WordPress Event ManagementIf you’ve ever worked with a WordPress-based website where you wanted to manage events, you may already be aware of the options available to you. WordPress event management is a rather common requirement, so there are lots of choices. Some of our clients simply use the default WordPress blogging system and put their events in a category. Some of our clients use a free calendar plugin, but they are often clunky and have annoying nag messages to upgrade. Yet other clients use commercial plugins and these generally meet their needs, but come at a price.

What’s the best way to go?

As with many website features, it depends. You have to look at your project requirements, budget, ease-of-use and user interface. I’ll address three approaches to WordPress event management in this article. But certainly there are variations of these that could be used in your particular case. Hopefully these variations will help you to decide the best route for which to proceed for your project.

Basic events implementation

You could use the default WordPress blog Posts system and place them in an Events category. This is about as simple as you are going to get, but with the caveat that the user experience will be very basic as well.

There wouldn’t be an events calendar like you might expect to have, although you might be able to wrangle (or harness, lol) the blogging calendar into displaying your events. Even so, the blogging calendar is very rudimentary and only intended to show that posts exist on particular days. Furthermore, it is not going to show a preview in the calendar view, i.e. title of the event — it would simply be a link to each corresponding blog post.

You could also populate some custom fields, which is also a default capability of WordPress. But then you’d have to display them in a template either by using a plugin to create a shortcode or edit the template file in the theme. Either way, we’re now starting to stray from the intent of keeping it simple.

Pros:

  • Uses default WordPress blogging system.
  • Uses default WordPress categories system.
  • Easy to implement and use, especially if you are already familiar with the WordPress blogging interface.
  • Low cost due to nearly non-existent development time.

Cons:

  • Customization is limited since we aren’t using any custom coding or plugins.
  • No calendar view that is actually usable.

Implementation using free calendar plugin

Save the DateIn this case, you could install and configure a popular, free calendar/events plugin for WordPress. Setup is generally very easy since all you really have to do is configure the plugin settings. Then likely you would have shortcodes and widgets that you could use to display your events in various formats such as agenda view, calendar view, etc.

This method would likely be nearly as easy as the first option. One caveat is finding a plugin that has the features you want. There are a LOT of calendar plugins out there, and not one of them does everything the others do. So you may find yourself trying several of them. You might find a good one only to later find that it is missing a key feature that you need. You will likely spend a fairly large amount of time just testing and configuring various free plugins to see if they’ll work for your project.

One thing to keep in mind is that you have to be careful which plugin you select. Make sure it is from a reputable developer by checking the plugin ratings and seeing if it has been around for a decent length of time. Check the ratings and read the reviews.

Pros:

  • ​Uses well-known and supported calendar plugin dedicated to the display and management of events.
  • The plugin is free and available in the WordPress plugin repository.
  • Easy to use without having to rely on the regular WordPress blogging system.
  • Usually includes many various view types, such as month calendars and agenda views.
  • Usually includes many useful features, such as management tools for venues, categories, maps, images, etc.

Cons:

  • ​Free plugins are often missing some advanced features that are only available by moving to another plugin or purchasing a Pro version of the same plugin.
  • May require credit link at the bottom of event and calendar pages that link back to the developer’s website.
  • Free plugins are sometimes prone to being abandoned by the developer. This is a problem because you could be left hanging with no option but to move everything to another plugin.

Implementation using commercial calendar plugin

Event TicketingThis is where you are most likely to find pretty much everything you are looking for in a WordPress event management plugin. You will have to shop around, but there are several options to choose from. Just like with the free options, they will each have their own set of features and will vary from one another. Take some time to review each option and decide which one most closely matches your needs before making your purchase.

As for pricing, many of them will require a payment that covers support and updates for one year. This is fine, but as I mentioned above, make sure it covers all the bases. If they offer a monthly plan, see if you can buy it for one month to try it out. Better yet, see if they have a free trial or money back guarantee.

In some cases, the base plugin is free and you pay for extensions. They will sometimes offer a bundle deal so you can get everything for one price. It can be expensive, but do that math — you may find that the bundle is cheaper than buying just a few extensions. Additionally, if you think you might use the selected plugin on one or more websites, they may offer special deals for multiple sites or a developer plan where you get unlimited installs.

You’ll also want to do some online searching to make sure the ratings and reviews are good for the plugins you are considering. You are less likely to have issues with a commercial plugin since their pricing will almost always include support. If the developer has been around for a long time and the plugin has matured, that’s probably your best bet in terms of support for the plugin.

Pros:

  • Robust plugin for WordPress with many advanced features available.
  • Extensible, meaning that certain addons can be purchased now for the features needed today, with other addons available later as needed.
  • Addons are often available that allow for event ticketing, payment options, custom displays and even user-submitted events (among other features).
  • Purchased plugins typically come with great support systems, with fast responses and helpful staff members.
  • Because of its commercial nature, care is typically spent on usability, making it easy for end users to create and manage events.

Cons:

  • Depending on the features required, cost can be a factor. For instance, the base plugin may cost $100 (sometimes they are free), but each addon may be $50.
  • Additional setup and configuration time may be required for the plethora of the options.

In summary

It pays to spend some time figuring out the right path for your project requirements. This is especially true for your WordPress event management options, because there are so many options and variables. Choosing the right method can be difficult and time-consuming.

Should you need some assistance, Harness Media can provide you with expert consultation and even setup your new events system for you. We’ve done this many times and have a lot of insight as to setup and management of events in WordPress. We’re here to help — let us harness your WordPress event management system so you can get some work done.

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