Using Google Sheets for Your Conference Program

Using Google Sheets for Your Conference Program

One of my biggest bugbears as a web designer, working with event managers for over 25 years, is double handling of data. A lot of my clients will utilise an Excel spreadsheet during the planning phase of their conference in order to prepare the conference program. They will then send that to me to be reworked for use on the conference website and then again when it comes time to design the final printed program or event app.

I want to talk specifically here about Using Google Sheets for Your Conference Program on a conference website.

Let’s say you have a set of data in an Excel document that you have been sharing back and forth with your client. You then forward this to your web developer and ask that they duplicate this for web use. The program is now live on the website and it looking great but as we all know, there are ongoing changes that will occur, right up to and during the conference.

The problem is, now you have two sets of data to maintain; your original spreadsheet and the web version. So every time you or your client makes a change you have to remember to highlight these changes so that they can be communicated to your designer. They will then take time to interpret these changes and replicate them on the website version which you will have to then check for consistency.

There is a much more efficient way.

Google allows the embedding of a spreadsheet on a website that is automatically updated as the original Google Sheet is updated. This creates a “live” spreadsheet and best of all, only one set of data. You can share your Google Sheet with your colleagues, conference committee and web developer and all changes made to this sheet will be reflected on the website in real-time (well there can be a slight five minute delay).

So how do you do this?

Embedding the original Google Sheet into your website

The process is very simple and the results will definitely save you a lot of time.

To embed a Sheet from Google Docs, open the spreadsheet you want to embed and click on the Publish to the Web link under the File menu.

Using Google Sheets for Your Conference Program

Click the Publish button.

Then Embed and copy the code into your site (or ask your web developer to do this).

Now all you need to do is make changes on your Google Sheet and the changes will be reflected in real-time on your conference website. In my experience, the automatic update always worked flawlessly; however, if that does not happen you can force a refresh of the web page, wait five minutes and check again or:

  • Open your Google Sheet;
  • File > Publish to the Web… > Republish now.
  • Magic! You should see the program data updated on your website.
You can now adjust fonts, cell colours, cell widths, height and frame-borders directly in the Google Sheet to customise the apperarance of your program. You can also adjust the appearance by changing some values in the <iframe> code in HTML mode.

This is how your Google Sheet prepared conference program can look…

Using Google Sheets for Your Conference Program

Linking to the original Google Doc for admin purposes

In order to make the management of your program even easier, you can add an ‘Admin;’ link on your website that when clicked, will take users to the original Google Sheet. This makes collaboration easier as it means anyone, with access rights, can easily access the Google Sheet without trying to recall where the link you shared has gone.

The way to do this is also very easy.

On your website, in HTML mode, add a line code using standard HTML markup to create a text link <a href=”URL”> ADMIN </a>. The URL you will have to enter is your direct Google Sheet link, found under “Share…” in Google Sheets

A Google account is not necessary to view the original Google Sheet. Any user on the internet can access the original Google spreadsheet in view-only mode unless you change the permissions. So do be careful using this ADMIN link if you don’t really want conference attendees to access your source data.

Note: This method also works with every format available in Google Docs.

Hope this information helps streamline the planning and deployment of your conference program.

Check out this sample of a Conference Program that has been prepared suing Google Sheets.

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