Web Conference suggestions for 2009

February 13 , 2009 3 comments

Once upon a time…

the world started worrying about budgets again and the value of a dollar, pound or yen. ;)
I’ve had a few friends ask me what conferences would get the most bang for their buck if they could convince their companies to send them or if it was worth it to send themselves. I think it is always a great idea to further your education and reach will always reap rewards. So which conference should you go to?
My answer will vary based on what your goal is. Here are the ones that I’ve attended that I would suggest and a couple that are either new or a friend attended. 

SXSW interactive

Website: SXSW interactive
Date: March 13-17, 2009
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Price: $375+ ( Varies depending on when you sign up); Registration
Networking over a week period and a broad topic of sessions
This conference is one of my favorites because it got me started thinking outside of the large corporation I was working for at the time in 2005. This year will be my 4th year attending and my 3rd year speaking. It has attracted people from all over the globe that are making things on the web. It has been called the geek spring break.The sessions are mostly submitted by the attendees or hopeful contenders each year and voted on by a panel of advisors and the community.There are plenty of sessions for whatever you are looking for and hanging out with your favorite authors and bloggers is a bonus too. You can get lost very easily in the crowd.There are lots of events in the evenings where you can hang out at bars with other conference attendees usually sponsored by a company or companies for free.

Web App Summit

Website: Web App Summit
Date: April 19-22, 2009
Location:Newport Beach, California, USA
Price: $2,190 for 4 days/ $675 single day (price goes up as the date gets closer to the event); Registration
Focused sessions, more research on usability. Practical application for visual designers & user interface designers.
Out of all the conferences I attended last year I got the most out of this one. The design patterns and the examples used were closest to what I needed to know for my professional development. What makes this one different? This conference offers a lot more content than the other conferences because the speakers for the workshops are required to turn in a workbook for their workshop. The content was applicable to in-house designers as well as freelancers. The topics range from accessibility, design, flash, and best practices on web design. The conference doesn’t have sponsor pitches in case you were wondering why it was priced higher than other ones. While at this conference I twittered statements that the speakers made and the twitterverse responded with curiosity.
The best value is the full day workshops.


Website: dConstruct
Date:Sept 4, 2009
Location:Brighton, England, UK
Price: TBD
Goal: Usability/Web/ Technology. If you are in England or Europe it is a lot closer to you to attend.
It is put on by Clearleft
Their event has workshops and speakers for people designing and building web pages and social applications.
The speakers last year included people such as Tantek Çelik (http://tantek.com/), Daniel Burka at (http://digg.com), and Matt Biddulph (http://dopplr.com)

Web Directions North

Website: Web Directions North
Location:2009 was in Denver, CO for the first time this past year (previously it was held in Vancouver, Canada)
Price: $795
Goal: Two tracks (Design and Developers) allows you to mix and match depending on what topic you find more interesting
I know I’m a bit biased on this because I’ve had the pleasure of being involved each year stage managing.
John Allsopp, Maxine Sherrin all have done a fantastic job organizing speakers at each of their conferences.
The 2009 conference brought in experts that are a part of the W3C, Google, Opera, Mozilla, Yahoo and IE.
The conference ends with a ski trip if your budget allows you to stay for the Friday and Saturday that Microsoft IE sponsored.
This past year they brought in the educational task force to improve web education for everyone. This conference gave an educational discount for teachers & professors.

I haven’t had the pleasure of attending the Web Directions South or East yet but I can dream. :)

Web Directions South

Website: Web Directions South
( I hear it is turning out to be Australia’s version of SXSW)
Date: October 6-9, 2009
Location: Sydney, Australia

Web Directions East

Website: Web Directions East
Location: Japan
Goal: Closest for Asia attendees that can’t make it to the web conferences in the USA/Europe or Australia. 2008 was the first time it was held.


Website: Barcamp
Date: varies, Worldwide
Fee: Free unless its for food or transportation but you should be able to find a local one.
Depending on the hosts, there is sponsorship for the location and food.
Goal: To find a wide variety of grass roots topics. Topics will vary at each Barcamp from web to acting. It is a mixed bag of jelly beans depending on the barcamp.


Website: Refresh Cities
Date: varies, USA
Fee: Free (but always need sponsors to host or pay for food)
Depending on what city is hosting it these happen once a month.
Goal: All grass roots and its a great way to network in your city and learn from the experts in your area.

Some more events I haven’t been to but I have heard good things:

An Event Apart

Website: An Event Apart
June 22-23, 2009 Boston
Oct 12-13, 200 Chicago
Dec 7-8 San Francisco
This conference is started by the guys known for web standards (Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer).
Goal::  The conferences are more intimate and focused for people who make websites.

Training by Collective Idea

Website: Training by Collective Idea
Advanced Rails: March 23-26, 2009; Alexandria, VA
ExpressionEngine: May 19-22, 2009; Holland, MI
Goal: Training to improve your code by developers that do it as their day job.

New Event this year:

In Control 2009

Website: In Control 2009
Date: June 11-12th, 2009; Cincinnati, Ohio
Fee: $695 early bird price.
Discount: INCSCHM, you get an extra $50 off the early bird price. :)
If you are a print designer looking to break into the web scene and are in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.
Speakers include: Molly E. Holzschlag, Aaron Gustafson, Christopher Schmitt and Khoi Vinh.

Hoping this helps!


Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 08.23 pm

Jason Beaird

Great list, Cindy. For the 2 times I’ve been, The Webmaster Jam Session has also been a blast and the smaller scale made it great for meeting people. I’m assuming they’ll be in Atlanta from here on out which is great because there aren’t a whole lot of conferences down here in the Southeast.

Also, what about all the Carsonified Events?


Sat Feb 14, 2009 at 06.12 pm


Thanks Jason.

The Carsonified events are good snapshots of things going on in the industry but I felt they didn’t go into as much depth as the other chargeable events I’ve mentioned.


Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 07.13 pm

Chip Diffendaffer

Very much agreed…

SXSW still is the social hub of the year.  There are great panels, but lots of noise as well.  The un-conferencing is probably the most valuable part for me - it’s the highlight of the year.

I’ll also pitch up WDN for 2010.  It was a great event this year, and we loved having so many people in to show off Denver, Boulder, and Breckenridge to the web community.

Most depend on the level of detail and specialty you’re going for.  Dig deep at a UIE versus hit the highlights at WJS or Carsonified.

I can say one thing - the conferences are what have kept me motivated in the industry!


Constantly, trying to learn new things, and on the way I get to meet some amazing people with my camera by my side. XOXO!

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