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The FutureProof Blog

Web Design for Festivals & Events

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at how web design can be tailored specifically for festivals and events. We’ll explore the key elements of a visually stunning, user-friendly, and informative website for your event, large and small. We’ll take a closer look at the capabilities WordPress can offer this type of project, and how it makes the web development process, and future management, efficient and effective.

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First impressions are so often formed online, and a well-designed website can make all the difference for festivals and events looking to stand out for the rest and grab the attention of their audience. Your event’s virtual ticket office, a great website creates an atmosphere, conveying the essence and excitement of what your customers can expect. Whether you’re organising a music festival, an art exhibition or a food fair, mastering great web design and harnessing the power of WordPress can propel your event’s to success.

In this post we’ll be using a recent FutureProof Digital client, The Strokestown Poetry Festival, as an example. Their website features everything a festival website might need; a directory of events, artist profiles, ticket booking, charity donation, and more.

learn more about this project…

Strokestown Poetry Festival Homepage Header

Understanding the Needs of Events

Before you think about web design, it’s important to lay a strong foundation, by understanding the unique needs and expectations of your target audience. A well-designed website reflects the spirit of the event; it resonates with the interests of people thinking about attending. To do this, first you have to identify your target audience and then effectively highlight the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of your festival; your website has to engage visitors and leave a lasting impression.

Identifying Your Target Audience

If you want to design a successful website you need to know who your customers are (or who they will be). Are you catering to music enthusiasts, food connoisseurs, art aficionados, or maybe a combination of these? Look at the demographics, interests, and motivations of your potential attendees. By understanding who makes up your ticket buyers, you can tailor the design, content, and user experience of your website to cater to their specific preferences. Are they looking for an immersive cultural experience, family-friendly entertainment, or an exclusive VIP style event? Ask yourself these questions, answer them, and the look and feel of your website will begin to take shape.

try HubSpot’s customer persona tool to get started…

Highlight the USPs of the Festival

Every event has something that makes it truly special. It could be the line-up of artists, the diversity of food offerings, the range of workshops, or the location of the venue itself. In business, these features are called USPs, and festivals have them too; they need to be front and centre on your website. Create dedicated sections, especially on the homepage, that showcase these features in a visually appealing way. Use high-quality images and videos, as well as engaging content to communicate what sets your event apart from the rest. Ensure that these USPs are not only visible but also woven into the fabric of your website; it’s design, the layout, everything.

The Strokestown Poetry Festival is a small local event, but it does draw some famous poets and speakers in the field, and that’s what their USP is. Below is an example, their programme of events from last year.

click here to view last year’s programme…

Strokestown Poetry Fest. Events Programme

The Fundamentals of Website Design

A well-designed festival website goes way beyond aesthetics; it seamlessly guides visitors through your content, delivers the information they need and ultimately converts interest into ticket sales. User Experience (UX) plays the pivotal role in driving ticket sales and this means really nailing the two key pillars; intuitive navigation and mobile responsiveness.

User Experience (UX) Drives Ticket Sales

Your website is a powerful tool that can influence the decision-making process of your potential attendees. Crafting memorable and effective UX isn’t easy, and it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about strategically taking your visitors on a journey, a journey to excitement and a feeling that they have to get one of those tickets.

Intuitive Navigation

Imagine someone arriving at your festival and immediately feeling lost, not knowing where everything is going on; imagine your website is the same, users unsure of how to find information about ticket prices, line-up details, or the event’s location. This confusion can be a significant barrier to ticket sales. Navigation is the solution to this challenge.

A clear and organised menu structure provides a map, leading users exactly where they need to be, and where you want them to go. Important elements, “Buy Tickets” and “Event Schedule” for example, need to be prominently featured and easily accessible from any page. Consistency in design enhances the user’s ability to navigate your site with ease.

The Strokestown Poetry Festival is a collection of small events, each one with a dedicated page. On this page there’s a large ticket link, where customers can buy tickets for this single event, a day of events or a ticket for the entire festival…

take a look at some examples…

Strokestown Poetry Fest. Event Single Page

Mobile Responsiveness

The majority of your customers will first discover your festival on their smartphones and tablets, the first impression we discussed earlier must be responsive. A mobile-responsive website adapts seamlessly to all screen sizes, ensuring their full engagement with your content regardless of the device they’re using. This is crucial for driving ticket sales, as potential attendees might be exploring your website while on the move, even if they eventually complete the purchase on desktop. Fast load times, easy-tap buttons, and clear readability can significantly improve conversion rates.

learn more about responsive web design…

Designing a Visually Stunning Website

The way your festival website looks plays a key role in immersing them in your event. The interplay between design choices and content elements is how you arrive at a visually stunning website. The impact of high-quality images and videos, your choice of software, every detail contributes to creating an online experience that resonates with your audience.

I attended the first Night & Day Festival here in Castlerea, Roscommon. I’ve always been a big fan of what they do online, even their print material. Check out the website…

Night & Day Festival Website

Festival WordPress Themes or Custom Design?

Well, that depends. We never use festival WordPress themes, or any WordPress themes. Every website we deliver is a tailor-made design and development. Every business, and festival, has its distinct identity, and their online presence has to mirror that; colours, fonts, layouts etc. Using a WordPress theme can limit certain design choices, and that’s not something we’re willing to compromise. We design everything from the ground up; posts, pages, layouts, everything. Our process begins with a blank canvas and develops into the digital representation of our client’s brand.

However, if you’re running a new festival, or a small start-up event, and feel you can design your own website, a WordPress theme might be perfect for you. There are a huge number of both free version and premium themes, with all of the specific event features and custom widgets built in. While we opt out of the WordPress themes world, because of its design constraints, those very constraints might be what makes a theme right for you, because much of the design work is already handled.

Elementor explains more about WordPress themes…

Below is an example of the design freedom we need. This is a ticket sales page, designed completely from scratch, featuring only the info we need. Using a theme, there would be redundant areas, blank spaces.

Strokestown Poetry Fest. Ticket

High-Quality Images and Videos

“A picture is worth a thousand words” and that’s what will sell your festival. High-quality images and videos have the ability to convey the vibrancy and energy of your event more effectively than text ever can. Images can showcase past years of your festival, artist performances, and most importantly, the atmosphere. Videos, whether they’re teaser trailers, artist interviews, or event highlights, add a dynamic element that can create anticipation.

we use Envato Elements for stock media…

For the Strokestown Poetry Festival website I wanted a video on the homepage, as a background, but the organiser didn’t have any original footage to use. I designed the video below from stock footage of the venue and footage of related activities. It worked extremely well…

Enhanced Functionality with WordPress

The capabilities of your festival website must extend beyond its visual appeal. It’s the functional elements that streamline user interactions and contribute to a seamless online experience. Adding to the standard version of WordPress can enhance your website’s functionality, and set it up for managing events. Booking software, payment gateways or even an event directory, can enrich the user journey and contribute to your success.

Booking Software Integration

Ultimately, you want as many people to book a ticket for your event. Booking software simplifies this process, allowing visitors to view available ticket options, select their preferences, and complete the purchase within the same interface. With WordPress, you can seamlessly integrate this into your website, offering real-time availability, multiple ticket types, and secure payment processing.

For Strokestown we developed a bespoke system using WooCommerce. For Wanderly Wagon, a tour operator in Co. Galway, we used the YITH booking system. Whichever you use it must work in a very particular way, different from a simple product sale. Below is an example of this functionality from the Wanderly Wagon website.

Event Ticket Booking Form

Event & Festival Directory Websites

If your festival involves multiple stages, or diverse attractions, consider expanding your website’s functionality into an event or festival directory. With WordPress, you can create categorised listings, artist profiles, event schedule or upcoming events, and interactive maps that help attendees navigate your event with ease. This is exactly what Strokestown Poetry Festival needed and we used an advanced database software called Jet Engine to achieve it.

Jet Engine Custom Post Types

Customising the types of content on your festival website is a game-changer. Jet Engine takes this customization to the next level. Jet Engine’s Custom Post Types give you the ability to structure your festival’s content in a way that perfectly aligns with your unique requirements and you can link them together for the perfect user experience. “Event” takes place at a “Venue” and features several “Speakers” for example. Below is an example of a speaker profile page.

learn more about Jet Engine…

Strokestown Poetry Fest. Speaker Single

Advanced Meta Fields

Meta Fields, another feature of Jet Engine, allow you to capture and display detailed event information. Time and date information, social media links, pricing info and more. These fields let you present information in a way that’s both organised, consistent and visually engaging. Jet Engine also enables you to create custom search and filter options that let users refine their journey. The filters can be based on any post type or meta field and search can be any text entry. This functionality enhances user experience by empowering visitors to tailor their journey according to their preferences.

learn more about meta fields…

User Dashboard Management

FutureProof Digital event websites are built with a focus on the festival organisers. Our goal is to make a website as easy to run for the admin as a Facebook page. Our clients never have to worry about design and layout, only to enter text and images, everything else is taken care of automatically. Each website has a custom user admin, that’s easy to learn and navigate using the video guide that every client gets on completion. This is a section of the Wanderly Wagon dashboard…

WordPress Admin Dashboard

SEO for Festival & Event Organisers

In an online world, flooded with information, making your festival website stand out requires more than just great design and engaging content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key to visibility and traffic for your festival or event.

Keyword Research and Optimization

Effective SEO begins with the understanding of words and phrases that your potential customers will use to search for festivals and events. Keyword research helps you to discover these insights, enabling you to use these relevant keywords into your website’s content, event descriptions and even blog posts. Optimising your content with the right keywords improves your site’s chances of appearing in results.

Below is an example of this SEO, and a strategy that can bring additional, and unexpected, traffic. This is the search result for an artist named “Katie Jacques.” She featured at a Strokestown Poetry Festival event earlier in the year. Her profile page is the number 1 result for this search.

check out the AHRefs keyword research guide…

SEO for Festivals Events

Local SEO Strategies

For festivals and events, local audiences are often a primary target. Local SEO strategies focus on optimising your website to appear in location-based searches. By using location-specific keywords, incorporating local landmarks, and tailoring content to the interests of your local audience, you can boost your website’s visibility within your event’s geographical area.

Google Business Profile Optimization

Google Business Profile is a powerful tool that allows you to manage your festival’s appearance in local search and Maps. Optimising your profile with accurate event details, high-quality images, and engaging descriptions not only improves your website’s visibility but also provides attendees with essential information at a glance.

learn more about Google Business Profile…

Location-Specific Content

Creating content that speaks to the uniqueness of your event’s location and venue. Write blog posts or articles that highlight local attractions, restaurants, hotels and other activities, showing potential attendees that your festival offers an immersive experience beyond the event itself.

learn more about local business website content…

Website Performance and Technical SEO

Website speed, responsiveness, and overall performance are crucial factors that search engines consider when ranking websites. Optimising your website’s technical aspects, reducing page load times and ensuring mobile responsiveness, not only improves user experience but also contributes to higher search engine rankings.

Web Design for Festivals & Events

A compelling online presence has become the key element for success for a festival. Your festival website is a digital gateway that welcomes and engages potential attendees, guiding them on a journey from interest to participation. A harmonious blend of design aesthetics, functional elements, and strategic SEO techniques is essential for an impactful online platform for your event.

Remember, that the world of web design and digital marketing is ever-evolving. Continuously monitor user interactions, gather feedback, and adapt to changing trends to keep your festival website relevant and effective. Your festival’s success extends beyond the event dates—it’s about creating a lasting impression that remains in the minds of your attendees. By crafting a website that reflects the excitement, creativity, and community spirit of your festival, you’re not just selling tickets; you’re inviting people into an unforgettable experience.

As you can see from The Strokestown Poetry Festival, and our other clients, this is something we’re quite experienced in. We’d love to chat to you about your festival or event, and what you might need in terms of web design and ticket booking. Click here to get in touch…

Food Stalls - Web Design for Festivals & Events

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About Adam Bermingham
This blog is dedicated to helping you stay ahead of the curve, with insights into the latest trends, tools, and best practices. Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or web designer, we have something for everyone. We bring you expert advice, tutorials, and case studies to help you optimise your online presence.

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