Developer Conferences: Attendance Required

Tis the season for developer conferences. We know they are top of mind with developers, and so for our second survey of the year, we asked about the events they are attending – both in-person and virtually – to find out what makes attendance compulsory. To go along with that, we wanted to get developers’ take on swag, and whether it is worth the effort to have it produced in the first place (we’ll cover swag in Part 2 – let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

For a summary of the findings from our latest survey, please have a look at our new infographic (click on the image to view full size):

Catchy Infographic - Developer Conferences

For the record, some of these findings could be reflective of the fact that we are knee-deep in conference season – all the biggies took place recently (Microsoft’s Build, Facebook’s F8 and Google I/O to name a few), and are certainly top of mind with developers … At the same time, we are not seeing interest in conference attendance fading any time soon. According to our survey results, 1 in 5 developers are looking to attend more conferences in the next 12 months; and 63% of participants who didn’t attend a conference in the past year are thinking about attending 1 – 3 events in the next year. That sounds like an opportunity …

When asked about the types of conferences they attend, “App Development” was the most popular, chosen by 69% of respondents, followed by Mobile & IoT and Cloud & Infrastructure. Agile and ‘Performance’, ‘Testing & Quality Assurance’ were less popular overall. It is worth noting that while we did not list “Game Development” as its own category, a handful of respondents did write-in that option.

We wanted to know which developer conferences were their favorites, and we thought the answers were interesting … They certainly bode well for the event planning team at Microsoft! Overall, Microsoft’s ‘Build’ was the most popular answer provided (nearly 1 in 5 chose it as their favorite). Both Google I/O and GDC were also popular.

Droid statue at 2016 Google I/O Developer Conference.

Attendees at the 2016 Google I/O developer conference were greeted by friendly droids. (Photo courtesy of Google.)

And let’s not forget that attendance at these developer conferences generally requires a pretty serious commitment of time, money – and often willingness to travel. For our survey respondents, 35% attend conferences for themselves (and pay for themselves to go). Typically, if a conference is being self-funded, only 5% are willing to pay more than $2,500 to attend (by way of comparison, a ticket to Build 2016 cost $2,195, and that did not include travel or hotel expenses).

More than one-third of our respondents would go overseas to attend a conference, and among that group, one-third are willing to pay over $2,500, suggesting that if travel distance isn’t a factor, cost to attend usually is not a worry either.

When we looked at how far our respondents are willing to go, 38% traveled more than 500 miles (we hope they didn’t have to walk, although if they did The Proclaimers would certainly be proud). The largest distance travelled was more than 8,400 miles from Singapore to San Francisco to attend GDC. So if the conference is worthwhile, developers are willing to go the distance.

So why do developers go to conferences in the first place? Is it for the parties or hackathons? Actually, no. Well, not exclusively. Those two reasons are minor factors. The number one selection was to “learn new skills” – a whopping 91% of those surveyed gave that answer, followed by meeting other developers and meeting experts from the company hosting the event. So clearly networking is a big draw for conference goers, too.

Nearly one-third of our survey respondents say they attend developer conferences for the swag. And we’ve certainly seen our share of compelling giveaways at some of these events over the past few years. But it isn’t necessarily an attendance deal-breaker, either. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at our respondents expectations when it comes to swag at developer events.

For now, where do you come down on developer conferences? A worthwhile investment of your time (and money)? Or just a distraction to getting real work done? If you are thinking about conferences over the next 12 months, what are your plans? Share your thoughts with us via Twitter using the hashtag #developervoice.

Finally, don’t miss out on our next survey which will be available soon. Join Catchy’s Developer Voice, and help influence the decisions of the top developer marketing programs around the world.

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