Event Tech Talks: How to create great event websites and apps

Event Tech Talks is a series of events by Event Industry News, which ignite debate surrounding technology in events industry. In April we saw Matt Hayward at an Event Tech Talk discussing AR and VR, if you missed it check out the blog here. This month, as Senior Digital Project Manager at drpdigital, I joined the panel for “How to create great event websites and apps”.

Event websites and apps are often the first touch points your delegates, exhibitors and sponsors encounter. This panel looked at how to create the best first impression for your client and make it easy for your users to navigate and engage with the tech. The panel was hosted at 1 Wimpole Street in London and I was joined by Chris Cloughley MD WorksMC, Works Digital and eventpowwow, Mykyta Fastovets, ExpoPlatform, alongside Adam Parry, Founder of Event Tech Talks and Event Industry News, who moderated the panel. Here’s a brief overview and top-line points of the discussion.

One Chance to Make a First impression…

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First impressions are vital in any situation, but when it is a digital first impression, it must be done right – it has to function, suit your target audience, be accessible to all and easy to use. It’s the first place your event delegates will go when they are signing up to the event. Therefore, you need to make this process as simple as possible – whether it is a desktop site, an app, or a website app.

Chris advises, and we all agreed, that before even purchasing an app prior to an event, ask yourself the simple question – why? Why do you need it – is it important and why do you think you need it – he stated that 50-60% of people download apps. So, depending on the type of event, what are the reasons behind you doing it, is it engagement purposes, your boss (or client) has told you that you need one (perception) or is it something you see everyone else doing and want to jump on the band wagon?

Why do you have to have a website? If it isn’t an app you’re thinking of producing, perhaps it is a website for your delegates to log onto and get all their event information. Whether it is an app or a website, think about the ‘why’ before considering your target audience, objectives and aims, ROI and everything else – then look at how much it will cost as well as internal resources. Who is going to run it and who is going to manage it – do you have the systems internally to manage it and run it? If it is a client you’re dealing with, still ask them the same question – as there could be a better option for them.

Spend 80% of your time thinking about the why – justify – and then begin.

Know Your Audience…

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Once you have got past the why it’s about understanding your audience, with an event website, as we have said, it is the first impression of the event and the first step in the journey of the event and the delegates’ perception of it – so with audience you should be careful.

Here’s some example: a delegate who uses their phone 19 hours a day, is 23 years old, downloads apps regularly and browses the internet on their tablet, smartphone, and desktop at work; compared to a delegate who works on a shop floor, isn’t using a computer at work or home, and doesn’t have a smart phone. In this situation, you would have to cater to two audiences and perhaps create print collateral alongside a website and/or app. Either way, everything you produce should be easy to use, simple, engaging and accessible.

Mykyta also suggested rather asking ‘why’ ask what is the value of the event being delivered? Then from this, what will be delivered and will it be a valuable experience – getting people to connect instantly, for example.

Mobile vs. Desktop

How important is mobile over desktop experience?

I think from our experience and with our clients – a pre-event event website is useful as people are usually based in an office or have a desktop at home. However, look at the mediums – where are people stopping to engage with the website and content, as well as the digital presence – how are you going to engage with everyone before, during, and after the event? Do both. Mobile and Desktop.

Offer people as many ways as possible to be able to consume the content and make sure the content is relevant, easy to consume, simple and engaging. What you’re trying to do overall is change behaviour and influence people – I know we say content is king – but it really is – then everything else comes with it.

Whether people are using the website on their smartphones, tablets, or desktops, all the websites are made to be fully responsive and run on any device, as there are so many devices out there. It is essential to be aware that not everyone will be looking at the content on one device, and they may switch from one to another. However, usually when it comes to the event it moves from the website, to the app as this is far more portable and engaging during a live event.

To conclude…

It is safe to assume that there is a solution out there for everybody, but you need to decide the kind of solution that you want – think about your aims, objectives, and above all the ‘why’!

If you’re going to do it, do it properly! Make sure you have clear communications with your delegates from the very beginning, if delegates get an app on the day and haven’t properly seen it or know how to use it, you may struggle to get the engagement you want. So, promote it before the event and in the lead-up have regular communication with everyone.

I cannot see an app and a website separately – it’s all about engagement – in every form. Strong digital engagement across all platforms.

Kirk D’Cruze – Senior Digital Project Manager at drpdigital

View the panel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCdrS8oCi_KfJKjXUOJEeRnLg_a4w7i1k

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