James Moffat, head of web at LiveBuzz, explores how an event website should be adapted in the lead up to a show.
From engaging content and bold visuals to search engine optimisation and device-friendly design. However, less discussed is the lifecycle of an event website and the changes it should go through as your event goes from launch through to the event week itself.
The lifecycle of most event websites can be split into three stages.
The first stage is the launch. Whether your event has been running for decades or is brand new, there should always be a launch. This is the perfect time to re-visit your brand and messaging. Do your visuals need updating? Has the vision for the show evolved since last time? In this stage of the lifecycle the content from the previous show can be re-purposed to provide a resource base and to drive expectation for the next show. Rather than using ‘coming soon’ messages, the previous year’s content gives the keen user content to engage with and discover.
The second stage in the event website lifecycle is the content announcements. Whether it’s the exhibitors/speakers/demonstrations/live areas/sessions or a mixture of them all, this is a great time to freshen up the website content. It’s also usually a great time to open up registration/ticket sales. The content is new and engaging and your audience are most likely to decide to attend in this stage.
The third and often most overlooked stage in the lifecycle of an event website is the event week itself. At this stage most people have already made the decision to attend or not. They will be looking to register, book a ticket, plan their visit and firm up travel plans to get to your event. The days leading up to the event are a perfect time to update the focus of the website to help your users achieve these goals. A simple change such as bringing some travel and venue details into a more prominent home page position can go a long way to helping your audience positively engage with the website and get what they are looking for. Rather than trying to force an engagement by making the ‘Register Now’ button bigger and bolder, at this stage it should remain in a clear and simple position and there should be many places throughout the website where the user can register.
During the event you have the opportunity to be bolder with the website. People will be traveling to your event so travel and venue details are still key, but now you can shift the focus to content in a big way. A video Live Stream can provide instant engagement and build anticipation for those not yet at the event or viewing from home or work. For those at the event, your conference/live content should be easily accessible from the homepage. Also, most of your audience will likely be viewing the website on a mobile at this point so any last-minute updates and changes should take this into account.
Once the event is over, make sure the next year’s dates and location are on the website, put your feet up for a well-earned rest, then get ready for the cycle to start all over again!