What Do You Want from an Event Calendar?

calendar on a desktop

A lot of sites utilize a calendar of their upcoming events. Often you’ll see a stereotypical monthly view of a calendar with one or two items indicated on one or two days. Occasionally, you’ll see the same calendar image with the same event repeated on every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. for as long as you care to click through the months. But are either of these implementations really useful for a visitor? Before you add a tool to your website to display a calendar of events, you need to ask yourself, “what do you want from an event calendar?”

There are lots of reasons to include a calendar on your site. You want to keep your returning users informed about what upcoming events are happening. You want new users to see that there are easy ways to get involved. You may want to show how many conferences you’re attending. You may be selling tickets to a show and you want to list your dates and venues. Each of these reasons however, could require a different presentation of the calendar and the information contained in the calendar. Most of the off-the-shelf solutions for adding a calendar to your website offer some default views that we’re familiar with; there’s the previously mentioned monthly view, there’s usually a weekly view, perhaps a daily view and the better solutions like Modern Tribe’s Events Calendar plugin, will have a list view. The difference can be as simple as needing to only convey the date of an event versus needing to share all of the details about the event. In the first case, perhaps the monthly view really does suit your purposes but in the second, you’re going to be much better served differentiating those events whether it’s through a list view, photographs, or a timeline. Keeping the view that you’re using aligned with the information you’re trying to convey is the key.

Another important consideration beyond choosing the right view of the calendar is deciding how much emphasis is placed on the calendar. If the calendar is being included as a part of a page, it may be sending the incorrect message that the date-based information is less important or subservient to the rest of the information on the page. Giving a calendar a large swathe of real estate sends another message entirely. A big beautiful calendar can help combat the cramped feeling that can occur with too much content in too small a space.

In many cases, the best view for your site isn’t going to be readily available as a simple option. It may require developing a custom template or template part that displays just the information you need, where and how you need it. Most of the implementations we encounter fall under this category. Just as you create a custom template to display a portfolio, a job listing, or even your posts, creating a custom calendar view can help you better achieve your goals. As with the rest of the content on your site you need to understand how your users are interacting with your calendar so you can display it in the most accessible way.

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