How to Build a Sell-Out Events Website With WordPress
If you are holding any type of event, from conferences to concerts, then creating a website to promote it is an essential part of the planning process. Not only is creating a website an effective way to publicize and generate interest in your event, but it’s also a practical way to provide your attendees with useful information in the lead up to the big day.
Furthermore, by creating a fully featured website for your event, your site can become a valuable tool on the day and beyond. Being able to instantly publish changes to the schedule, share presentation recordings and notes, as well as including online networking areas to help your guests get the most out of the occasion can really help make your site an integral part of the event.
So how do you go about creating such a website to support your event without breaking the bank or becoming a fully-fledged developer? Well, thankfully there’s a great selection of WordPress themes and plugins that can really simplify the process.
In this post we will taking a look at why you should consider using WordPress to create a website for your event, as well as some of the supporting products that can give you access to all the features you need in order to make your event website a success in a cost effective manner.
Why Use WordPress for Your Events Website?
When you then take into account all the events-related products available, such as purpose-built themes, and a whole host of useful plugins, choosing WordPress makes perfect sense. Even if you’re not an expert WordPress user, you can now affordably hire the services of a 24/7 support provider, giving you someone to turn to should something go wrong with your website.
Using WordPress as the platform for your events website is a straightforward process that only includes a handful of steps from start to finish. Along the way, you will need to choose a hosting service for your WordPress website, a great looking theme, and the right plugins to help manage the event content. Finally, you will need to learn how to promote your event online. Thankfully, we will cover all that information in this post, giving you everything you need to create a successful events website with WordPress.
So now that you are sold on the idea of using WordPress to promote your upcoming event online, let’s get into the details of creating your website.
Choose a Hosting Service Provider
There are plenty of website hosting services out there to match almost any budget. Since WordPress is the most popular content management system in use today, most hosting service providers are familiar with how the software works and some even provide services tailored specifically for WordPress users.
When choosing a web host for your events website, performance, support, and reliability are the key factors to consider. As getting as many visitors as possible to check out your website is the goal here, it’s essential that you choose a hosting provider that can handle a lot of traffic, without causing your site to slow down, or worse, go offline. Furthermore, as you may be selling tickets from your website, or managing the registration process, choosing a host that is secure and reliable is important too.
Here are some of the best WordPress hosting service providers you may want to consider:
- SiteGround: As experts in WordPress hosting, with prices starting at a low $2.95/month, SiteGround offers a good combination of support, speed, security, and affordability. Their packages include immediate activation with a 1-click account setup, a free domain name, free site setup and transfer, unlimited traffic support, and free daily backups, not to mention WordPress coming preinstalled on your server space.
- WPEngine: By moving into the realm of premium managed WordPress hosts, such as WPEngine, you get a lot more performance and higher levels support for your website. This does comes at an extra cost, with prices starting at $29/month, but for anyone promoting a professional event, the expert WordPress support on hand, increased levels of security, and improved performance should be worth the extra money.
- Pagely: Another premium managed WordPress host that will appeal to those promoting a professional event. Pagely won first place in our web hosting investigation to be crowned the best option for WordPress users. It’s not cheap, but if your event website is important to your organization or brand, then a Pagely hosting plan could be the right choice.
Select a WordPress Event Theme
The theme you choose for your event website will play a large part in its success. Controlling the appearance, and to some extent the features of your website, picking the right theme for your needs is crucial.
Thankfully, there are some high quality WordPress event themes on offer today, costing just a fraction of the price of hiring a developer and designer to build you a bespoke website.
Before picking a theme based on looks alone, there are some features you should look out for.
These include general features, such as support for multiple devices, as well as more event specific features, such as schedule planning, and the ability to publish venue information, speaker profiles, and registration and ticketing management.
So before we get to the themes themselves, let’s take a quick look at the features you should keep an eye out for in more detail.
Mobile internet use is at an all-time high. Therefore it’s crucial that the theme you choose for your events website is able to adapt to whichever screen size it’s being viewed on. These mobile friendly themes are billed as being responsive, due to the way they respond to the size of the screen – including tablets and smartphones – that is being used to access the site.
You might notice some themes being advertised as mobile first. This indicates that they have been created with smartphones and tablets regarded as the primary device that will be used to access your site. These themes will still work on larger screens, but often offer extra smartphone compatibility that your event attendees might appreciate while checking out the website in-between sessions.
One of the benefits of choosing a commercial theme over a free one, is that you often get access to a higher level of support. This can cover online documentation, video tutorials, help guides, helpdesk support, and access to ongoing theme updates and improvements.
Some theme vendors even provide access to support forums, where best practices, tips, and other helpful advice is shared to help users get the most from the themes. If your events website is mission critical, then checking out the reputation and quality of the after sales support on offer from any theme vendors you are interested in buy from is highly recommended.
Event Website Specific Features
Once you start taking into consideration what features need to be included on an events website, you will soon realize that not just any WordPress theme will do.
While an attractive and user friendly website can help promote your event, if you really want your site to sell your event, while also providing support to your speakers, attendees, and co-organizers, it’s going to take more than just good looks.
Here are some of the event-specific features you may want to include in your website:
1. Event-Specific Content Management
Being able to create and keep events and event-related content separate from your regular website posts and pages is an important feature to consider. Mixing the different types of content into one may confuse your visitors and might even cause them to miss important information about an upcoming event or session.
Keeping the different types of content on your website separate, also makes it easier to manage from an admin perspective. It also gives you the option of applying different designs and layouts to the different types of content.
This effect is usually created by making use of WordPress custom post types. These additional posts types will often be created by an event-focused theme or a purpose built plugin.
2. Speaker and Venue Information Management
Having a dedicated place to store and publish all of the speaker and venue information for your event has many benefits.
While this is similar to the more general event-specific information covered already, it’s worth looking out for a theme with the ability to manage speaker bios and their photos, which can further help to promote your event. Looking for the same features, but for storing event information, such as location and venue facilities, is also recommended.
3. Management of Attendee Registrations
If your website is being built to promote your event, it’s essential that your visitors can sign up and register their attendance. Whether this takes place through the use of a simple form, or a more advanced payment collection and ticketing management system is up to you.
This feature may well be included in your theme of choice, or alternatively provided by a third party plugin. Depending on your needs, you could manage event registrations yourself, or integrate your website with a provider that offers this service.
Giving your visitors an easy way to sign up right away can help encourage registrations and increase attendance for your event.
4. Payment Gateways
If you are going to enable online registrations for your event, then adding the ability to collect payments into the mix can allow you to offer a one stop solution for processing sign ups.
Integrating with a trusted payment gateway or processor, such as PayPal or Stripe, can take the responsibility of managing payments off of your hands, while also making it easier for visitors to decide to hand over their payment details.
Again, this feature is likely to be added to your site via your chosen theme package, or a third party plugin.
5. Pricing and Notification Management
The ability to offer early registration discounts and other pricing-related marketing tactics can really help you to sell your event. Giving your visitors the option of joining a mailing list to get updates on pricing and ticket availability can also help convert interested visitors into registered attendees.
Other pricing and registration-related features you might want to look out for includes the ability to offer multiple pricing options, group discounts, display countdown timers, and accept deposit payments on bookings.
These are some of the main features you might want to make use of on your events website. The more of them that are important to you, the more you likely it will be that you will need to choose a purpose built events theme.
Not choosing a theme built specifically for creating an events website, or at least a highly flexible theme, could end up costing you a lot of time, money, and effort should you need to add these features to your website at a later date. For this reason, it’s definitely worth considering a purpose built WordPress events theme for your website.
The Best WordPress Events Themes
So to help you find the right theme for your events website, here are some of the top items you should consider:
Created by ShowThemes, a group who specialize in developing themes for event websites, Vertoh is a premium WordPress theme that is perfect for conferences and exhibitions. Offering multiple ticketing options, with a special deals or even a sold out display, this theme makes it super easy for visitors to know what the status of any event is, at any given moment.
With a focus on ticket sales, Vertoh is connectable to outside registration services that can help you manage registration to your event. The theme also includes a large call to action button, with time and location information for your event, all in one convenient module. This registration module can then be set to repeat multiple times throughout your website in order to help increase ticket sales.
The Vertoh theme also includes 4 header choices with 15 different color combinations, to ensure you are able to customize the site to your liking. Other notable features include: dedicated performers and exhibition sections, advanced schedule management, a fast responsive design, a countdown to event widget, and social media links for online networking.
If you’d like to know exactly how this theme works, there is a backend demo available for Vertoh on the ShowThemes website.
Fudge is another premium events theme from the ShowThemes team. The first thing your visitors will notice when they arrive at your website is the large image that the theme can accommodate on the homepage. If your event or brand has a strong visual tradition or appeal, Fudge could be a great choice.
Quickly following on from the large image, the homepage gives you the space to highlight all of the most important information about your event, including: the location, the time, and the date it will be taking place. Fudge includes all the features you need to publish your event schedule online. Your visitors can then filter this information by track or location, making this theme ideal for those putting on large events with lots of sessions to choose from.
Thanks to the modules that make up the Fudge theme, it’s easy to pepper the design of your website with multiple calls to action and registration buttons. These provide a constant reminder to your visitors to book their place or risk missing out.
Other highlights of this events theme include: a performer database to highlight speakers, singers, actors, and VIPs for your event, complete with customized profiles; 10 pre-set color palettes to choose from; a fully mobile responsive session scheduler; a Facebook widget to display Facebook RSVPs and integrate your event with this social media platform; and an event countdown timer to help build anticipation for the big day.
Thanks to its highly versatile nature, in part due to its live front end, drag and drop website builder interface, Upfront is perfectly suited to creating an events website. Each page on your website can be tailored to meet your needs, complete with multiple elements, spread across individually styled page regions. Needless to say, the end product will be fully mobile responsive to cater to your attendees while they check the upcoming sessions during the day.
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Upfront also includes four starter themes to choose from: Fixer, Scribe, Panino, and Spirit, each of which is highly customizable through the live front-end editor. Through the editor, you can turn any starter theme into a completely different website, even an events website, complete with branding, images, custom fonts, and much more.
By combining Upfront with one of the plugins we will cover shortly, you can add all the event-related features you need to your site.
If you want to promote multiple events on a single website, then the premium Januas theme from ShowThemes is a suitable choice.
Through your website, your visitors can use the homepage slider to scroll through the forthcoming events, browse the entries in the calendar, or use the filter tool to search for upcoming events by name or category. Each of the individual event pages gives your visitors the ability to learn more about the event, with the option of registering as an attendee.
The theme makes it easy to store and publish all the different content your events website needs. This includes the sessions that make up each event, the presenters attending, and also the location and venue details.
Conference has been created by the WP Look Studio team to help you promote your upcoming event or conference in style.
Conference includes everything you need to promote your event, publish the daily schedules, showcase your speakers, and highlight the event sponsors. You can also sell tickets from your website, thanks to the support for the PayPal payment processor. Other useful features include: unlimited color options, Eventbrite integration, eight custom post types, and a fully responsive design.
If you are new to WordPress, or just short on time, you can take advantage of the WP Look Studio offer of installing this theme on your website for you.
Available from ThemeForest, this premium theme is ideal for entertainment type events, such as arts, music, and cinematic shows.
Eventure has the ability to display multiple events, rather than just a single occasion, making it good for those with busy schedules. Visitors can browse the calendar to see the upcoming events, while also having the ability to filter them by type. Expired events are automatically hidden from public view, although this is optional.
The theme includes support for the Google Events rich snippet, helping to make your listings stand out in the search engine results pages. You will also find 15 homepage combinations to choose from, front end form submissions for adding events to the website, and flexible color choices.
Eventure has a rather unique design that probably won’t appeal to all readers. However, if you are looking for something less corporate to promote your upcoming shows and events, this could be the theme you’ve been looking for.
Eventbrite Event is a theme that is free to use, making it ideal for those promoting their event on a budget. If you just need to get a site up and see if there is any interest in your event, you can’t go wrong with this free template.
This theme is regularly updated, and is fully compatible with the WordPress Customizer tool. This gives you a live, front-end preview of your website, as you make changes to its appearance. It might not have the most cutting edge design out there, but for promoting a single event, it might just be enough for you.
WordPress Event Management Plugins
As well as choosing a theme for your events website, you will probably need to install one or more additional plugins. Some themes will come packed with event-related features, while others, not so much. Depending on your needs and chosen theme, adding one or more of these event management plugins to your WordPress site can give your website all the functionality it needs to promote and manage your event.
Here are some useful WordPress plugins to consider using when creating your events website:
This plugin is the ultimate all-in-one solution for adding an event management system to your website. with Event Espresso, you can manage your ticket sales and event times and dates, customize event designs using templates, send out email confirmations, collect payments through multiple payment gateways, showcase your event’s location with Google Maps, and so much more.
This plugin is definitely premium, costing $99.95, but with all the features included it could be well worth the investment. There are also multiple add-ons available, each at different price points, to help you further enhance your events website.
If this plugin is not within your budget another great option is to use the free Event Espresso Lite version, which is still pretty feature-packed. Out of the box this free plugin includes PayPal payments, custom event registration, automated confirmation and reminder emails, and allows for easy management of attendee profiles.
Another couple of complete WordPress plugin solutions for managing your events websites are Events Planner and Events Manager. Both are premium plugins offering lots of features for managing your events website. Although not as all-inclusive as Event Espresso, these plugins could also help you get the job done.
This free WordPress plugin has a professional style and allows for easy creation and management of events. Amongst its features you will find: Google Maps integrations, widgets for displaying upcoming events, event categorization, template tags for theme customization, caching support, and testing with many major themes such as Genesis, Woo Themes, Thesis and more.
As your needs grow, so too can the functionality of this plugin. By installing the extension, or upgrading to the full commercial version, you can easily add more features to your events website.
Another one of our feature-packed plugins, Events + can be used to organize even the biggest of events from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard. With Events + you will find support for Google Maps, a friendly user-interface for visitors to pay via PayPal, as well as the ability for guests to confirm their attendance through Facebook or Twitter.
You can create and manage your events including RSVPs, ticket sales, and guest lists, all from within your WordPress website. This plugin conforms to your theme’s design and makes it easy to place its elements exactly where you want them. It even allows users to integrate the events they are attending directly into their own personal calendar via iCal integration.
A Little Advice on Promoting Your Event Website
Now that you have the website for your event up and running, complete with your theme of your choice, your custom content, and the appropriate plugins for proper event management, it’s vital that you go out and promote your event.
Here are some tips that can help you do just that, after your events website has gone live:
- Create social media profiles in order to share, network, connect, and promote your event on the channels where your target audience hang out.
- Start building an email list for your event, by adding email optin forms to your site.
- Gather testimonials from past speakers, performers, and even attendees to highlight the credibility of your event.
- Publish photos and videos from past events to add to your present website
- Start blogging regularly about the event, with latest news and updates.
- Consider guest posting on related blogs to promote your website and the event.
If you follow this advice, you should be able to succeed in promoting your event and drawing more visitors to your website.
Creating a successful events website takes time, money, planning, and execution. By harnessing the power of WordPress, as well as its ecosystem of themes, plugins, and other services, you can find everything you need to create your own website to promote your event.
The process of building a website to promote an event with WordPress can be fun and challenging. With its user-friendly approach to website design, almost anyone can create something great for their event. Take a look at the themes and plugins listed in this article and figure out which ones may or may not work for you, depending on the specific needs of your event.
What features do you like to see on a website for an event you are attending? Which themes or plugins mentioned here will you take advantage of? Are there any others you would like to add to the list? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.