I created Clarity, the premiere design systems community conference, at a time when design system teams were becoming a thing. It is now in its eighth year.
Clarity is a design systems conference focused on how we work together. We provide tools and standards to scale across an increasing number of devices, platforms, and products. But real success comes when people align around a shared vision and language. Diverse perspectives for design, development, and product unite so more people can be a part of the conversation. At Clarity, we elevate our skills through multi-faceted inclusion, empathy, technology, creativity, and collaboration.
Design Systems as a full-time job were beginning to become a norm. But there weren’t too many resources or events dedicated to people like us.
I found myself using the word “clarity” a lot in my work. So in 2014, I bought clarityconf.com. But the first event wasn’t until 2016. It allowed time to consider and plan what the event experience should be.
I organized the conference mostly by myself, with a few volunteers and vendors that I directed which included designers, a sketch note artist, videographers, photographer, and more.
The event had almost 300 attendees.
The next year, I had almost 400 attendees, but I worked with the same venue and many of the same people. I added an additional day of full-day workshops to the schedule for attendees to choose from.
The third year, the attendee count grew to 500 and the event was in New York City. This was to meet the customer demands of an east-coast event. So I hired a part-time assistant. I workshopped with a consultant to develop the mission statement and principles. And I continued directing creative volunteers and vendors.
Back in SF, the event grew to 700 people. In addition to the assistant, volunteers, and vendors, I worked closer with sponsors to improve the attendee/sponsor experience. I negotiated a three-year top-tier sponsorship with InVision, and I partnered with Adobe to host a full day of workshops at their offices.
Initially expecting 800+ attendees, I switched to investing in an event production team to achieve that scale and a higher quality. However, with the pandemic, plans changed (from in-person to online and attendance forecasted to 500). We’ve met every week since February and have created what we expect to be a high-quality, engaging experience.
Continuing with a remote-only event, Clarity grew to its highest amount of attendees to date (at over 800). Taking what was learned from last year’s experience, we were able to make a memorable and highly engaging event which included a recast 12 hours later for folks on the other side of the world.
This year we returned to in-person with a hybrid virtual option. The in-person event took place in New Orleans at the Sheraton Hotel. We had about 120 registered for in-person, as well as over 200 online-only registrations.
Last year and this year became tough for independent conference organizers. But community is still needed. In order to keep the event going, I scaled back and reset to the basics. No longer working with the event production company, the event has returned to a small production by me, with the help of a couple friends for marketing and planning.
I’ve built an engaged community of design systems practitioners that has grown steadily each year for 5 years. While 2020 has challenges, the community is still active, excited, and engaged.
— Mia || Miriam (@MiriSuzanne) May 21, 2020
— Salem (Ghoweri) Cobalt (@salem_cobalt) August 22, 2019
@clarity_conf wow… what an amazing conference. Each year is more amazing than the last. Thank you SO MUCH @jina for the opportunity to share our story with this awesome group and thanks to all who visited with myself and Teresa to share your stories and admiration of our talk.
— Nicole Torgersen (@nzassenhaus) August 22, 2019
Thanks so much @jina! Clarity is one of the best conferences I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending! The line up is diverse and you put so much intention bringing together a community of Systems lovers ❤️. Thank you 🙏🏾 for all you do! Only 12 more days to #clarity2019 🌈👏🏾
— kim williams (@kimwms_) August 8, 2019
— Liz Khoo (@lizkhoo) December 12, 2018
@clarity_conf was easily the best conference I've attended in years, content- and people-wise. Wish I could make it this year!
— Shannon Hale (@shannonsans) October 19, 2017
— ally palanzi (@mylifeasalllly) April 2, 2016