A great event is nothing if no one shows up. Attracting people to your event means being active on social media, setting up an email newsletter, and at the heart of it all, having a great website.
Whether you’re planning a festival, meetup, gala, fundraiser, wedding or kegger, having an event website serves as the advertising hub, support desk and logistics center for your big day.
So, how do you get started?
Register a domain name
Your event deserves its own website. A standalone website allows for differentiated branding (including a unique domain name), easier navigation (it doesn't get buried in a larger website that holds information for an entire organization/company) and ensures your site is built to reflect the goals of the event.
Tips for choosing a domain name for your event
- Keep it short and sweet. A shorter domain is more memorable and looks better on printed items. Example: the Edmonton Heritage Festival is shortened to heritagefest.ca.
- Consider scalability. If your event has the potential to expand to other locations in the future, don't include the city or town in the domain. Avoid putting the year in the domain if your event is recurring.
- See if premium keywords are available. The Halifax Busker Festival snagged buskers.ca. It doesn’t hurt to see what’s available!
- Show your Canadian pride. For the right of the dot, choosing a .ca domain shows your audience, both local and international, that your event is in Canada.
Find out what domain names are available by using our search tool:
Secure this .CA domain name by registering it through one of the certified providers below.
Securing a great domain name is a great first start in building your website. Now here comes the hard part—what do you actually put on your website?
Ultimate list of things an event website should include
- Date(s) and time — This seems obvious, but sadly sometimes you have to dive deep sites to find out when the event is. A widget that shows a countdown to the date (as seen on tailcreek.ca) can get people excited about the event.
- Location — Embedding a map can be helpful for website visitors on the way to the event.
- Registration/ticket sales — If required for your event, this should be very obvious and located "above the fold" (no scrolling required).
- Description of what the event is — Especially important if the name of the event doesn’t make it obvious. Without a description on the homepage of plaidgoat.ca, I wouldn't have known that it's a three-day cultural celebration revelling in the mountain bike stoke of the Canadian Rockies.
- Vendors/speakers/line-up — This is what you would use to draw people's interest in an event. People are busy; give them a reason to come to your event, whether it's selling them on what they'll learn or how much fun they'll have.
- Food/drink options — Consider dietary restrictions and alternative options.
- Contact information — Be sure to include a contact form and also list an email address and phone number for the event.
- Logistics — Include things like parking lot maps, public transportation information and road closures.
- Nearby accommodations/attractions — Make it easy for people to plan attending your event. The Tulip Festival (right in CIRA's backyard!) which draws thousands of visitors to Ottawa has a whole section dedicated to this on tulipfestival.ca.
- Sponsors — Thank those who are supporting your event. When a new sponsor signs on, get them to send you a logo with the right specs.
- Volunteer information — Show the benefits of volunteering and include a Call to Action (CTA) for people to sign up.
- Photos and videos — The Shediac Lobster Festival makes excellent use of videos from years past on shediaclobsterfest.ca.
- Sign up for email updates — Provide details leading up to the event, follow-up with thank you’s, etc. This will ensure those who are interested get all of the important updates delivered to their inbox.
- Social media — Include logo icons that link to your official accounts. You can also provide a feed of your recent Tweets and/or Instagram posts.
Things to keep in mind:
- Keep your content up-to-date. Consider the goals of your website and how they change before, during and after your event takes place. Information will need to be updated or taken down. Early on in the event planning process, you can make the website live with minimal information so people can “save the date” and add more details in as they are finalized.
- Build for and test on a mobile device. Event-goers are even more likely than your average website visitor to be browsing on their phone during the event looking for information. Mobile-friendly websites are preferred by Google and will ensure your event gets maximum visibility.
- Integrate event management tools and widgets. There are many great online tools out there to help manage things like ticketing, venues, and other aspects of your event. Make sure the website you build includes the functionality to integrate these services. Most modern content management systems, such as WordPress, will have plugins or support for these tools.
- Don’t overwhelm your website visitors. A good event website is all about balance: it provides enough information to sell people on it without becoming too wordy or clunky.
Want some more examples of stellar .CA event websites? Read our post that highlights summer festivals across Canada.
Building a professional website for your event doesn’t have to be a ton of work or cost an arm and a leg with the website building tools at your disposal today. Keep our tips in mind to create a website that helps you put on a great event!