Every event needs a website. Whether you're working on a local or national scale, or hosting events ranging from charity fundraiser to music festival, a website is the absolute minimum requirement.
After all, where do you think people will go to find information about your event, or even buy tickets?
Of course, getting your website right is easier said than done. After looking at countless websites for well-established events from around the world, we've narrowed down the nine core elements of a successful event website. Follow these and your website can build hype and awareness for your event -- not to mention selling more tickets!
1. Strong Branding
What is it that makes a visitor remember your website?
At its most basic, this is the look, feel and personality of your event projected onto your website. The colour scheme, headlines and images used should all consolidate this brand image.
Of course, the name and logo of your event will form an integral part of your overall branding, shaping the public's perception of you, so pick something fitting.
A great example of great branding is the Glastonbury Festival website. With a bright, unusual colour scheme and a consistent, recognisable font, the event organisers have created something memorable and distinct.
2. Responsive Design
It's 2014. Your visitors will be browsing your website from a range of different devices, so make sure you use a responsive design to keep the user experience consistently high.
Responsive designs automatically displays a version of your website most suited to a user's device, providing an optimal viewing experience.
This might sound complex, but many WordPress themes come with this cross browser/device functionality built in -- check out ThemeForest for some great theme ideas.
For a quick look at how your event website might look on different devices, check out the Spigot Design Conference responsive design below.
3. Video and Images
Beyond looking nice, the primary function of your website should be to boost ticket sales.
Before purchasing a ticket, a visitor must respond positively to a fundamental question: is this the type of event I want to attend?
This is why using high quality images is so important: by showing a visitor what to expect from your event they can quickly judge whether the event appeals to them.
If they do -- and, of course, no event could ever appeal to every single person -- they will be pushed strongly towards purchasing a ticket. This is your desired outcome.
So what images are most effective?
- Your most popular acts
- The location/venue
- Photos taken at previous events
- Satisfied punters from your target demographic
If you want to take things one step further, consider creating a video for your event. Videos are perhaps the most sharable form of media, allowing you to spread word of your event further. It doesn't have to be overly complicated: a short preview of the event, or a highlight reel from last year, will do just fine.
One of the best examples of this I came across was the Boerne Wild West Day -- proof that you don't need to be a huge institution to create a great website for your event. The image of the Old West Town instantly sets the scene, and will instantly appeal to their target audience. Great work.
4. Push Your Headline Acts
Whilst the depth of your 'card' generally determines the success of your event, it is undoubtedly your headline acts that will generate the most excitement and sell the most tickets.
Take advantage of this: Every event website should have its most popular acts featured prominently on the homepage, whether this be a famous speaker or a best-selling band.
If you have more than one, consider giving each act a designated section on your homepage to maximise their exposure. For WordPress users, an image slider plugin works great for this, allowing you to give each headlining act their own slide.
The UK's Reading Festival does this perfectly, with a slider of their six headlining acts taking pride of place on the homepage.
5. Date, Time and Location
Once you've got the punters excited for your upcoming event, it's time to start breaking down potential buyer objections -- with each key piece of information you provide you make it significantly easier for someone to attend.
Is a visitor actually able to attend? Each visitor should be able to easily answer this question after a quick look round your site.
For this, you'll want to clearly display the time, date and location of your event. Embed a map from Google Maps to make it simple for a person to work out where your event is held in relation to them.
And to encourage extra ticket sales, as well as building a sense of suspense in the build up to your event, consider adding an event countdown clock to your website. WordPress users, again you're in luck: there are a number of free plugins specifically for this job.
For a real world example, check out the Brooklyn Brewery Mash website, with the date and location of every stop on the tour listed at the top of the homepage. This instantly allows potential attendees to locate the event closest to them, and check their availability during the specified dates.
6. Buy Tickets Buttons
What is the purpose of your website? To promote your event and sell tickets, right?
By following our advice so far your website will be the perfect resource for promoting your event; now it's time to boost ticket sales.
No event website is complete without a strong call to action. In this case, your desired action is a visitor buying a ticket.
All your hard work so far is for nothing if you don't make it as easy as possible for buyers to do so. Big, eye-catching buttons are great for this, taking a user directly to your sales page. When a user scrolls down the page, try to make sure a call to action is always visible. If you're selling tickets with WordPress, this is easy: you can place a ticket checkout in your sidebar on every page.
The easier it is to buy a ticket, the more tickets you sell. Simple.
Want to see this done well? While not technically an 'event', the Eco Adventures provides a fun day out for tourists, so the website is highly relevant. On the homepage, you can see several buttons that take visitors straight to the sales page. These tickets stand out against the background, drawing attention instantly -- exactly what you want your call to actions to do.
7. Grow Your Mailing List
Not everyone will rush to buy tickets after browsing even the most incredible of event websites; that's just a fact of life.
Some visitors will be on the fence, and others will be unable to attend for a whole host of reasons.
These people might not want to buy tickets right now, but they might want to in future. It would be a shame to let them leave -- they might never come back -- but you aren't going to convince them to buy today.
So what should you do? Include a secondary call to action at the top and bottom of each page of your website, allowing visitors to subscribe to your mailing list for updates on future events -- consider offering discounts as a sweetener.
When your next event comes around, you already have a ready-made list of highly targeted people to kick-start your ticket sales.
You can see this in action on a section of the Hybrid Conference website. They've designated a section of their homepage to growing their mailing list, alongside a Buy Now call to action. The striking pink colour means the section can't be missed.
8. Social Media Sharing
Social media is a great way to bring new traffic to your website, build buzz for the event itself and reduce your dependency on the search engines.
In my opinion it falls alongside building your mailing list as a secondary call to action; a person may not want to buy a ticket right now, but they can spread word of your event through social media.
Make sure you're active on all the major social platforms, and give your visitors two options:
- To share your event on social media, giving your event more exposure
- To follow you on social media, where they will receive updates and can potentially be converted into paying customers down the line
And, if you want people to join in the conversation surrounding your event, make sure you choose an event-specific hashtag and feature it prominently on your site.
The Splendour Festival website does this particularly well. You have all the social sharing buttons at the top of the homepage, above the fold. They also include a Facebook follow widget in the sidebar, as well as a Twitter widget to build a buzz around the music festival. An event that understands the importance of social media.
9. Sponsor Logos
And finally, don't forget who made the whole thing possible: Your sponsors.
Featuring sponsor logos on the homepage won't impact ticket sales, but it will keep your sponsors happy by giving them plenty of exposure.
Happy sponsors are more likely to become repeat sponsors -- keep this in mind for when your next event comes around!
The dConstruct Conference have got this spot on, giving a nod to the sponsors who made the event possible on the homepage. It might not sell additional tickets, but it justifies the sponsor's investment, and they should always be acknowledged.
Obviously certain aspects of this list will have a bigger impact on your audience than others, but when you put them all together you'll have a more complete website, able to draw the most out of people at every stage of the buying process.
Are there any aspects of a successful event website that we're missing? Let us know in the comments section below!