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Is Your Event Website an Empty Room or a Hoarder House?

Rebecca Rutherford
Jan 30, 2014

In this week’s Twitter #ExpoChat, event industry experts discussed what makes for a great event website or landing page. We discussed the main things people check on a show website, and there seemed to be an astonishing consensus that a lot of event websites are missing basic information on the home page!

There’s tumbleweed blowing around your empty home page

At the very least, your event website absolutely has to have the following three critical bits of information on your home page:

  • When your event is
  • Where your event is
  • What your event is about

I recently posted about how people have tiny attention spans and your event website has mere seconds to draw them further into your site. Or, best case scenario, your website has mere seconds to inspire them to attend or exhibit.

People are going to bounce right on past your website if you don’t provide them with these three aforementioned absolutely key pieces of data either right there on the home page or via obvious links to further information (say, if your event has multiple dates and locations).

Don’t have the LingsCars.com of event websites

A few months ago a friend shared this horrific bit of internet magic with me and it made me want to share it with everyone – including you: http://www.lingscars.com/

Unfortunately, it did NOT make me want to buy one of Ling’s Cars. Or go anywhere near Ling’s car lot for fear of getting sucked into a giant pile of cars, bad karaoke and clip art.

Fight your desire to think that every detail about your event is important and put everything on your home page. Strike a balance! This is where knowing what your audience’s priorities are comes in handy.

A useful exercise might be to create an outline of your event information from two perspectives: attendee and exhibitor. Beneath each list, number the importance of each item 1-3, with 1 being most important and 3 being least important. Put the 1’s on your home page. Link to 2’s from your home page. Put 3’s beneath the sub-pages. Now you’re off to a good start.

Beyond dates, location and overarching event theme, there are some other items that you want to consider elevating to the home page level after you consider your audience. Some examples include:

  • “I want to attend” registration links
  • “I want to exhibit” registration links
  • Visuals to create interest, like photos and videos from past shows
  • Important news and announcements
  • Social activity in a feed format or simple links to your event social media pages

You also need to build your website navigation to include some pretty obvious links to these critical bits of information for attendees and exhibitors:

  • Cost to attend/exhibit
  • “What’s the value of this event” sell-in materials for attendees or exhibitors, including items they can provide to management to get buy-in
  • Data, including audited attendee demographics, prior show statistics and success stories, ROI calculators
  • Schedule times and topics
  • Speaker listings
  • Exhibitor and attendee manuals and checklists
  • Exhibitor listing
  • Floor plan – updated in real time, preferably!
  • Additional news portal
  • Marketing and sponsorship opportunities
  • Event organizer contact information
  • Hotel information
  • “While you’re in town” local hot spot information
  • FAQs page

 

Make Your Website Matter

Here’s the moral of the story: the purpose of your website is to communicate the value. Yes, the details are important, but the details should support the value of your event. If you bog down the home page with details, people are going to get too overwhelmed and assume that your ability to organize your show is no better. Adversely, if you don’t provide enough of the right information on your event website, visitors are going to run away from your site. And, worse, they might run away from your event.

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