Using WordPress for your conference website makes sense for a many reasons.
- WordPress.org is free. You have to have your own hosting and domain name but the self-hosted version of WordPress has a plethora of options for event management.
- Over 26% of websites in the world are created with WordPress which means that your team may already be familiar with updating websites built on this platform.
- It’s particularly easy for your team to update the site with post, page, speakers, attendee and sponsor information as it comes in.
- You can create blog posts to publicize news of your event, such as new sponsors and speakers and to build up the buzz about it.
- It is fully customizable. There are many themes for an overall design and plugins for extra functionality.
Where to Start:
To begin, set up the site to include all of the content you have about the event, plus create buttons that call for speakers and sponsors that link to application forms. Be sure to spell out your Sponsor package showing everything sponsors get at each level.
As planning progresses, you can add your speakers, including your keynote speaker, to help people decide to buy a ticket when it comes time. You can also add the attendees to the site. Each speaker, sponsor and attendee is added to the site as a post or custom post type depending on the theme you are using. It is very easy to add them and then to be able to create a navigation button that will pull up the speaker, sponsor or attendee archive.
Be sure to include an email sign up form for people who want to receive information about the event as things develop. You can use a free email newsletter account from MailChimp as long as you have less than 2000 people on your list. Once you have people on your mailing list, you can easily send out updates to keep people engaged.
Each time, after you write a blog post, use the content from the post to create a simple email newsletter update and send it out to the people following your event. This will creates a sense of anticipation before tickets ever go on sale.
Social media updates can be created from this same content and sent out to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google +. This attracts new people back to the event website, and as your blog posts become more numerous, so does the audience for your event.
Launching Your Event:
When the time comes to open ticket sales, your WordPress website is a great great distribution channel for this information. You announce that ticket sales are open on the home page, send this news out as an update to your newsletter, and post on social media sites.
If you create an event #hashtag and post updates on Twitter linking back to content on your website, you will grow your audience with more people finding you, who are excited about attending, speaking or sponsoring your event.
There are thousands of plugins for WordPress and out of those you are likely to find any functionality that you need to help you with your event.
Here are just a few:
- Cr3ativ Conference plugin enables you to create a single conference event, with speaker profiles, over multiple days, with unlimited sessions per day.
- Event management plugins allow you to plan, schedule and register people for multiple events.
- Integrate ticketing options such as Eventbrite with your WordPress website.
- Use Gravity Forms which is an easy form builder that allows you to create a form application for purchasing a ticket or a table for an event, using Paypal or Stripe.
- Top Quark is a highly-customizable, scalable and powerful tool for festivals and conferences to help manage multi-day, multi-talent, multi-venues.
You will find that WordPress will be your tool of choice for a great conference website.