I’ve been redesigning UX London. I don’t mean the website. I mean the event itself.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing too radical. It’s not like we’re changing the focus of the event, which remains a nerdfest for all things design-related.
But there are plenty of other opportunities for tweaking a conference like this: the format, the timings, the location.
For 2023 we’re not changing the location. Tobacco Dock worked out well for last year’s event, although it is very expensive (then again, so is anywhere decent in London). Last year there were a lot of unknowns in play because it was our first time using the venue. It feels good that this year we don’t have to go through quite as much uncertainty.
The most obvious change to UX London this year is the length. The event will last for two days instead of three.
Running a three-day event was a lot of work, so this helps relieve the pressure. It was also asking a lot of attendees. That’s why we also offered one-day tickets. For the people who couldn’t commit to three days at a conference, there was the option to pick and choose.
But that brought its own issues. Instead of everyone having the same shared experience, the audience was a bit fractured.
Now that we’ve slimmed it down to two days, we’re selling the same two-day tickets for everyone. No more single-day tickets; no more partial attendance. Judging by the way ticket sales have been going, this is a very welcome move.
(Even before announcing any speakers, we had already sold a healthy amount of tickets. That’s probably testament to the great reputation that UX London has built up over the years. I need to make sure I don’t squander that good will. No pressure.)
On the subject of everyone having a shared experience, there’s something about the format of UX London that’s bothered me for a while…
Each day is split into two halves. In the morning, you’ve got inspirational talks. That’s one single track. Then in the afternoon, you’ve got hands-on practical workshops. They happen in parallel.
That makes for a great mix, but the one downside is that the day ends with the audience split across the different workshops.
This year I’m tweaking the format slightly. We’ll still have a single track of talks in the morning followed by multiple workshops in the afternoon, but I’m shortening the workshop length slightly to fit in one last talk at the end of the day. That way, everybody will come back together again after their workshops to participate in a shared experience.
The audience will converge at the beginning of the day, diverge in the afternoon, and this time we’ll converge again at day’s end.
The workshops are a big part of what makes UX London stand out. But they also pose a big design challenge. How do you ensure that everyone gets to attend the workshops they want?
We could make people pick their workshops in advance. But then you end up with the office Christmas dinner party problem—you know the one; everyone has to choose their meal way in advance, and then on the day, no one remembers what they ordered.
Besides, if we make people choose in advance, it’s not fair on people who buy their ticket close to the event.
In the end, using a first-come, first-served strategy on the day has worked out best. But it’s not ideal. You could miss out on attending your first choice of workshop if you’re not fast enough.
This year we’re trying something new. Each afternoon there’ll be a choice of workshops, as always. But this time, it’ll be the same workshops on both days. That way, every attendee gets a second chance to get to the workshops they want. And it’ll help reduce the FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out. It still won’t be possible to attend all the workshops without cloning yourself, but this way, you get to attend half of them.
To recap, here’s the redesigned format for UX London 2023:
- It’s a two-day event on June 22nd and 23rd—there are no individual day tickets.
- There are talks in the morning, workshops in the afternoon, and one final talk at the end of the day.
- The workshops will be repeated each day so nobody misses out on the workshop they want.
The line-up is coming together nicely. I’ve got more confirmed speakers, who I don’t want to reveal just yet. But trust me, you won’t want to miss this!
Oh, and you should probably grab your ticket this week if you haven’t already: early-bird pricing ends on midnight on Friday, February 24th.