17 Intriguing sub-US$500 UX Conferences in 2017 (IMHO)

I consider myself one of the lucky few (or are there a lot of us?) who have a chance to travel to a healthy amount of experience design conferences each year. There are multiple reasons for this. First and foremost, although I’m an introvert, I realized about 10 years ago at a certain UX retreat in Banff that I really like having impromptu conversations with people from other UX communities about their professional reality, and how it differs from my own. I also happen to curate the modern CanUX, now Canada’s largest and longest running annual UX conference, so I’m always keeping an open mind about potential new speakers who discuss content that may also be relevant to our community of practice. Occasionally, I also get invited to speak at events myself, which has the advantage of allowing me to meet the organizing committees of those respective events, and pursue conversations about our common and not-so-common yearly event planning struggles. And last but not least, I truly enjoy travel and exploring new spaces.

Over the last 2–3 years, I’ve also noticed a recent trend in my conference selections. I am starting to attend fewer big conferences (600+ people and/or priced at over US$500 per ticket) in favour of smaller, arguably less known events. One of the main reasons for this recent attendance shift is price. I can attend at least 5–6 high quality smaller conferences every year for the price of going to 2 (maybe 3 if they’re geographically close) major conferences. That typically means being exposed to more UX communities, more diverse speakers, and more places. Less expensive events also tend to allow more people from satellite communities (non-design or UX) to attend and come see what the UX fuss is all about (and their outsider points of view are often quite intriguing). Smaller events also have evening schedules that are not quite as tightly packed with afterparties and events, which allows me to take some time to explore those respective cities without feeling like I’m constantly missing out on conference fun.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had a few conversations on this very subject with some of my (professional) friends, and to my surprise, they all asked me to share my annual list of smaller events I’m considering, so this is exactly how this article came to exist. This list is purely subjective, and based on my own criteria (intriguing speaker lineups, thought-provoking themes, organized by members of their own UX communities etc.) for what constitutes a well organized event, so instead of giving it a typically sensationalist (and baseless) title like “The Best UX Conferences under US$500 in 2017”, I’m gonna call it “17 Intriguing sub-US$500 UX Conferences in 2017 (In My Humble Opinion)”. These include some of the events that I have already decided to attend this year, events that I’ve attended in the past and I might or might not be able to attend this year, and events that I’m dreaming to one day attend. They are all experience design events with regular priced tickets that cost US$500 or less excluding workshops (most have even lower early bird tickets). Here they are, in no particular order (…other than alphabetical):

So there you have it. If you are a fellow high-mileage design conference rover, please let me know what other sub-US$500 conferences I missed (I already added a couple more). Upon careful inspection, I have started adding to this list as my eyes are open by those more discerning than I am.

*I’ve included CanUX (the conference I‘m involved with) here as I truly believe that it deserves a prominent place on this list. Don’t take my word for it, look at it closely and talk to some of our past speakers/attendees if you want a (marginally :) more objective opinion.



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Experience design professional. Troublemaker. Mars Rover. Wanderer. Nomad. Part-time vagabond. Co-chair of @CanUXconf, founder of @ampli2de.