Build a Great Event Website with WordPress
Event planners can now create a great event website using WordPress.
WordPress is without any shadow of a doubt a breakthrough in content management online. It is an open source content management system that relies on an active community of developers.
A great blogging platform, but what about my event?
WordPress outnumbers the competition in terms of flexibility, scalability and control. That made it become the platform of choice for power bloggers.
My view is that you can produce a spectacular event website using WordPress.
Let’s look at a scenario, where you, the event planner, want to realize an event website that delivers:
– Stunning visuals with out of the box cool effects
– 1st class Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for all the pages of your website
– Real social integration with one click Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube
– Best of breed blogging platform.
– You want to own the content you create
– Email Marketing integration with tools such as MailChimp
– Optimized mobile version of the website compatible with iPhone
– Integration with Ticketing either Internal or external
– Community with Groups, Blogs, Microblogging a la Twitter, Forums and Wikis
You have two options:
– Pay a vendor big money to buy a standalone, proprietary platform
– Pay a web designer to build everything mentioned in WordPress for 1/10th of the budget
Although most would think they can build an event website for free with WordPress – it is not always the case. WordPress is indeed a free platform and most of the features I mentioned come at no cost. Nonetheless I strongly suggest not embarking in the DIY option, unless you don’t have web design skills.
But let’s look the numbers:
Event website suppliers will provide a solution that accomplishes some or most of the requirements above. I am not aware of a platform that provides all the features I mentioned with 100% reliable and integrated performance.
I guess this is the limit of proprietary software. Brilliant marketing that explains how the platform is great but limited technology to back up those claims. Another factor to consider is that proprietary solutions don’t have a community of developers constantly releasing updates and integration solutions.
Disregarding technological limitation and partial integration there is a massive pricing hurdle. A serious all in one solution will cost at minimum $20K to $50K. Anything below that is not even worth considering
Most pitches from vendors will revolve around how they provide fantastic support. My trick: Buy just support.
Because you don’t need an outdated version of some rigid and Google unfriendly website platform. By developing your event website with WordPress you will get the best technology available on the market. What you need is just some support and brand customization.
Back to the numbers
You can get a skilled designer to provide a good WordPress implementation and basic support for £€$2000. That is at least 1/10th of what a good vendor would propose.
A no brainer to me. To substantially cut down prices you could look at Premium Themes. Paid themes offer extra features and support in some instances. In this scenario you could substantially drive costs down as the work of the designer would just entail crafting a logo and/or identity.
But let’s get you a list of the ten plugins and features you need to ask your designer for:
– All in on SEO – to optimize for rankings
– jQuery Lazyload, to improve the speed of the website
– Eventbrite Widget for externally managed ticketing or Event Ticketing for internal ticketing
– Buddypress if you want to host a community
– Wiki for Buddypress
– A premium theme – I work with both Studiopress and Templatic (affiliate links)
– Facebook Like Plugin
– Shaerdaddy for increased shareability
– Wp Touch for touchphones integration
– Mailchimp or WpMailing
When do you need to use this approach?
– Your current website is in Flash
– You are not getting visits from Google
– Your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube/Vimeo activities are disconnected from your website
– You don’t have an event website
– You don’t have basic functionalities such as Newsletter or RSS Feed
Bonus: Event Website Cheatsheet
How much budget do you have?
<500$: Use Eventbrite, amiando or refer to this post.
500-1000$: Buy Premium Them – Get a logo and identity on elance.com or crowdspring.com
1000$-2000$: Ask a WordPress designer to get you all of the above.
>2000$: Wasted money. Spend it on Facebook, Google or Linkedin Ads
New event: Use Facebook and combine with ads, it will boost acquisition
Existing event with low engagement, no budget: restructure website and use wordpress+buddypress
Existing event with high engagement, small budget available: Use Ning or Collective X
Attendees from all over the world: buy .com (unless in USA)
Attendees from just one country (other than USA): but country specific domain (eg .co.uk, .it.de.nl.fr)
Simple: Manage via WordPress plugin
Relatively Complex: Refer to this post about event registration and ticketing
Very Complex: Rely on major ticket vendors
Photo by teamstickergiant