Success-Failure-SignWe are all busy people. Too often, our crowded schedules get in the way of achieving bigger opportunities, like improving our event websites – or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Established teams can quickly fall into complacency without giving their event site a second strategic thought, because when it was first launched, it was new, it was catchy, and if it achieved some basic goal at all, then it was probably written off as a success. Over time, it can become a patchwork quilt of mismatched ideas and tactics: a little venue information here, a few registration questions there, and potentially content overload everywhere!

As a self-proclaimed event management software expert, I’ve seen so many instances where planners try to cut corners by taking last year’s website and using it for this year. By piling content on top of content, the end result is an underperforming, counterproductive site that drives participants away from you and you further away from your goals. In today’s world, your website only levels the playing field, so it would help to revisit your strategy every now and again.

So what is a purposeful website and how do you build it to attract more attendees? In short, smarter content, defined design elements, a simple layout, and clear calls to action are all components of websites that produce exceptional results for events.

I’ll offer some simple examples of how you can incorporate each of these components into your website, but first, let’s talk about the elements of a poor design:

  • awkward positioning on the page

  • navigation paths with low visibility

  • wordy or unclear messaging

  • no defined purpose

Be mindful that winning sites are built with a singular focus and that is to market your event, so it would be best to keep it simple, whenever possible. No matter what you specialize in, you want to create a positive user experience that drives others to your site.

Important factors to consider when building a purposeful website:

Design affects usability: Different browsers/versions will render content (fonts/colors) differently, and that is outside of anyone but the browser’s control, so you should expect some minor layout differences.

For instance, there are standard fonts that can be used across all browsers, or “browser safe fonts”, such as:

  • Arial

  • Times New Roman

  • Verdana

Try limiting your content to a select few of these to minimize complications with regard to other browsers.

If your organizational styles are more complex for corporate branding purposes, try using a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to control style elements across the site. If you are not familiar with this type of markup language, and would like to learn, here is an excellent resource including online tutorials:

W3Schools

User-centered design: “Unless a website meets the needs of its intended users, it will not meet the needs of the organization providing the website.” – Jakob Nielsen.

There was no need to paraphrase this because it states exactly what should be done here. When you are mapping out the layout and design of your site, what you are trying to accomplish and who are you trying to reach with this website. So please, before the site is “live”, ask yourself these questions at the very least:

  • What is the nature of my business (reason for the event)?

  • Who is my audience?

  • What technology do they have?

  • How will they use the site?

If your website was not built around these components, from a business perspective, it will be considered as poorly designed.

Purposeful websites are not haphazard efforts. Each type of site has its own set of characteristics, which is why it’s hard to mix and match features, but they are all built with a singular focus, to effectively market your event.

For ideas on creating exciting design elements that will wow your attendees, attend this pre-recorded webinar. It’s free and super helpful:

Powerful Event Websites: How to wow them & drive attendance