Imagine you have to plan a wedding. It’s a big event with many moving parts. Isn’t it great when you are presented with a planning blueprint of what needs to get done. You just follow the steps and you’re done.
Now these days online events are very common. There are ‘How To’ webinars, training courses and conferences all being held online. All these different online events can be classified as Virtual Summits. Just like the wedding planning blueprint, this article will provide you with a blueprint to creating a virtual summit website. We have assumed that you have researched and selected your summit niche, target profile and started getting your guest speakers together. And so it’s now time to start planning your website.
Building a well designed and rock solid website is key to having a successful virtual summit. That’s where WordPress comes in.
WordPress provides the strong foundation necessary to build the website. With WordPress all the necessary functionality needed for a virtual summit can easily be integrated. Let’s look at the five steps needed to get your summit site up and running.
1. Domain and Hosting
The very first thing is to ensure that you have bought the domain name. Once you have decided on your summit niche and have given it a name, it’s important to select and buy the domain name to match your niche.
Next we have hosting which is really a very important aspect. Considerable thought should be given when selecting a hosting provider. A virtual summit website has to be extremely fast and should also be able to handle traffic spikes. Remember that all your summit members could access a new interview/video at the same time. Make sure you select a hosting provider that has excellent 24/7 support. You might also want to consider investing in a managed hosting provider such as WP-Engine to give you speed, security and support. Other options would be to look at managed cloud hosting solutions like cloudways.
The next step is choosing the right WordPress theme.
2. Pick a robust theme
A virtual summit website needs to have a very professional design. Your website has to appear to everyone as a serious and well planed summit. So selecting the right WordPress theme is very important. Of course this also depends on your technical and design skill level. A simple approach would be to choose a theme from Themeforest like the Summit theme. This theme comes with a summit template which can be easily configured. Another alternative would be to choose a builder theme which will give you more flexibility in the layout. This of course would need little more design skills and has a longer learning curve. Getting a professional to do the job is probably one of the best options. For example at StressLessWeb we design bespoke websites. So we start with the genesis framework, a blank dynamik child theme and design a unique website just for the client’s needs.
Once you have a theme the next step is to think about the membership area.
3. Choose a membership plugin
With any summit website you will need to provide premium content such as expert interviews to your paid summit subscribers. You can achieve this by creating pages for all the premium content and protecting the pages with a premium membership plugin. I recommend MemberPress (my affiliate link) which is a very stable and powerful membership plugin. MemberPress currently supports three key payment gateways – PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net. What I do like about this membership plugin is how easy they make it to integrate with a payment gateway. If you prefer a different gateway then check out Wishlist Member. They support a whole slew of payment gateways.
Let’s now look at video interviews which is normally the big draw to a virtual summit.
4. Get the right Video Hosting
Creating professional videos is extremely important. However where you host these videos is just as big of a consideration. Imagine having your subscribers watching an extremely professional interview but it takes time to load or there is considerable buffering. Remember there could be any number of people watching the video at the same time. And you don’t want a crash during your summit. This means a huge amount of bandwidth is needed. I recommend that you use a professional video hosting site like vimeo. Vimeo provides the privacy settings that you need to host your summit videos. Uploading videos to YouTube will not work here. Another video hosting option with the necessary tools to consider is Wistia.
Last but not least you need to consider security.
5. Website Security
Just like any other website it’s important to have the security tools in place to protect your website. It’s very important that the summit site is protected and stays up during the summit. I recommend WordFence Premium or Sucuri to protect your website.
Before we wrap-up, here are few bonus content tips for your Summit website. Below are three points which will guide you in creating your website content.
a. Stay focused
A summit website need to stay on point. The website objectives should be very clear. Visitors should know what the summit is about and how they can benefit from it. To this end your website design should have a very professional look and feel. The landing page content should grab the visitors attention and showcase your speakers. Do ensure that membership section, thank you pages and all the other website page have the same professional feel.
b. CTA and the Sign Up process
The Call to Action(CTA) is extremely important in a summit website. A CTA on your site could be a simple sign up button. What’s important is to have the sign up button in different sections of your landing page. This will encourage visitors to sign up and also make it really easy for them to sign up. Also make sure the entire sign up/registration process is very simple. Registration forms should be intuitive in other words dumb proof. Collect only information that is needed, this will ensure your registration process is very quick and painless.
c. Content Checklist
Here is a checklist of what content your website should provide. These points can either be on separate pages or a few of them can be combined on a single landing page.
- A well designed home page with content to grab visitors attention with a compelling CTA
- Speaker Profiles
- Schedule/Agenda of Topics
- News (blog)
- Sign Up Process
- About the host
What if I’m not technical or design savvy?
If you are not technically savvy then it’s best to select a predefined template like the Summit theme. This will not give you a unique website but will help in getting a clean site. Of course I recommend you hire a professional web designer to get the job done. And here is why I recommend it.
Let’s put it all together.
So to recap, like a blueprint to wedding planning, the five steps in planning your summit website are
- Choosing the Domain name & Hosting provider
- Selecting the right WordPress theme or designer
- Being picky about the membership plugin
- Hosting your videos on the right platform
- Ensuring your website is protected
And as a bonus we also covered three content tips for your summit website.
If you are still unsure on how to proceed or have any questions contact StressLessWeb. I will be happy to help you out.
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