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.
This annual festival meets in North Carolina and features more than 40 speakers over the course of two days. The focus of this event is on the future of design but focuses on art as well. One of the fun things about this event is that it runs at the same time as the Hopscotch Music Festival, meaning you can attend workshops during the day, take a quick nap and then listen to more than 125 bands each evening.
Cost: Early bird $200; Regular $250; Week of Event $300.
This conference focuses on the front-end performance of websites. It runs March 27 to 28 in Redwood City, California. Some of the topics include speeding up your website delivery, how to put your out-of-control website on a diet and modern approaches that will help you figure out your site’s runtime responsiveness or page load. Google experts are guest speakers.
Cost: There are a variety of ticket levels with add-ons for a workshop for specialized help. Early bird starts at $239 and regular tickets at $479.
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 May 31 and June 1 while a smaller “product bootcamp” is held November 8 and 9.
The May 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, Berlin was February 7 to 9 and San Francisco is May 10 and 11. 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 in the industry are given. 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 10 to 14 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 21 to 25 in Chicago for this year.
Cost: Students $770; ASIS&T or IAI Members $900; Standard $1000. Individual prices are available for some workshops.
Want to mix with designers from all over the world? The World Design Summit invites people from all around the industry to look at the impact of design on the world around you. The goal is to allow different disciplines to share knowledge and learn from one another. This conference includes online designers, architects and urban planners.
The dates for the event are October 16 through 25 in Montreal, Canada. Choose to attend part or all of the event, including the summit conversation, “Congress” — which focuses on speakers and workshops — an expo of products and ideas from modern companies and also networking activities.
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.