Our marketer's guide to getting the basics right.

A common trap when approving your latest website design is to overlook the fundamentals that most site visitors will be looking for. It’s important that your site has a creative vision and that needs your attention but your core visitors, exhibitors, speakers, and delegates don’t need to be sold to or wowed; They just want to re-register or re-book.

So make it easy for them (and you) by ensuring your fabulous design still incorporates the following features clearly and distinctly in the header or near the top on the homepage and all subsequent pages and across all device formats…

1. Always on brand

Whatever your event, the logo and brand guidelines used online are key to reflecting who you are to your target audience and reassuring them that they’ve come to the right place when they find you. Too left-field and the questions can creep in and they’ll be searching again. So dispel any doubts and make sure that on landing the event logo is immediately obvious and the look and feel of the site is one that’s right for your event and market.

Get those boxes ticked early and your creativity won’t be to the detriment of your bounce rate!

2. Clear start and end dates

Put the event start and end date clearly in the page header, ideally with the logo or somewhere equally prominent. It might sound obvious but this vital info can get shunted off when there is other more exciting stuff to promote!

A fun way to create a sense of momentum in the build up phase is to add an event countdown clock which ticks away as the visitor is looking at the website. This little device is amazingly effective at subconsciously reminding site visitors to act now rather than delay and they work for practically every event type.

It is also great to add a collection of quick links for downloadable calendar reminders (Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google Calendar are the most popular.) Even if a delegate has not register yet they’ll likely save the dates if you given then a painless way to do it. The event is then in their eye line every time they check their calendar plus for your registered attendees it ensures the time is blocked out and other meetings are not scheduled over the top. Anything you can do to reduce the unfortunate reality of “no shows” ought to be seized upon.

3. Location, Location, Location

Your event may have been at the same location for the last 100 years but it is still vital to have it clearly displayed across all device sizes, especially mobile. Why? Because on the day many visitors will start at your website to quickly grab the location for their sat nav. Don’t make them struggle for the information. If yours is an international event, you need to be super helpful with location and travel information so that geography doesn’t become a barrier to attendence.

And while you are at it, make sure the opening times are obvious and work easily on mobile. Your visitor might have registered on a desktop at work but will probably double check opening times and plan their day on the fly.

The page footer can be a really handy place to keep this kind of essential information permanently displayed, as in the second example (although the contrast could be better.)

4. The primary call to action

What is it you want people to do? For consumer exhibitions and live performances you’re typically encouraging ticket booking; for business events it might be delegate registration. It’s likely that your primary call to action is targeted at these attendees, so make sure that the “book” button is prominent and in a strong contrasting format that can be easily spotted. Once they’ve made up their mind to come you don’t want visitors to have to hunt this down! Plus many repeat attendees will come to the site only looking for this button so make it obvious.

There’s been a trend for some event websites to animate the book now button as a way to draw attention to it. These might seem fun and quirky but we say try and restrain your enthusiasm. In our opinion it’s distracting when scanning or browsing editorial, plus animation can cause issues with older web browsers and the last thing you want is your book now button not appearing or working! Stick to high contrast and you get guaranteed usability benefits all round.

By the way, we would always recommend that your book button and subsequent booking pages are as mobile friendly as possible so that what starts as a browse can turn seamlessly into a sale.

5. Clear Navigation

As the event marketer, you’ll inevitably spend many more hours pouring over the website content than others are likely to (sad but true fact.) In contrast your target audience are likely to make short, focused visits, whether to register or find out who’s performing or exhibiting. They will be very keen to quickly and efficiently complete their task.

So in building your website navigation take a step back and ensure that you make content layout as clear as possible, designed for someone without your level of familiarity.

The best place to start is a clearly visible main menu, ideally across the top of the page so that it can stay visible (“sticky”) as your visitor scrolls down the page. The navigation should reflect your event type so if it’s a trade show then make sure that “Exhibitor List” is prominent; If it’s a consumer experience event then you’ll need Attractions and Opening Times links. It can be tempting to theme your menu items (symbols, icons, etc etc) or try and be catchy with the phrasing of the menu options. These may work but only if your visitors can universally interpret what you mean, otherwise you are just setting up a barrier. To be honest, it is best with website navigation to be as predictable and intuitive as possible and staying well within the realms of the norm.

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