Two years ago, my team lead Antun and I started the organization of UX Belgrade meetup as a side project. We envisioned it as a community-driven meetup, no corporations or companies behind it, just a few enthusiasts.
Stay with me to find out all about the UX Belgrade organization and read tips about how to create your own meetup and start an engaging community from scratch.
There weren’t that many UX design events in Belgrade, compared to other big cities where you can attend several design meetups a month. The reason for that is probably that UX design is still new, and for some an unknown term. So, our intention was to gather and meet new people, learn from them, let them learn from us, and create a new inspiring community.
With UXBG we also inspired new similar events, which made us very proud. The UX scene in Belgrade is heating up.
“Going to meetups has allowed me to get to know the local IT / design community, and also to become a part of it. Sharing experiences, knowledge and meeting new fellow colleges, as well as hearing the talks from the speakers about their experiences, workflows and tools they use can help you expand your horizons, improve yourself, your career and create a better work environment around you.” – Andrijana Radomirovic
What can you learn at UXBG?
We encourage our speakers to talk about their own experiences, their mistakes and how they learned from them. Concrete, real-life examples are what people mostly appreciate. A year ago Janko Jovanovic, gave us an amazing talk about the case study process he applied within his company. That was a huge success.
But, people don’t go to meetups just to hear someone speak. Visiting meetups can also help your career. You might meet people with whom you’ll start a new project, meet your new employer or employee.
“I learned how things work in small and large companies, what design processes they use and how they solve everyday problems. From all the advices for beginners I mostly appreciate the ones that say to stay brave and motivated in finding a path in a career.” – Aleksandra Milosevic, UX Belgrade volunteer
Who is it for?
Obviously, this event is for designers. No matter what type of design, it’s good to hear how people apply their thinking and strategies in various industries. But, we do have a lot of developers there as well. Here they can learn how our process looks like before it comes to them. We also invite product owners, researchers, analysts, copywriters etc. Everyone who feels enthusiastic about UX should be here.
What have we achieved so far?
We’ve organized four events so far, we had fourteen speakers and twelve speeches. Our first speaker at our first event was Bojan Djuricic, who is now the host for the rest of our events. He’s very enthusiastic and a great mediator between the audience and the speakers.
This year we were a part of an organization called the UX Balkan Tour. Again Antun was the man behind this. An international designer and speaker Austin Knight from HubSpot was the star of this tour. He visited most of the Balkans, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Osijek, Belgrade and Tirana to speak at different meetups and conferences. It was a self-organized tour as a giveaway to the design community.
“Austin was a gem of the evening. Whatever I say about his talk will be an understatement. His one hour long presentation on revamping UX of HubSpot was packed with insights on all sorts of things – starting up a UX project, defining goals and metrics, selecting appropriate team members, setting up tools, measuring, testing, remote working etc. Priceless for professionals of any level of seniority.” – Bojan Djuricic
There are many reasons for you to start your own meetup. Some people do it for their own promotion, to easily find a job or get a credibility for what they do. But, there must be something beyond that, right?
Humans enjoy the company of others, and what makes us happy is having support from our community. We can all benefit from being a part of one. It’s good to have someone to ask for help, or talk about the same interests. So, why don’t you try and start your own? It’s easy.
How to organize a successful meetup?
You need to plan ahead, three months at least. Write down all the stuff and details you need to get done. At the beginning you have plenty of time to go easy with ticking off the items from your list.
You feel like you can’t do it all on your own? Good, then it’s time for you to call for help from the people within your community.
When we first called for help we got a team of 10 people ready to rock. And they all did an amazing job.
Here are some of their impressions about how it looked like working with the team, and what they learned by participating:
“It was a pleasure for me to join UX Belgrade crew, as I highly support their effort to create and maintain a community. UX design is one of the fast developing disciplines, it is much easier and time saving to exchange experiences with people who are facing the same challenges, but having different perspectives.” – Tatjana Zavadja – UX Belgrade Volunteer
“Since I’m a beginner in UX design, working with the UX Belgrade team was a great experience for me. I also learned a lot from speakers on meetups. Great way to meet some cool people and share experience with them.” – Slobodan Popovic – UX Belgrade Volunteer
Prepare your agenda
Before you even know the names of the speakers, you need to have a sketch of your agenda. This will help the venue organizers and future speakers see how they fit into the framework. Plan your timetable ahead, set a number of attendees and a date of the meetup.
Find the venue
When you have an agenda, you are ready for a quest to find a venue for your meetup. Perfect space can be anything from a cafe to a coworking space, depends on the number of the people that are coming to your meetup. If you’re holding a self organized, non-profit event a lot of venues are willing to lower their price or even give it away for free.
This is the most important aspect of your meetup, and it might be harder than it sounds. Since the success of your event is mostly measured by the speakers and their talk, you have to be ready for any inconvenience that may occur. We always contact people who are great designers, with lots of experience, but not all of these people are willing to come, so your search can be longer than you expect. Some of them can even bail on you, at the last moment. When things like this happen you can only rely on your talkative best friends who are willing to prepare their speech within a week.
GoDaddy was a huge financial supporter, and the design team I work with helped us spread the word. My team lead, Ryan Murphy even accepted to come and speak about his experience, which people greatly appreciated. He truly believes in learning opportunities like this one.
“Honestly, I didn’t know exactly what to expect from designers in Belgrade. What I found was an engaged, highly motivated community of creators. Through conversation and probing questions they exhibited exceptional maturity.” – Ryan Murphy
I encourage you to ask your superiors for help when organizing a meetup, but there’s more you can do.We’ve asked influential design companies to help us out as well. Not financially, but to provide us with their promotional material, license codes and swag, as giveaways for our attendees. So, your audience will not only go home with new contacts and inspiration, but with great gifts as well.
Other than GoDaddy, our supporters so far have been: Sketch, Dribbble, Framer, Smashing Magazine, Offscreen Magazine, UXPin, Codepen, A Book Apart, Rosenfeld Media, Inspectlet, UI Stencils, Tesla Amazing, Proto.io, Optimal Workshop and Fabrika Beograd venue. We can’t be more thankful for their support.
Market your event
For some this might seem easy, but for people that are introverts like I am, not that much. I even hosted two of the events. Introverts out there will understand when I say that it wasn’t the most pleasant thing I ever did. But, you have to go out, step out of your comfort zone and spread the word.
Meetup.com is a great place to start marketing your event. People interested in visiting meetups are already there, and can easily find your event. If your meetup requires RSVPs because of the limited number of attendees, here you can keep track on how many people are actually coming.
Keep your focus on social media, build the community on Facebook groups and post every now and then about trending stuff that’s going on.
You can find more about UX Belgrade on the links below:
If you have some ideas or want to get in touch, give us a shout at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me call out my colleagues here, so who’s going to organize the next ManageWP meetup? Let me know, I can help. Share with us what are your events about? Can we help and support your event in any way?