I regularly encounter planners who take great pride in operating a smooth and professional event but lead with a site and registration form that looks like the illegitimate spawn of Windows 95 and a Craigslist graphic designer. I blame their registration software.
Ignoring pure aesthetics for a moment, also consider that design has a direct financial and perceptual effect on your event. To gain insight into this, I observed focus groups interact with the same screen and found that the experience is pure comedy and astonishment for onlookers—what is seemingly obvious to one person confounds another.
A simple, attractive and engaging website and registration form can immediately bear fruit by reducing or eliminating support calls, increase self-serve registrations and engender confidence in the attendee that your event will be as professional and smooth as the registration process.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use event management software to create an attractive website, app and registration form that automates data collection, reporting, communication, check-in, surveys, etc.? This can all be done with the right software. To help you choose, consider the following guidelines.
1. Long pages with lots of prompts befuddle otherwise capable minds. If your registration form requests lots of data, a long, single-page form is the worst way to go. I believe (and research backs this up) that breaking up registration into manageable chunks alleviates both confusion and what I call “form fatigue” (a condition that causes you to wonder whether you are applying for college again). In addition, users consistently show a preference for fewer page clicks.
Having your entire form on one page but broken into manageable accordion-style sections proves to be the easiest way for registrants to interact with your form. They see all of the steps at once and know they can slide them open again if they want to change anything. Besides, nothing messes up a registration like a back button.
2. Large type and attractive visual cues reduce friction. Our industry is replete with registration forms that look as if somebody opened a bag of check boxes, letters and radio buttons and chucked them at the screen. By presenting registration items in large discrete blocks with large text, even events with lots of questions and selections become more manageable. Form is substance.
3. Fewer instructions and smarter software keep registrants on the rails. Registration forms littered with instructions will cause your registrants to do precisely the opposite of what you intend, they will simply ignore the instructions and click away. If you do have to include some guidance, make it short and to the point. Beyond that, the software should bear the load by gently and invisibly guiding the user through registration.
4. Who can register for whom is almost as important as how they register. “My boss wants to bring her husband but he refuses to use technology and won’t come without their son who shares his email address. We all want to do different activities and select different meals at the event.” Oh, you know that registrant? Be sure your software can elegantly handle these nettlesome, but surprisingly common, occurrences. Make sure your software not only allows for bulk guest and third-party registrations, but also keeps separate registration records for each person, even if they share one email and regardless of who actually performs the registration.
5. It’s logical. An ideal registration setup should contain all of your business rules baked into a single form that can tailor the registration experience based on registrant type. For every type of registrant, the software should let planners easily apply their rules for what items can be selected, what selections should be excluded (based on the user’s choices), what items to automatically include and what companion information is required for specific selections. The form should gracefully enforce your rules in a way that is invisible to the registrant but fully effective in ensuring your data integrity.
6. Why do I have to fill out that form every time? Good registration software recognizes repeat registrants (regardless of whose event they registered for previously) and will prepopulate the registration form whenever the person returns to register for another event.
If you are not using software that allows you to easily create an experience for your registrants that matches the quality of the event you are planning, you may be missing out not only on massive efficiencies but more satisfied attendees as well.
Michael Kranitz is founder and creator of EventSquid. A tech entrepreneur for more than 25 years, Kranitz has sold his business to Microsoft, Ford, Internet Brands, Hearst, MediaNews Group and Wells Fargo.