As organizations canceled their large-scale events and moved to virtual platforms last year, the hope was reconvening IRL in 2021. For the most part, though, it’s looking like most conferences will continue virtually until 2022 (though one Dublin, Ireland-based UX conference plans a hybrid-format gathering later this year).
While you may not be jet-setting to meet with fellow designers, that doesn’t mean you won’t explore or form meaningful connections in 2021. Unlike last year’s on-the-fly iterations, the digital formats this year intentionally build community and increase inclusivity. For example, many conferences are integrating interactive elements—including live Q&A sessions and roundtables and chatrooms for mingling—as well as end-of-day extras, like post-conference Zoom yoga sessions.
Here are the best UX conferences, to date, you can attend in 2021.
April design conferences
When: April 28–30
Information architects, UX designers, content strategists, and other design practitioners gather at this conference each year. Under this year’s theme “emergence,” the design world can forge a new vision for the community after an uncertain 2020.
May design conferences
When: May 5–7
This content strategy conference broadcasts live for three days of storytelling, panel discussions, fireside chats, plus small group discussions. Conference attendees have ample opportunities for connection as well . For example, on the day two schedule: a pet introduction break! The conference will have a dedicated Slack workspace connecting attendees as well.
June design conferences
When: Throughout June (with a conference running June 1–3)
UXLondon organizers hoped for a May 2021 in-person event, but a recent UK lockdown prompted the live gathering’s cancellation. Instead, UXFest has become an anticipated online event. It kicks off with a three-day conference, followed by themed talks, masterclasses, and networking events scheduled throughout June. The speaker lineup includes Benjamin Earl Evans, the design lead for Airbnb’s Anti Discrimination Team, and Amy Zima, Spotify’s senior product manager.
October design conferences
When: Oct. 6–8
Dublin and online
Organizers are still confirming the speaker lineup, but they’re planning for a hybrid UXDX EMEA conference, with a Dublin gathering plus online attendance. The conference’s overarching theme is helping product, UX, design, and dev teams collaborate and build better products faster. The conference will include more than 50 speakers.
When: Oct. 27-29
This three-day conference is all about design systems. From exploring tools and standards touching all platforms and products, sessions will explore diverse perspectives on cross-functional collaboration across engineering, design, and development.
Most confirmed UX conferences are scheduled for Winter and Spring. As organizers sort out details and confirm speakers for mid-summer’s conferences and beyond, we’ll update this list.
Brittany Anas is a Denver, Colorado-based freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to publications including Apartment Therapy, Forbes and Men’s Journal and previously was a reporter at the Daily Camera in Boulder and The Denver Post. She worked three years as a federal background investigator before transitioning into a full-time freelance role.