event website before, where should they begin?
Jenn: They should start by looking at sites they admire! By no means should they steal the entire design, but they should start to think about what their favorite elements of those sites are. Then, my tried and true next step is to put pencil to paper. Literally draw out what your website should consist of; just blocks with labels on them. This helps you get an idea of where things should go!
Q: What’s a simple step-by-step guide for structuring an event website?
Jenn: When building a site, I always write down the pages first; for events just think about what you would want to know if you were going as attendee. What the event is about? Where it is? Where can I stay overnight? What will I be doing at the event? Are there sponsors or other companies going? Are there fun activities? How much does it cost?
Those are your major pages that should go on your site: About, Venue, Hotel, Agenda, Sponsors, Pricing, Register.
Then, based on your inspiration from sites that you like, you can start to piece those building blocks together for each page.
Q: What are some current website design trends planners should consider?
Jenn: Pops of color is a big trend, and people overall are being more fearless with their color palettes. If you have a company color palette, try using more of the secondary or more stand-out colors in the palette rather than the neutrals.
Illustration/hand drawn elements are also super popular. They are better at showing fun and creativity, so if you’re design department has time or can source some elements like that, go for it!
Finally, minimalism never goes out of style. Keep things simple and clean. White space is actually your friend, and makes the text and images on the page stand out. Plus, things are easier to digest when there is space around it.
Q: For those who have built a website before but want to take it to the next level or modernize it, what simple tips do you have for them?
Jenn: Imagery is everything. Ideally, you have imagery from previous events that you can re-purpose for that year’s event and that's a great start. Images should also be high quality. If you need help finding imagery there are some incredible resources out on the internet like Unsplash.com. Just make sure not to pull your images right off of Google, which could get you into some legal trouble. Search for resources that are free to use and have no license terms!
Q: What are some easy features planners can add to increase website engagement?
Jenn: Make sure social media is present, whether it's little icons that link to your accounts or embedding a Twitter or Instagram feed. Also, something like Aventri's agenda widget is a great engaging feature because it acts like a shopping cart. Attendees can add sessions they want to attend to their cart and when they click to register, those selections are automatically selected for them in the form.
Q: When selecting technology to help with website design, what should planners look out for?
Jenn: Flexibility. You shouldn’t be tied to a set of layouts and that’s it. Find a tool like Aventri's Website Builder which will let you build complex column layouts super easily. Also, if you’re able to have your event information pull in seamlessly into your website, it’s going to save you time and headaches.
Tools that help maintain an event's branding is also important. Something like Aventri's account level themes will be your best friend. Those themes can be used across both Registration and Website too. This means you only ever have to build it and set the fonts, colors, styles, etc. one time and it's consistent across your event registration AND website.
Also, pre-built templates is a great feature to look for. We have several in the Aventri library, where you can just make small changes to match your event's look and feel, and it will save a ton of time. Plus, you can make them into templates that will clone! Our template library is still growing, so you’ll see lots of new templates on the horizon.
Q: Overall, what should planners remember when designing their event website?
Jenn: Less is more. I cannot stress that enough. It’s like accessorizing; look in the mirror before you leave and take one thing off. For example, fonts are super eye-catching if done right (Aventri has an amazing integration in our tool with Google Fonts, by the way), just NEVER use more than two different fonts or things start to look cluttered.