3 Reasons You Should Attend a Web Design Conference

Attending a conference
Web design conferences can help you grow in your career.

If you hope to have a long, successful career as a web designer, you must be prepared to stay on top of changes in the industry and for a life of constant learning. Some of this learning may come from reading new books or from taking a web design course, but one of the best ways to sharpen your skills (or to be introduced to new ones) is to attend a professional web design conference.

While web design conferences are not inexpensive (the exact cost will depend on the conference itself, but they typically range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand), the benefits of securing at ticket to a leading conference is undeniable.

Over the course of my career, I have attended many conferences. Here are the 3 main reasons I think all web designers should do so as well.

1. Education

Probably the most obvious reason to buy a ticket to a web design conference is for the educational aspects of the event. The speakers at top conferences are among the best in the industry and they are the web professionals who are helping to shape the way that we design and develop websites today. Attending a web design conference gives you the chance to hear and learn directly from them, and their presentations often cover important new ideas and techniques.

An example of this in practices is Responsive Web Design. This approach to developing websites that work well on a variety of devices and screen sizes has absolutely changed the web design industry. These ideas were first presented to the industry by Ethan Marcotte at a web design conference.

As you look to add new techniques or solutions to your web design work, the presentations and discussions given at a web design conference can be incredibly helpful, as they will not only introduce you to the latest information, but they will also inspire you with many example of those techniques in use.

Speaking of inspiration…

2. Inspiration

Attend a web design conference and just try to return to the office and not feel refreshed and inspired to try new things. It is impossible.

The ideas and concepts being presented at web design conferences are incredibly exciting. Seeing what others in your industry are working on and how the industry as a whole is evolving and changing will get you eager to try new things and apply what you are learning to your own work.

As a web designer, it can sometimes be challenging to keep yourself engaged and excited for your work. The inspiration you will find from attending a conference and speaking to others in your industry may be just what you need to rekindle that passion for web design and push your work to new heights.

3. Socialization

If you work for a web design agency where you are able to regularly interact with other web designers, then you are very lucky. Many web professionals do not have the chance to do this. If you work as a freelancer or perhaps as an in-house resource for a company without others who do the work that you do, you may find yourself without anyone who really “gets” you and your work. Heading to a conference and being in a room filled with your peers is a wonderful way to combat that sense of isolation and get among like-minded people for a time.

In reality, the socialization aspects of conferences are as important as the educational or inspirational ones. By meeting and talking with fellow attendees at meals or during after-parties, you can build your network of professional contacts.

I can remember one instance where I was having a particularly difficult time with some tricky CSS styles. I end up tweeting my problem and, within minutes, I had two of my contacts on Twitter reply with a solution. Both of these contacts were people I had met at web design conferences (and both of their replies solved my problem, each in a different way). I would never had made these connections had I not embraced the socialization aspects of those web design events.

In other instances, the people you meet at conferences may end up being great sources for business referrals or they may even make you aware of job opportunities that will help you grow in your career.

So How Do You Decide Which One to Attend?

This idea of attending a web design conference may sound wonderful, but with so many conferences to choose from, your next question is likely to be, “which conference should I attend?” Check out my article, “How to Select the Best Web Design Conference for You”, to help you make that choice.