How to set up a virtual conference website with WordPress

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This post was originally published on May 1, 2015, and was updated on March 30, 2020.

COVID-19 has created a business environment unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Employees across dozens of industries are working from home while customers are also staying inside, requesting delivery, and adapting to the new, virtual world.

While we are all taking precautions to keep our employees and customers safe, many companies are striving to maintain some sense of normalcy amidst the chaos.

As a result, they’re moving operations online, looking for project management solutions, migrating to cloud-based reporting, and searching for effective communication tools.

Communication is critical to all businesses, whether you’re in the office or not.

 

Now that our workforce is remote, finding solutions to help communicate effectively is even more important.

As a result, businesses are leaning on virtual conferencing like never before for internal communication within and across departments.

Video conferencing isn’t just a way for businesses to communicate internally — it’s an opportunity for organizations that are willing to embrace the technology.

In the wake of COVID-19, events like meetups, trainings and conferences have been canceled. Keynote speakers, sponsors, and attendees who had planned and budgeted for months to attend these events are stuck sitting at home.

Not only that, but the isolation also has everyone yearning for a sense of community and togetherness.

Therefore, virtual conferencing can be a way for you to connect not just with your employees, but with potential customers or other thought-leaders within your industry.

While you can’t attend conferences in person right now, you can attend them virtually. Organizations are moving conferences online and businesses are launching virtual conferences as a marketing tool to attract and engage their target audience.

If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual conference for meetings, meetups, trainings or seminars, keep reading as we discuss how to create a video conferencing website on WordPress.

Related: How to start hosting virtual meetups

5 steps to set up a virtual conference with WordPress

Setting up a virtual conference website doesn’t need to be complex. Right now, you just need a website that is live and easy for your attendees to use.

1. Pick a strong WordPress theme

As a whole, most people are still getting used to the idea of a virtual conference, so you’ll want to find a WordPress theme that is user-friendly and dynamic.

Select and use a layout that conveys professionalism and reflects your brand.

 

This will give attendees peace of mind and will help prevent people from bouncing off the page.

Here’s how to build a WordPress website for the first time.

2. Choose the right WordPress plugins

You don’t want to overload your website with plugins, but there are a few tools you can use to make your virtual conference more effective.

WishList can help you create a membership portal or collect payments from customers to join the conference.

Meanwhile, OptinMonster can be used for attendees to opt-in to email alerts and curate which sessions they want to attend. These leads can also be used by your brand in the future.

3. Add on third-party services

If you want to expand beyond the plugins available to you on WordPress or can’t find the ones you need, you might consider third-party services.

You may be able to find tools that make your conference more effective and social that WordPress doesn’t have. For example, Vimeo may be a better option than YouTube for video sharing if you are planning to sell the sessions as premium content.

4. Use a screen reader plugin for increased accessibility

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sets a base framework for how you can make your website accessible. It encourages website developers to use screen reader functions that help blind web users and use subtitles for deaf conference attendees.

The WordPress plugins Screen Reader WCAG Accessibility Tools and Divi Accessibility both follow WCAG guidelines.

Consider adding them to your site to make it more accessible.

Related: What is web accessibility, why does it matter, and how do you get started?

5. Choose a web host that can handle traffic spikes

If your conference takes off, then you could have more than 1,000 people logging in to watch video content and virtually network.

Make sure you have a host that can handle global traffic and dramatic increases in site visitors.

 

Once you have your WordPress site set up to handle a virtual conference, you can move on to curating your content and planning speakers for your event.

Related: How to bring great speakers back to your event

Examples of companies setting up virtual conferences

If you are looking for examples to follow when setting up your virtual conference, consider a few brands that are already making the change:

Roth Capital Partners, a private banking company, moved its 32nd Annual ROTH Conference virtual. They boasted more than 1,150 participants and 350 participating companies. There were more than 2,500 virtual meetings across 200,000 total minutes on conference calls.

HTC, the smartphone brand, held Vive, its fifth annual XR industry conference, in virtual reality. More than 2,000 people across 55 countries registered for the event. Speakers created custom avatars to represent their voices, making it feel like they were really speaking.

G-Research, a quantitative finance research firm, has moved its 6th Annual Waste & Environmental Services Symposium to a webcast in April. This allows presentations to move forward and companies to introduce new technology virtually.

Your virtual conference can be just a handful of people meeting up for a discussion, or a large multi-day event with meetups and presentations.

Virtual conferences can increase loyalty and retention

During difficult economic and social periods, most people want to keep working and moving their companies forward as much as possible.

You can move your planned conference online or work to launch a conference virtually as a way to keep customers and audiences engaged while they are working from home. With the right design, plugins and accessibility, you can attract thousands of attendees from across the globe.

Hosting a conference now can build your loyalty and help retain customers when they may need to cut their budgets. If you are there for your customers during the bad times, they are more likely to stay loyal during the good ones.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy Blog by Jan Koch.

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