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Event websites are playing an increasingly important role in attendees' decision making process. Yet most event websites feature trivial mistakes that jeopardize online success. Here is a collection of the most recurring blunders and how to fix them.
I like to believe I gained some knowledge on the topic. First because I created a WordPress website template that solves most of these issues, second because I've advised dozens of clients on optimizing their event website.
We can have different opinions about the subject but in online marketing event websites have a very clear objective, conversion. Whatever that is, tickets purchase, email subscription, information requests, etc.
Conversion is universal. There are no different takes about it. Either your website converts or not.
When it gets to event websites, I've seen too many individuals busy creating havocs rather than converting visitors.
Well, beloved reader, it's time to put this masochistic practice to an end.
Here are some of the most common oversights and how to fix them.
No Call To Action
One of the reasons why Event Manager Theme was so successful is because of the evident call to action on its homepage.
Too many websites forget to invite their prospective attendees to take action.
Most of the times the action we want to stimulate on a website is event registration.
Having clear visuals that drive your visitors to make the final decision is of utmost importance.
Yet I am amazed by how tough it is to find registration links in some websites. This is not a treasure hunt. You need to make registration obvious.
Fix: Make registration links evident. Use different colors to highlight calls to action. Make sure your copy is relevant and stimulate action.
Where Is the Location?
Oh dear, I freak out when I spot this. One of the most recurring reasons why we check an event website is to gather venue information.
It may be that we came from outside the city and we may not have a clue about the geography of the city.
Hiding your venue under submenus is a crime to humanity.
Fix: Get yourself together and make your event venue evident on the home page. Integrate maps and directions. Be explicative and make sure a 10 year old could understand how to get there.
Whenever I spot a pdf attachment to any part of an event website, I start sweating. Be it the schedule or a map, thinking a website is a brochure is insulting to my generation.
For digital natives even a website is kind of old school, therefore you are positioning your platform as from the mesozoic era.
Jokes aside, user experience is awful with such an approach. Do not paste parts of your brochure on your website.
Fix: There are tons of event startups that offer a web solution for everything that a brochure used to do. Do your research and don't be lazy. We both know it is a laziness issue, not a budget one.
Always choose interactivity.
No Social Media Links
Don't get me wrong, you are perfectly entitled not to have any social presence whatsoever (risky but hey!). If you do have a presence, not highlighting it on your website is a plain shame.
It is a missed opportunity to establish a direct relationship with your attendees. It is also a way to upset them once they'll discover you actually have a Twitter profile.
Fix: Social icons here should be a must but also social widgets, hashtag buttons, LinkedIn badges - you get the picture.
Do not be overzealous with your presence. 25 icons are just clutter. Four or five well set up channels are more than enough.
Lack of Accommodation Alternatives
If you are serious about your event, it is highly likely you will attract attendees from out of town. These people need to sleep somewhere.
Asking them to search for a hotel close to the venue is too much. They won't know anything about the area and will need some guidance.
Fix: Once again, don't be lazy. Setting up a list of hotels of choice is the minimum you can do. If you want to be more elaborate you could use services like Hotels for Events, that feature easy hotel search around your venue.
No News, No Blog
Another brochureware exercise is to make an event website static. Set it and forget it is a motto for infomercials not websites.
Attendees may consult a website a few times before making their purchase decision. If webmasters feature the same content all over again, it is highly likely to scare away potential attendees.
That stands true also for search engines. Algorithms tend to prefer fresh content, therefore keeping a website updated is not just a matter of social media fashion but a tangible online marketing requirement.
Fix: Running an updated blog is the best way to make sure your event website is always fresh, content rich and search engine friendly. Work out your content plan wisely and ensure that the content is informative, engaging and shareable. There is nothing worse than using your news section to be pushy and self-promotional.
Flash Animations and Automatic Sounds
As a reader of this blog, I know you are not culprit of the above. Right?
Flash animation is a thing of the past. Auto sounds are from 1995. Can we agree on erasing them from websites?
There is no benefit in having the above on your website. Actually there is a negative impact on user experience and SEO.
Give attendees information they want fast and with no gimmicks.
Fix: If someone suggests you to implement any of the above practices reply with a categoric NO. Get rid of any residual animation you may have and invest in clean design.
Stuffing your website with all the information you may think of may not seem a serious fault. It actually is. And quite a popular one.
Do not overwhelm visitors with granular details about your event. This is usually a sign of poor website planning and lack of confidence. It is a recurring mistake newborn events do.
Fix: Concentrate on what matters. What are the top 5 problems your attendees want solved? Expand the answers in clear sections and clean design.
Less is actually more when it gets to web design. Get yourself some culture about best practices in user experience and be demanding with your designer.
Lack of Mobile Interface
One of my fixations when we designed Event Manager Theme, was to make it responsive. Meaning that the website adapts to the display of the device you are using.
I am not saying that every website should be responsive but you need to cater for mobile users, possibly with a mobile friendly version of your website.
The information we need when on the go may not be the same required on a desktop. Hunting that information on a poorly optimized interface means fleecing your attendees.
Fix: The fix is quite obvious here. Get a mobile friendly version of your website. Ideally make it responsive or use event mobile applications to offer a comprehensive experience to those who already signed up.
The above is a list of items that need your attention if you run an event website.
I suggest to use it as a checklist when planning for a website.
If you feel your platform is not performing as it should, run some testing on these items and try to understand whether changing any of them has an impact.
If in your experience you stumbled upon more common mistakes, use the comments to let the others know and suggest a fix. I'd love to see them.