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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Event Websites

Your event website has 10 seconds to capture a visitor’s interest. That’s not a whole lot of time to spark an event-goer’s imagination and hold their attention.

Thanks to website builders like Squarespace and WordPress, there’s little excuse for an ugly or unusable page. However, many designers who’ve created sites for events say these builders pose challenges for event creators. The result is an event website that overwhelms — or underwhelms — people before they even consider attending.

“Most event-related templates and themes are built primarily for weddings,” says Katie Harris, Event Website Product Manager at Eventbrite. “That leaves event creators with thousands upon thousands of templates that were created for ecommerce, corporate brands, and blogs — none of which facilitate the unique needs of an event.”

Before you hire an agency in hopes that they’ll build a beautiful event website for your event, or waste money trying yet another template or theme, it’s important to find out what makes event websites different from other kinds of sites. Armed with that understanding, you can go forth and conquer your website building aspirations without any hesitations or reservations.

Here’s how to differentiate the good from the bad to the downright ugly of event websites.

This guide is for…

Any event creator who wants to understand the critical elements of a successful event website, so they can convert more site visitors into ticket-wielding attendees.  

You’ll learn how to:

  • Differentiate between successful and unsuccessful event websites
  • Write web copy that sells your event, without overloading attendees with information
  • Incorporate critical elements that make it easier for people to purchase tickets

01. Why some event websites suck

You might be asking yourself right about now, “Okay, so what does make an event website beautiful?” And the answer is: you’re asking the wrong question.

Beauty doesn’t necessarily correspond with success. If you want a website that captures interest and turns visitors into attendees, you need to focus on what makes an event website the ultimate salesperson for your event.

According to Eventbrite’s Katie Harris, that’s often easier said than done. “When you know every detail about your event intimately, it’s a blessing and a curse — especially when it comes to your event website. The result is often a site that overwhelms event-goers with information.”

The phenomenon Harris describes is called “the curse of knowledge.” Throughout this guide she and other event website experts will reference real event websites that suffer from this curse — starting with how to avoid information overload.

 

“When you know every detail about your event intimately, it’s a blessing and a curse — especially when it comes to your website.”
Katie Harris, Eventbrite Event Website Product Manager

Information overload

One of the basic tenets of creating content for the web is “less is more.” In fact, a complex design will turn visitors off within 50 milliseconds of viewing your page. While it can be hard to whittle down your event to its essentials, giving event-goers the information they want to hear (vs. what you want to tell) is key.

The ugly: An event website with no consistent branding


“When someone visits an event website like this, they’ll think they landed on the wrong site,” says Harris. “It’s not that it looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1990s. The navigation menu has so many items that you don’t know what you should click on. Combined with the randomly used typography and colors, it’s unlikely anyone sticks around to figure out what the event is about — or if it’s worth attending.”

The bad: An event website with too much information


“When someone visits an event website for the first time, they want to know whether it’s worth their time and, if it’s a paid event, their money,” says Harris. “If your site loads and all they see is a 500-word essay about the event and images unrelated to the experience, you can bet they’ll leave your site without thinking twice about it.”

The good: An event website with consistent branding and the right info


“Your website gives visitors their first glimpse into your event experience,” says Harris. “With the right information and consistent branding, you’re not just convincing them to attend your event — you’re setting their expectations for the quality of it.”

Avoid information overload on your event website with these expert tips:

  • Place your event logo or name prominently. Help visitors know they’ve landed on the right website by putting your logo at the top of your home page, as well as on every page of your site, so it’s always one of the first things they see.
  • Choose a colour palette — and stick with it. Colours express ideas, spark interest, and evoke emotions. Choose a colour palette of primary colours (one or two) and secondary colours (three or four), and stick with it across all your marketing.
  • Use typography consistently. Just like your colour palette expresses your event’s style and intention, your choice of typography reflects your event brand as well. Pick a font that is legible and fits in with your event’s personality, then use it exclusively across your entire site.
  • Don’t be too wordy. Being concise with your copy makes it easy for people to scan the information on the page, especially if they’re on their phones. Use bullet points when possible, limit paragraphs to three or four sentences, and consider using helpful and relevant links in your copy.

02. How to avoid frustrating event-goers on your website

Even if your website has the right information on it, its design may still be frustrating potential attendees. When your website fails to answer their top questions, people won’t waste their time trying to learn more.

According to a recent Eventbrite survey, the number one challenge facing event creators in 2019 is reaching new attendees (55%). But even the most effective event promotion strategy won’t help you grow attendance if your event website fails to answer someone’s top questions.

A 2015 Adobe study found that 88% of people gather information online after they learn about a product or event. And, according to Nielsen Norman Group, when they land on your website, you only have 10 seconds to convince them to stay and learn more.

“You know deep down that event-goers will have the time of their life at your event,” says Yunji Kim, Eventbrite Event Website Product Designer. “But if it’s not immediately apparent to them, you’re fighting an uphill battle for their interest from the start.”

In this section, you’ll learn from real world examples how the curse of knowledge can negatively affect someone’s first impression of your event.

of people gather information online after learning about a product or an event

Adobe Marketing Discovery Survey

Poorly chosen images

The visuals you choose to use on your site are the fastest way to help event-goers understand what your event is all about. Why? Because the human eye processes images in 13 milliseconds — and authentic pictures of satisfied attendees help visitors imagine themselves at your event.

The ugly: An event website without images


“You want to tell potential attendees everything — so you can forget how important it is to show them,” says Yunji Kim, Eventbrite Event Website Product Designer. “Reading is time consuming. According to estimates, the average human can read
200-250 words a minute. Broken down to seconds, that means someone visiting a site is unlikely to read more than a couple of words before leaving.”

The bad: An event website with poorly chosen images


“I saw a food and drink website like this once,” says Kim. “The event creator knows they showcase the best cuisine local restaurants have to offer. Unfortunately, the long list of logos presumes everyone who visits the site has eaten at these establishments or is familiar with their reputation. Pictures of mouth-watering dishes, however, would spark appetites — and attendance.”

The good: An event website with images that showcase the attendee experience


“The images on your event website shouldn’t be taken lightly,” says Kim. “It’s tempting to list out all participating partners, sponsors, or vendors. But a long line of logos should never take the place of images that show attendees what it’s like to be at your event. The best images give visitors a glimpse into the event experience and tell them it’s worth attending.”

Improve your event website’s photography with these expert tips:

  • Choose the right images. You want to help people imagine themselves at your event and the best way to do that is with pictures of satisfied attendees at your event. In a less prominent place on your site, you should also highlight images of your venue and talent or speakers.
  • Invest in a professional event photographer. Sure, everyone can take pictures on their phones now, but these freelancers specialise in taking pictures of events, which means you’re more likely to get the images you need. Just be sure to review the fundamentals of great event photography before diving into hiring one.
  • Take advantage of quality stock photography. If you can’t hire a professional photographer, or don’t have images from past events you can use, stock photography sites like Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, Stock Snap, and Pexels can be a great resource. And if you have money to spend, Stocksy has an amazing library of images to check out.

Missing or hidden event details

Ever found yourself on a website that buries all the important details way down on the page? It’s not just annoying for you — it’s also highly frustrating for your attendees when they have to comb through your site for answers to basic questions like location, time, and parking info.

The ugly: An event website that only showcases past events


“There’s nothing more frustrating than finding an event you want to attend and seeing that it’s already passed,” says Kim. “What’s truly unfortunate, however, is that there’s an upcoming event in this series that hasn’t been added to the site. That’s a missed opportunity. Even if their next event isn’t for another year or more, they could have invited visitors to signup for a newsletter or follow them on social media so they stay updated.”

The bad: An event website that doesn’t provide critical event details


“I’ve seen a lot of event websites without the date and location,” says Kim. “This information is arguably the most critical for your site and is surprisingly easy to forget about. What’s worse is there’s no button that says ‘Buy Tickets’ or ‘Register Now.’ How can someone attend this event if they don’t know where it is, when it will be, or how to buy tickets?”

The good: An event website that answers event-goers’ burning questions


“If someone can’t easily identify the date and location of your event, they won’t waste their time looking for it,” Kim stresses. “And if they can’t find your call to action, they definitely won’t attend your event. In the illustrated example, these critical details are clearly visible.”

Use this checklist of important details from the experts:

  • Don’t bury the date, location, and price. Once your event website has piqued someone’s interest, make sure they can scan the page and find out where your event is or how much it costs to attend. The higher up this information is on your homepage, the better.
  • Make sure your call to action (CTA) stands out. After an interested event-goer has decided to attend your event, they shouldn’t have to figure out where to go to buy a ticket or register. Show them the way! Remember, your event website is a treasure map, and your call to action is the giant red ‘X’ that says “Over here!”
  • Embed your ticket or registration process. Your event management solution should be embedded into your website so people can buy tickets or register without being redirected.
Pro tip

Make checkout a breeze on your event website

If you use Eventbrite, the new embedded checkout lets ticket buyers stay on your website to register instead of being redirected to a ticketing page. A simple button that blends easily with your existing branding, it provides a mobile-optimised checkout (even when your website isn’t). Learn more here.

Generic or self-serving copy

Another principle of good web design is the words you choose to describe your event. The secret to crafting sentences that pique visitors’ interest and ease their concerns is to put yourself in their shoes.

The ugly: An event website that uses buzzwords and cliche phrases


“Buzzwords aren’t inherently bad —
sometimes they move into the public lexicon,” says Eventbrite Content Strategist Ronnie Higgins. “Too often, however, they’re overused and become meaningless fluff. Same for cliches — if this event was truly the number one choice for realtors, they should already know.”

The bad: An event website that coveys features, not benefits


“Generally, people don’t buy products — they buy what the product will help them do,” says Higgins. “The same goes for events. Don’t just tell people about the great “features” of your event (such as your list of performers, your amazing venue, or the menu for lunch), tell them how your event benefits them.”

The good: An event website that uses words wisely


“Just like images, the words used to tell visitors about your event shouldn’t be taken lightly,” says Higgins. “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and help them understand the benefit of attending your event. The copy in this example makes a promise and backs it up with a testimonial from an attendee.”

Upgrade your event website’s copy with these tips from the experts:

  • Identify your event’s core proposition and target audience. At the root of all effective web copy is a deep understanding of the reader and their needs or interests. Before you write anything, ask yourself two questions: What is the ultimate benefit I want my attendees to gain? Why is my event better than my competitors’? Once you’ve identified your event’s unique selling point, don’t worry about being clever. Your primary goal is clearly express the value of your event.
  • Conveying benefits, not event “features.” Conveying benefits of attending your event to your reader is the single best way to keep them nodding along with you on their journey to a sale.
Example of feature-driven and benefit-driven copy

Feature-driven: We’ve got 20 speakers lined up for our conference.
Benefit-driven: Set your strategy with confidence, using exclusive insights from 20 seasoned industry leaders.
  • Add some social proof to your claims. People observe how others act to inform their decisions. It’s human nature. A testimonial from an influential expert or a past attendee can go a long way to add credibility to your event. Studies show that 70% of consumers look at product reviews before making a purchase, and product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions from manufacturers.
Pro tip

The elements your event website needs that other sites don’t

Event websites must solve unique challenges that other websites don’t need to solve.
Here’s what the experts say traditional ecommerce, corporate, or blog websites don’t need — but your event website absolutely will.

  • Lineup or agenda: People want to know who’s speaking or playing and when. That information can’t be presented as a boring list, though. Your site visitors will expect an interactive and easy-to-read lineup.
  • Speaker or performer bios: Part of any good lineup or agenda menu on an events website is the ability to click on a speaker to learn more about them. How you get there is up to you, but popups that overlay the webpage are a popular approach used on websites today.
  • Keep visitors updated on upcoming events: Maybe somebody finds your event the day before it’s live, and they can’t make it but really wish they could. That’s engagement with a would-be attendee you don’t want to miss out on. Listing future events or asking event-goers to sign up for a newsletter is key to keeping that momentum going.”
  • List of event sponsors: “From big-name festivals to smaller, corporate events, sponsors can add credibility to your event. Plus, giving sponsors space on your site is another activation you can offer them.”

03. How your event website is sabotaging your sales

Now you know how your website can answer visitors’ questions, it’s time to think about how you can get them to commit to attending. If it’s hard to find your “Buy” button, or worse, if it makes it look like it’s hard to buy tickets, none of your visitors will actually convert.

“Even if your event website has great images, a punchy headline, and easily identifiable details, there are other overlooked issues that visitors might not notice, but are sabotaging ticket sales or registrations,” says Eventbrite Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Tamara Mendelsohn.

In this section, our experts share the two top revenue killers plaguing event websites — even when they successfully capture event-goers’ interest.

Can’t be found on search engines

Many event-goers begin their search in a search engine like Google. But you can’t assume that just because your event exists on the web, people will find it. The key is search engine optimisation (SEO) or, put more simply, designing your event page to show up at the top of search results.

The ugly: An event website that doesn’t appear in search results


“When you want to find something on the internet, you do exactly what event-goers do when they’re looking for something to do — Google it,” says Eventbrite SEO Manager, Wells Yu. “If your website doesn’t include important details — such as the event name, date, and location — your event won’t show up in search results.”

The bad: An event website that only shows up in branded searches


“A unique event name is great for differentiating your event from the competition,” says Yu. “But more people are searching for topics related to your event — like ‘events near me’ or ‘summer festivals in my city.’ Even if your event is well-established, you should go beyond your event name to optimise for these other related searches.” More on how to do that below.

The good: An event website that shows up in event-goer’s search results


“A site that’s optimised for search stands a better chance of selling out than one that’s not,” says Yu. “In fact, if your event page shows up first in Google results,
a third of searchers will click on it. Simply put: If you’re not investing in SEO, you’re losing sales.”

Improve the search result ranking of your event website with these expert tips:

  • Help search engines help you. There are two important factors that can help you start your journey towards search engine optimisation. First, by making sure your event name and domain (URL) match. This is the best way to ensure that if someone types in your event name directly, your event site will come up first. Second, by putting your date and location front and centre on your site. This will ensure your event appears when event-goers search for “events this weekend near me.”
  • Use relevant keywords. Start with search terms your attendees use to find your event. You should put together a list of roughly 20 or so keywords you suspect people might be searching to find events like yours. Then find out their search volume in tools like Keyword Tool or SpyFu. The more you focus on high-volume keywords, the better your results.
  • Don’t embed important details in images. Search engines like Google can’t read text in images, so always make sure that your site copy includes important details like your location, date, time, and event name.

Too many steps to purchase

Checkout processes need to be simple, fast, and easy. You don’t want to do anything that will disrupt a future attendee’s ability to buy their tickets for your next event.

The ugly: An event website that’s difficult to use on mobile devices


“After convincing a visitor to attend, this site makes it extremely difficult to register,” says Eventbrite Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Tamara Mendelsohn. “On top of forcing people to pinch and zoom on their mobile devices, the purchase process requires them to fill out too many fields.”

The bad: An event website that requires an account to purchase


“Another leading reason why interested website visitors don’t purchase a ticket or register for your event is required logins,” says Mendelsohn. “If they don’t have their login information handy, your site is forcing them to wait (and hopefully remember) to return later and complete the process.”

The good: An event website that allows event-goers to purchase tickets quickly


“Once someone has decided to buy, don’t let a frustrating purchase process make them second guess,” says Mendelsohn. “The best ticket checkout processes are only a few steps. This website ticks all the boxes.”

Simplify your purchase or registration process with these expert tips:

  • Simplify your purchase process. Studies have shown that each step in the checkout or registration process will lead to a 10% reduction in transactions. Look at your own registration flow and take note of how many steps it takes to complete, then work to reduce them.
  • Make sure your site is mobile-optimised. More Google searches come from mobile phones than desktop. What do they see when they search for your event? Will they have to pinch and zoom to buy tickets or register? This is especially worrisome if you’re spending lots of marketing dollars on mobile-first platforms like Facebook or Instagram to promote your event.
  • Remove barriers to attendance. 23% of online shoppers said they wouldn’t buy if they had to create a new user account. That means one in four of attendees will say “no thank you” if required to create an account before registering.

It’s time to put your new website design knowledge to use

Now that you’ve got a thorough understanding of the good, the bad, and the ugly of event website design, you’re ready to make your event website the cream of the crop.

Want to really stand out and convert more site visitors to attendees by taking advantage of Eventbrite’s embedded checkout? Create your next event today.

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