Most Valuable Practices
Best practices are the strategies that will keep you on the path to success with Localist, including increased engagement, awareness and attendance! In this guide, we’ve gathered our Most Valuable Practices (MVP) that have stood the test of time by successfully being applied by hundreds of organizations using Localist.
Why should you accept event submissions?
- Save time: Rather than relying on colleagues to supply you with information about upcoming events or trying to research them yourself, skip those unnecessary steps by allowing your users to add events.
- Grow brand visibility: Allowing users to submit events to your online event calendar increases their participation and interest in your organization while increasing traffic to your organization’s website.
- Engage community leaders: Community leaders offer access to engaged groups of people – you’ll want to tap into their vast social capital. Give them the ability to add events and they’ll be more likely to engage with the calendar, invite others, and share the event across multiple social media sites.
- Showcase a thriving community: User-submitted events on the online event calendar will show anyone who visits your website that your community is thriving. Leave them with a positive first impression by showcasing an online events calendar filled with a large number and wide variety of events.
- Increase revenue: You can grow your revenue by giving users the option to pay to have their events show as Featured on the online calendar website. For example, event promoters pay for local newspapers’ websites to prominently feature their upcoming events. The papers get a revenue boost, and promoters get more event attendees. It’s a win-win situation. Why not replicate that for your organization?
Why we only require three fields: Increasing the number of required fields directly correlates to a decrease in the likelihood of a user completing the submission process. The three required fields, Name, Description, and Start Date, effectively communicates to the attendee what is the event, when, and where it will take place. In any case, you would like to let your users know that additional context is needed—you can do so by adding in custom fields that are marked as guidelines.
Submission Form Fields
- EventReach: Your per-event score and platform average should be 70, which indicates the minimum amount of relevant fields have been completed.
- Description: At least 160 characters and should include all relevant text. Do not embed photos or videos with relevant information is it cannot be indexed by search engines.
- Posting Date: For optimal discoverability, give your audience time to find your event ahead of time by posting at least 7 days before the big day.
- Twitter Hashtag: Only one Twitter hashtag may be saved per-event to ensure that your audience is driven to one central, relevant Twitter conversation.
- Recurring Events: If an event has the same title and content, make it a recurring event. This decreases clutter for admins and increases your audience’s awareness of future dates.
Custom Fields: Custom Fields allow you to collect information that your organization needs on top of the fields already in the form. Keep in mind that the longer a form gets, the less likely users are to interact with them, so each field you add should provide information essential to your organization.
In order to encourage higher-quality submissions, many of our customers elect to add extra guidelines to the submission form that are tailored to the organization’s policies and workflow. In addition to clarifying organizational standards, these instructions can also offer users suggestions to make their events more successful.
- Be concise: The more text and instructions you display, the less likely your users will actually read to the end. We recommend starting with minimal instructions, then expanding to address common questions or mistakes arising over time.
- Include extra organizational details: Don’t just limit this space to event form specific instructions. This is a great opportunity to display contact information, links to other organizational resources or other related systems.
- Place and style appropriately: If you are communicating multiple points or instructions then we recommend breaking them up aesthetically or placing specific instructions directly within the form.
- Right side: Ideal for long instructions, disclaimers and call-to-actions.
- Above the form: Best for statements indicating who should submit and what kind of events are appropriate.
- Within the form: Convenient for quick tips or short instructions.
- Below the form: Opportune for stating the expected approval turn around or contact information.
Approval Turnaround: Approve events within at most 2 business days to signal to your event submitters that your team is actively working on the growth of the platform and the promotion of their events. Additionally, approving events as quick as possible ensures they have plenty of time to be discovered before the big day.
Rejection Reason: If an event must be rejected, always send a detailed explanation to the submitter. This promotes transparency and ensures that they will avoid those kinds of submissions in the future.
To learn more about moderating events, check out our Pending Queue documentation!
Deleting Event Content
Localist never deletes content. Everything is hosted in the cloud and is available to you at any time. There is no limit and your platform’s performance will not be negatively effected by the amount of data being stored.
Event Status Changes: When the status of an event changes, do not delete, unverify or hide the event. Instead, you can apply an Event Status, which will add either Canceled, Postponed or Sold Out to events’ titles. For example, CANCELED: Ice Cream Social. This will ensure that your audience is aware of the change in status in lieu of being left unable to find the event.
Past Events: Besides storage not being a factor, there are two main reasons why we don’t purge data:
- It creates an archive for your organization. This is helpful for admins who want to recreate event listings or users who are curious about past events.
- It is a huge boost for SEO.
This is important because if there aren’t any future events matching a search, past events will still appear in the search results which will drive traffic to the calendar (increased SEO). Since past events are archived, they will be picked up by search engines, allowing users to learn that there was a related event in the past — so there could be one again in the future.
That being said, this does only apply to outside searches. If a user searches for a past event in the calendar search box next to the login links they will be met with a message stating that no events were found and with a prompt to “search past events.”
Why should you use Comments & Reviews (Allow User Activity): Allowing User Activity on your events encourages community buy-in and it’s a boost for your SEO. When a user posts a comment, all users marked as “I’m Interested” will receive a notification — this way attendees are able to communicate with one another. Things like “The parking lot is full, where is everyone else parking?” or “It just started raining, does anyone know if the event has been cancelled?” are important to see immediately. Additionally, since users are spending more time on your page and interacting with it via comments and review, it signals to search engines (such as Google) that your page is relevant, thus, giving a boost in SEO for your entire platform!
Why should you use I’m Interested (Allow User Interest): Allowing your users to indicate “I’m Interested” in an event, engages your community to interact with your calendar in several ways. A day before the event, the user will be reminded of the event via email. The day after, the users who selected I’m Interested will automatically receive an email prompting them to review the event. The interactive traffic on your calendar not only boosts your SEO, but it also provides you with an idea of what the attendance numbers will look like.
Why you should provide non-SSO login options: Having at least 1 non-SSO login option will allow members of your community without SSO credentials to login and engage with your Localist platform — this includes things like “I’m Interested,” event submissions, and more! Don’t be surprised if you happen to see a boost in your event attendance and in SEO!
Recommended number of admins: When assigning admins, be strategic in your approach and start with a small core of general admins. Similar to Filters, it’s much easier to start small and add admins as needed, rather than removing permissions after the fact.
When to use restricted permissions: If you have a workflow that requires certain admins to be in charge of specific Classification (such as Filters, Departments, or Groups), or if you have a large team and would like a way to divvy up the workload, then restricting permissions is a great way accomplish this! Keep in mind that if an event is submitted without the Classification in which the Event admin is Allowed, it won’t appear in the Pending Queue that they see. Always have at least one or two Event admins who are Allowed to all Classification (the section left blank) so nothing slips through the cracks!
Photo Fallback Chain: It’s no secret that unique photos are essential for online engagement, which is why the Photo Fallback Chain ensures that an event never displays on the calendar without a photo. Since fallback photos can potentially display alongside any applicable event, opt for photos that are generic and easily recognizable.
Photo Library: Less is more — don’t overwhelm your admins and users with too many photos. The more photos you add, the less likely they are to browse and the more likely they are to select the first match they find or abandon the library completely.
- Generic: since these can be selected by any admin or user for any event, they should not be too specific. For example, an image for a concert should focus on the crowd and not a specific artist.
- High Quality: since these will be used by a large portion or your event submitters, and subsequently be displayed throughout your platform, be sure that they are aesthetically pleasing, high resolution and, on-brand photos.
Photo Sizes: Do not pre-crop photos. Localist does not discriminate on photo size, so uploads should be treated like Facebook: the bigger, the better. Additionally, if a photo is selected by an end user, the entire image will be brought forth.
Default Date Ranges: The longest view available is the next 30 days because extending the view past a month would cause an overwhelmingly long list that users do not want and requesting a larger window of data would also negatively impact the performance of the calendar. Traffic across all platforms is highly concentrated in the current month, with low usage in the next 2 months and after 3 months traffic is essentially nonexistent. For example, if the current month is January, users highest activity right now would be in the month of January with February seeing a significant drop in usage with all of the following months barely seeing any traffic.
Filter Count: The Default Date Range dictates the time range and amount of events that will be displayed upon selecting a filter so the number on the homepage will always reflect this. This presentation is the result of us trying several presentation methods, including keeping the number the same no matter what view/page you are on. The current functionality (number displayed = the number of events you will see when clicked) is by far the best solution. It can be more confusing for users to display 50 “athletics” events on the homepage, but only have a fraction of that number show when they click the Filter. Since users are unaware of the overall number of events per Filter, seeing (25) displayed on the homepage and then seeing 25 events listed upon clicking will not be confusing even if there are more events posted further down the road.
Filter Sorting: Filters are sorted by the number of events then alphabetically when the count is the same to ensure that users are shown the most popular or prolific event types first. It is not possible to change the list to be 100% alphabetic. Sorting the entire list alphabetically would cause Filters with the highest count to possibly be hidden under show more while other Filters without any upcoming events would get a prime spot.
What classifications should you use? Check out our full Audit Guide!
Brand Template (SILK Wrapper): The Brand Template serves to provide a seamless experience for your users when navigating between your organization’s homepage and your Localist platform. The consistency establishes trust for your users when navigating between your web entities so they know they are in the right place. If the sites look too different, they may not trust the content is from the same source.
Responsive Design: More and more web traffic is happening on mobile devices instead a desktop. You can expect that your users will start browsing your platform with increasing regularity from mobile devices, so you should make sure they have the best possible experience. Localist is responsive out of the box, so make sure your wrapper is also responsive to provide the best possible experience for your users.
When you should use the Theme Editor: The Theme Editor gives you access to your platform’s HTML to customize how your event data is presented. Here you can implement things like language changes or add guidelines for your users. Modifying a theme file will cut it off from receiving any future Localist updates — to ensure that you receive as many updates as possible, it’s recommended that you make any possible stylesheet changes outside of the Theme Editor. Additionally, keep in mind that your homepage is a Channel, therefore any customizations to your homepage should be made in the Channel Layout Editor.
When you should use your Staging Environment: The Staging Environment is separate from your production platform which means that any changes made in staging will need to be manually moved over to your live platform. This is an excellent place to test feeds or to work on your Brand Template/other branding changes because users cannot accidentally stumble upon your changes before you’re ready to present them.
Why Localist Does Not Provide a Grid-View: This design limits the way you and your users interact with your events calendar, decreasing online engagement and, potentially, attendance. These limits include:
- No immediate access to social sharing/ability to add to calendar
- No photos
- No event descriptions
- No Event Types
- No location alongside the title
- Few events viewable at one time (see “+2 more”)
- Early cut-offs of event titles
With a list-view, users can glance over important details before clicking on an event, saving time by not sifting through events before finding their favorites.
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. 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. New to Localist’s classification tools? Start with our introductory guide: Intro to Classification
Auditing Your Filter List
The most common roadblock we see across our platforms is that the Filters 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 interacting with your calendar all together. An ideal Filter list length will be entirely viewable in a typical window size with as little additional scrolling as possible. There are two ways to easily trim the excess:
- Remove what should not be a Filter in the first place and convert them to the correct Localist feature.
- Reducing granularity through consolidation — 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? “Does the benefit of including a granular Filter outweigh the benefits of removing it to have a succinct list?” For example, is it really necessary to include unique Filters for contemporary, ballet, and hip-hop in lieu of having a simple Dance Filter?
|Is it a PLACE?||Concert Hall||Adding locations as Filters will clutter your list and it’s a misuse of a Localist feature. Localist provides Place Pages for this exact purpose! Places give you the ability to create a directory for users to browse. These pages increase SEO by adding more pages to your site, plus, they provide additional context surrounding the location of your events!||Convert — Place Landing Page|
|Is it an ORGANIZATION?||Book Club||Similar to Place Pages, Localist provides Group and Department Pages that can be used to house any common event hosts, groups, organizations, departments, associations, clubs, etc. If there is a common host, then Groups and Departments are your solution!||Convert — Group or Department Landing Page|
|Is it TEMPORARY, Annual, Seasonal or Limited?||Festival, Homecoming, Halloween or MLK Week||If a Filter is not used year-round, then it should be a Tag or Keyword. These are only serving your users for a small percentage of the year, while inhibiting their browsing experience for the majority of the year.||Convert — Tag|
|Does it communicate EVENT DETAILS||Free parking, open bar or ID required||These are secondary details that are seldom used as the first point of navigation for users.||Convert — description or custom field|
|Does it communicate INTERNAL details?||Homepage widget, special event||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.||Convert — Keyword|
|Does it use a YES/NO structure?||Open to the Public > Yes, No||Filters should never be formatted as a question/answer. In instances like these, the absence of Open to the Public and the presence of another Target Audience Filter like Students will be clear enough.||Remove Child “Yes” and “No” filters|
|Does it have ONE CHILD filter?||Lectures > Presentations or Music > Concerts||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.||Remove and/or combine with Parent > Lectures & Presentations|
|Is it a DUPLICATE or REDUNDANT?||Theatre, Plays or Alumni (Type), Alumni (Audience)||If your filter list has duplicates, you run a high risk of admins and submitters only selecting one or none at all. Duplicates are often found in two different groups of Filters.||Remove and/or combine together|
|Does it communicate the FORMAT?||Concert, Workshop, Auction||This Filter Family provides context surrounding the format of an event and communicates what an attendee will be doing or experiencing at the event.||Keep as Event Type|
|Does it communicate WHO the event is for?||General Public, Family-Friendly, LGBTQ||This Filter Family provides context surrounding who can attend an event.||Keep as Target Audience|
|Does it define the TOPIC/MISSION of an event?||Arts & Culture, Health & Wellness, Sustainability||This Filter Family provides context surrounding the information covered, overarching goals, or initiatives during an event.||Keep as Topic filter|
Organizing Your Filters
Now that you’ve reduced and consolidated your Filters, you need to evaluate how they’re organized to ensure that they are easily identifiable and digestible to your users. 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 Families that cover all of your bases:
- Event Types: This Filter Family provides context surrounding the format of an event and communicates what an attendee will be doing or experiencing at the event (i.e. Lectures & Presentations, Concerts & Performances, etc.)
- Target Audience: This Filter Family provides context surrounding who can attend an event (i.e. General Public, Students, LGBTQ+, etc.)
- Topic: This Filter Family provides context surrounding the information covered, overarching goals, or initiatives during an event (i.e. Arts & Culture, Health & Wellness, etc.)
Example: An event format is a Fundraiser (Event Types) geared towards Alumni (Target Audience) for a new arts program (Arts & Culture – Topic).
Depending on your type of organization and your goals, these Filter Families may vary. Other successful Filter Families have been:
The bottom line is that they should be streamlined and their goal should be entirely clear to your users.
Monitoring Filter Usage
Your last — and ongoing — step to finalizing your Filters List is to confirm that they are actually being used by your users and admins. To put your Filters to the test, these two statements should be true of all filters:
- Consistently & recently used by Admins and Users
- Consistently & recently browsed by Users
If one or both of these statements is not true, the Filter should be removed entirely, transformed into a Landing Page, or turned into a Tag/Keyword. There is nothing less engaging then having dozens of Filters with (0) displaying across your calendar pages!
- Admin & User 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 site visitors. Just because a Filter is used frequently by Admins does not guarantee that it will be of interest or helpful to your users. Remember, your Filters List is user-centric first!