As a user experience (UX) manager, it’s important that I stay on top of web development trends and adapt to the ever-evolving web world. However, there are some rules that will never change, and one of those is the need to provide your site’s visitors with a high quality experience. No advancement in technology will ever replace the need to empathize with your website visitors.
Considering the lifespan of your event, you really have a small window of time – perhaps a few months to a few years – in which you need to make a big impact online. If you want to be most effective in setting your event website up for success, consider these 5 practical tips:
UX Tip 1: First impressions matter, so make yours incredible.
Did you know your prospective attendees will make judgments on the quality and legitimacy of your offering in a fraction of a second? In fact, research suggests that your website only has 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression.
Don’t settle for a “good” event website. You’ve got one shot. If you were meeting someone for the first time and you wanted to make a good impression, would you wear your pajamas or perhaps something a bit more presentable? Put on your three-piece design suit and make an attractive website.
And, although research shows users have no problem with a long, scrolling page, remember the time it takes to make a first impression? Visitors to your event website cannot scroll in a fraction of a second, so ensure the tops of your pages are awesome. You know, just as you wouldn’t go to that first meeting with someone with bedhead hair.
UX Tip 2: Timing really is everything.
You probably have a lot of information you would like to share with those interested in your event. There’s no need to jam it all on your event website on day one. Instead, deliver the right event information at the right time. Offer event information when it’s most relevant and remove (or de-emphasize) content that has outlived its usefulness.
For instance, if it is currently three months prior to your event, unless I’m an exhibitor, do I really need to see your full floor plan? No. Likewise if I’m an attendee at day two of your conference, why would I need to read a “how to make a convincing case to your boss that you should come” page? I don’t. When registration is closed, take the button down. Help us keep the internet clean.
UX Tip 3: Short. Sweet. To the point.
Make your content easily readable and scan-able. For those in the know, it’s cliché to say, but it is absolutely true – visitors will not read most of your site. I’m sure your content is compelling and I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but on the average web page it’s only likely that visitors will read about 20% of your content.
Keep page text to-the-point and easily scan-able – that is, make sure it is easy to scan the page and quickly identify the most important information.
- Use bullets or numbered lists instead of a paragraph – like this!
- Emphasize important facts with LARGER or bold characters or styles that otherwise set the most important text apart from normal text.
- If you must have a page with a lot of text, break up the text with headings or a summary of the content at the top or in another column.
UX Tip 4: Don’t underestimate the power of sub-pages.
While you may think your home page is the only thing that matters to a visitor, every single page on the site is important. In fact, studies demonstrate that any page on your site could be a search result on Google and that the home page is not the only place where you need to focus your efforts.
Invest the time to build something visually attractive with easy to read, relevant information on every page, whether it’s your home page or a page 3 levels deep.
UX Tip 5: Elevate the important information.
Not every little detail about your event is so important that it needs to be in a prominent position or utilizing a special design treatment to stand out. But, there are a lot of details that are so important they should be prioritized, and yet they are often missing or buried beneath a required step (log in, registration, etc).
One example I read recently discussing the many usability issues on the HealthCare.gov site talked about the need for transparency in pricing online. Having clear and complete pricing without having to log in is critical. As this article stated, “When information is not provided upfront, users tend to move into a defensive mode.” Frustrating your prospective attendees by making information difficult to access or locate is not going to excite them about attending your event. Rather the opposite!
Hopefully these foundational tips will help you empathize a little more with your event website visitors. Remember, your website is an online representation of not only your event, but of you and the value you offer. Experiences start with a first impression and if people don’t have a pleasant experience on your event website, they very well may make negative judgments on you and what you offer them.