The UX design conferences charge hefty ticket prices to their audience while requiring many of the speakers to go pro bono
As the world of UX design continues to evolve at breakneck speed, the importance of conferences as a platform for knowledge-sharing and networking has become increasingly apparent. However, a disturbing trend has emerged in recent years, one that threatens to undermine the very foundations of this vibrant community: the exploitation of UX designers by conferences that charge exorbitant ticket prices while failing to compensate their speakers.
It is a scenario straight out of a dystopian novel, where the powerful exploit the vulnerable for their own benefit. And yet, it is happening all around us, right under our noses. As UX design conferences proliferate, many have resorted to a despicable practice that involves asking speakers to participate “pro bono,” in exchange for “exposure” or other intangible benefits.
The problem with this approach is that it places an unfair burden on the speakers, who are often forced to absorb the costs associated with attending the conference, such as travel, lodging, and meals. Moreover, it sends a message that the value of their time, expertise, and hard work is somehow worth less than that of the conference organizers, who are often raking in thousands or even millions of dollars in ticket sales.
This is not just a matter of ethics, but of basic economics. By failing to compensate their speakers, these conferences are perpetuating a system of exploitation that ultimately harms everyone involved. Speakers who are forced to work for free or at reduced rates may have to take on additional freelance work to make ends meet, which in turn can lead to burnout and decreased quality of work.
At the same time, the proliferation of these conferences creates a race to the bottom, where organizers are under pressure to keep ticket prices low, which in turn leads to a lower quality of experience for attendees. Ultimately, this harms the entire UX design community by undermining the very foundations of knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and innovation.
It is time for UX designers to take a stand and demand fair compensation for their hard work and expertise. By doing so, we can ensure that the world of UX design remains vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive, and that everyone has an opportunity to succeed and thrive.
This article was last updated on November 28, 2023; Originally published on June 29, 2023