Classroom Transcript: Submission Guidelines
The following is the transcript of our “Submission Guidelines” How-to video.
The Localist Event Submission form was designed to be a no-brainer for your audience. But what if you have unique messaging you want to share with your audience? During this Localist Lesson we’ll be showing you how your submission form can showcase these details with Custom Guidelines.
What Are They?
Custom Guidelines are simply text placed strategically on or around the form to communicate details like:
- Who should be submitting events TOP
- What criteria the events must meet to be on your calendar MIDDLE
- The turnaround time on event approval BOTTOM
- Light instructions or tips, etc. SIDE
There are 4 main pieces of the Public Event Submission Form we are going to focus on today:
- The right side bar
- Above the form
- Below the form
- Within the form
To get started:
Login to your Localist Admin Dashboard
In the left side navigation select, Settings > Platform Settings > Appearance
On the Appearance page, select the Edit HTML (code icon in screenshot below) for your active theme.
This will take you to the Theme Editor where you will find all of the HTML files for your platform.
Scroll down the list of files until you see the header “Events.”
We’ll be working in the Public Event Submission Form and _edit_sidebar files.
This file powers the content located to the right of the main form. By default, the files already features two boxes titles “Adding an Event” and “Batch Event Add.”
This location is great for longer messaging, such as policies and disclaimers, or for outlined instructions. If you’d like to customize the content of these boxes, just replace or add to the white text you see in the file. Make sure you keep all opening and closing tags intact! You will find the headers on lines 3 and 11 wrapped in an H2 and the content of each box wrapped in <p> tags.
If you’d like to add additional boxes, you can copy lines 10-15 of an unedited file and simply paste them before the final closing div. From there just replace the white copy as before. Both of these approaches are incredibly simple as it keeps the default ID, class and headers so any out of the box or custom styling will also apply to anything new you create. Of course though, if you’d like to start from scratch the sky’s the limit.
Above the Form
Now we’re going to hop over to the left side of the page, which is powered by the file titled Public Event Submission Form. Let’s start at the top. This location is best suited for the most important information, such as who should be creating events and what kind of event content is appropriate for your platform.
If you’d like your new content to be above the submission form box, you’ll be adding a new line directly after line 16 of an unedited file. If you’d like your content to go within the box and right above the fields, you’ll be adding a new line directly after line 21 of an unedited file.
Below the Form
Now let’s jump down to the bottom. This location is best suited for letting your audience know what happens after submission, such as how long an event may take to be approved. To add messaging in the gray bar just above the “add event” button, you’ll be adding a new line directly after line 218 of an unedited file.
Within the Form
So, what about adding content within the form? When scrolling through the Public Event Submission Form file you’ll see each form section is wrapped in a <fieldset> tag, which starts and ends each section. You’ll be adding a new line directly after the opening <fieldset>. For example, if I want to add a note to the Photo section, I will be adding a new line directly after the opening <fieldset> on line 153 of an unedited file.
BONUS: Text Styling
As you’ve seen in all of these cases, you can just wrap your new text in <p> tags and be set. However, depending on your organization’s branding or the importance of the messaging you’re adding, you probably want to style the new content to pop on the page. Instead of using a regular p tag, you can add a p tag that includes inline styles as seen here. If you’re new to HTML, we highly recommend checking out www.w3schools.com for easy to follow how-to’s and to learn more about other styles you can apply using this method.
That’s all folks! You can read through our Guidelines guide at https://support.localist.com/user-help or you can learn more about the Theme Editor at https://support.localist.com/theme-editor. As always, if you have any questions, you can connect directly with the Localist Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Now go forth and show your audience how to best submit events to your calendar!
Classroom Transcript: Login Customizations
The following is the transcript of our “Login Customizations” How-to video.
Customizing your lightbox is an effective way to signal to your users how you want them to login and interact with your calendar. In this Localist Lesson we’ll be showing you how you can make sure your lightbox reflects your organization’s needs.
The first customization is a basic one. If you have a Shibboleth or CAS Single Sign-On (SSO) configured, you will see an additional login button appear in your lightbox. By default it says “Login with school ID”, but you can change the button to match the messaging your community expects.
For example, I’ve changed it to “Log in as Localist Staff”. If you’re interested in customizing the language of your SSO button, please email email@example.com as this can only be changed on our end.
Beyond changing your Single Sign-On CTA language, you are able to use our Theme Editor to add custom messaging throughout the login lightbox.
To get started:
Login to your Localist Admin Dashboard
In the left side navigation select, Settings > Platform Settings > Appearance
On the Appearance page, select the Edit HTML (code icon in screenshot below) for your active theme.
This will take you to the Theme Editor where you will find all of the HTML files for your platform.
Scroll down the list of files until you see the header Modals.
We’ll be working in the files _login_message and _login_methods.
If you’d like to modify the default opening message, the _login_message theme file is the place to do so.
To do this:
Swap out the text
Make sure to keep the opening and closing “p” tags in place
All files in the Theme Editor, support full HTML so code away if necessary. Additionally, since this falls just above the email address and password fields, this is also a great place to direct people to use these fields for logging in via Localist’s local method or through LDAP Single Sign-On.
Now let’s skip down the lightbox just a bit and revisit that Single Sign-On button we changed to say “Login as Localist Staff.” While tweaking the CTA language often does the trick, if you’d like to add messaging above this button you can do so by jumping over to the _login_methods theme file. This file has much more code in it, but don’t be intimidated!
To add content in between the local login fields and your single sign on button:
Add a new line between the lines #2 and #3 of an unedited file
Add the desired HTML on the new line #3
This code can be as simple as text wrapped in “p” tags.
If you’d like to add a similar directive, but for the social media set, scroll down to line #14 of the same unedited template. Remember, as you add new lines, any lines below will numerically increase. If that’s the case, you’ll just be looking for the line before the Facebook login code.
This is a great place to let your outside community know that they are not only welcome to create accounts on the platform, but that it is encouraged by your organization!
Finally, another space for customization is after all of the login options. This space is ideal for privacy statements, disclaimers or longer FAQ’s about your platform.
To do this:
In the same _login_methods template, scroll down to the end of the code.
Add a new line in between lines #29 and #30 of an unedited template.
This will be immediately after the LinkedIn login code ends.
Just as before, if you’re just entering text don’t forget those “p” tags or feel free to flex your design muscle.
Classroom Transcript: Widgets vs. the API
The following is the transcript of our “Widgets vs. the API” Localist Lesson.
In this Localist Lesson, we’ll be breaking down when and how you should use Widgets or the API to curate your Localist events for promotional efforts.
Widgets and the API enable admins and users to create events once in Localist then promote and publish them on other web pages. Both tools are publicly accessible. Widgets are generated by using the public Localist Widget Builder in just a few clicks, whereas events are pulled via the API with standard HTTP calls.
Widgets. Once you’ve set your criteria in the Widget Builder, you will generate an embed code. This will produce fully formatted HTML based off of one of the three Localist provided templates, or a custom template of your design. This means no extra work will be required on your part at this time — just generate the embed code and place it on any webpage!
The API. In comparison, The API returns raw JSON data that is not styled or formatted. This means your team will be responsible for styling the presentation and building an application that can ingest and parse the JSON data.
In short, Widgets are a quick, non-technical solution, whereas the API is a more involved process that requires advanced technical knowledge.
Widgets. When it comes to what you can do with Widget data, you can only display the data on other web pages. Widgets are also cached to load extremely quickly, which means the data is not instantaneously updated. Lastly, the querying parameters are “what you see, is what you get” in the Widget Builder.
The API. This data can also be used for displaying data on another page, but unlike Widgets, the API data can also be integrated into another system, such as an email marketing tool. Since the API is designed to provide impeccably up-to-date data, this can mean slower load times. Finally, the Localist API provides every piece of event data and it can be manipulated with extremely customized querying.
The Ultimate Question
So, what does all of this mean? There is one question you can ask yourself to immediately identify which tool is best suited for your needs:
“Am I looking to integrate Localist content into another system’s internal interface?” If the answer is yes, then use the API, if no – use Widgets. It’s as simple as that!
Classroom Transcript: Featured vs. Sponsored
The following is the transcript of our “Featured vs Sponsored” Localist Lesson.
In this Localist Lesson, we’ll be breaking down when and how you can use Featured and Sponsored events to boost engagement on your platform.
Featured Events. These events live in the Featured Events Carousel at the top of your calendar homepage or Channel. As such, the events appear to be officially endorsed by your organization. Upon page load the carousel automatically slides through each featured event, which cannot be altered at this time.
Sponsored Events. These events are given a boost in Localist’s EventScore trending algorithm, but since they live among other events in your Trending list they appear to be organically trending and not officially endorsed by your organization. Instead, Sponsored events stand out with unique styling that is only applied to those events flagged as “Sponsored.”
While you can flag an infinite number of events as both Featured and Sponsored, your Featured Carousel will only display up to 10 events at a time. These events are displayed in chronological order and cannot be re-ordered. In comparison, there is not a defined cap on how many Sponsored events may be displayed in a trending list. And while Sponsored events are given a boost, the order in which they are displayed is ultimately determined by Localist’s trending algorithm.
Who. In order to Feature or Sponsor an event in Localist, you must be an Event Admin with the added permission to Feature and Sponsored events.
When. You can flag an event as Featured or Sponsored at any time, however, the event will not display in the Featured Events Carousel nor will it display at the top of your Trending events list until you’re within 90 days of the event’s start date.
Removal. Once the event is over, it will automatically be removed from the carousel or the trending list. Sponsored events will always maintain their unique branding on your platform.
BONUS: Event Spotlight
When an event is assigned to the Event Spotlight component, it is given a prime spot on your homepage or Channel away from the rest of your event listings. Additionally, the event’s photo is enlarged to draw extra attention to the event.
To flag an Event as a Spotlight Event:
Open the Channel Layout Editor for your Homepage or Channel
Select Add Component in the desired column and choose Event Spotlight.
Start typing the name of the event and select it.
Save Changes and you’ll be able to drag and drop the component anywhere you like on the page.
Classroom Transcript: Tags vs. Keywords
The following is the transcript of our “Tags vs Keywords” Localist Lesson.
In this Localist Lesson, we’ll be breaking down when and how you should use Tags and Keywords within your Localist platform.
If they sound similar, that’s because they are! The best way to define Tags & Keywords it to first start by defining another piece of Localist Classification — your Filters. These are the links prominently and permanently displayed in your platform’s sidebar. As such, they should be broad, user-centric and used consistently throughout the year. This would include categories such as Fundraiser, Family-Friendly or Workshop. So, what do you do when you need ultra-specific or temporary categorization? Enter Tags & Keywords.
Tags & Keywords are both free-text labels that are assigned to events. Functionally they’re the same, however Tags are publicly displayed on the event details page. In comparison, Keywords are hidden from the public and only seen by search engines.
While both are indexed by Localist and search engines, Keywords can be used for things like common misspellings. If you enter the misspelling as a Keyword then users searching with that spelling will still discover your events.
As for adding Tags & Keywords, this is only available to Event Admins. Event Admins can add Tags & Keywords to their own events or any events they are Allowed to edit. Additionally, a Platform Admin can also include Tags & Keywords in both a Bulk CSV upload or in a CSV feed. Since Tags & Keywords are free-text, they are not available in the Public Event Submission Form. This ensures your organization isn’t overrun with slightly different variations of the same Tag or Keyword.
That said, when an admin starts typing, Localist will suggest already existing Tags or already used Keywords. These suggestions will also display how many events are currently assigned, but you can also refine event results in admin according to a Tag or Keyword. When entering Tags & Keywords, be sure to hit enter after each one to ensure they are saved with the event.
Once Tags & Keywords are saved in an event, they can be used in two ways.
End User Browsing
Clicking on a Tag from the event details page will take users to the search results for all events assigned to that Tag. Just like when clicking a filter, they’ll see all events assigned to that Tag as well as links to subscribe to the results.
This would be for when you want to pull short-term or ultra-specific events into a Channel or Widget. For Tags, these would be things like festivals, conferences, holidays or traditions. Keywords come into play with Promotion when you need to add specific information that you wouldn’t necessarily want your Users to see, such as indicating the event belongs on your Partner’s widget with the Keyword PartnerWidget. This way you can as specific as you need without worrying about users stumbling across internal details.
Tags & Keywords are only different in the way that they display, with Tags being displayed publicly on the Event Details Pages and Keywords being hidden from public view. Other than that, they are both:
- Used as free-text fields only available to Event Admins
- Are indexed to be used in internal and external searches
- Are meant for ultra specific or temporary categorization needs for end user browsing or admin Promotion
Pairing Tags & Keywords
Here’s a few examples of how Tags & Keywords work together and with your Filters. As you can see, the Classification gets more specific from left to right:
For example, “Holidays & Celebrations” is a Filter that encompasses happenings throughout the year, while the Tag “Halloween” is only relevant for one month, and the Keyword “ScreamFest2018” can be used to collect specific events in a Channel or Widget.
Related Article: Intro to Classification
Webinar Transcript: Widgets
The following is the transcript of our “Getting Creative with Localist Widgets” live webinar that was held on August 8, 2018.
This webinar is all about giving you some Widget inspiration so that you can start, or continue, using them in the most effective and creative ways for your organization and audience!
For those of you who are new to Localist, or perhaps as a refresher for Localist veterans, Widgets are a Promotion tool. They enable you to create events once in Localist and publish them anywhere you like. Our Public Widget Builder allows anyone, at any time, to generate an embed code based off of your existing Classification — such as Landing Pages or Filters.
By default, the Widget Builder is linked in the “Share Events” box on your Calendar Homepage. Or Admins can access the builder by navigating to Content > Widgets > Public Widget Builder.
For such a simple tool, Widgets are quite possibly the most powerful tool available on your platform. Here’s why:
Save Time. Widgets will save time — right off the bat, you can take advantage of out-of-the-box templates and styling options in just a few clicks. Once added to your site, if any details change in Localist, such as the date, the Widget will automatically update to reflect the change with no action needed from you. This is absolutely a “set it and forget it” tool.
Details, Details, Details. Speaking of saving time, there’s nothing more frustrating than receiving bits of information and having to hunt down the rest. With Localist Widgets, your audience will immediately be provided with the top must-know details.
Always Stay on Brand. Localist Widgets are designed to adopt the styles on the page that it lives on, but you also have access to the HTML templates for ultimate design flexibility. In fact, your audience won’t even know it’s technically an embed, instead they’ll see them as a natural piece of your page.
Centralization. Ultimately, Widgets promote centralization. Using Localist to export and embed event content goes beyond design, details, and saving time. You are creating a centralized hub for curating, managing, and promoting event content.
In The Wild
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the different ways we’ve seen Widgets implemented in the wild. There are three main ways that we’ve seen Localist Widgets used:
First we have Supplemental Widgets. As that might suggest, the presence of these widgets is another element in the page’s content mix. The events that are included, and how they’re displayed, will vary depending on the content of the page on which the Widget lives.
Let’s explore some different ways supplemental widgets are currently being used:
Paired with News and Social Media. News and events are two sides of the same coin so it’s no surprise that they’re often displayed alongside one another. Georgia State University and University of Delaware are both taking advantage of this natural pairing. Since events are inherently social, it’s also an opportune time to make this pair a trifecta and include social media highlights.
Horizontal Display. If you’re looking for your supplemental widget to stand out on your page a bit more, try a horizontal widget that is the full width of your page. In this example, University of California San Francisco, turned our Classic Widget on its side.
Localist’s Card Widget template is also the perfect ready-to-go solution for this display, but not just because it’s already horizontal–it also features large, eye-catching images. SUNY Fredonia is a great example of putting this template to work.
As you’ve seen so far, supplemental isn’t synonymous with mundane. Another exciting way customers make the most of widgets is by using multiple on one page all while requiring minimal real estate.
Multiple Widgets. Let’s start with the Vineyard Gazette. They’ve decided to use this sidebar for events, but that didn’t stop them from including two widgets: one for the featured events at the top followed by another of upcoming events. Don’t forget, your Widget Builder offers a simple checkbox to pull only Featured or Sponsored events!
With this strategy, you’ll save on space and it offers cues to your users as to what umbrella the content falls under. Michigan Tech University uses this method to separate and signal the types of events. Beyond event types, the tabbed widgets could be used as an effective way to divide according to date or seasons.
Uniquely Framed. Just because these Widgets are supplemental, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be uniquely framed. A little header or messaging goes a long way! Richmond Culture Works opted for a bold call-to-action in lieu of an “Events” header, while the University of California Irvine chose to include a blurb that highlights the kinds of events you can expect to find happening on their campus.
Next up we have Consistent Widgets. We call them consistent because well, they are! These are Widgets that are included as a consistent element in the sidebar or footer of your website. No matter what page you navigate to, the Widget will always be displayed in the same location.
Sidebar Display. Here we have Coachella Valley, which features a general Upcoming events Widget in the right sidebar of their “What’s New?” page. Depending on your content strategy, events in sidebars like this may or may not vary per-page.
In the Footer. In comparison, Colgate University baked a Widget directly into their universal footer. This means that any page that uses their universal template will automatically feature these events.
Full Page Widgets
Now, we have Full Page Widgets. This is the case when the Widget is the main purpose and function of the containing page. Without the Widget on this page, it would be empty or wouldn’t make sense to your users. Full-page Widgets enable flexibility in space and design without competing with other content. As a result, they make fantastic events pages for groups and organizations related to your own.
Keeping it Classic. Let’s start by taking the name “Full Page” Widget right in stride. First up, we have Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn (icon) School of Medicine. They gave the Widget their own aesthetic touch, but nonetheless–this page is just our standard Mini Cal + Classic List Widget template.
Modern. Similarly, Santa Clarita Arts has also used the Combo Widget template, but this one utilizes the Modern list style. This is a great way to give subsets of your organization the look and feel of a full calendar without sacrificing the benefits of centralizing your events in Localist.
Tabbed. Let’s take a quick step back–remember those tabbed Widgets? Now just picture them bigger– as in the size of an entire page! Georgia State University combines the tabbed method for date signaling with a full page layout. This is a great option especially if your Widget needs to display a long list.
Widgets on Widgets. However, combining Widgets together with tabs isn’t the only way! How about embedding multiple widgets across your page–no tabs necessary. As you can see, University of Tulsa takes a multiple Widget approach to dividing dates, but they chose to keep every Widget visible upon page load.
Now that we’ve reviewed some common displays, don’t forget that the template editor isn’t just for customizing the overall Widget. It can also be used for adding specific customizations to the event listings themselves. In fact, the following customizations we have to show could very well be the only change made to an out-of-the-box template!
First up, let’s talk about adding more details to the listings. A popular addition we’ve seen is adding the cost or a call-to-action for registration. This ensures folks are aware of the additional step required to attend, especially when your organization doesn’t often host paid events.
University of the Pacific opted to add two CTAs to the event listings in their widget. The Register button redirects the user to the website in which they can register for the event. And the More Info button will redirect the users to the event landing page in Localist so they can peruse the event’s full details.
Another simple addition we’ve seen is including a filter set, such as Event Types or the event’s Target Audience. This is helpful when your widget includes a variety of events or isn’t on a more granular page.
On top of adding more details, customizing the look of your widget doesn’t need to entail starting from scratch or advanced technical knowledge. One of the easiest changes you can make is adjusting the image size. This only requires swapping out sizes in the template and is currently outlined in our Photo Customizations article available at support.localist.com/photo-customizations.
In Allegheny College’s custom Widget, not only did they opt to change the photo size to be larger, they also added a border radius to give the event photos a nice round shape.
If your website style guide calls for a different ordering of event content, the templates have got you covered! Just swap out blocks of code to come before or after another. Originally, the Mini Cal + List Widget has the Mini Cal above the event listings. In Visit Lorain’s Widget, they floated the mini cal to the right and placed the event listings in a scrollable box to the left.
But changing the order of your event content doesn’t have to be a big change! For instance, The University of Tennessee Knoxville went with a more subtle change by moving the event dates above the title in this Widget.
Other Use Cases
While those ideas cover more traditional use-cases, they don’t stop there! Here’s are a few more final ways you can maximize your Widgets.
Print View. If you need a way to publish a list of events that is optimized for printing, a simple widget will do the trick. Just remove things like images and descriptions then link to the widget’s preview page like Tarrant County College has done here.
Added to Your Platform. Since Widgets are curated to be placed on other websites, why not use a Widget directly on your actual calendar platform! For a unique display of your events in a Channel, simply curate your Widget, generate your embed code, and then add it to an HTML Component in your Channel Layout Editor. Or how about embedding a Widget of Featured Events across all event landing pages to give those events an even bigger boost.
Custom RSS. You can build a customized RSS feed based on the criteria set in your Widget builder! To do this, build your Widget as usual in the Widget Builder, but instead of selecting Generate Embed Code, select Preview Widget. In the URL of this page, change the URL from format=html to format=rss. Bada bing bada boom, you have a custom RSS feed! If you have the technical chops, you can even use a Widget template to write RSS code so your feed outputs as many unique details as desired.
If there’s one thing you should take away today, it’s that Widgets can be powerful ambassadors for your calendar. Using Widgets drives your audience directly back to your main platform where users can see additional details and learn about other events, as well as maintain a consistent brand, voice, and workflow while promoting your events.
Keep in mind that the ideas and customizations we’ve covered today are meant to get you thinking creatively and strategically about how you already or plan on implementing widgets. The important part is that your event content is being dispersed across your website — customizations or no customizations!
The following are questions that were asked by Localist customers during the live webinar:
Q: So I see the Build Widget on the homepage, does that mean anyone can build a Widget?
A: Yes, the Public Widget Builder is accessible to all! By default the Share Events box on your homepage include a link to your public widget builder — of course, you can always remove the Share Events component from your Channel or hide it with CSS, which means only admins can create them by navigating to Content then Widgets in their admin dashboards.
Q: Are tags and keywords the only feature used to create widgets, or what else can I use to pull content into a widget?
A: Like Channels, Widgets are a Promotion tool. You’re able to use Date Ranges and all Classification — including Filters, Landing Pages for Places, Groups, or Departments, as well as Tag & Keywords to populate your Widget. As I mentioned before you can also opt to only included events marked as Featured or Sponsored.
Q: Is there a limit to how many I can make?
A: The limit does not exist! You can have as many Widgets as your org or audience desires.
Q: How long does it take for widgets to update?
A: You can expect widgets to be fully updated within 10 minutes or so of the details being changed.
Q: Can you have past events in a widget?
A: By default past events are automatically removed from widgets once the day they occur is over. If you’d like to prevent past events from leaving a widget then you can tack on a start parameter to the widget URL. That said, this will freeze the list of events to that date range.
Q: Can I have events only display on a widget and not the main calendar?
A: Sure can! By default events created in Localist are visible to the Public, however, you have the option to mark your event as Restricted to Widgets only.
Q: How can I tell how much traffic is coming from a widget?
A: In Google Analytics you can look at the utm parameter to determine how a visitor made their way to a specific event or your platform. If you’d like to use a specific parameter, you can also tack it onto the widget URL in the embed code.
Webinar Transcript: Channels
The following is the transcript of our “Getting Creative with Localist Channels” live webinar that was held on November 16, 2017.
This webinar is all about giving you some Channel confidence so that you can not just start using Channels, but use them in the most effective way for your organization and audience. We just recently marked one year since we originally launched Channels, so in honor of the first anniversary we’re going to be starting with some of the basics, but then diving into a ton of creative, clever and simple ideas that you can implement TODAY.
WHO can add a Channel?
- The Channel Admin permission level grants an admin access to the Channel editor.
WHAT is the definition of a Channel?
- Channels are a Localist Promotion tool that generates a new page on your platform. Your platform’s homepage is also a Channel, so any of the ideas covered today can also be implemented on your homepage.
WHEN can a Channel be made?
- Since they aren’t a part of your platform’s permanent classification scheme, Channels can be created at any time and remain live until you’re ready to hide or disable them.
WHERE does an admin go to create a Channel?
- They can only be created and edited in the admin dashboard. Since Channels can be disabled, there’s no need to create test Channels in staging. Once they’re live, links to Channels will automatically be displayed on the right column of your homepage.
WHY should you make a Channel? There are three different reasons why you’d utilize a Localist Channel:
- Promotion. This would be the case for temporary needs, like a limited series or festival, or for a more permanent centralization need, like a common theme of diversity or sustainability. You can also pull from multiple criteria, making Channels much more robust than just a landing page or a filter.
- Marketing. While this is similar to branding, this is referring to the content of the page, with or without unique branding. So for that sustainability conference Channel, this would include additional content like social media links, which we’ll be covering more in depth shortly.
- Branding. Since Channels can adopt their own unique CSS and layout — the look and feel can be transformed to showcase any particular brand identity. Changing the layout is also a non-technical task as rearranging the components is accomplished by dragging and dropping, plus you can toggle between two columns and a one column layout. Think of a sustainability association hosting a conference on your campus or city that has it’s own flair you’d like to display. That said, branding could be as simple as uploading a unique cover photo that showcases anything from a logo to a scenic backdrop. As you can see, the cover photo can easily be adapted to fit your preferred aesthetic.
So what this means is that you can use a Channel for one, two or all of these reasons — which means a Channel can be as toned down or as amped up as you’d like. There really is no wrong way to make a Channel — as long as you aren’t just making Channels for the sake of making Channels (I know it’s tempting!) and that they are serving a direct need for your audience.
With your users in mind — properly organizing your Channel content is key, so what exactly does this mean?
As I just mentioned, Promotion is the first level of crafting a Channel. Promotion is based off of your existing classification, which encompasses your tags, keywords, filters and landing pages. So, if you have not yet defined your classification that is your first step before moving onto Channels.
Here’s how each of these classifications could be used:
- Tags. These are free text that allow you to provide additional context to your audience. These are publicly displayed so not only can they be used for Promotion, but your users can click the tag on an event to see other related events. Tags are fantastic for temporary use cases, such as fundraising campaigns, seasonal, homecoming and commencement.
- Keywords. These are functionally the same as tags, except they are hidden from users but still visible to search engines. Keywords are helpful when you need a way to promote events, but no additional context is needed for the user. For example, you could create a Channel for events people are paying you to highlight, but you don’t want your users seeing the keyword “paid.”
- Filters & Landing Pages. Additionally, you can of course use your existing filters and landing pages to pull together events that have an overarching theme, but make sure the Channel is adding value to your audience and not just duplicating your classification.
Date Ranges. Outside of your classifications, Channels also have the ability to pull in events based off of future and past date ranges. This is the easiest way to spin up a Channel based on seasonality. For example, you could have Channels for “Summer Events” spanning June-August, spring break, Welcome Week and the upcoming holiday season.
Multiple Lists. You can even take these date ranges a step further by creating multiple event lists. For example, Colgate decided to organize their Family Weekend Channel by making lists for highlights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday which makes planning super easy for friends and family. They’ve also taken advantage of our new Spotlight Event component, which is another way to bring attention to a specific event beyond the classic featured slider.
That said, event lists also offer a great opportunity for users to easily view a specific subset of events without leaving the Channel. As you can see, they’re really flexible and will fit any need:
Multiple Components. If you didn’t already know, there is no limit to how many duplicates you can have of the same component. For example, you could divide your page with a second featured slider and second event list.
Here’s what this might look like:
In this mock-up, you can see that we have a slider and event list then another slider and event list, which is a great layout for things like Athletics or distinguishing target audiences. You could have Men’s Athletics in the first set followed by Women’s Athletics in the second set.
Channel Only visibility option. This means Channels are now the best way to include everything on your platform without certain events taking over. For example, if you have exhibition listings that are recurring for long periods of time, a Channel can be used to highlight these events separately from the general listings.
You do NOT need to even know how to use HTML to take advantage of this component.
All of the ideas in this guide are actually just embed codes that you would just be copying into the HTML component. Though of course, if you’re an HTML connoisseur then if you can HTML it, you can make it!
There’s two primary buckets these components fall into: interactive and informational.
Interactive. This covers anything your users would engage with, whether that’s a link, call to action or multimedia.
1. Simpler links and call to actions. These include the Localist provided social media and website link components, as well as any flashier call to actions for things like donations or ticketing information.
2. Now onto items your users will engage with directly on the Channel. All of these are typically called widgets and are added by copying and pasting a provided embed code into the HTML component. If this sounds familiar, this is the same process for how you add Localist widgets to other pages.
- If a Channel is music centric, like for a festival or concert series, embed a Spotify playlist featuring a sampling of the performers or compositions.
- If your Channel is geared towards out of town guests, like for a marathon, a lodging widget would definitely make their planning experience smoother.
- On a related note, you could create a custom Google Map that features hot spots around town for those same marathoners or say for new students coming to campus.
- Some other ideas that have come up in conversations are including a relevant poll, news RSS feeds and of course videos.
Informational. These don’t require any additional user interaction.
- First up, Localist provides an out of the box description component so that you can provide all the necessary context.
- If you’re anything like me, one of the top questions on my mind when making plans is what will the weather be? Not only will it inform my outfit choice, but can impact how likely I am to attend. Give your users an easy heads up by displaying a weather widget.
- You can also branch outside of the Localist provided social media components and embed social feeds directly in the Channel so users can peruse the chatter without leaving your platform.
- Another thing that we’ve heard is that users really respond well to countdowns, so if your Channel is showcasing a big conference, tournament or holiday then a countdown is great passive way to generate excitement.
- Lastly, an HTML component can be used for monetization opportunities by powering Google Ads or manually embedding a sponsor’s logo.
This is by no means an all inclusive list, so if you can embed it then it can absolutely be a part of your Channel.
Our next Channel strategy actually entails using only HTML components on a Channel, or using none at all to highlight non-event content. You heard that right, your Channel does not technically need to have events, more on that in just a minute.
First, when we say non-event content that can mean listings on your platform that aren’t a traditional event or perhaps more mundane, like meetings, closure or construction notices and academic calendar dates. These are also great candidates to be marked with that Channel Only visibility I mentioned earlier.
For these instances, you most likely won’t need any fluff–no HTML components or featured sliders, so they’ll fall into the toned down Channel type.
On the flip side, instead of having a listing-only Channel, you can absolutely have a Channel made up of only HTML components. Since Channels are essentially just generating a unique landing page on your platform you can treat like any other webpage.
A few scenarios this could be utilized would be creating training documentation for your community, highlighting sponsors like Post Bulletin has done here or creating a Channel featuring a handful of the interactive and informational widgets.
You could even generate a page that just includes our newer map component so that users can see one large overview of where upcoming events are taking place around campus or town.
Okay so, now that we’ve covered how you can promote and organize your content. What’s next? Since Channels are often used for bigger or more specific purposes, make sure to include them in your promotion strategies. Remember, Channels receive a clean and custom URL so they make easy call to actions on social media or in newsletters.
Also, if you have a corresponding widget on an external page then be sure to add a button encouraging your audience to view more content and events on the Channel.
Takeaways & Questions
- Everyone has a use-case for a Channel.
- Channels require no technical skills.
- Flexible enough to fit any vision.
- Get creative!
The following are questions that were asked by Localist customers during the live webinar:
Q: Are Channels connected to Widgets?
A: Great question! Channels and Widgets are not connected, but they are both Promotion tools. So if you want to build a widget to display the same events as your Channel, you can build it off the same criteria by selecting the same Classification in the widget builder.
Q: So I’m a Platform Admin, can’t I also make Channels?
A: Permissions in Localist are non-hierarchical, so that means that a platform admin does not automatically have control over the entire platform. If you are a Channel Admin, you are able to make Channels. If you are a Platform Admin and can make Channels, this just means that you also have the Channel Admin permission.
Q: Why would I use a Channel instead of just a Filter?
A: A channel is a place that allows you to display events from multiple different criteria and classifications and allows you to add all of the context your users are expecting. Channels are flexible so you can customize them to look however you want, while a filter only shows the list of events without any additional information. Filters are broad user-centric ways for your users to browse events that interest them, whereas Channels provide a full experience for your users around a short-term event or overarching theme. A Channel should never be built off just one filter, unless it serves a greater marketing context. For a university, having an Alumni Channel built off the filter Alumni to make sure you can add context and components like a Donate button to bring additional value. Or a local library might want to highlight their events for pre-schoolers on a Story Time channel with lots of information around their new program.
Q: Once you disable the channel, where do those event listings live? In the home page of the calendar?
A: Unless you select the “Channel Only” visibility, the events in a Channel will appear on all of the usual pages, like the “all events” page, landing pages, etc. This means they are also applicable for being included in the homepage if they fit the classification defined or they are not excluded from trending.
Q: Are we able to have a channel visible but not listed on the homepage?
A: Of course! When editing your homepage channel layout, select the “Other Calendars” component and you’ll be able to un-check specific channels so they don’t display in the list.
Webinar Transcript: Promoting
The following is a transcript of the third installment of our “Making the Most of Your Event Content” series that was held on June 29, 2017.
Launching and providing an interactive calendar is a big deal, so often the first wave of communication and promotion is a no-brainer. However, don’t fall victim to the “build it and they will come” mindset after your initial launch. Instead, think, “build it, promote it, and they will continue to return.”
Besides reminding people who already know about your calendar, your audience is constantly expanding and changing so make sure you are proactively engaging your new and prospective users. Here’s some ways you can promote and increase engagement with your platform:
Part 1: Messaging
When promoting your calendar, don’t stop at letting your audience know you have an events calendar, and that it’s chock full of user-centric features. Kick it up a level and highlight how your calendar benefits your audience! It’s important to keep your contributors and users in mind when building messaging.
Event Submissions & Bulk Uploading
- Save Time: Adding an event takes less than two minutes and once approved, it’s on the calendar.
- If the event Place changes, for example, the original creator can always access and edit the form directly from the event page.
- If a Group, Department, or Place wants to add a ton of events, share your Bulk Event CSV template with them so that they can submit all of their events at once.
- Evergreen Data: Once an event is on your calendar it’s there in good times and bad because Localist never purges calendar content. This means that even after an event is over it will still be discoverable, which is extremely helpful for users to see a track record of the great events already hosted or may be hosting again in the future.
- Let’s say a user goes to your calendar for information on the annual 5k run on the 4th of July. If you aren’t hosting it this year, the user can still see the event details from last year as well as find other 4th of July plans while they are on your calendar. A past event will never rank higher than a current event in a search engine results page, so there is no need to fret.
- Promotion Eligibility: A benefit to being a contributor is that their events are eligible for Promotion. So, if their event matches criteria you set in your event Newsletters or Widgets, then they will automatically be included in these listings. Contributor events can be publicized to a more targeted group without any extra work on their end. Who doesn’t like free publicity that takes no time?
- See the Santa Clarita Arts Widget below? Any contributor who added an Arts Events to Visit Santa Clarita’s calendar would also have their event on the widget on Santa Clarita Art’s website.
- Audience Demographics for Contributors: You can share the data about who is using your calendar with local stakeholders to get them to put events on your calendar. So you can tell community members how often events were created and who is your primary audience. Like when you are placing an ad, you want to know who will see it and the traffic it receives. Speak about your calendar as a free way to share their event content with their target audience. Someone hosting a kids camp might not be enticed to post that on your university’s calendar.
- Audience Demographics for Users: Who is visiting your site is also of interest to your users since they know that the events are as distinct as the different hosts for each event. Events will always be presented in the voice of the community/host and feels like the people it serves. Since you allow the community to contribute, the calendar is constantly updating and will always have a wide range of dynamic content.
- Visual Learning: At the end of the day, most of us are visual learners. Enter in a few events to show users live examples of what their events could look like. When they see their events live in living color it can help users visualize how Localist could work for them.
These give organizations and/or places their own corner of your event calendar where they can add photos, a description, list upcoming & past events, and social media links so it has all the context the user’s need in one place.
- Save Time: Once a landing page is created, the submitter will just need to select the landing page instead of repeatedly entering address details.
- Click Backs: The event landing pages or place landing pages are filled areas to include backlinks. Whether links are added to descriptions, custom fields, or website buttons, users won’t be cut off from continuing their online hunt.
- Bring It to Life: At the end of the day, most of us are visual learners. Bring all of these points to life by presenting a live example of their content or landing page.
- For event organizers: they can see the amount of interest on an upcoming event for planning purposes and to influence future events based on what users enjoyed.
- For users: it’s helpful to see what events their friends are going to on campus or around the community. Your community is social, so they want to see what others are doing. When they click “I’m Interested”, a big plus is that they get a reminder the day before and are prompted to leave feedback after the event. This way they won’t miss an event because they forgot to add it to their calendar.
The more people express interest in an event, the larger the positive impact in Trending. Trending removes the guesswork in figuring out which events are popular, interesting, and are worth attending. Contributors can see what’s popular among users and get the chance to have their event at the top of the calendar’s homepage if users want to attend. As a reminder, how events appear in Trending is determined by an algorithm that includes user interest and engagement with the event.
Localist is easily navigable allowing users to browse by Group, Department, Place, and Filters. Make sure to let your users know how simple it will be for them to find what they are looking for and they won’t waste their time on a messy calendar. Users don’t want to have to work to use your product, and they don’t have to. They can easily see only concerts, family-friendly events, or events hosted in another language depending on how your platform is set up. They don’t have to skim through to find what they want, they can look in a targeted place.
Part 2: Promotion
It is really important that you don’t just announce your calendar, but keep mentioning and plugging it consistently. If you are a higher ed institution, you get new students every year. In tourism, you always have new visitors in your area. For a library, people move to the area every year. Hospitals are always seeing new patients. Your users are always changing and growing so make sure you do not have a “one and done” attitude about your messaging around your calendar.
What better way to promote your social calendar than on social media? You’ve already built up an online following so let them know that your online presence has expanded. I know you are already promoting events on social media, so drop a line at the end about seeing more events on the calendar. Post a few things dedicated to highlighting your calendar as a whole with a CTA to click.
For Explore Gwinnett, the tourism bureau for Gwinnett outside Atlanta, they share a link to their calendar to remind their followers to see what’s going on. Colgate had a student than a presenter as part of their MLK week series, and Colgate included a link to their channel of MLK week events in their response.
Asbury park built a widget that they can screen shot to include in Instagram posts about what is happening in Asbury Park that day.
If you’re preparing to or have just launched Localist, a blog post is the perfect place to share your excitement and the benefits your new platform has to offer. Continually highlight the calendar. With each new article about a speaker series, have a line about viewing more events on the full calendar. If there is a local park with construction being done, have a link to the calendar with a prompt to view the modified schedule during renovation. If you were just ranked in the top 50 beaches to visit in the US, in your post about link to events happening on your calendar for visitors and locals.
Loyola Marymount University decided to re-engage students about their calendar a year after launch to keep people engaged and answer common questions students had for them about their calendar.
Another great way to engage user is to include a CTA in your regular newsletter communications or events section. At minimum, your new calendar should be announced in a special email blast and make sure you’re sending a regular dedicated events newsletter or including a sampling of events as a part of other communications. For example, tell each new community member about your calendar as part of your new user experience. So that thing you are already sending can work for your calendar, too.
Think of your Localist platform as another social media platform. Just like your Facebook & Twitter accounts are given a shout out in communications or their icons are splashed across headers and footers, treat your calendar the same.
Your calendar may be online, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only promotion route you can take. While you are all tech savvy and might not remember the last time you used something like a paper phonebook, you shouldn’t discount written materials. If you are already creating brochures, information packets, or utilize signage, include a call to action to visit your events calendar. It helps to include another place for users to learn about the calendar, especially if it is next to other important info. Welcome packets, travel brochures, playbill, etc that will always have a physical version is another touchpoint with potential users.
Part 3: Maximizing Localist
Now that you are encouraging people to come to your calendar, lets cover how you can promote your events directly within Localist.
Have a festival or a series of themed events that you want to make sure people know about? Use a Channel to Promote events based on a variety of criteria. A Channel can be totally customized to reflect the series or festival you are highlighting, the only branding that has to stay the same is the header and the footer. The rest is negotiable.
Featured & Sponsored Events
The Featured Carousel is a great way to promote really cool events you want to make sure your users see. It can hold up to 10 events at a time, appearing in chronological order. Once the most recent one ends, a new one appears in the carousel. You can flag an infinite number of events as Featured and they will enter when it is their time.
If you have events that need a little help, but you do not want them featured in the Featured Carousel, you can Sponsor them which gives them a boost in trending and different styling. This is a great way to make sure that events appear higher in trending and stick out on the page to your users.
If there is a huge event you want promoted above and beyond the normal ways, like the someone special is visiting campus, or someone is paying for a prime shot, you can add a special block with the theme editor and have that event displayed there as you can see on the right.
These are a great way to spread Localist content naturally on other sites. They automatically display event descriptions, locations, dates, times, and an event photo. This can be anything from your website homepage to a local chamber of commerce site to a department homepage. You name it! By using a Localist Widget on external sites it allows users to discover events passively in their own time and on their own path if they are not actively looking for events.
Your users are expecting everything they need to be accessible from the same page. Widgets allow you to put your event content where your users can organically find it while linking back to the calendar. You are looking at homepage widgets that customers have chosen to put on their organization homepages.
- Using a Localist widget saves you time since you do not have to re-enter the data and the widget automatically populates so you can set it and forget it. No need for continued Promotion.
- By using a Localist widget, you get the click throughs to your calendar that you wouldn’t get If you were to enter separately or use the API.
- Make sure there is a CTA at the bottom linking to the rest of your calendar or events of the same type. So a button that says “view more events” or “view more concerts” to direct users back to your calendar for more.
- Localist widgets are highly customizable so you can have them match your Localist’s platform’s branding or the branding of the site they are being put on. Speaking of branding, by using the same event content in a widget, you can ensure that you have a consistent voice associated with your events.
Webinar Transcript: Discovering
The following is a transcript of the second installment of our “Making the Most of Your Event Content” series that was held on June 8, 2017.
You already have great event content, but is it optimized for online success? It’s time to explore the ins and outs of accelerating the discoverability of your platform and events. In this guide we will discuss how you can not only maximize your platform’s reach through SEO, but also through user engagement.
There’s a ton of ways that discoverability is defined, so to make sure we are all on the same page, here’s how Localist defines discoverability:
Discoverability efforts are all of the passive ways to ensure customers can find services they need online. Some examples are social media, search engine optimization, messaging tools and other ways to interact with customers to help provide what they need. These efforts are not like traditional advertisements because they don’t aim to interrupt or distract. They instead aim to reach customers in a more organic way to make sure that they can easily and quickly find your content when searching online.
Part 1: Structure
Out-of-the-box, Localist is a well oiled SEO machine built from the ground up with features that will directly and positively impact the discoverability of your calendar and events. Before we dive into the features and functionalities you can influence, here’s a few behind-the-scenes factors you don’t have to sweat:
1. Title tags: Localist automatically applies relevant title tags to every page depending on their unique purpose and content.
2. Unique URLs: Every single Localist page has a unique URL, so the amount of pages a search engine can potentially index is virtually limitless.
3. Page load time: Localist constantly monitors site performance, page loads and processing times for all actions taken on your platform. Rest assured, your audience will be connected with your content at the speed they expect.
4. Social Sharing: Your platform comes equipped with AddThis social sharing, so your users can share to their favorite services easily and quickly.
5. Google Tags: In 2017, Google announced an update that allows for event search results to display in clean, user-friendly lists for easy accessibility. Your Localist events are already optimized in such a way that they will be eligible to be included in these results.
Part 2: Event Content
Discoverability is so much more than a technical game. One of the pillars of SEO is more content = more discoverability. Here’s six ways you can sway search engines in your favor by increasing your platform’s reach through pages and words:
1. Landing Pages: Take advantage of the content aspect of SEO by adding unique pages for your places and organizations with Localist landing pages. Not only will the extra pages and content give you an SEO boost, you’ll receive a usability boost by providing relevant information and context to your users in one central location.
2. Complete Content: While additional pages and unique URLs lay a great SEO foundation, the actual content is where the true SEO magic happens. Fill your pages with details to not just satisfy search engines, but also your audience so they do not have to look elsewhere.
3. Text-first Communication: All relevant information should be communicated by including it directly in the event’s description or through assigning various classifications. Since photos are not indexed, relying on a PDF attachment or a flyer as the event’s photo will greatly decrease an event’s reach.
4. Keywords: Localist provides keyword fields for events and places that can be used to store relevant words or phrases without displaying them publicly. For example, if a place or event speaker’s name is commonly misspelled, entering the alternative spellings in the keywords field will ensure it’s still found.
5. FreshContent: Search engines love websites that are constantly updating. Two easy ways you can avoid having a stale platform is to let your audience and community do some event curation for you by allowing for public event submissions and importing event feeds.
6. Visibility: The default visibility for all Localist events is “visible,” which means any visitor, logged in or not, can view an event and any search engine can discover it. Be extremely conservative in what events you apply the visibilities “Visible Only When Logged In” and “Hidden” as once it’s applied, it will be entirely cut off from outside discoverability.
Part 3: Social Engagement
So, your content is set up to bring users to your platform, but is your platform set up to encourage those users to stay? The longer a visitor stays on your platform the better as it signals to search engines that the content you are providing is relevant and enticing. A key to increasing your visitor’s time on page is to engage them, here’s a few ways to do this:
1. I’m Interested: This user-centric call-to-action is displayed on every event listing and landing page. It adds the event to the user’s personal calendar, adds their avatar to the event’s “People Interested” list and then prompts a reminder notification and a prompt to review the event once it has passed.
2. Comments/Reviews: These functionalities help connect your community and event with each other and event organizers.
3. Multiple login methods: If your platform is locked down to organization specific single sign on, the number of visitors who can truly engage with your content, will be drastically stifled. We recommend providing at least one of the five social logins Localist offers as an option for your users.
4. Trending: Static, chronological options are out and trending is in. Give your community the ability to influence your listings so that the most interesting events are always at the forefront.
5. User-centric filters: As the number of seconds it takes for a user to find the content they’re looking for increase, so does the likelihood that they’ll abandon your platform all together. Enable your users to get where they’re going as quickly and easily as possible by providing a short list of broad filters that are geared towards their unique needs.
6. Multimedia: Embedding supplemental content, such as videos or slide shows, is a fantastic way to not just grab your user’s attention, but to also keep them on the page longer as they engage.
Part 4: Credibility
1. Brand Template (SILK Wrapper): Your Brand Template isn’t just here to visually brand your platform, it’s here to connect your platform and audience back to your main website. The more pages of authority, like your website’s homepage, you link to the more boost your platform will receive.
- Remove no index and no follow tags (<meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex,follow’ />): Not removing these will completely cut your platform off from indexing.
- Remove link=rel elements: Not removing this element will force search engines to see any calendar pages as direct duplicates of the wrapper and therefore they will not be indexed.
- Include Meta tags: Do include these to communicate with search engines what your website contains and which pieces to include in search result listings.
2. Responsive: As of 2015, Google has officially recognized mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. By default, your Localist platform is 100% responsive, but double check that any design overrides you’ve added have not diminished your mobile displays.
3. Link to Your Platform: Not only does linking to your platform on other webpages let search engines know that your platform exists, but if you link to it from your most authoritative pages, like your homepage, that authority will help further establish trust between search engines and your platform.
4. Custom Site-Search: If your main website uses its own in-site search tool, be sure to add your calendar’s custom domain to the list of indexed websites.
5. Widgets: The more unique domains that link to your platform, the better.
6. Social media presence: Promote (not just the volume, but how long standing) The way social media is growing and shifting. Another unique referral. SM – > Main – > Calendar
Webinar Transcript: Filtering
The following is a transcript of the first installment of our “Making the Most of Your Event Content” series that was held on May 18, 2017.
Filters are provided as your organization’s unique way to communicate with your audience so that they can browse your calendar and event content intuitively and effectively.
– BEST PRACTICE –
This means that filters must always be AUDIENCE centric. What does it mean to be audience-centric? They need to be succinct, clear, and match the expectations of your users.
Part 1: Reducing
The most common roadblock we see across our platforms is that Filter lists are too long. The longer your list, the more likely it is that your users won’t be able to not just find events they’re interested in, but that they will also abandon your calendar all together.
An ideal Filter list length will accomplish two things:
- Prevent “expand” and “show more” links from truncating your Filters as much as possible. In Localist an “Expand” link will show after four Child Filters and a “Show More” link will show after five Parent Filters.
- Be entirely viewable in a typical window size with as little additional scrolling as possible.
The easiest way to work on trimming the excess is to remove what should not be a filter in the first place. Here’s 4 kinds of Filters you should always omit or remove:
- Places: If you’re including locations you are not only cluttering your filter list, but you are selling your platform short. Localist provides Place Pages that provide the ability to curate a directory for admins/submitters to select from and users to browse. These pages increase SEO by adding more pages to your site and extra context surrounding an event.
- Organizations: Just like Places, Localist provides Group and Department Pages that can be used to house any common event hosts, groups, organizations, departments, associations, clubs, etc. If there’s a common “host” then a Group or Department Page is the perfect solution!
- Temporary, Annual, Seasonal or Limited Series: If a filter is not used year-round, then it should be a Tag or Keyword. Things like Inauguration (temporary), Homecoming (annual), Christmas (seasonal) or MLK Week (Limited Series) are only serving your users for a small percentage of the year, while inhibiting their browsing experience for the majority of the year.
- Event Details: If a filter is communicating any logistics of an event, then these details should instead be moved to the event’s description or perhaps collected in a custom field. For example, things like “food provided,” “free parking” or “door prizes” should be omitted.
Part 2: Consolidation
Once you’ve removed items that are not meant to be Filters, your next step to focusing your list is to consolidate, consolidate and consolidate some more! Here are five things to avoid:
- Granularity: Once you have removed the misused Filters, your next step is assessing the level of granularity. Ask yourself, “will a general user really understand or care about a distinction?”
- For example, will users know what distinguishes a “lecture” from a “talk,” “presentation,” “assembly” or “conference”?
- Also ask yourself, “does the benefit of including a granular filter outweigh the benefits of removing it to have a succinct list?” For instance, is it really necessary to include unique filters for “contemporary,” “ballet” and “hip-hop” in lieu of only “dance?”
- Child filters: In the same vein, Child Filters should only be used when absolutely necessary for the same purposes. By their very nature, Child Filters run a high risk of being too granular and not contributing to a positive user experience. An easy way to automatically scale these back is to remove instances of there being only one Child under a Parent Filter.
- Duplicates: Just like granular Filters, if your Filter list has duplicates then you also run a high risk of admins and submitters only selecting one, which will cause your users to be left missing out on discovering events if they to only catch one of the filters. Duplicates are often found in two different groups of Filters.
- For example, having an “Alumni” Event Type Filter and an “Alumni” Target Audience Filter.
- Yes/No Filters: Filters should never be formatted as a question/answer.
- For example, having a Parent Filter for “Open to the Public” and Child Filters for “yes” and “no.” In instances like these, the absence of “Open to the Public” and the presence of another audience Filter like “Students” will be clear enough for your users.
- Internal Filters: If you need to label and collect events that are internal/geared towards staff, then you should be using Tags or Keywords. Since filters are always displayed on your homepage, you want to use this prime real estate for items that will be serving the majority of your audience at all times.
Part 3: Organization
Now that you’ve reduced and consolidated your Filters, you need to evaluate how they are grouped to ensure that they are easily identifiable and digestible. Your Filter list should not consist of only an “Event Types” list that includes Filters from a range of categories. There are three main filter groups that cover all of your bases:
- Event Type: this is the format of an event and communicates what an attendee will be doing or experiencing at an event.
- Target Audience: this is who should or can attend the event and communicates who an attendee can expect to mingle with at an event.
- Topic: this is the theme of the event and communicates overarching goals or initiatives for why the event is being held.
Example: An event format is a fundraiser (Type) geared towards alumni (Target Audience) for a new arts program (Arts & Culture – Topic).
Depending on your type of organization and your goals, these filter groups may vary. Other successful filter groups have been Cost, Neighborhood, and Language. The bottom line is that they should be streamlined and their goal should be entirely clear to your users.
Part 4: Monitor Usage
Your last — and ongoing — step to finalizing your list is to confirm that they are actually being used by your admins, submitters, and users. To put your filters to the test, these two statements should be true of all Filters:
- Consistently & recently used by admins/submitters
- Consistently & recently browsed by users/visitors
If one or both of these statements is not true, then the Filter should be removed and used as a Landing Page or a Tag/Keyword. There is nothing less engaging than having dozens of Filters with (0) displaying across your calendar pages!
- Admin & Submitter Activity: Use your admin dashboard to see how many times a Filter has been applied to events as well as the last time it was applied to an event.
- User & Visitor Activity: Use Google Analytics to see how often a filter is browsed by your visitors. Just because a Filter is used frequently by admins, does not guarantee that it will be of interest or helpful to your users.