Web Directions Design Leaders 2018

MelbourneApril 11 2018

For those who are leading design

Why Design Leaders?

As design moves from nice-to-have to being increasingly appreciated as having key strategic value for companies and organisations, design teams are growing, often rapidly, and design professionals are playing increasingly important leadership roles.

Who's it for?

Design leaders was created for experienced design professionals in, or moving into these management and leadership roles.

Real World Knowledge

For well over a decade, Web Directions has been holding conferences for web and digital creators, both for engineering as well design professionals.

Each of our conferences features real world, actionable knowledge, from leading practitioners, from around Australia and the world.

speakers and audience

Can't make it to Melbourne?

If you focus on design, but can't make it to Melbourne in April, then don't despair, the Web Directions Culture, in Sydney in October 2018 focusses on leadership, and creating great cultures.

Design Conference

Design Leaders runs the day before Web Directions Design, our new Design focussed conference. Design features world leading experts in User Research, CX, UX, IxD, Product Design, and more.

Come to both events to get a mixture of leadership and management focussed sessions, alongside design practice focussed sessions.

Keep up with industry news and ideas

Every weekend we round up the the best of what we've read, watched and listened to this week, across design, development, and the big ideas shaping our industry. You'll also get the first chance to register for our events, and the best offers. And you should follow us on Twitter.

Design Leaders Program

What happens on the day?

More than just presentations

Design Leaders is not simply a day of lectures. Each session is structured to help you develop your understanding, enquire of the experts, role play and explore techniques, share your experience with your peers, and learn from them around a specific aspect of creating and nurturing team and organisational culture.

We've deliberately limited numbers to ensure the greatest opportunity for participants to connect with one another, and our invited experts. It's a day for minimum screen time, and maximum connection and communication.

Following on from our highly successful Code Leaders conference, each session has a single focus, is guided by a deeply experienced expert, and provides the opportunity to discuss these issues and share experiences with your peers, as well as giving practical experience through role-playing and other exercises.

Connection, interaction and collaboration

During the day, you'll be seated with a group of fellow participants with a balance of experience and roles. Each table will have a facilitator, someone with significant industry experience, and will have the opportunity to put questions to our expert speakers. Throughout the day there'll be the opportunity for every participant to develop their leadership abilities by facilitating post-briefing discussion among your group.

Fully Catered

The whole day, from barista coffee on arrival, to lunch, and morning and afternoon tea is fully catered, so you can focus on connecting with your peers, and learning from our presenters and facilitators, not worrying about where oto get lunch, and do you have time to get a decent coffee in your break. We also carer to any dietary requirement you might have.


DesignLeaders features four sessions, each focussing on a different aspect of leadership in design. A mixture of presentation, conversation, QA and activities, with coffee, and excellent food to break up the day and keep you energised and focussed.

Sara Wachter Boettcher

Ethical Design Leadership: Examining our impact, articulating our principles


Sara Wachter Boettcher Principal, Rare Union

From fake news on Facebook to Nazis on Twitter to creepy kids' content on YouTube, it seems like we can’t get through a day without hearing about a tech product that perpetuates bias, manipulates users, or even undermines democracy. Meanwhile, many conversations among tech and design leaders haven’t changed: we talk about delighting users, disrupting industries, extracting personal data, and of course, maximizing engagement. It’s time we confront this dissonance head on, and start asking some hard questions about our priorities, our companies, and our leadership approaches.

In this session, we’ll get real about the ethical failures within our industry, and what we as design leaders can do about them. Together, we’ll explore questions like:

  • Where do our day-to-day actions as leaders fall short of the ethics and principles we espouse as designers? Why does that happen?
  • What ethical compromises are you making in your day-to-day work? How do those make you feel? What would happen if you stopped making them?
  • How do we deal with the tension between organizational priorities around shareholder value or investor return and the ethical values we say we believe in?
  • What responsibility do we have as leaders to change the priorities and principles driving this industry? What’s hard about doing that, and what would it take to make that possible?
  • What would be different on your team—in the roles you hired for, the design process you used, the success metrics you relied on—if you and your organization truly followed ethical design principles?

Sara Wachter Boettcher

Sara is the principal of Rare Union, a product and content strategy consultancy based in Philadelphia, and the author of Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech.

Her other books include Design for Real Life, co-authored with Eric Meyer, and Content Everywhere. Her writing has appeared in Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, Quartz, and Wired, and she’s given talks at events in a dozen countries (and counting).

Her friends seem to think she’s super productive, but she really spends most days wearing gym clothes and slippers.

Emma Jones

Unravelling Unconscious Bias


Emma Jones Founder, Future of Work

In this session Emma Jones will review the part heuristics play in unconscious bias, explore the impact in the workplace, and present strategies for addressing bias. Learn how to create an 'inclusive' work environment by understanding and mastering the effects of unconscious bias.

  • Learn how to recognise, manage and lessen the impact of unconscious bias on things like hiring, succession planning, promotion, innovation and building high performance teams
  • Learn about heuristics, how the brain filters information so you can make decisions
  • Develop an understanding of your own unconscious biases
  • Learn how to make better decisions without bias, just data
  • Critically review your own hiring and people development practices
  • Develop a plan to advance the abilities and culture of your teams

Emma Jones

Emma Jones is the Founder of Future Of Work, and has spent the past 3 years building, leading and scaling one of Australia’s best technology startups and the prior sixteen years helping corporates and start ups grow.

Her most recent role was Global Head of Talent at high growth fintech business Ansarada, which saw her grow headcount from 75 to 180 in just two years, building a high performing talent function from the ground up. This led to a significant increase in ability to attract, engage and retain high performance talent.

Prior to that, Emma was a recognised figure in the Talent community in Australia for her deep sector knowledge in the digital and tech' start up space. She regularly presents at industry events and conferences.

Mags Hanley

Leadership Capabilities


Mags Hanley Design Leadership Consultant

We can talk about design leadership in terms of design thinking, creativeness and managing projects, but the greatest of all design leadership is leading the people.

Leading people is more than deciding where to go and hoping the group knows how to get there: it’s working, mentoring and shaping people, helping them achieve within your organisation. It’s providing the conditions for them to thrive.

In this session, Mags Hanley will:

  • Give insights into developing people as they grow as practitioners and leaders
  • Teach you how to coach people through problems, so they can identify their own solutions
  • Answer your questions on how to manage and develop staff

Mags Hanley

Mags Hanley is an industry-leader in User Experience (UX). With her over 20 years in the business, she is a trusted advisor to her clients, and recognised expert in UX, particularly information architecture, in the US, UK and Australia.

Her varied experience working client-side, in agencies and in consultancies, brings concreteness to her coaching in the development and implementation of UX and digital strategy. She helps mid-level UXers progress to seniors; prepare seniors for their next challenge, and grows seniors into capable leaders.


Design Research for Strategic Impact


Stephanie Troeth Head of Design Research (ex) Telegraph Group UK

More and more, design has a seat at the leadership table. And yet, all too often, the decision of what to build has already been made by the time the product or design team gets involved. In this session, Steph explores design research could be the vehicle that better articulates the value of design at the business level and drive the direction of organisational strategy.

Most recently, Stephanie Troeth was the Head of Research at Clearleft, where she helped companies and organisations, including the Greater London Authority and Virgin Holidays, build customer intelligence through combining design research with other disciplines. Previously, she led design research at the Telegraph, and spearheaded European customer research with MailChimp as a research consultant

Having designed and built for the web for nearly 20 years, Stephanie has worn many hats. Apart from co-founding a startup on digital books as product lead, she was the Director of Interactive Technology at a Montreal agency where she led a multi-disciplinary team of project managers, UX and graphic designers, front-end engineers and programmers.

Choose the right conference pass

Design & Leaders

  • Design Leaders 11 April

  • Design (Classic Ticket) 12–13 April

  • $1,699 Standard

Design Leaders

  • Design Leaders conference 11 April


  • $999 Standard

Find the conference pass for you

Design Leaders Conference

  • Design Leaders Conference 11 April

  • $999 Standard

Register Now!

Design + Design Leaders

  • Design Leaders Conference 11 April

  • Design Conference (Classic Ticket) 12–13 April

  • $1,699 Standard

Register Now!

Our venue

Design Leaders 2018 will be held in the Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne

Rendezvous Hotel,
328 Flinders Street, Melbourne

Getting there:

With excellent public transport connections right outside, and Flinders Street Station right across the road, it's our best connected location yet.


If you're coming from out of town, there are many hotel and serviced apartments style accomodation options in Southbank, and otherwise close by. Or why not stay at the Hotel itself.

Season Passes

If you work across disciplines, or if you play a leadership role, and need to keep up with developments across our industry, then our season passes are exactly what you need.

Choose a pass across 2, 3 or all 4 of our major 2019 events, and get a Gold ticket which includes conference video, speaker dinner at each, and more.

Passes are for a single named attendee across all events, and are not transferable between attendees. For teams we have great group pricing, contact us for more.

Four Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to every one of our main 2019 conferences

  • Bonus Silver ticket to our two Leaders and our Culture conferences

  • $3,995

Three Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to your choice of three of our main 2019 conferences

  • Bonus Silver ticket to a choice of Code Leaders, Design Leaders or Culture

  • $2,995

Two Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to your choice of two of our main 2019 conferences


  • $1,995

Find the season pass for you

Four Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to every one of our main 2019 conferences

  • Bonus Silver ticket to our two Leaders and our Culture conferences

  • $3,995

Register Now!

Three Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to your choice of three of our main 2019 conferences

  • Bonus Silver ticket to a choice of Code Leaders, Design Leaders or Culture

  • $2,995

Register Now!

Two Conference Pass

  • A Gold ticket to your choice of two of our main 2019 conferences

  • $1,995

Register Now!

Praise for past Web Directions events

Phil Whitehouse
Web Directions is the must-attend event of the year for anyone serious about web development.

Phil Whitehouse,
Innovation Lead DigitasLBi

Ethan Marcotte
I’ve been admiring the Web Directions events for years, and was honored to be part… What a fantastic event!

Ethan Marcotte,
inventor "responsive Web design"

Dave Greiner
Out of any conference, Web Directions is far and away our favourite

Dave Greiner,
founder Campaign Monitor


At Web Directions we work closely with partners to help make our events even better. Sponsor our coffee, reception, recharge station, or other valued activities and start or grow your relationship with our highly qualified audience.

Contact us for more on how we work can work with you to help you be even more awesome.

Key Partners

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Meetup Muster Partners

About Us

Co-founded and now run by John Allsopp, Web Directions has for over a decade brought together leading developers, engineers, visual, IxD, UX and product designers, Art and Creative Directors, indeed everyone involved in producing web and digital products to learn from one another, and the World's leading experts across this vast field.

We spend our lives thinking about what comes next, keeping up with trends in technology, practices and processes, and filtering the hype, to make sure you don't miss trends that matter, and don't waste time on hype that doesn't.

We promise attending one of our events will leave you significantly better versed in the challenges you face day to day, and in solutions for addressing them.

In 2019, we'll be organising Design, Design Leaders, Code and Code Leaders and Product in Melbourne, and Web Directions Summit, and Culture in Sydney

vignettes form our events, social, speakers and more. Includes Hannah Donovan skylarking.

John Allsopp

John Allsopp has been working on the Web for over 20 years. He's been responsible for innovative developer tools such as Style Master, X-Ray and many more. He's spoken at numerous conferences around the World and delivered dozens of workshops in that time as well.

His writing includes two books, including Developing With Web Standards and countless articles and tutorials in print and online publications.

His "A Dao of Web Design" published in 2000 is cited by Ethan Marcotte as a key influence in the development of Responsive Web Design, who's rightly acclaimed article in 2010 begins by quoting John in detail, and by Jeremy Keith as "a manifesto for anyone working on the Web".

Code of Conduct

For over a decade, we've worked hard to create inclusive, fun, inspring and safe events for the Web Industry.

As part of our commitment to these values, we've adopted a code of conduct for all involved: ourselves, our speakers, our partners and our audience.

If you have any concern or feedback, please don't hesitate to contact us.