Anna Lewis, Former Senior Recruiter
Viget has always funded and supported conference attendance for all staff. The idea is to support the professional growth of all our staff by ensuring a chance to share hard-earned knowledge in a public forum, learn even more, and meet some talented peers.
But how can we cut through the hype to identify which conferences are truly worth attending? If you take their descriptions at face value, most conferences come just shy of offering a route to infinity and beyond:
“A place to learn from world-changing thinkers and innovators for the creative community.” —Circles 2014
“Cutting-edge learning and inspiration.” —Future of Web Design 2014
“No heroes, just people hungry for tectonic shifts in thinking and doing.” —Greenville Grok 2014 (Also, allegedly, there will be race cars.)
The fact is that, when a conference has been truly valuable, we can all tell. Our fellow Vigets come back and swap stories, share enthusiastic write-ups internally, and share blog posts externally. That kind of response helps us all benefit from the event, even if we didn’t attend ourselves.
To help nurture such knowledge sharing, we asked around internally which conferences we should all have on our radar for 2014, and here’s the list that came back.
SXSW — March 7-11 in Austin, TX. We’ve sent a contingent into the throng for many years. Check out our recap series here (food recs included). Large and wide-ranging, SXSW has something for everyone and is worth experiencing at least once, or umpteen times.
IA Summit 2014 — March 26-30 in San Diego, CA. This year's theme is "The Path Ahead." Celebrating its fifteenth year, the conference will ask speakers not just to reflect on the tremendous progress in UX since its inception, but to look forward to what's next.
Owner Camp #005 — March 26-28 in Portland, OR. This is a small, invite-only event for agency owners that runs twice per year. Brian, our CEO, attended #003 last year and will be back again. Expertly hosted by Greg Hoy and Greg Storey at the Bureau of Digital Affairs.
RailsConf 2014 — April 22-25 in Chicago, IL. This is still the largest Ruby on Rails event in the world.
Re:Design/UXD — April 28-29 in Brooklyn, NY. This event series explores a particular theme, in this case “UX design.” Our team has found that the inclusive, small-scale discussions with industry leaders are a valuable chance to trade ideas and make meaningful connections.
Google I/O — May 2014 in San Francisco, CA. Started in 2008 and focused on developers, the "I" and "O" stand for input/output, and "Innovation in the Open."
ConvergeSE — May 1-3 in Columbia, SC. Hosted by Gene, Jay, and Giovanni of Unmatchedstyle for “everyone working with technology in creative ways.” Our own front-end developer Dan Tello spoke at ConvergeRVA last year and just might be on the speaker list for ConvergeSE 2014.
JSConf 2014 — May 28-30 in Amelia Island, FL. We're fans because JSConf manages to be both deeply technical and deeply supportive of community. In its sixth year, the event still feels intimate and continues to define conversation around the (mind-blowing) possibilities of JS.
GIANT Conference — June 11-14, in Charleston, SC. A rad conference about creating rad experiences (for web, print, retail, or branding) and how to make those experiences even radder. Among this year's speakers: Dan Tello (yes, mentioned above—he’s on a roll). Definitely pretty rad.
An Event Apart, DC — multiple two-day events in multiple locations throughout the US; this year's Washington DC event is set for July 21-23. Our Falls Church folks have been attending the DC event for years because we've found that it's consistently well-organized, with very high-quality speakers and content. We’re sure to be back yet again.
Circles — Sept 18-19 in (or near) Dallas, TX. An outstanding opportunity to hear from speakers known for their knock-out portfolios and unique career paths. Our team walked away with long lists of takeaways, inspirational stories, quotes (“Instinct is just as important as intellect (but a bit harder to sell to clients).” -- Matt Stevens), and new friends in our industry. Bonus: if you can't make it, all talks are available on video.
World Maker Faire — September 20 - 21 in New York, NY. This "festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement" got the most "so cool" responses from our developer team, who are increasingly, well, making things.
BlendConf — 2014 dates/location are TBD. Last year, BlendConf held its first-ever event in Charlotte, and our own Designer Mindy Wagner was one of the speakers. What stood out most? The event was remarkably well-organized, included a great balance of male and female speakers, and a "no gadgets rule" for all talks created a positive social dynamic. We hear there may be rumblings of a BlendConf South America in the works!
Google Analytics Summit — 2014 date/location are TBD (most likely late spring/early summer in Mountain View, CA.) Our team attends every year because it’s a chance for us, as a GA Partner, to learn about new GA features and tools, as well as chat directly with their creators.
Peers Conf — 2014 dates/location are TBD, but last year's event struck a nice balance between tech stuff (like coding workshops on Craft and Statamic, which have both caught our team's attention) and business stuff (like time allocation and work/life balance).
In addition to these national conferences, we love joining (even hosting) smaller local events, especially where we have offices (DC, Durham, and Boulder). What events are you planning to attend this year?