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Ask 100 B2B event organizers how to do effective event design and you’ll get 100 different answers.
To get to the bottom of the truth, we at Splash analyzed 37 design-related metrics for the top-performing virtual and in-person event websites from August 2019 to August 2020.
If you’ve never thought about B2B event design, I don’t blame you. Sometimes it seems like an afterthought – even for event organizers. We’ve all seen the heavily templated event websites and uninspiring emails screaming I don’t focus on design; I deal with the big things that can determine the outcome of my event.
Sure, attracting the right attendees and developing compelling event content (among other things) should be priorities. But event design can significantly impact 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 website design and branding are on full display for the duration of the event.
A full 46% of companies expect to host more virtual events in 2022 than in 2021, our research shows, even as in-person events begin their comeback. And that means digital event design will be an essential skill for B2B event professionals to master.
So what is the “secret recipe” for effective event design?
The most successful events adhere to specific design principles and best practices aimed at promoting clear communication, consistency and engagement, our research finds.
More specifically, the most in-demand B2B events made extensive use of the following five ingredients.
1. Delete calls to action
The most important task of an event website is to generate registrations. Eye-catching graphics, headlines that capture readers’ interest, content that clearly communicates what to expect—all of this is designed to attract the right people to register for an event.
Powerful event design captures the viewer’s attention and then uses a call-to-action to immediately draw that attention to event registration.
Top: Well-designed event websites place registration buttons in the first block and keep all registration forms consistent with the page content rather than linking to a separate page. On successful virtual event pages, first-time attendees encountered a registration button in the first block of content 77.1% of the time; Successful virtual event websites also used inline forms 22.9% of the time, which is nearly three times more common than in-person events.
2. Standout titles and headlines
On a virtual events site, the page layout creates a visual hierarchy that helps users navigate their experience in a cohesive manner and differentiate between layers of information (topic and key speakers: important info. Parking directions? Not so much).
Titles and headings—and their relationship to body copy—play an important role. They should be the most prominent text elements, stand out well from other text, and convey the most valuable information.
In our analysis of successful virtual events powered by Splash, the ratio of title font size to medium body text ranged from 2.8:1 to 3.5:1. Font size relationships in this area created effective contrast and enabled optimized information delivery.
In addition to the contrasting text size, the headline and title content of high-performing websites is usually clear and action-oriented, reinforcing the event theme. Just as typography and page layout should be designed to encourage specific actions, so should the words and phrases themselves.
Example 1: Discovery+ created an event page with contrasting text size that reinforces the event theme for IDCON.
3. ‘KISS’ Eligible Content
We all know the leitmotif of digital content: keep it short and simple. Successful virtual B2B event design embraces this principle and conveys event information in the simplest possible way.
The most effective pages for virtual events have an average of 5.8 content blocks or sections, compared to 7.2 for the most effective in-person events, our research found. More than 6 content blocks per virtual event page negatively impacted research results.
4. Color contrast
In web design, the contrast between the foreground and background of a website is always important to ensure readability. Our research backs this up: 88.5% of successful virtual event pages and 76.8% of successful in-person event pages used mostly white backgrounds with black or dark gray body text. White backgrounds are highly correlated with high performance on virtual event sites.
We’ve also found that signup buttons that stand out strongly against the background but are distinct from headings and text are optimal for encouraging signups and providing an accessible visual experience.
Example 2: The Atlantic created their event page, The State of Care: Disrupting Alzheimer’s, which included a registration form, share card, and agenda, all of which were on-brand and visually appealing.
5. Consistency and reproducibility across all channels and the brand
A crucial element of effective B2B event design is ensuring that all assets – including the website, invitations, and reminder emails – are consistent in branding and design. This creates a cohesive experience for potential registrants and attendees.
But the best event designers recognize that this consistency should extend to other events across the organization. When you have the technology and tools to replicate effective event design, you maximize attendance and drive better business outcomes 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 every event today has a digital element, so event marketers and professionals need to invest in the skills and abilities needed for effective event design.
The success of your next B2B event may depend on what used to be an afterthought.
More event design resources
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