WordPress for Virtual Conferences

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Want to do a virtual conference, but don’t want to look like everybody else?

Worried that you won’t be able to customize the attendee experience in a way that truly reflects your organization, or make connections with your attendees the way you would face-to-face?

Going virtual— even when you have 2,000+ attendees—can still be successful and connective! It can still provide attendees a unique experience that is reflective of your company and feels special, authentic and seamless.

Your company can still get its message and products across, and create engagement while eliminating face-to-face interaction and staying safe.

And it can all be done with WordPress!

Skip the pre-made virtual conference platforms.

There are virtual conference platforms that you can purchase and run with. They can cost $20-30k—and that gives you a very boxed-up experience, not necessarily tailored to a company’s specific goals or brand. That’s a lot of money to provide your clients and members an experience that looks and feels like what everybody else is doing, right?

Develop your own platform with WordPress for virtual conferences!

WordPress can do anything! Even using WordPress for virtual conferences. It’s limitless. You just need time, a budget, and somebody like me to make it happen. 🙂

Here’s an overview of the plugins and functionality I used to help V-Formation Marketing and Destination South (on behalf of Stibo Systems) have their own (reusable!) virtual conference platform with custom WordPress design and development.

Feedback from attendees was great—and engagement was high, resulting in a really successful event, happy client and happy attendees.

Stibo Systems didn’t want their conference to feel cookie cutter. They wanted the whole conference experience to be as close to going to the conference as possible. It was all about connecting and engaging … something that a pre-built solution couldn’t do. We worked together to make it happen. 

  • We created a lobby! The client wanted to really provide a conference experience, so we created a lobby with signs pointing to different hubs for different sections. We used imagery and photography to create an environment for the attendees.
Virtual Conference WordPress website
  • Content management. We used WooCommerce Memberships to manage over 2,000 users and to restrict, and give permission to, video sessions and content.
  • Video sessions. The sessions were delivered via video which we embedded video from Wistia. (In this case the content was pre-recorded, but live stream is possible too.) 
  • Favorite sessions. We used a plugin called Favorites, so attendees could favorite sessions and watch them again later.
  • Private messaging. FrontEnd PM (private messaging) was used to allow attendees to message each other through the site, to mirror the social engagement of an in-person conference.
  • Ratings. We used a rating plugin, MultiRating, to let attendees rate sessions and speakers. 
  • Popups. Popup Maker was used to create different click-open and auto-open pop ups to guide people to featured sessions or remind them to check the lounge.
  • Customizable attendee profiles. We used Profile Builder Pro to allow attendees to customize their profile (in conjunction with WooCommerce Memberships).
  • Commenting. Core WordPress functionality allowed people to comment about the conference in the lounge area and video session pages. 
  • Subscribe to comments. Subscribe To Comments Reloaded allowed people to subscribe to comments or replies to comments,  so they could get email notifications. This was easily managed in the account section.
  • Better recent comments. We used the Better Recent Comments plugin to display comments from one area in another area.
  • Hosting with autoscaling. The hosting was done by SiteGround, which included autoscale ability to expand the site’s hosting ability in case there was a pull on resources, ensuring the site would stay up and stay functional.
  • Email deliverability. SendGrid was used to ensure emails wouldn’t end up in attendees’ spam folders.

For more details, view the Stibo Systems Connect 2020 case study.

This video by Destination South details the virtual conference:

Virtual conference platforms can be restrictive and awkward. Don’t get stuck with a platform that was built for the masses, and isn’t necessarily good for companies that want to deliver a customized experience. Build your own platform with WordPress. I’ll help!

Want to explore the possibilities of using WordPress for virtual conferences? Let’s talk.

About Jill Anderson

Hi, I’m Jill, a WordPress WordPress designer/developer who partners with talented designers, copywriters, and agencies on their websites, and their client’s sites. I’m passionate about crafting beautiful and innovative WordPress websites focused on clear positioning and positive user experiences. Get my free report, Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers, and check out my Client Onboarding Toolkit, a simple 4-step digital course for converting prospects into a paying clients.


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