Ideas for a Conference Website

If you monitor the Analytics of your conference or event website and often wonder why your bounce rate (people coming in and leaving in 10 seconds) is so high, here are 11 items that may be robbing you of attendees.

No Clear Schedule of Events

This is actually quite common and it leaves me stumped. Conferences and Events are about the schedule so why would you skip putting a schedule on your website. I like to build TWO schedules into all client websites, a full schedule with links to speakers pages and bios and a printable-mobile-phonable-at-a-glance-schedule. You can even take it a step further and use apps that will allow attendees to create a custom, personal schedule.

Pop Up and Blinky Ads

I have said that I think that banner ads are a really cool and unique way to highlight sponsors and exhibitors and I still feel this way. I do however think that some people take it to the extreme with nasty pop up ads or gif / flash ads that look like Las Vegas at midnight (says the guy with a flash ad in the sidebar). If you have a pop-up, it should point to registration or ask people to sign up for your email list).

Auto-Play Videos (and Music)

A good portion of your audience will be checking out your event or conference website from their office cubical. They do not want to visit your website and have some loud video start blaring through their speakers (would you?). Your website is about the attendee, not about you. Oh and don’t have music, really, no music unless you are Lollapalooza or Coachella, this is not high school.

No Sponsor / Speaker Information

Call out your speakers and sponsors. This goes straight to the attendee experience and also makes the speakers and sponsors giddy. How can attendees make an educated decision to attend your event without this information. No sponsors? Don’t hide it, simply put up a call for sponsors. No speakers yet? Put up a TBA page. Simply let people know that the information is coming and they will be happy.

Stock Photos

If this is a first year event, you may not be able to avoid this but you can always put up pictures of your speakers, your members and more. If this is a yearly event, there is no excuse for using stock images; You should be using pictures from the last year’s event.

No Clear Path to Registration

You would be amazed at the number of conferences and events that make it hard to register, it is almost like they are ashamed. You should have a menu item at the top that says “Register Now” and you should also sprinkle other other “calls to action” throughout your website. Attendees want to register, do not make it difficult.

No Contact Info

No contact info or just a contact form does not build trust. Have a contact us page and also put your contact info in the footer of your website.

No Social Media Buttons

Seriously, what decade are you in. You should have your social icons in easy reach for your attendees and other visitors.

No Event or Conference Blog

I wrote a huge post on why your conference or event needs a blog, go and read it because it will give you a clear idea of what you need to be doing and why.

Flash

Apple no longer supports Flash, this is enough reason to let it go. You can read Apple’s thoughts on Flash.

No Clear Call to Action

This goes back to the registration. Guide your site visitors. If you want them to register, say “register now”. Whether we like to admit it or not, most people are herd animals and want to know what to do step by step. This is not a knock on people, it is an observation (I am included in the herd). My day is busy, when I get to your website, I don’t want to think, I want you to tell me what to do.

Conclusion

Conference web design is not difficult. The biggest problem is that people tend to over-think it and try to put every bell and whistle on their site because they think that these make their website cool. Stop trying for cool and go for functionality and you will be rewarded with more attendees.

Some of the biggest and baddest sites on the web are the most simple (Google). They are simple because these people realized that site visitors do not want gadgets, they want to get where they are going as quickly as possible.

Image: Sean MacEntee