I am a big fan of WordPress. I have been using it since 2005 when I put up my first personal blog.
WordPress is indeed the most popular self-hosted platform for blogs around the world. There is a growing trend in users adopting WordPress also as a Content Management System.
Its ease of use and user friendliness make it an easy choice for all kind of website projects, from portfolios to small business portals.
I always thought WordPress was a fantastic solution for event websites. As in fact I have witnessed the evolution of events over the past 6 years, the requirements for event websites changed substantially.
New Events, New Websites
Technology and social media impacted the event industry substantially. Despite few realize the change we are witnessing, the way we experience events evolved for good.
Alas event websites need to reflect such changes. Brochureware is not sufficient anymore. Our prospective attendees research their purchase decision online in a variety of outlets.
We need to be ready with a website that is usable and effective.
A research showed that we own an average of 3.5 devices, from smartphones to tablets. Therefore our website needs to be performing in all of the most popular user interfaces.
Media is also becoming an integral part of the event experience. Therefore websites need to easily accommodate the use of video and pictures.
Making Your WordPress Choice
WordPress is an amazing resource because it serves all of the above requirements. But that is not it.
The fact WordPress.org is an open source platform, guarantees a large communities of developers and users creating projects, answering questions and making the platform better.
You can lear WordPress easily by dedicating a bit of time to it. Nobody taught me how to use it, I was able to self educate on its different capabilities thanks to the community.
Choosing to go with WordPress should be your priority if:
- You want control over content and media
- You want to be able to react quickly to new technology trends (a plugin i usually released when new functionality say from Facebook or Twitter is introduced)
- You want to save money over hiring a website provider
Do You have the skills?
Numerous customers ask me before making the purchase what skills are needed to run my WordPress Event Theme. I always answer as follows:
- If you do not know what WordPress is and are just looking for a way to save money, do not purchase a WordPress premium theme. You’ll soon realize you’ll need a freelancer or an agency to set it up.
- If you have run a WordPress site before (such as a blog), have some experience with setting up a hosted website, some HTML and CSS knowledge, I suggest to purchase a Premium Theme with Support. As in this case you may not have the technical knowledge to understand where to look for customization and section tweaks.
- If you are confident with all of the above and also understand some PHP, you can definitely purchase the theme alone. This is also the case if you have someone in house who is able to master PHP or WordPress.
Sometimes you can get these skills on freelancing communities at a reasonable price. Always consider that you may need such support repeatedly in time.
Customization: WordPress on Steroids
WordPress Themes are a canvas for how a website should look like. They collect the features the designer thought were relevant for a specific theme. In my case, Event Manager Theme was designed with the feedback of more than 100 event professionals. Therefore no assumptions were made there.
Alas one size does not fit all
If you run large events with complex schedule, media integration requirements and an high volume of attendees, WordPress becomes a different tool.
In fact your choice will become more a design preference rather than a technology decision.
This is because large events often require a dedicated resource to customize different aspects of a website. You will also need a better hosting solution, a faster database and daily support.
WordPress is still my preference in this case as I will be able to monitor different aspects of the site, without never give up control. In this case a WordPress Premium Theme will be just a start, you’ll need to invest in a technical resource to optimize and customize.
WordPress is my default solution for conferences, festivals, conventions and trade shows that aim to have a flexible website that responds to modern attendee requirements.
Carefully review your skill set before making a purchase as sometimes you’ll need technical skills to customize sections.
Large events should always consider the use of WordPress themes as the canvas that gives the design input to the project. More technical resources will be needed for complex requirements
Images: Peregrino Will Reign