Tons of love and effort goes into creating the right website for your event business. But what, practically speaking, makes a website effective?
The website for your event business is your personal brand on display, more so than is possible on a listing site like the Knot or TheBash. Your website is your space to showcase your style, aesthetic, and personality outside of the constraints of someone else’s rules. But there are some baseline requirements, and that’s what we’re going to explore in this article.
What Does Effective Mean When It Comes To Your Website?
Before we can delve into the practicalities of an effective website for your event business, we ought to agree on terminology. What does effective actually mean?
Well, at its most basic, an effective website refers to achieving your goals. Specifically, achieving your event business’ goals. And let’s be a little more detailed – your website should accomplish the following:
- Be find-able on Google
- Showcase your skills
- Close the deal
- Make it easy to talk to you.
We’ll look at how your website can meet these lofty goals, and we’ll touch on a few other things too. But, to be blunt, if your site doesn’t meet these four key goals, you’re losing business.
Finding Your Website
We’ll start with the first point- being findable on Google. Now, I’ve written a lot on this subject, and I’ll add the links below, but I’ll run through things briefly here.
We’re talking about Search Engine Optimization, which I’ll abbreviate to SEO throughout this article. And there are two facets to making sure your event business’ website is discoverable on Google. First, there’s on-page SEO, which is a little bit technical. It’s about making sure that Google understands your website. Then, there are off-page actions that influence your rankings. We’ll look at each of these in turn, starting with the off-page stuff.
Improve Your Search Engine Rankings on Google
Google leverages a ton of data points to present searchers with the most relevant search results. When someone types “event planner Chicago” into their Google search, the results are based on browsing history, device type, location, and more. Google decides who shows up in what order based on a ton of semi-secret rules and data-points.
That means that each person’s search is slightly different, but there are things you can do to influence the search results.
The easiest thing to do is list your event business everywhere you can, starting with Google My Business. This will ensure you show up on the Google Map. This gives you a serious boost over anyone else, especially on mobile searches.
Then, list the website for your event business anywhere else. For wedding planners, this means the Knot, Wedding Wire, and others, especially local listings. For event planners who do other event types, there’s Yelp, Thumbtack, and PartySlate. Find as many as you can.
See, each link from these listings to your website helps Google understand who you are, and who your customers are. But that’s not all. The listing sites also rule the search engine rankings, so you’re getting a double win. They’re promoting your brand, and giving juice to your own website.
And even if the potential client clicks to your listing, they’ll often visit your website. Read about this photographer’s experience. 80% of leads used her contact form on her website, even though they found her on The Knot.
Read more about off-site SEO:
- Google Search for Event Planners
- Google My Business For Event Planners: List Higher in Google Search Results
- Genuinely Useful 2021 Marketing Tips For Wedding Planners
On-Page Search Engine Optimization
According to Google themselves: “The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant.“
Let’s say someone searches for “event planner Chicago.” Suppose your website’s heading and content include those words. That’s the absolutely most basic signal to Google that you’re relevant to that search query. To make sure the website for your event business is discoverable, make sure you include relevant keywords. Pretty straightforward, right?
If you have the time, copywriting creativity and will, create pages on your website for each core service. So if you plan weddings, parties, and conferences, have a page on your site for each of those services. And don’t forget your Google My Business listing. This ensures Google knows your company’s location and area of service. It’s a powerful combination in making sure Google knows which searches you should rank in.
But there’s more to it. There are some quite technical things to do too. Particularly, title tags and meta tags. There are small snippets of HTML – the language of the web. While it might sound a bit daunting, don’t stress it.
There are some easy solutions to setting this stuff up, and I cover it here in more detail: 4 Steps To Great On-Page SEO for Event Planners. The best part of it is that once your on-page SEO is done, it’s done for good.
Does The Design Of Your Website Matter?
Your website needs to be readable. More than that, it needs to “sell” you, and so yes, design matters. And while being an event professional is a creative career, web design is another story. The thing is, you don’t need to go overboard to have an exceptionally designed website. In fact, simplicity is often a far more effective route.
When considering the fonts, consider the following. The fonts on the website for your event business should be readable above all. There are many excellent readability design tips, but in a nutshell, here are some super basic rules:
- Use a serif font for headings, and san-serifs for paragraphs.
- Stay consistent with the sizes.
- Keep the fonts slightly larger than you might think. My recommendation is 16px at the minimum. I prefer reading 18px on mobile devices.
- Use web-safe fonts
- Make sure there’s a strong contrast between the font color and the background.
- Don’t use Comic Sans! No, seriously. Don’t use fiddly fonts. Prioritize readability.
It’s easy to overdo things with color decisions, but just like with fonts, it’s best to go with simple. While you’re not a web developer, here’s an excellent color guide to guide you through color choices. But overall, you’ll be surprised how far a handful of colors can go.
So, follow these steps to choosing your color palette. First, choose three neutral colors, like a white, dark gray, light gray. I don’t like black, because black on a back-lit white background can be challenging to read and tires the eye. My preferred color base is an off-white background and dark charcoal for the text.
Then, all you need is an accent color to add the pizazz. This color can be bold or pastel, but because you’re keeping things simple, you’ll be able to make it work without exhausting your website visitors.
The Website For Your Event Business Should Be Accessible
According to Usability.gov, “Accessibility focuses on how a disabled person accesses or benefits from a site, system, or application. Accessibility is an important part of designing your site and should be considered throughout the development process.”
Basically, accessibility means that people with disabilities, especially sight disabilities, can still engage with your website. If you followed the above tips about typography and colors, you’d be halfway there. There’s more to it, regarding semantic HTML, but don’t stress it. If you use Squarespace, Wix, or GoDaddy, much of the technical stuff will be handled automatically. If your website is built on WordPress, then you’re also in pretty good shape. WordPress takes accessibility seriously.
All you likely need to do, on a day-to-day basis, is to include alt text with your images. So, whenever you upload an image to your website, add the alt text for screen readers and SEO. Each website builder will handle this differently, but they’ll all offer an easy way to include it.
For example, here’s what the alt description field looks like in WordPress:
At the very least, accessibility is good web citizenship. It opens your website to those with disabilities. But there are benefits to being a kind person. Google rewards accessible websites with higher rankings.
The Elements Of An Effective Website For Your Event Business
So we’ve talked about a bunch of technical web design stuff, from HTML code to typography. Now, let’s talk about what content goes into a great event business website.
If you cast your mind back to the start of this article, a great site should do help you sell yourself. As I explained, your website should showcase your skill and experience, help close the deal, and make it easy for clients to reach you. Here, I’ll discuss the pieces of content that fulfill these goals.
Pro tip: look at other event professional’s websites and find a few you love. Then try and do something similar with your website for your event business.
The Service You Offer
This feels a little obvious, but it’s worth mentioning all the same. Your website should describe what you do. Beyond that, it should describe what you do for your clients. You’re explaining to people why they should invest their money in hiring you.
You need a handful of paragraphs on your homepage to describe what you do and why you’re unique. What types of events do you do and what your vision is. This matters to clients looking for the right person to bring their vision to life. And you, as the event professional, only want clients who “get your vibe.” This is where you set those first expectations.
Here’s an illustrative paragraph from Harlow & Dahlia Events:
“As a wedding & event planner company, we delight in taking each client’s unique story and transforming it into a stunning and carefully crafted event that will be forever cherished by our clients, family, and friends.”
Of course, they have a lot more, but I reckon you get the idea.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but you’d be surprised how often this ball is dropped. You should make it really, totally, entirely obvious how someone can get in touch with you.
Look, I know contact forms are de rigueur, and that’s alright. But please, at the bottom of every page, include your email address. I’d recommend a phone number too, but phone spam sucks, so I get that you might leave it off.
Contact forms are a point of failure, so I generally prefer email addresses. If you do have a contact form, test it weekly to be sure it’s still working.
Client testimonials are a fantastic way to “close the deal.” Once a potential customer has explored your website and mostly decided to work with you, the testimonials will usher them through those last moments of doubt. An entire page of testimonials is cool, but I recommend including one or two on every page. It’s just an effective way to make your point.
But in these cynical days, you’ll want to include the full name of the client. A first name seldom feels legit. So, if you can get your client’s permission, use their full name.
This is similar to client testimonials, and some folks consider testimonials to be social proof. But, for the purposes of this discussion, I’m talking about other types of testimonials. For example, if you’ve got 5 stars on Yelp or a badge from The Knot, you’ll definitely want to put that on your website.
Any type of validation, badge, or star rating will do. And the more, the better. The same thing goes for any certifications you have. Showcase any and all certifications, any associations you’re involved with, and any awards you’ve won.
Lastly, if you volunteer with any organizations, that’s a good thing to showcase too. Personally, I think charity is best when it’s done for personal, sincere reasons. Still, if you volunteer with a charitable organization, it demonstrates your character. And that goes a long way.
Your potential clients expect you to be active on Instagram – that’s where they’ll go to look at your latest work. So include an icon and link to your Insta account in the footer or header of every page.
It’s probably worth including a link to Pinterest, Facebook Page, and other social networks. Still, Twitter won’t matter in most cases, so feel free to leave it off. Don’t bother including any social networks you’re not active on.
Your About Page
Here’s the about page for ThymeBase. Sure, we build event planning software, but our page explains why we’re passionate about the event industry, and event planners in particular. We also include pictures of the team.
Potential clients want to make a judgment about your event business, and the about page will help them. They want to know you care about them and your work. The about page is where you can really lean into your event philosophy.
And when it comes to pictures of you, well, I’ve seen gorgeous headshots, as well as candid photographs. I love both styles, and that’s totally up to you and the vibe you want to project.
Olay, let’s get the obvious out of the way – the event industry is visual. Potential clients expect to see examples of your work. You’ll need to include a fair number of photographs of events you’ve done. I don’t need to get into that too much. But there are some technical concerns that most event professionals miss.
Image size matters. And the smaller the file size, the better. At the same time, the images should be visually large. Small files load faster and don’t suck up mobile bandwidth, so you’ll always want to prioritize a smaller file wherever possible. Aim for below 300kbs, but less than 100kbs is better. This is tricky when showcasing a gorgeous photo that the photographer sent over. But here are some ideas to keep file size down, but the quality high.
First, resize the image to 1920px wide. Most photographers will send you something over 3000px wide. Simply sizing the image down will result in a smaller file.
Then, you can use something called an image optimizer to compress the image and remove meta information. I use a tool called ImageOptim, but there are many others. Just make sure the pictures actually look good on your website. A blurry photo is such a turn-off.
There’s one more thing that’s absolutely critical for your website, especially if you have a contact form: an SSL Certificate. I use GoDaddy for my SSL certificates, but hundreds of companies out there offer them. But what is an SSL certificate?
Well, when you set up an SSL certificate, you’re basically validating that you own the website, and you’re encrypting any data that is sent to your servers. Cloudflare explains, “A website needs an SSL certificate in order to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website, prevent attackers from creating a fake version of the site, and gain user trust.”
If you have a contact form, but no SSL certificate, potential clients might get a severe and scary warning from their browser that your website isn’t trustworthy. So, get an SSL certificate. The risks of not getting it will outweigh the costs.
A Good Website For Your Event Business Works For You And Your Clients
Ultimately, a good website means your potential clients will have a good experience when they visit. It also means increasing business through more leads, more conversions, and higher search engine rankings. So take the time to set your website up right. It’s a mostly one-time effort with long term wins.