13 Tips on Constructing Great Event Websites

13 Tips on Constructing Great Event Websites

Lately, my work life is full of adjustments to event websites, so I thought I'd talk a little about what makes a good event website.

Share inspiration and set expectations. The Web isn't so different from any other communication—if people are inspired to attend and have a decent understanding of what to expect, you've done a good job. As a part of setting expectations, your site's design (writing style, colors, images, videos, etc.) should match the feel of your event.

Don't forget the details that are likely obvious to you: name of the event, location, date, time, and cost (if any). And put this information in text where search engines can find it, not just in a graphic. If people forget these details, they will likely ask Google—and making it possible for Google to answer makes their lives easier.

Share a backgrounder or brief history of the event. Give people a sense of where you've been, where you're going, and what your vision is. But briefly—absolutely no more than a page in length. (If you really want to share 20 pages of detail, link a PDF article; don't make them scroll through all that to get to the details on this year's event.)

Provide a schedule and details on activities. This is a great chance to sell the quality of what you're presenting while including text with keywords that will bring in even more web visitors searching for those topics. Don't forget to keep the schedule and activity info updated as best you can with the sometimes-inevitable last-minute changes that occur. (It's easier than reprinting all your materials.)

Use online event registration and make it easy. That is, if you require registration for your event. Faxed and mailed forms are starting to go the way of the telegraph. Some web registration systems (like the one we use) can even handle multiple registrations, invoicing for payment, and mailed checks.

Provide a means of contacting an actual human being: a phone number, e-mail address, or contact form. If potential participants have difficulties or unforeseen questions, you want them to find help.

Answer any expected questions. This is your opportunity to reduce your phone call/e-mail workload. You could create an FAQ page or just work in the answers to questions topically.

Tell them what they need to know to get there. Maps and information on parking, road construction, and public transit options are very helpful. You don't want their first impression of the event to be frustration with unexpected transportation difficulties. If you have a larger event, a map of the site is helpful as well, with details on where activities will take place as well as locations that may be suddenly, urgently needed (restrooms, organizers' headquarters, first aid, help desk, etc.).

Post information on volunteering, if you use volunteers. The web is a great place to solicit help, provide information on what to expect, and get people to enter themselves in your volunteer registration system—reducing your data entry workload.

Thank the event sponsors and/or producers. They've provided useful funding, products, and/or services; promoting them here is an easy way to provide value to them.

Make it easy for the media—include a "media room" with resources that are likely of use to them specifically: media releases, high-resolution event logos, high-resolution photos (of past event goings-on, speakers, performers, etc.), contact information for interviews, other footage/coverage, existing promotional materials, sound bites about your event, etc.

Include a widget linking to your social media presences/posts. Social media makes it easy for you to contact interested potential attendees; make it easy for them to follow you with links in prominent positions.

Share regular news updates. A blog is good for this. Regular posting gets more attention from search engines and social media fans alike. What is new or different? What changes are being made? Has some item of needed information just been decided? This is your opportunity to build more event PR. Do you have any video resources to embed—perhaps an event PSA on YouTube? Rich media particularly build anticipation for an event (while increasing the number of views on your videos, telling other potential attendees something about the broad interest of your event).