A friend of mine wanted to rent office space. After about 6 months of hunting for commercial spaces, she shortlisted 2 options.
The first was at a great location, quite spacious, but was completely unfurnished. To pick that option, she’d have to run around and gather furniture, build cabinets, subscribe to an internet service and so on. She of course had the flexibility to pick the service or furniture of her choice, but it would take her a lot of time.
The other option was at a good enough location, but was completely furnished and a ready-to-move-in space. The internet service was setup as well. All she had to do was call the movers and she’d have her office setup in a day.
And that’s the option she went with.
But why am I telling you all of this?
Well, sometimes you just want that one complete solution. A go-to-option, that you can just pick up and get to work with. Not 15 pieces to put together. It’s the one that solves your problem in one go and saves you time.
And that is exactly what the Events Manager plugin is- it is a one-stop solution to creating an events website on WordPress.
The Events Manager Plugin – An Event Registration plugin for WordPress
Events Manager was originally created in 2008 by Davide Benini for his Irish folk band. In 2009, Marcus Sykes joined on board, and has led the development process since version 3.0. With 7 years of development and user feedback backing the plugin, you ought to know the plugin has quite a bit of features to offer.
Out of the long list of features (which you are free to explore), the ones which stand out for me are:
- Recurring and Multi-day event registration
- Multiple ticket classes
- Member event submissions
- An Events Calendar feature
- BuddyPress Integration
- Multisite support
There aren’t many event management plugins which come with a BuddyPress integration (with options to create group events, personal events, activity stream updates), hence Events Manager gets a +1 for that!
Well, the features can help you decide if that’s the plugin you’ll need to build your event management website. I’ll let you take a look at those. But what I want to discuss are the nitty-gritties of the plugin- simple factors that can help you judge the plugin usability and overheads.
Below is my experience with the plugin.
Is Events Manager Easy to Use?
Yes. (When I talk about ‘ease of use’, I refer to the ease in setting up and using the plugin).
When I installed the Events Manager plugin, it guided me- it told me what I need to do next.
I liked that.
As indicated, I headed over to the ‘Events Manager -> Settings’ menu. There were general settings options, options for pages and permalinks, formatting and email settings.
Okay. Quite good.
I then began exploring a few options. There were about 60 general settings options (I counted). And in the total settings Events Manager provides, that was just the tip of the iceberg.
I had mixed feelings. In a way, I was glad had the possibility to customize everything. But I was flustered by the multitudinous options. So I headed over to the Events Manager ‘Getting Started‘ guide, which gave me a brief idea of my next steps.
Now, my developer-half will tell you that a plugin ideally should provide few important settings, and provide hooks instead for additional settings which alter the plugin’s behavior. However, my plugin-user-half will tell you the settings can help you fine tune the plugin without having to meddle with any code!
As far as event management options are concerned, Events Manager adds a seamless menu in your WordPress admin panel, with easy to follow options to add and manage events, event categories, event tags, locations, and bookings.
So, for ease of use, the Events Manager plugin gets a 3.75 on 5.
Ease of Use: 3.75/5
How long does it take to setup an Event?
Considering the plugin was installed and activated, it took me exactly 3 minutes 42 seconds to set up the pricing options, create a location and create and publish an event.
I used a timer- not kidding.
Subsequent event creation took me about 2-3 minutes, considering I had to occasionally create a new location or an event category, add the event description and tickets. That’s pretty good.
So, for event setup the plugin gets a 4/5.
Event Setup: 4/5
How is the UI? Can it be Easily Customized?
The user interface is simple. That’s good. I don’t like plugins adding their own styling. I tested the single event layout with 3 themes:
- The Twenty Fifteen WordPress default Theme
- A Genesis Child Theme
- A free Events Theme
The single event layout worked well on all the above themes, when there was a sidebar present. It needed some tweaks to display it well on a full-width layout. Thankfully plugin templates could be overridden, and Events Manager provides me a Using Template Files guide to customize them.
I could also make simple CSS changes with ease (for the events calendar as well) because all elements had classes. I really appreciate that about any theme or plugin!
UI and Design Customization : 4/5
Is it Simple to Manage Bookings?
When it comes to event bookings I needed the Events Manager Pro add-on, and you’ll HAVE to use it as well. That’s unless you’re okay with handling offline payments. The thing is, Events Manager is an event management plugin, and you’ll need the Pro add on to handle bookings.
With the Pro add-on you can use PayPal and Authorize.Net to handle ticket purchases on your events website. You can add discount coupons as well.
In Events Manager->Settings->Bookings, there are options provided to handle pricing, guest bookings and so on. The Pro add-on allows you to customize bookings forms as well.
You can easily manage registrations and cancellations, but an option I’d like to see is a possibility to a set a time limit before a cancellation can be made. For example, ‘Allow Cancellation before 2 hours of Event Start time’.
Even though popular payment gateways are integrated into the Pro plugin, I’d like to see additional payment gateways like Stripe added.
Booking Management: 3/5
How is the Documentation?
Now, I didn’t read every link the plugin documentation provides, but I can tell you it needs some improvement. I wanted a list of the action hooks and filters the plugin provides and all I got to read was this.
But to be honest, you wouldn’t need to bother with the documentation much. The plugin settings are quite self explanatory, and I know the plugin offers great support, so that’s something you can bank on. Hence, I’ll give the plugin a 3 on 5 for documentation.
What is the cost of the plugin?
The Events Manager is a completely FREE plugin. 100% totally free. And the base version has the motherload of features. But, as mentioned, unless you handle offline payments you’ll have to go with the PRO- and that would set you back $75. But you shouldn’t be too worried about the price. That’s relatively cheap compared to event management plugins which offer the same range of features. And your getting an entire event management and bookings system for goodness sake! So, for that Events Manager gets a 5/5 for the price.
I was certainly impressed with the Events Manager plugin- especially with the long list of features it offers. Honestly, you’ll probably not need every option to begin with. But as you set up your site, and look to add new features, you wouldn’t have to look too far- Events Manager probably already has it.
There are certain areas for improvement of course. For example, I’d love to see waitlist functionality, additional payment gateways and advanced functionality like seating chart added to the plugin.
But overall the plugin fares really well, as it comes for a GREAT PRICE, so it gets a 3.9/5
Events Manager: 3.9/5
What are your thoughts about the Events Manager plugin? What has been your experience using it?
If your views differ from mine, I’m open to discussion. Because you might enjoy drinking espresso, but once in a while you could try a cup of herbal tea which has a lot of goodness! 😉