Whether you work for a company or you are exclusively freelance, working as a web designer can be lonely, grueling work at times. Not only do you have to stay on top of trends in your industry but you spend countless hours in front of a computer, trying to find just the right font or color palette. One way to break out of that box and interact with others in your industry is to attend web design conferences. You’re certain to learn new tips and techniques as well as connect with other designers — and there’s the chance to network with larger companies which might become your clients.
There are approximately 162,900 web developers in the United States and the job outlook for the industry will grow at a rate of about 15 percent between now and 2026. Attend conferences and meet people from all over the world — it’s a great way to build your design and business skills.
Below are some of the top conferences out there for web designers.
Front is unique in that although it holds a conference, it also allows you to customize and bring training to you. The focus of their events is UX in design and tips for product managers. The case study conference is held April 26 to 28 while a smaller “product bootcamp” is held November 2 to 4.
The April conference will host 1000s of product designers and managers and feature over a dozen talks and interactive Q&A panels.
Cost: Early Bird $500; Standard Price $700; discounts offered for groups of five or more.
Awwwards is in different locations at different times of the year — this year, Amsterdam was September 14 to 16 and will discuss future dates for Tokyo. Referred to as the “digital thinkers conference,” this event is for designers, web developers and digital dreamers. For two days, more than 20 talks from experts and successful entrepreneurs that offer dynamic presentations to audiences. There are also plenty of opportunities for networking during the event, including parties and meals.
Cost: Conference Ticket $500; Conference Ticket + Party $560.
If you’ve worked in any technological field, then you’ve heard about the TED Conference. Speakers from any number of industries offer inspiring and uplifting talks that often go viral online. The next TED Conference is April 17 to 21 in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. The conference tends to sell out fast, so get your tickets early and check into donor memberships — plan for next year as they often happen around the same time each year.
Cost: You have to be a member, which starts at $5000 and includes conference attendance, and goes up to $250,000 for a five-year membership.
Note: Check into local TED events, organized by members around the world. You can also view many of the talks on their website for free.
The Information Architects (IA) Summit brings people together from all areas of the digital industry for a four-day conference. The event includes info from experienced designers and content strategists. Sessions include UX Research, Learning About Your Users, Understanding Users Through Embodied Cognition and many others. The Summit meets March 28 to April 1 in New Orleans for this year.
Cost: Students $575; New Year’s Special $900; Standard $1100. Individual prices are available for some workshops.
SXSW Design Track
SXSW invites designers and creative professionals to speak of new ideas. And it allows for networking, upskilling and participation in workshops. SXSW also features keynote speakers, podcasts, panel discussions and more.
The event is held in Austin, TX, from March 10 to 19.
Cost: $695 to $1395
Interaction 23 helps you rethink your decision-making process — making you ponder whether to build something and how. This conference covers the building blocks of your practice — from tools and teams to operations.
Interaction 23 will be on March 1 to 3 online and in Zurich, Switzerland.
Cost: $175 to $1500
QRCA is an annual conference covering various topics, including marketing research, hybrid design, social media and more. The panel also provides professionals with breakout sessions, workshops and small group discussions.
You’ll also learn from the top professionals in UX design and have speakers tune in to talk about technology and disciplines of qualitative research.
You can attend the conference from March 22 to 24 in Charlotte, NC.
Confab immerses you in designing, building and managing digital content for websites, apps, chatbots and more. Every year, the program ensures you get the latest insights from content design for digital products to workflows and more.
Confab may be a content strategy event. However, it helps web designers understand how to make the most of content and make it usable for everyone.
The conference is a four-day event from April 20 to May 3 in Minneapolis, MN. You can choose two, three or four-day passes.
Cost: Early bird $1595 to 2495 — Standard $1795 to $2695 — Last call $1895 to $2795
SmashingConf is a two-day event with 14 keynote speakers. Each speaker will teach you their setup, techniques and useful tricks through live interactive sessions. Therefore, you can expect to learn from their processes, including sketching, redesigning, debugging and going live.
This conference will focus on front-end development and UX. Still, it covers other topics, such as interface design and machine learning. SmashingConf will also include coding sessions, live workshops, practical insights and much more.
You can join the event online or in person from October 10 to 13 in New York, NY.
THAT is a four-day conference in Round Rock, TX, on January 15 to 18. The panel gives you a summer camp experience in the middle of winter, where speakers talk about everything in web development.
There will also be workshops, open discussions, work sessions, networking and family events. It’s a great experience for all ages and gives you a chance to uplevel your skills and career in web design.
Cost: $79 to $999
TECHSPO is a worldwide event where it educates attendees on evolving technologies and how they’re growing businesses. The conference invites designers, developers, tech innovators and other professionals to learn about the internet, mobile, AdTech, MarTech and Saas technologies. Keynote speakers, like Rand Fishkin from SparkToro, Scott Brinker from Hubspot and Rochita Dua from Google, have spoken at these events recently.
However, it hasn’t announced speakers for this year’s event. The conference is a two-day expo held in various cities across the U.S.
Cost: $297 to $497 — get $100 to $200 with the early bird discount.
The AIGA Design Conference offers a different experience for design professionals by asking forward-thinking questions and diving deep into industry topics. This event encourages attendees to discuss the future and embrace the possibilities of what is to come next.
AIGA will hold the event from October 12 to 14 and is a virtual-only attendance. Students, educators and members can receive discounts for tickets. However, the prices for nonmembers are below.
Cost: $1299 to $1699
Find the Right Conference
The conferences listed above are well known, but the truth is that the best choice for you is the one you can afford and will enhance your career as a designer. First, figure out what your goal is in attending a conference. Do you want to network with others, make new contacts with potential clients or simply learn new techniques?
Once you know your goal, you can more easily locate the conference that is in your price range and won’t be difficult to travel to. The key factor is to learn and grow as a designer so you are always improving your craft and your business skills.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.
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