There are few people who haven’t heard the phrase “Keep Portland Weird” when it comes to talking about the beautiful Oregon city. The slogan comes from Portland’s unique and quirky style as well as its eclectic residents. However, while some might call it an “oddity,” others call it “originality”; and, since tech start-ups tend to thrive off of originality (and a few other important factors), Portland is a hotspot for UX professionals.
Dubbed the “Silicon Forest” (thanks to western Oregon’s countless evergreen trees and rolling hills), the Portland area is home to divisions of industry giants like Apple, Yahoo!, IMB, Intel (the company’s most populous branch), eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Epson. In addition to corporate branches, the Portland area is also the international headquarters of Nike, Inc. Most of its industrial area situated between the western suburbs of Hillsboro and Beaverton.
A Portland UX staple, the annual Delight Conference attracts both UX professionals as well as speakers from companies like Airbnb, Intuit, Fidelity Investments, Twitter, and Virgin America. In addition to Portland’s own yearly conference, many national conventions rotate also through the town. In 2015, Portland welcomed Confab Intensive, a conference that invites business-oriented professionals to listen to and work with various speakers, most of whom are successful entrepreneurs themselves.
The universal organization Interaction Design Association (IxDA) has a subdivision in Portland. The chapter offers Oregon-based UX professional opportunities to network with other Portland professionals, find available jobs in the area, attend exclusive events, and benefit from other resources that are available only to IxDA members.
For those who wish to supplement their professional lives with outside networking and connecting with other Portland area UX professionals, there are several groups in the area that do just that. PdxUX, a community of over a thousand UX developers and designers, meets every few months to bond over workshops and meetings. For those seeking a more casual group setting, the Portland Accessibility and User Experience Meet-up may be the crowd for you, as they meet monthly for happy hours and hangouts.
With its beautiful scenery and epic terrain, no one questions why the Portland area attracts the outdoorsy crowd. And with its idiosyncratic environment, it’s easy to see why the eclectics (from hippies to hipsters) fit right in. So when you look at Portland’s promising tech industry and flourishing start-ups, it makes sense as to why UX-ers and other professionals flock to the city. And with the surge in the tech trade has come a swell in resources for UX designers and developers.
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