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Ask 100 B2B event planners how to execute effective event design and you’ll get 100 different answers.
So to get to the truth, at Splash to analyse 37 design-related metrics for top performing virtual and in-person event websites from August 2019 to August 2020.
If you’ve never thought about designing B2B events before, I don’t blame you. Sometimes it seems like an afterthought, even for event planners. We’ve all seen the heavily modeled event websites and the irrelevant emails that scream, I’m not focused on the design; I take care of the big stuff that can determine the outcome of my event.
Of course, attracting the right attendees and developing compelling event content (among other things) should be priorities. But event design can significantly affect the quality, registration rate, and overall success of B2B events more than you might think.
This is especially true in an environment still dominated by virtual events, where the design and branding of the site is on full display for the duration of the event.
According to our research, 46% of companies plan to hold more virtual events in 2022 than in 2021, even as in-person events begin to return. And that means digital event design will be an essential skill for B2B event professionals to master.
So what is the “secret sauce” of effective event design?
The most successful events adhere to specific design principles and best practices designed to encourage clear communication, consistency and engagement, according to our research.
Specifically, the most requested B2B events widely used the following five ingredients.
1. Clear calls to action
The most important job of an event website is to generate registrations. Eye-catching visuals, headlines that pique readers’ interest, content that clearly communicates what to expect, these are all meant to entice the right people to register for an event.
A powerful event design captures the viewer’s attention, then uses a call to action to immediately direct that attention to event registration.
Point: Well-designed event websites place registration buttons in the first block and keep all registration forms inline with page content rather than tied to a separate page. On successful virtual event pages, new guests encountered a register button in the first block of content 77.1% of the time; successful virtual event sites also used online forms 22.9% of the time, which is almost three times more common than for in-person events.
2. Noteworthy headlines and headlines
On a virtual event website, the layout creates a visual hierarchy that helps users navigate their experience consistently and helps differentiate levels of information (theme and keynote speaker: critical information. Parking directions ? Not really).
Titles and headlines – and their relationship to body copy – play an important role. They should be the most important pieces of text, well distinguished from other texts, and they should communicate the most valuable information.
In our analysis of successful virtual events built on Splash, the ratio of title font size to median body text ranged from 2.8:1 to 3.5:1. Font size relationships in this range created effective contrast and allowed for more streamlined information delivery.
In addition to a contrasting text size, title and headline content on successful websites tends to be clear and action-oriented and reinforces the theme of the event. Just as typography and layout should be designed to encourage specific actions, so too should the words and phrases themselves.
Example 1: Discovery+ created an event page with contrasting text size, reinforcing the event theme for IDCON.
3. “KISS” Supported Content
We all know the guiding mantra of digital content: keep it short and simple. The design of successful virtual B2B events embraces this principle, conveying event information in the simplest way possible.
The most effective virtual event pages have an average of 5.8 blocks or sections of content, compared to 7.2 for the most effective in-person events, according to our research. More than 6 content blocks per virtual event page negatively impacted search results.
4. Color contrast
In web design, the contrast between the foreground and the background of a website is always important to ensure readability. Our research confirms this: 88.5% of successful virtual event pages and 76.8% of successful in-person event pages primarily used white backgrounds with black or dark gray body text. White backgrounds are strongly correlated with high performance on virtual event sites.
We’ve also found that sign-up buttons that contrast strongly with the background but are distinct from titles and text are optimal for encouraging sign-ups and providing an accessible visual experience.
Example 2: The Atlantic created their The State of Care: Disrupting Alzheimer’s event page, which included a registration form, share card, and program that were all on brand and visually appealing.
5. Consistency and replicability across channels and brand
A crucial part of designing an effective B2B event is ensuring that all assets, including the website, invitations, and reminder emails are consistent in branding and design. This creates a consistent experience for registrants and potential attendees.
But the best event designers recognize that such consistency should extend to other events in the organization. Having the technology and tools to replicate effective event design will maximize attendance and lead to better business results for all events, not just a single showcase gathering.
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Thoughtful event design is the unsung hero of successful virtual, hybrid, and in-person B2B events. Almost all events now have a digital element, so marketers and event professionals need to invest in the skills and capabilities to achieve effective event design.
The success of your next B2B event may hinge on what was once an afterthought.
More event design resources
Eight design tips for your next trade show display
Five tips to take your marketing presentations from good enough to great
Creating a Better Audience Experience: Oli Gardner on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]