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You, the Conference Organizer

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about the state of web design conferences.

Generally, it seems attendees aren’t satisfied—and, more importantly, challenged—by speakers’ content.

Generally, speakers aren’t paid enough to put months or years into research and study, nor are they encouraged to be braver.

I’ve been both a speaker and an attendee (and will continue to be both). Here’s my take.



The type of conference and the expectation for attendees is potentially the most important factor. It often determines tone, speakers, and ultimately ticket price.

As a speaker, every conference I’ve been invited to speak at has had a theme. Some are made clear to the attendees; others held more as a guide for speakers.

An Event Apart focuses on practicality, teaching actionable approaches and techniques that attendees can bring back to work.

Future of Web Design is just that: a conference about what’s next in our industry.

New Adventures in Web Design encourages speakers to investigate high-level ideas with attendees.

dConstruct has an emphasis on bridging the gap between physical and digital product design.

Despite popular belief, great conference organizers don’t just go for big name speakers. They find people who can effectively contribute in communicating that conference’s goal.

In my experience, no conference organizer does it for the money. (It’s usually not a profitable business.) They do it because they believe they can create unique, valuable experiences.

No conference organizer I know started out as one. Zeldman, Eric, Colly, Ryan, Andy, Cameron, and many more started as practitioners. They believed in more meaningful conferences for people like themselves, so they rose to the challenge and did it.


So, put yourself in their shoes (because one day, you might be).

What type of conference would you create? Who would you invite to speak? Who would you invite to attend? What type of content would you have?

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