How is it nearly March already?! 2023 is well underway which means it’s officially time to explore upcoming UX design, user research, and human-centered design conferences. Today’s post is dedicated to helping you plan ahead – we’ve done the research for you! Outwitly’s design team has compiled a list of upcoming design conferences and events.
As you may know, last year was host to an abundance of virtual UX events across the globe; conferences, hackathons, and webinars alike. It can be overwhelming to figure out which are the most worthwhile, so we’ve decided to do the research and share our shortlist with you.
Our roundup includes events that are both free and paid, virtual and taking place IRL, and even a few conferences that are still accepting keynote speakers! We narrowed down the hundreds of events taking place to the most relevant content for us Outwitlians (our Service Design, UX Design, and Design Management employees and associates), however, you’ll find the topics dabble in UX, research, design ops, product and customer experience.
Below you’ll find the top 11 Human Centered Design conferences and networking events we recommend you attend over the coming year.
- Advancing Research by Rosenfeld Media
- UXRConf 2023 by Learners
- Product Design Week by Tech Circus
- The Women in Product Conference
- From Business to Buttons (FBTB 2023)
- The Service Design Days Conference
- UXPA International
- Service Design in Government (SDinGov)
- blend business + design conference
The best virtual UX & HCD conferences and events to attend in 2023
1. Advancing Research by Rosenfeld Media
When: March 27th to 29th, 2023, and virtual workshops on March 30th, 2023
Cost: Early bird pricing is available until March 7th, 2023 ($1095 USD)
- Discounts are available for groups of 3 or more who register together, and scholarships and discounts are available for those who work in gov, non-profit, and education!
- Ticket prices include access to the conference session recordings, sketch notes, and slide decks.
Best For: User Researchers and Service Designers
Let’s be honest, they had us at “created by researchers, for researchers.” 2023 is the 4th year of the Advancing Research conference, created by experts in the industry, Rosenfeld Media. This conference gives user research experts a chance to come together and network with fellow peers and learn from and discuss with expert practitioners. Content focuses on hyper-relevant topics and pain points research participants face today through presentations and workshops.
We are excited about this event because their 2023 themes are very applicable to what we do here at Outwitly:
- Research as a transformational force.
- Researchers as organizational changemakers.
- Transforming our craft.
2. UXRConf 2023 by Learners
When: June 6th to 8th, 2023
Cost: Free to attend virtually
Best For: User Researchers and Service Designers
Back for its 6th year, 2023’s UXRConf by Learners is completely virtual and completely free (woo!) This conference is all about UX research, attracting over 10,000 researchers from over 60 countries. Talk about impressive numbers! We love that their focus for speakers is on actionable ideas and insights – we’ve all been to conferences where we don’t learn anything new, or listen to talks on topics that just scratch the surface. This won’t be the case at this year’s UXR conference.
In this previous attendee’s words: “This was one of the best conferences I’ve taken part in. Well produced. Great content. Good vibe. Positive but not syrupy. Also loved the critical voices. Important to challenge norms and move beyond the status quo.” Chills.
Last year, topics included integrating behavioural science, creating research standards, accessibility, the power of surveys, applying user research to organizational DEI strategies, and more. You can view last year’s talks here. We’re really excited to see how the agenda shapes up this year!
📣 Call for Speakers: Learners is still accepting speaker applications for this event! Applications are open until Monday, February 27th @ 11:59 pm EST. Apply to speak by Google Form here, or use the Learners mobile app to submit a video speaker application.
3. Product Design Week by Tech Circus
When: April 24th to 28th, 2023
Where: Online (April) and in-person (November – London, EN)
Cost: £300 for a week-long pass
Best For: Product Designers, UXers, and UX Writers
We truly love that this conference covers it all, but still manages to get into the nitty-gritty details. Product Design Week is broken up into multiple conferences focusing on specific designer skill sets. You can attend the whole week, or just attend specific topics that interest you most! While virtual, Tech Circus focuses on ensuring that online attendance still allows for interactivity through virtual networking opportunities, live chat features, participants’ ability to ask questions, polls by speakers, and more.
You can choose to drop in day by day or attend the week as a whole. The agenda is broken down as follows:
- Day 1 – The BAD Conference (Cost: £75*)
- Described by Tech Circus as their “most academic conference,” the BAD conference is all about research and behavioural science-informed user research and design, led by experts in the fields of behavioural science and research.
- Day 2 & 3 – UX Live (Cost: £112.50*)
- The UX Live conference days will focus on the UX Craft, and sharing stories and examples of some of the best of the best in the UX industry.
- Day 4 – UX Writing Conference (Cost: £75*)
- For the first time, Tech Circus introduces the UX Writing Conference to their Product Design Week. Here, UX writers will get up-to-date with the latest methods and hear from experts in the industry, as well as go deep into UX writers’ role in design ethics.
- Day 5 – Business X Design (Cost: £75*)
- The Business X Design conference opens up the world of design in business, showing how design can enable and support business goals. Speakers often include C-suite executives and business owners.
- All 5 days: If you keep getting more excited as you read about each day’s topics, there’s no need to pick favourites! The Product Design Week Pass (£300*) provides access to the entire agenda.
*Prices above reflect early bird pricing. Reference their website for the most up-to-date pricing info!
4. The Women in Product Conference
When: May 9th to 10th, 2023
Cost: Stay tuned – ticket sales open up March 28th, 2023
Volunteer Opportunities: Yes
Best For: Product Managers and Executives
As a 100% women-owned and operated corporation ourselves, we tip our hats to the Women in Product conference! Their virtual conference connects women and non-binary people to a global community of product managers with the goal of inspiring, educating, and connecting women in the product field while advocating for a more diverse workplace. The annual conference offers interactive sessions, 1:1 networking, access to post-event recordings, and more. Expect authentic, product-focused leadership and inspiration designed to help you thrive in your career
Stats on diversity and demographics show that at last year’s event, 67.5% of speakers identified as women of colour and 59% of attendees identified as women of colour. Beyond cool!
A previous Women in Product attendee said, “The mix of career, leadership and deeper product content made this conference extremely valuable.”
If you’re looking for a glimpse into what you can expect from this conference, check out all of the WIP 2022 speaker sessions here!
Top picks for upcoming in-person UX & HCD conferences 2023
1. From Business to Buttons (FBTB 2023)
When: May 12th, 2023
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Cost: Early bird pricing in effect until February 21st (8990 SEK – working out to just under $1200 CAD)
Best For: Service Designers, UX Designers, UX Copywriters, etc.
Can we just take a minute to appreciate this website? Wow. From Business to Buttons, or FBTB, describes itself as “Europe’s premier User Experience and Service Design conference.” FBTB is all about how creating great user experiences leads to creating great business value. FBTB 2023 will focus on collaboration and communication, and how design plays a role in both. So, if you are looking for advice and inspiration on creating great experiences, and thus great value, you should definitely attend this one!
While the main event occurs on May 12, 2023, FBTB will offer workshops (sold separately) with speakers on the days leading up to the event. Workshops will include:
- Pragmatic Sketching with Eva-Lotta Lamm (GE)
- Strategic Writing for UX with Torrey Podmajersky (US)
- Inclusive Design: Creating a Bias-Informed Practice with David Dylan Thomas (US)
- Turning Data into Design: Journey Maps, Scenarios and Storyboards with Kim Goodwin (US)
- How to Communicate with Typography, an online workshop with Ellen Lupton (US)
2. The Service Design Days Conference
When: Not announced yet (2022’s event took place in September)
Where: Not announced yet (previous years were hybrid – online and in Barcelona, Spain)
Best For: Service Designers, Strategic Designers, Business Strategists, and anyone involved in product/service innovation, and change/transformation management
2023 will be the 8th year of the Service Design Days conference! While dates are not officially announced, the conference is usually held in the fall. Service Design Days differentiates itself by catering to multi-disciplinary participants spanning design, business, change, and innovation management. If you like to learn about a little bit of everything, this could be a great option!
Service Design Days content typically focuses on using design methods to create business and customer value through sharing service and business design tools, as well as case studies from brands showcasing how they’ve created innovation through customer-centered design. Eek! We’re getting excited about these topics as we type.
In previous years, Service Design Days has offered both virtual online and in-person events, including keynote speeches, case studies, workshops, masterclasses, and networking opportunities.
3. UXPA International
When: June 20th to 22nd, 2023, and pre-conference courses June 19th, 2023
Where: Austin, TX, USA
Cost: This conference offers a range of ticket packages and discounts (for members, groups, government and non-profit employees, sponsors and students)
Best For: UXers of all kinds!
This conference welcomes UX professionals of all walks of life: researchers, designers, or anyone involved in creating great user experiences. 2023’s conference already boasts a roster of over 100 speakers with serious cred in the UX space!
We love that the program of courses and sessions is categorized by the level of the content (entry level, senior level, and deep dives) as well as by topic areas (e.g. UX Strategy, Tools & Techniques, Design Psychology, Innovation and Emerging Technologies.) This makes it super simple to plan your agenda and attend the most pertinent sessions. It’s almost like they’ve thought of the user experience in designing this conference!
4. Service Design in Government (SDinGov)
When: September 20th to 22nd, 2023
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
Cost: Early bird pricing in effect until March 10 (£666.00). Their website mentions they release small batches of tickets, increasing in price as the event approaches!
Best For: Designers, Managers, and Developers working in Public Sector transformation
Back for its 10th year, the SDinGov conference is meant for anyone who works in the public sector – whether as a consultant, through a design agency, or directly as an employee of the government. Participants span from senior and experienced service designers to brand new professionals, as well as non-service designers who are interested in learning the basics.
SDinGov focuses on user-centered design skills, methods, and inspiration, through practical and applicable workshops and case studies, as well as thought leadership and inspirational talks. The main focus is that participants come away with real-world skills or techniques they can apply in their daily work which we LOVE. If you’ve read much of the Outwitly blog, you know we live and breathe by providing readers with tips for the practical application of skills!
Topics of interest
- Design and service leadership
- Policy design
- Data, Big Data, AI, Machine Learning
- Beginners guides and workshops
📣 Call for Speakers: SDinGov is still accepting speaker applications for this event! Applications are open until Monday, March 6th, 2023 @ 11:59 GMT.
When: Main program – October 7th to 10th, 2023 & learning & networking events – October 2nd to 6th, 2023
Where: Chicago, IL, USA
Cost: Stay tuned – registration opens May 2nd, but in the meantime, you can direct any registration-related questions here.
Best For: Ethnographers and Researchers
Volunteer Opportunities: Yes
EPIC2023 is the premier international conference on ethnography in business and organizations, hosted by a nonprofit, and run by members and volunteers. EPIC is on a mission to bring together researchers, designers, strategists, marketers, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, scholars, students, and more. Clearly, the name EPIC is well-suited – just check out this year’s conference announcement video!
Their conference encourages attendees to…
- Learn expertise, methods, and skills.
- Explore social dynamics and cultural contexts.
- Find new sources of inspiration and space for reflection.
- Build lasting connections and networks.
This year, EPIC2023’s theme is “friction” – a force of resistance, creativity, and change. Said best by their event organizers, “As practitioners, researchers, designers, innovators, and creators, our work is fed by friction.”
📣 Call for Speakers: EPIC2023 is still accepting speaker proposal submissions in the following formats: case studies, papers, PechaKucha, visual ethnography, and graduate colloquium! Submissions are open until March 17th, 2023.
When: November 1st to 4th, 2023
Where: Ottawa, Canada
Cost: Early bird beginning at $555 CAD
Best For: UXers of all kinds!
Volunteer Opportunities: If you’re interested in volunteering at this year’s CanUX conference, send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
CanUX (pronounced Canuk) is Canada’s premier annual experience design event, featuring hands-on workshops and a world-class mix of amazing presentations.
Though the speaker’s list hasn’t yet been announced, attendees can expect a wide variety of topics to be covered over the four-day event! If you’re interested in learning more about user research, usability, information architecture, interaction design, service design, and just about everything related to the creation of compelling products, services and experiences, this conference would be a great choice for you!
7. blend business + design conference
When: March 25th, 2023
Where: Stratford, ON, Canada
Cost: Stay tuned
Best For: Designers, Researchers, Strategists, and Business Leaders
Hosted by the University of Waterloo’s Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, blend is very close to our hearts as two of our very own Outwitlians (#Amy #Nedu) are graduates of their esteemed Master’s in Digital Experience Innovation program. Like many of the “big time” conferences listed above, blend brings together design and business to enable business outcomes, by design. We love their approach: creating a community of creative people to create meaningful connections and innovative ideas.
While the 2023 agenda isn’t quite complete yet, the day will be filled with keynotes, workshops, networking events, fireside chats, and more. Sign up for their mailing list and you’ll be the first to know when details are made public! 2022s speakers came from some of the biggest and the best companies across Canada and the US (Google, RBC, Deloitte, CIBC, Sunlife, Manulife, and more), and represented CEOs, Founders, Creative Directors, UX design and Research experts, Behavioural Economists, and more.
This conference will feel more intimate than many of the ones listed above, and though it may be smaller, its impact sure is mighty. We’re very excited to see the schedule develop!
Well, that concludes our shortlist for must-attend upcoming UX and HCD conferences in 2023. Hopefully, this provided you with more information about the incredible events being offered globally, both virtually and in person. The design community sure is special – there is certainly no shortage of opportunities to network, learn, and develop your skills! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, and be sure to send us a DM letting us know which conferences we’ll see you at this year. Happy planning!
P.S. – While you start getting excited about the conferences you’ll attend this year, take a look at some of our favourite conference talks from last year:
- Designing for Neurodiversity – Treyce M (Config 2022)
- Superpowers Aren’t Free – By Deirdre Costello, Director of UX Insights at Toast (Learners 2022)
- How to Spot Opportunities For High Impact Research – Sara Sodine Parr, Research Lead at Airbnb