While Arizona has long battled the “cactus-riddled desert” reputation, there is one city that seems to be a flourishing oasis. Phoenix, the state’s capital and one of the largest urban areas in the country, is home to a thriving tech scene and attracts some of the world’s best UX designers.
Located just outside of the heart of Phoenix (in the suburb of Chandler), the aptly named Silicon Desert has its roots. Intel Corps was the original lifeblood of Chandler, and while its production rates came to a virtual halt in 2011 (after the company invested $1.7 billion in a new facility), rumors have surfaced that the plant will once again open, bringing an even greater revival to the Phoenix scene. Yet despite the lack of Intel’s presence, the area is widely considered to be one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the United States. With major corporations like GoDaddy as well as smaller (but fast-growing) companies like CO+HOOTS and WebPT, it’s the place to be for start-ups and corporate branches, which are sprouting up all over the Arizona city.
By far the most popular UX company in the state, Forty has been featured in publications like NPR, Business Week, Inc., and PBS; in addition to providing careers to UX professionals, they also offer a variety of growth opportunities, including one-on-one coaching, training, seminars, and conferences. For those looking to join a more widespread organization with networking options, IxDA also holds a branch in the Phoenix area. IxDa Phoenix is a community that offers social media connections; meet-up opportunities; career support; and community members who are available to share relevant information and ideas. Hosting social media mixers on the first Wednesday of every month and business meet-ups on the third Wednesday of every month, local designers can find more information on the organization’s Facebook (IxDA Phoenix), Twitter (@IxDAPhoenix), and/or LinkedIn pages!
For those searching more close-knit and locally exclusive communities to join, Meetups.com can be a great resource. Among the social groups, UX in Arizona has several hundred members who meet for a variety of events that range from parties to workshops. Alternatively, PHX Content Strategy (a group that boasts of over 500 members) meets regularly to unwind from the often-stressful jobs in the UX sector. With movie nights, book clubs, and happy hours, members can blow off some steam in the company of other professionals. However, they don’t stop there. Incorporating learning with fun, the group also hosts educational events that are often titled things like “Get Sh*t Done: a Hands-On Approach to Designing Awesome Meetings (Really)” that have descriptions like the following: “Meetings suck. We shudder each time an invite comes across our desk, we walk out of conference rooms thinking, ‘Well, that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.’ They’re our least favorite part of work. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Join us for a hands-on workshop on April 22nd when we reimagine what meetings should look like, define what real collaboration can accomplish, and learn how to set ourselves and our teams up for success—no matter the challenge.”
So whether you’re a UX professional who’s new to the area, a designer scouting the city out for future potential, or a long-time resident looking to develop a wider UX circle, Phoenix offers plenty in terms of networking and professional development!
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