As an event co-ordinator one of the most important jobs I have is creating a simple yet effective conference or event registration site. It must be easy enough for all delegates to use, no matter their skill level with a computer, but still robust enough to collect all the information you need. Here are some tips to help you get started.

The Front Page

You want your front page to be eye catching – avoid the temptation of putting so much information on the page that you run the risk of people getting lost or confused. Stick to the basics on your front page – a main logo, the date and time of the event, the location and a clearly marked link to register.

Give the Site Added Value

All information on fees, speakers, programs and any other relevant information should have their own page separate from the front page. Delegates will need to be able to check the website at various points for information and it needs to be as simple to access as possible. This will help to reduce the number of inquiries you receive for information about the event and to free up your time for other tasks.

Consider uploading the schedule or a printable program so that people can plan their sessions ahead of time. Linking to speaker websites and bios can also create added value for your speakers.

Make the Registration Process Easy to Read

No one wants to be confronted with an enormous wall of registration questions as this can be a deterrent for a potential delegate. You want to break up the process into small manageable chunks. Separate questions into categories like personal information, session attendance, transport and accommodation, payment etc. You will also want to ensure that any optional items with added costs are clearly labeled as such since the delegate may be on a budget or their employer may only be willing to contribute a certain amount towards their registration.

The questions should flow smoothly. Begin by asking for basic contact information, move on to more detailed questions such as dietary or mobility restrictions, then other questions requested by the client such as previous attendance and accommodation. Finally, finish with them choosing their registration type and signing up for sessions or optional events before getting to the payment page. This ensures they don’t have to backtrack to the beginning to make changes to their registration.

Keep the Questions Short and Relevant

When choosing which questions to ask about your delegates, be sure that the information collected will be useful. Don’t ask questions unless you have a specific objective in mind for the data collected. If you are offering meals it’s important to ask about dietary restrictions, if your conference is on several floors of a location then it may be useful beforehand to know about any mobility issues.

Having said that, do you really need to know their position in their company or if they attended last year? If you do, find a way to ask it in a brief way or if your registration site provider supports question logic, then use that to make sure questions are asked to the relevant delegates.

CASL and Security

Make sure that any anti-spam or security information is plainly visible during the registration process. If possible make it a question that delegates have to confirm they have read and understood. Make sure that you have complied with all Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requirements when collecting data – failure to do so could come back to haunt you.

If dealing with delegates from other countries, make sure your data collection activities comply with any foreign privacy legislation that is applicable.

Make it Easy to Register A Group

For some events there may be one person registering a large group of people, so you’ll want to make that process as painless as possible. Reduce the questions down to the bare minimum or add a button which will allow the user to copy information from the initial registration. Otherwise you may have companies emailing you spreadsheets of delegate information for you to enter manually.

Be Ready for Technical Issues

There are always a few delegates that have problems during the registration process. Occasionally this is due to program or hardware issues, and other times delegates may simply not feel comfortable or familiar enough with the program to complete their registration online. Have a paper registration form ready before going live and have someone available to assist delegates who need to be led through the registration process over the phone. Remember to be patient with those who need the additional help. You may be busy with other tasks but the delegate will most likely have tried to register several times and be frustrated. If you can provide them with great customer service you can change their attitude and make them feel more positive about coming to your event.

Creating an effective registration site is one of your most basic requirements of conference or event success. Make it your mission to create a website that works for you, the client and most importantly, the delegates.