Event websites have come a long way. The days are gone when they were your only source of content. They are now part of the digital ecosystem for your event; an ecosystem that includes your blog, social media, video, etc. Even though websites are no longer your only source of content, they still couldn't be more important.
You can't host an event without an event website, they are the first step in promotion for your event and to help you get in touch with your audience. Would you attend an event that didn't have a website or a poor looking one with bad information?Probably not. Your website needs to be dynamic, interactive and attractive in order to spark the interest of potential attendees.
For that very reason, you need to make sure that the information on there is informative, but you don't need to be exhaustive; simple, but not basic; attractive, but not too flashy. Lay down the framework that will lead to an exceptional user experience come the day of the event. There is a science to it and in order to be a powerhouse event professional, you need to know how to make your website a powerhouse that drives conversion. The three points that we believe to be most important are to be simple, efficient and clear. We are going to show you a few examples of some sites that got it right and that will help you to create your perfect event website.
You need to keep things simple. Your website is not the place to start experimenting with new designs and ideas. Yes, you need to implement the new technology tools and evolve your branding to fit with the changes in our industry, but don't use your event website as a place to test out your new ideas. Improve your branding and try out new technology tools in house by testing and retesting. Then, once you get it right, bring it to market. You don't want to have one type of branding on your event website and a different type on your company website.
At Aventri, we recently went through a rebranding and before we changed our website we made sure that all of our bases were covered with social media, collateral, etc. If all you care about is making your website look flashy and chic, your audience is going to think that you don’t care about their needs. There doesn’t need to be a sea of sub pages either, having too many links on one page that leads to other pages is just going to confuse people. Plus, no one wants to have 5 webpages up just to get to a company profile page.
The Create Masters website is a great example of keeping it simple. All the information is on one page. The only sub page is the registration page, so it is easy to find everything. Just because they went simple, doesn’t mean they are skimping on style either. This is a great example for smaller shows on how to create an event website.
Your audience and potential attendees need to get what they came for. Don’t hide the essential information on a sub page. Tell them where, when, why they should attend and how they can register. Don’t forget about social media either. Like we said, the event website is only one part of your event’s digital ecosystem. Make your social media pages easy to find with CTAs and your hashtag. You want your attendees to be able to quickly continue the conversation elsewhere.
The content that lives on your site is very important. When it comes to the agenda for your event you need to make sure that you are giving people a quick way to understand what is going on. You don't need to be exhaustive with all the details. Give them a spoonful of knowledge on the highlights of sessions and the speakers. They can then go into more detail on another page or have a shadowbox pop up with the rest of the information to save them from going to a different page. By finding out what is important to your attendees through post event surveys and communication you can tailor your event even more for next year.
When it comes to giving your attendees the essentials up front and center, you can’t do much better than Social Innovation Summit 2012. On the right hand side of the page they have a nice widget with registration, location, summarized agenda, networking, past photos AND social media CTAs. No one has to go searching on sub pages to get what they need. They have this widget on EVERY single page of their site. People can go to the sub pages for additional information, but can easy look to the right hand side of the page to register, network, etc. Everyone should take note!
Digital Book World does a great job with their social media CTAs and hashtag. They make sure that they are on the top of every page before any of the essential information of that page starts. They are trying to get their attendees and visitors to remember that they can start a community off the site with their hashtag and social media. It is a great way to get your attendees excited about your event. Aside from their exceptional social media work, they also have all the essential information for people registering in the header: the pricing, hotels, speakers, agenda, etc. The organizers made sure that no one would be digging on their site to find what they need.
Having a singular voice on your site could not be more important to keep with your brand, but also make sure that you are being clear and concise for your visitors. You don’t want to confuse people with an unsure message. Don’t have old logos, hotel venues, etc. flooding your event site. Give people the option to download one logo (the official logo) for promotional purposes. You need to make sure there is a central location for people to find one piece of information.
CITE conference and expo has a very clear and branded message with their site. They have Twitter, registration and their website as a key at the top of the page. They are connecting people with what is most important for their particular brand. Every sub page has a very clear message that lets people know who to get in touch with, how much registrations are, where it is happening, etc.
Bottom line, your event website is one of the most important components of your event. You need to take the time in advance to build it with care once you have a good overview of your event content. Being simple, efficient and clear will allow your user to easily access information, promote your event and above all be satisfied with attending your event.
A good user experience starts before the event with all your supporting materials like your website, so you need to make sure that they are going to be satisfied. Having an event website with a bad user experience will only draw potential attendees away from your content, your event and ultimately your company. Nothing is worse than bad word of mouth, so make sure your users are more than satisfied! Put yourself in your attendee’s shoes; you want to make everything cohesive with simple, clear information allowing your user to easily access anything at the click of a button!