You may not share the same enthusiasm for winning as say, Charlie Sheen, but it’s still a pretty safe bet that you prefer it to losing. I’m also willing to bet that this preference extends to your event website design. That’s where I come in! Having spent the last several years designing sites exclusively for venue, event and association clients, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t in terms of designing an event website that is as beautiful as it is functional and effective.
Starting From Square One
The key objective of any events-based business site is to sell the audience on the value of the event and drive them to action. One is no less important than the other and these dual priorities should be top of mind not only on the home page, but throughout the site.
Determining the call to action is typically pretty easy. For most event clients the priority is registration, plain and simple. Selling the event itself is a tougher nut to crack. So often clients spend a great deal of time trying to whittle down the selling points into a few, perfectly-worded key points. That’s certainly a valuable exercise and it can work quite well on the right website, but some of the most powerful sites I’ve seen achieve this with an artful blend of copy and well-chosen imagery. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a cliché for a reason, am I right?
Here’s a few more basic things to consider:
- Regardless of how amazing your event is, the information that attendees are going to look for first is when and where it’s happening. Make sure these details are prominent and persistent.
- Speaking of selling points, lean on the celebrity of well-known speakers, performers or guests by giving them significant face time on the site.
- This point deserves more than one bullet (and it will get it, soon!), but given how much of your audience is viewing your site on a mobile device, responsive design is a must.
The concept of keeping your event live 365 days a year has become a hot topic in the industry over the last few years and it all starts with creating space on your website to serve as the online hub of your event community. Think: social media feeds/links, forums, an event-specific blog or news feed. Work as many reasons as you can for your attendees to frequent your website right into the fabric of the design.
No, I am not talking about space for banner ads on your home page. At least not the kind you’re thinking about. Sponsorship opportunities should never be your first priority, but a great design might be able to open up possibilities for new revenue streams organically.
Going back to my earlier point about the use of emotional imagery, a natural part of the design for a recent client we worked with was sort of a patchwork spread of images as the focal point of their home page. The sizing of the images in this collage of sorts was varied and flexible and it occurred to us that this might be an opportunity to essentially sell these “spaces” to sponsors. The size of the photo could be determined by the level of sponsorship and would allow sponsors to get in front of attendees in a very visible, yet unobtrusive way. Without detracting from the integrity of the design, this client has been able to pay for the development of the website many times over just from this simple creative solution.
As it relates to website design, it’s easy to get caught up in the line of thinking that pits functionality and strategy against beauty. But the truth is, you don’t have to choose. If you keep a few basic principles in mind, it’s entirely possible to have your cake and eat it too!