Crafting a website that generates lots of attendees for an event takes imagination and some good old-fashioned common sense. You want potential attendees to be so inspired and excited to come that they’ll move heaven and earth to get there. Here are the 13 key ingredients that an event website must have to do just that:
13 Key Ingredients That an Event Website Must Have
1) Showcase the Event Name
Tell people right off the bat whether or not it’s a conference for them. If the name doesn’t spell it for them, include a short description near the top where they can see it.
2) Date and Location
Dates (include the year!), the full location and any relevant off-site info.
3) The Reasons to Attend
Give visitors defendable reasons that are meaningful to them, and their boss (who’s probably paying for it).
4) Speakers and Activities
Showcase the superstars and heroes you’re featuring, and any extra-curricular breakfasts, receptions, happy hours, etc. that attendees can go to.
5) Agenda / Schedule
Whet their appetites with a list of speakers. And as soon as you’ve nailed that agenda – get it up there. Don’t wait for every session to be finalized, rather update as you go. Keep the information current. Post notices and send out alerts letting your prospects and past attendees know who else is coming. (The room assignments can come later.)
6) REGISTER NOW Buttons
Put lots of them everywhere—don’t just leave a link in the navigation or a button on the home page. Leave no doubt as to where and how people can sign-up.
7) Alert/Newsletter Sign Up
If a visitor isn’t ready to register, don’t let her go without signing up for alerts or a newsletter so she can keep learning more. Offer to send her a special free download of one of the talks if she gives you her email.
8) Social Media Sharing Buttons
Don’t wait until the day-of to spread the word about your conference. Create a #hashtag and promote it heavily before, during and even after the event.
9) Mobile Responsive
Pinch and zoom is gone. Today you need your site to be easy to read and navigate on a mobile device with one finger. Streamline your forms—registration and payment forms, newsletter / alert sign up forms, etc.—so they require a minimum of keystrokes. Consider social sign-on as a way to make the registration process easier.
If you’ve held the conference before, posting videos on your site with snippets of past sessions can go a long way toward showing the quality of the conference attendees can expect. Encourage social sharing for these.
11) Show Floor Map(s)
So many sites leave this out and yet it’s one of the first things people search for once an event starts. It’s also the first thing a potential exhibitor looks for when deciding whether or not to buy a booth at a show. Don’t forget to make these accessible and easily readable. If it’s too big a file, turn it into a PDF and let them download it.
Be sure you’ve set up analytics to track your site’s and your marketing campaigns’ performance. Check them often so you can tweak your pre-promotional campaigns to dial up your efforts in the right places.
13) Advertiser/Exhibitor/Sponsor Information
Few publishers forget to do this, but don’t bury it down at the bottom. There’s no reason why it should be hidden. Consider putting a link in your main navigation – they’re your customers too! Don’t treat them like second-class citizens.
Mobile app for your event – The most innovative event managers are creating apps for their events so attendees can choose sessions, see their schedule, chat and network with other attendees, learn about after hours conference events, nearby restaurants and places of interest, have places to post photos and videos they take at the conference. Those apps integrate with the users’ social media accounts so it’s quick and easy to share on social without ever leaving the conference app.
Putting together a great website takes a tremendous amount of thought and effort. It also doesn’t happen overnight. We took a look at a number of publishers that put on events and picked out some of our favorites to share with you. We hope they provide some inspiration for your next event website:
Event: Continuity Insights East (Risk Management)
What We Like Best: Clean layout, bold register button, upfront reasons to attend, keynote presentations are front and center, good social sharing, and use of testimonials, sponsor info in main navigation, hashtag suggestion and newsletter subscription CTA.
Event: 2015 R&D 100 Awards (Technology)
What We Like Best: Striking design, good use of social media, clear description of what they’re about, clear CTAs (both in-text and graphic) for entering a product into the competition, keynote speakers highlights and email update subscription.
Event: HBA Global (Health & Beauty)
What We Like Best: Smart and attractive “above the fold” one-page design, mobile responsive site, highlight on benefits for attending, cool count-down clock, nice CTAs for registration and separate in-depth navigation section for sponsors/exhibitors.
What We Like Best: Minimalist design, nice graphic CTAs for award submissions and registration for the event, using an embedded map, mobile responsive site with simplified forms and clear descriptions of purpose and benefits.
Event: Energy Risk Summit USA
What We Like Best: Appealing design for a buttoned-up audience, clear benefits statements, speakers are front and center, good social media integration, video access to past sessions, animated CTA for registration, use of testimonials, mobile responsive site that’s beautifully done, easy to use and simple to register.
Event: SAWC Fall (Symposium on Advanced Wound Care)
What We Like Best: Gorgeous design, fabulous use of color and images, simple layout that’s easy to navigate, terrific mobile responsive site, strong benefits, upfront exhibitor info, strong CTA for registration and nice integration with social media streams and for sharing. Not to mention, the site translates perfectly on mobile thanks to it's responsive design.
There you have a few of our favorites. Which event websites do you love? Let us know in the comments section below.