Do you use a responsive design to optimize your website for mobile users, keeping all of your web features? Or do you dedicate resources into developing a standalone mobile app?
In an Internet trends report delivered by venture capitalist Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins, mobile Internet traffic was up to 13 percent. This trend matches what we’ve seen from Localist users, with 13 percent of visits across all calendars coming from mobile devices. The Kleiner Perkins trend report also predicts the growth of sales of mobile devices, and the steady flat line of sales of desktops and laptops.
Also, in our recent survey, 78% of respondents said they’d like to get event details in a mobile app. Mobile is getting bigger and bigger. So, if you’ve been delaying making a decisive move to go with a responsive design or app for your site, it’s time to start weighing your options.
At Localist, we use both responsive design and a mobile app. Each medium serves a different purpose and audience. To us it’s not a one-or-the-other question.
That said, your business may not need both, or may only have time to start with one. To help you prioritize, here’s what we see as the pros and cons:
Responsive Design Pros
One website, all devices and resolutions: Responsive design will adjust to work for all devices and resolutions. That’s a big deal when you consider the wide range of device and resolution combinations that exist, and that site visitors are most likely to be using. With responsive design, all your bases are covered.
Less costly to build: Money talks and it’s important to consider the cost of the option you’re going to choose. Look at the number of mobile visitors your site gets daily, and think about the most used features on your site. Will the more cost-effective option of responsive design be able to accommodate them? Then go for it!
No need to worry about iPads and tablets: One other data point to consider is the high usage of iPads. 35% of our mobile visitors access our site using iPads. Why do we bring this up? Because you don’t have to optimize your site for tablets. They were designed to be adequate for viewing websites in their original, unoptimized form. The takeaway point: Focus on smaller mobile devices when making decisions around responsive design.
Includes all features of main website: Sites built using responsive design can actually be more functional than an app, because they function as mini versions of the main website. Users will be familiar with the site and know how to interact with it. Apps only focus on the core features of the original site.
Enterprise customers, rejoice!
No more needing to contact Localist support to add new event feeds to your platform. You can do it yourself right from your admin dashboard!
Any feeds that had been added to your platform previously will automatically appear in the feed list; feel free to give each feed a descriptive name to keep organized.
Want to check it out yourself? From the Admin Dashboard, mouse over Events and click Feeds.
We’ve updated the documentation to reflect what’s supported and how to get everything set up.
Not yet a Localist Enterprise customer? Here’s a little preview:
When developing content to connect with students through social media, it’s all about what you share. If students don’t find your content interesting, they’ll simply scroll past it. To learn more about what students want on social media, download our survey report. We surveyed thousands of people at over 40 higher ed institutions. Below are some key findings from the survey on connecting with students on Facebook and Twitter specifically.
We’ll break down specific data points and suggest ways that you can use this data to increase student interaction with your institution’s social media accounts. We’re focusing on Facebook and Twitter, but recommend that you diversify your school’s social media strategy to include other popular platforms such as Google+ and YouTube.
While students may interact with all of the below types of content, when asked which they were most likely to interact with, here’s what they said. It was a tight race, but we can learn from their preferences.
Facebook: This social media giant offers a lot of bang for your buck, or in this case, interactions for your posts. Here are the types of content students said they interact with on Facebook, either by liking, commenting, or sharing:
- 30% interact with content about events: Students use Facebook as a way to stay in touch with friends and make plans, so it makes sense that they’d want to read posts about events happening on campus.
- 27% interact with photos: Whether part of an event post, news item, or standalone content, photos instantly catch people’s attention and can often prompt an emotional reaction faster than text on a screen. Students enjoy clicking through photos related to campus events. You could even try an image-centered campaign to raise awareness about a particular cause or campus service.
- 15% interact with campus news: Students use social media sites to get the latest updates on what’s going on right now. Posts centered on campus news will bring students back to your school’s Facebook page again and again when they realize it’s a source of dynamic content and breaking news.
- 10% interact with academics: Although Facebook was only open to college students at its inception, it’s more about fun than academics. If you choose to post academic-related content, be sure to jazz up the content with photos, related events, and anything that might be considered newsworthy. Leave the academic details on department websites.
- 9% interact with videos: While videos offer a fun alternative to text-heavy posts, consider this data before you invest a lot of time and money in producing them. Consider using an inexpensive alternative like Vine, and keep video clips short and engaging.
- 7% interact with athletics: We were surprised by the lack of interaction students said they had with athletics content on their school’s Facebook page. Sports-minded students are obviously going elsewhere to keep up with their favorite teams.
Do you have data to back up your web strategy? Localist recently did a survey to find out what people really want in an online event calendar, and from organizations’ web presence in general.
We collected data on social media, email, website features, and, of course, online event calendars. The data was collected from users of 40 of our higher education customers’ calendars. The report covers lessons any organization can take away from the data, as well as specific applications for higher ed.
In the survey report, you will get data to back up your decisions about your web presence.
Here’s a sampling of the takeaways we cover:
1. Email isn’t evil. A majority of respondents, 59%, indicated that they’d like to hear about events via an email newsletter. An even higher percentage, 82%, indicated that it was important to receive reminders about events in which they’re interested. You should, of course, be careful that you don’t overwhelm people with emails, but don’t be afraid to give them the emails they’re asking for.
How People Want to Learn About Upcoming Events
2. Your audience wants a central place for events. A majority of respondents, 56%, indicated that seeing all events in one place was one of their favorite features of the event calendar. Ensure that you are compiling all events in one place to make it easy for your users to find what they want. Then, you can use a widget feature to propagate those events elsewhere, such as on a specific department’s website.
We recently stumbled across a great piece about product hooks — features that are truly novel and useful — usually the mark of a great product.
Localist’s hook is a no-brainer: our dead-simple date entry when submitting an event.
Take a look at typical calendar software and you’re given a mini-calendar when it comes to selecting a date. Something like this:
Hopefully your event doesn’t take place nine months from now, or you’ll be mouse-clicking quite a bit!
We opted instead to use a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) approach. We thought: every other piece of event information is entered via keyboard; why force the person to use a mouse just to enter a date? We built a feature that figures out what date you mean and gives you instant feedback.
Here’s an example of it in action:
It’s not a massive feature per se, but it saves minutes every time an event is entered, which adds up to a lot when you’re adding thousands of events per year!
Your online event calendar’s design can make your calendar is one of the most popular features on your website—or make it completely useless. Your users should know exactly where to click, and should require no training or direction to find the events they’re interested in. If your calendar’s design makes it too hard for them to find events, they’ll give up and look elsewhere.
At Localist, we spend a lot of time thinking about the best possible online event calendar design, from both an aesthetics and functionality standpoint. Yet we always want to ensure that our thoughts align with the reality of how users are interacting with our event calendar software. To do so, we recently checked in with some of our higher education customers. We asked, “What is the most important aspect of good online event calendar design for your school?” Below, we share their answers.
Rhode Island School of Design
“An uncluttered visual design is critically important and the Localist platform provides that. However, RISD was most attracted by the ability to emphasize the great variety of events on our campus. We love that users can filter these events by key categories—namely academic events, gallery exhibitions, and RISD Museum events—right on the calendar homepage.”
Senior Director, Digital Media Communications
RISD Media Group
Rhode Island School of Design
Has your organization been the victim of potential event attendee forgetfulness, or its more virile form, I-didn’t-know-about-the-event-itis? In our experience, the most common reason people give for not attending events is pretty simple: they didn’t find out about the event until after it already happened. Organizations that direct their audience to a basic Google calendar, scheduling system, or blog calendar plug-in, aren’t doing enough to cure the lack of awareness epidemic.
If you’re hosting great events, but seeing lackluster attendance, it might be time to brainstorm ways to address these common issues. Here at Localist, we build social calendars that help get the word out about events, and engage audiences, before the event happens. We thought we’d share some of the ways your online event calendar can fix the awareness issue and increase attendance at events.
Increase Awareness of Events
1. Sort event feeds by interest. It is human nature to seek out ways to explore your interests with other like-minded people. So, when an online event calendar offers a way to sort and display events by interests, people are more likely to find (and attend) an event that tickles their fancies. Plus, calendar users can subscribe to feeds and get alerts about events that match their interests.
2. Focus on SEO. People often rely on simple searches to find what they’re looking for online. Maybe they’re in town for the weekend and want to find a fun music-centered event to attend, so they pop over to their search engine of choice for a quick, broad search. Don’t neglect SEO! Make sure your online event calendar and relevant event posts show up on that first page. Dynamic content that is updated frequently, structured correctly, and features key search terms, will help people find your event.
Here by popular demand, we’re excited to announce the arrival of recurrence on the public event submission form!
The ease of entering multiple dates you’ve come to expect on the administrative side is now also available to your end users who are submitting their own events.
We found Localist administrators were spending 15% of their event content management time setting recurring events, mainly because it wasn’t possible for the original submitter to set the schedule themselves.
The release of this new feature should help alleviate that!
Here’s a screenshot:
Need help? Email email@example.com if you have any questions.
Time—some say it heals, some say it flies, and some say it makes fools of us. No matter what people say about time, everyone wants more of it. In each workplace and organization, saving time comes from being more efficient and automating tasks. Your website events calendar should help you accomplish these goals.
At Localist, we know a thing or two about saving our customers’ time. When we hit 100,000 events across all of our customers, we calculated that on average, five minutes were saved per event, which equals 8,300 total hours of administrator time saved. That’s almost an entire year’s worth of hours!
Now, in the spirit of saving you even more time, we’ll briefly break down key time-saving features that you should see in your website events calendar.
1. Bulk uploading. Got a long list of events waiting to be uploaded? Looking around for some help? Bulk uploading is a feature that allows you to take your Excel spreadsheet full of events and upload all of them at once.
2. Widget feature to eliminate duplicate entry. If you want to display the same event on multiple websites, but cringe at the idea of having to enter information for one event multiple times, you need widgets. At least with Localist, our widget features eliminate duplicate entry by automatically carrying events over to other sites as specified during setup. Problem solved.
3. Easy to use system. An easy to use system is important for functionality, and saving time! If the website events calendar system you’re using requires fewer mouse clicks to accomplish a task, you’ve saved seconds, which can turn into minutes, and hours. Localist, for example, uses a text field for date entry instead of requiring users to click through a date drop-down. Play around on different websites, and you’ll see how pesky unnecessary extra clicks can be.
Keeping your online event calendar chock full of interesting events drives traffic to your calendar and your website and improves SEO. Sure, all this talk about SEO, web traffic, and social media is important, but in-person engagement is what events are all about, right?
Let’s get back to basics and cover the multiple ways your organization can benefit from holding real, in-person, live events.
1. Build brand recognition. Hip-hop stars have hype men to get the crowd engaged and drive attention toward the artist. Think about events as an excellent way to increase the hype around your organization. Hosting events promotes your name and helps people connect with your brand. Plus, people generally travel with others in tow, so your reach will extend as event attendees bring their friends.
2. Showcase your venue. Have a space that’s fantastic for hosting events? Planning your own event to showcase the beauty, utility, overall coolness (take your pick of adjectives) of your venue brings people into the space and gets their minds working. Could this be the perfect convention center for their next company meeting? Could they picture their parents dancing at their 50th anniversary party in this restaurant? Pictures of your venue just never do it justice. Bring people in!