Web Summit 2022 — Essential Survival Guide, Review, Product Designer’s Perspective

By November 8, 2022 No Comments

I had an opportunity to go to Lisbon and be an attendee on the Web Summit 2022 — and here is my perspective. I always wondered whether Web Summit is worth the hype it gets in the media.

For me it is of course a rhetorical question, since it really depends on whether you’re the type of person that is easily hyped or the type of person that rather seeks value in everything — I’m the second guy.

I’d like to present my take on Web Summit 2022 and put forward a survival guide for its subsequent editions, both for absolute rookies as well as seasoned Web Summit buffs. Alongside my review of the event, and look at it from the point of view of a Product Designer.


Few facts about Web Summit

Web Summit — to be quite frank — is a behemoth of an event. In 2022 it hosted 70K attendees including some 2K startups and 1K investors. To give a perspective — it’s half of the population of London’s Kensington and Chelsea borough within a space of roughly 800 m by 200 m — 1 person per every 2 square meters.

Conference lasted 4 days and it was held in Lisbon, Portugal. A city famous for its first-class cuisine, spectacular architecture, stunning panoramically views, start-up vibes and laid-back culture of no unnecessary rush. A great place to chill out after the conference, or to continue meeting people, attend after-parties and carry on with networking in order to squeeze every last drop of value from these four days.

Let’s start with useful tips and lessons I’ve learned. The order is not random.

Web Summit Essential Survival Guide. Review of 2022 edition.

Plan the trip

Buy the tickets as soon as possible, to catch discounts. Then you’ll be sure you are going, so you can book a flight and a place to stay. Do not wait till last time, it will cost you dearly or you’ll have trouble flying in at all or worst case scenario — commute during conference a lot every day, since your place will be super far away from the venue.


Web Summit App. Part 1 of 2.

Familiarize yourself with the App. It is not state-of-the-art user experience (more on that in my designer’s review down below), so check out beforehand its quirks & features — Doug DeMuro pun intended. Personalize your profile, so that attendees know who you are. Include your photo, so you won’t be a blank avatar in an ocean of real faces. If you want to be found, think of yourself as a Google search result — short, engaging, precise and to the point.

Agenda, schedule

Go through the talks, masterclasses, booths you want to visit, beforehand. My advice is to make your schedule around max. 2 pavilions, so you won’t run around like a headless chicken. Having approx. a 1 km walk in a crowd of the Times Square in rush hours, from Pavilion 1 to Pavilion 4, takes around 8 to 12 minutes, and it’s almost half of a 30 minute standard talk.

Dress-code. Outfit.

Bring good, comfortable shoes — you’ll thank me later. 15K+ steps a day is an easy score.

There is no dress-code, most of the people are casual. Dress for a great first impression, but don’t overdo it. People have a couple of seconds to give you a worth-to-talk-to-grade and engage or not.

Weather in Lisbon in November is quite sunny. Temperatures average around 20°C (68°F) and drop to 11°C (52°F) in the evening. Bring both summer cloth and a warm jacket. Disclaimer — may vary due to climate change.

Arriving hours

First day in 2022 was a true organizational nightmare. For some reason organizers thought having one working entrance is a good idea. Let me give you a perspective you — 70K people with a sole purpose to get in and 40+ policemen to frisk everyone in search of a gun or other dangerous objects.

How did it go? Terribly. Line was 4-5 km long, with a wait time of around 1,5-2hrs. All attendees could easily form one of the famous Nazca Lines — a geoglyphs in Southern Peru that you could see from space. Don’t get me wrong, I arrived early assuming there would be a line. I was not prepared for what was waiting for me. Hype evaporated quickly substituted with the urge to write this article.

So bring sandwiches, water and maybe a foldable stool (?) to sit out the waiting time. If you don’t have to, don’t bring a backpack or a suitcase, it will be searched thoroughly, taking your time and others. Be mindful. During following days there were 2 entrances, but still for 35K people each.


Meetings. Networking

Take advantage of the gigantic crowd and organize meetings you want to have and place them into your schedule. Not every conference talk is worth your time, so a gap can be easily filled with meetings.

My plan was to engage with people while waiting for a talk or in a line for a masterclass. I figured my co-standers would have similar interests or professions and time for a quick chat. How wrong I was.

  • Firstly, when someone is waiting for a talk he/she is much more interested in a free seat than in you.
  • Secondly, not only designers go for design-centered talks, masterclasses — whiz kid.
  • Thirdly, I am not a conversational wizard, and it wasn’t easy to come up with a super dazzling pick-up line in a fraction of a second when I had a chance to open my mouth.

I had my own agenda full of really specific questions for other designers, so I can enhance my work by learning from other people’s experiences. I know it was a moonshot, but finally, I did manage to talk to quite a decent amount of people. But now I know my effective ‘striking distance’ could be much greater if had picked different strategy.

What I’d do now and what I suggest you should do:

  • Write a non-creepy, non-ad-like sounding invite-to-talk message and send over to people that you’d fish out from query search in the Web Summit App — you can start with similarities like name, surname, interests, whatever. You’ll get some leads. I had some, but the more the better;
  • Not only google speakers you’re interested in (like i did), but also read, go through content they create, videos, articles, and check whether they go deep into the topic they deal with or they only scratch the surface;
  • Rank speaker in order to help yourself when a collision or problems with getting to the place in time are inevitable, so you can make an informed decision about what to sacrifice without FOMO.

Forget the business cards, your ID badge QR code can get scanned or you can scan others’ badges. That way, you’ll work with your connections within the App in a much more organized manner.


Since everyone wants to capitalize or get their money back on performing as a speaker, booth-holder, partner or sponsor, they will market their product, service to you and advertise over the place.

This made part of the talks not as interesting as I expected them to be. Proportion-wise it was 50:50 chance the interesting topic will be overly wordy, saturated with buzz-words, cliches and information you’d find in the first 5 Google search results, sprinkled with advertisement talk.

But there was also another side of the spectrum. Where speakers really tried to sell themselves, their product, service through a great insight, crucial questions and five-star storytelling.

My top 3 honorable mentions are:

  • Yuhki Yamashita from #Figma with the talk ‘Confessions of modern design: How design is changing, and how we need to change with it’;
  • Brian Collins from #Collins with ‘Building better futures at scale’, and;
  • Yanick Sevigny from #Toptal with a ‘Designing for web3: Building a better decentralized web’ masterclass.

Valuable takeaways, inspiring discussions, and head full of ideas — thank you guys.

Let me put in mine two pennyworth about the discussion facilitators. Half of the talk’s success is the quality of question speakers are being asked. And some people didn’t deliver, asking superficial questions, not allowing speakers to go deep into interesting stuff.


Start-up Haven

Web Summit is a melting pot of different startups that want to become the next unicorn. Keywords were:

  • Metaverse,
  • Web3 and,
  • AI/ML.

My estimation is that more than half of the companies jammed these words somewhere in their description, invitation, presentation or swag. Metaverse and Web3 in particular were on everyone’s lips.

Being overwhelmed by overhyped topics should be considered a norm in a conference environment, though no one presented anything in these fields that would knock you out of your shoes. We’ve all seen how Meta’s metaverse looks like, how little real consumer interest it is currently creating, and how their stock is going downhill.

Nevertheless, through this monothematic promotional pattern you could see a lot of value in some booths. Interesting tools, services and concepts worth your time. And because of that, Web Summit is a great place to get inspiration and motivation. Being confronted by people who put everything they have into an idea is inspiring.

Take notes

Keeping track of what you’ve heard is crucial, since the event is saturated with activities, and believe me some ideas and exact quotes evaporate from your mind quite quickly. So jog your memory even with most simplistic notes.

Of course you can go into the distance and create a written short summary after each day like I did. For example, I divided my thoughts into 3 categories:

  • Personal,
  • Work,
  • Quotes and my own thoughts curated based on what I experienced, heard that day.


Food and drink

Root for sustainability, bring a refillable bottle. Water dispensers had very small paper cups that did not work. There were literally hundreds of different food trucks, so you can easily find anything to your liking, but be prepared for huge lines (remember, remember it’s November… and 70K people).

Lisbon-wise, please take advantage of an amazing cuisine at very reasonable prices. City is filled with lovely places that serve amazing dishes in any configuration imaginable — for vegans, for meat lovers, traditional, fusion, molecular, you name it. Do not lose that opportunity.


If you booked early, your hotel is within walking distance from the venue. If not, get ready for Piccadilly Circus traffic, no available taxis or ubers. Metro station is quite near, but (Lisbon for the love of god, do something about it) tickets can be only bought in ticket-machines. You can imagine the line to these 8 machines (remember, remember it’s November… and 70K people).

If you are staying far away, my tip is to walk to the Rotunda dos Vice-reis and pick up a cab from there. You’ll skip most of the traffic, and the entrance to highway A1, that goes through the city, is very close.

Organize your time after each day of conference

Whether it is going to be a trip to the old city or a dinner in a lovely cul-de-sac — go out and soak up the culture. What I’ve learned is that, quite often, most amazing discussions happen in a restaurant, in the evenings in hotel lobbies, or at night events organized by Web Summit.

Do not go alone

It really depends on who you are as a person, but my recommendation is to have at least one buddy on Web Summit. You’ll get bonus points if he/she has similar interests, profession as you, since you’d be sharing much more.

4 days of roaming in-between pavilions while attending intense activities, can overwhelm both body and mind. In the end, I’d argue having a great companion is much more valuable than any experience you can get yourself, since from sheer act of sharing you are getting more than double in return, both idea- and knowledge-wise.


Last but not least — Follow up

One of the bigger mistakes you can make is to not follow-up with people you met. Of course wait an appropriate amount of time. But remember, value comes from the relationship you’ll have and develop with people, not from the sheer fact you become acquainted with them during a conference.

Having a sort of a pen-pal you can share cool stuff with is priceless. It will give you an opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge.

Product Designer’s Perspective

Web Summit App. Part 2 of 2. Unbiased critic.

This might be boring for someone who is not really into UX/UI, if so please skip, I do not want to waste your time.

While using the Web Summit App I had 3 initial thoughts. The Engineering Team did a great job, the Design Team did a good job, Product people either have planned the whole app delivery badly or did not do their homework for the most part. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Hardly ever one size fits all, but while using the App I had a sense its delivery was rushed (?) and some low-hanging fruits were missed. Don’t get me wrong, part of the App’s features actually made Web Summit operable from the point of view of a single attendee.

Yet continuing my train of thought, I’d love to see the analysis and data, or at least hypotheses that made this design. When you land in the welcoming screen a lot of space is wasted on things that became redundant after the first 5 uses of the App. I miss quick buttons to ‘My Schedule’, without it I needed 3 clicks to get there.

I see the arguments of giving back to partners, sponsors through space on the ‘landing page’. But I’m quite sure the most revenue and final reason for the existence of the Web Summit comes from the attendees. And that would be my main point of focus.

Especially, since I guess you should cater for the needs of 95% of your user base, whose experience translates into attendance in future editions, rather than to appease marketing needs of your sponsors and partners. Which in the end would be better served, since the overall experience of the conference reflects on them directly. And there are plenty of opportunities to market them to the attendees as well in the App itself.

This is why I started to question whether the design and execution was flawed or the vision of it. And it seems the latter. It looks like Engineering and Design tried to make most of the vision that was laid down before them. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you are interested in stripping down the Web Summit App with me in look for better solutions, dive deeper and read all about it here.

Web Summit Main Themes

Main themes, as mentioned above, were:

  • (1) Metaverse and,
  • (2) Web3

I know it seems like a stretch, but none of the talks helped Metaverse nor Web3 to shake off its current images. In the case of Metaverse nobody even tried to show real value in joining for a spin, nor gave a compelling vision of the metaverse future ahead of us. In the case of Web3, guys presenting or marketing within the field did not rid themselves of a murky, shady image.

And in both fields there are loads of examples, that these technologies work and bring tons of value to the business and society as a whole. Why not lead with that?


Design-wise, people presenting within both themes, omitted it almost completely.

Yanick Sevigny in his ‘Designing for web3: Building a better decentralized web’ masterclass did a great showcase of design opportunities for Web3. Among great insight, simplicity and security of products did stand out, alongside innovative UI design. Though I was missing:

  • Data backing up such UI design and,
  • Solutions for building up trustworthiness of Web3 products.

I do agree that simplicity and security of products should be the main drivers of their design, and I can sign my name under it with both hands, vouching for that. Yet, I’d argue that until industry focuses on building trust around their products, no security nor simplicity will turn the public towards a decentralized and token-based economy.

Regarding the innovative UI, I’d argue that its adoption should be solely grounded on business objectives. A product not backed with millions of dollars will not fly high with great new ways of doing certain things through an innovative UI solution. These kinds of scenarios can happen in FAANG circles or when the solution is actually so good, it  doesn’t need a problem that needs to be solved — like it happened with Tinder swipe.

For example, in the case of the financial sector, the user taking care of his decentralized and token-based financial chores, should do it seamlessly and with a wider spectrum of features they really want. If innovative UI will enhance that — great — but it seems big fish can take only that risk. It makes more sense to take existing UX/UI patterns, build up trust with insanely great communication. In the end the user shouldn’t have to think (UX/UI) nor worry about it (trust).

How was it for a Product Designer in Web Summit?

Although my overall opinion on the event in general was good, unfortunately I have to admit that 75% of the talks, masterclasses and panels regarding design, in a broad sense, were neither deeply insightful nor focused on solving real problems.

A leading example was a talk christened with the name: ‘UI/UX trends in 2023 and beyond’. Jeez, the title of the talk could not be further from its contents. Not a single segment of discussion was about any UX/UI trend nor in the past nor in the future. There was one sentence identifying that users are using products/apps everyday, and design should acknowledge that. Mind blowing right?

There were diamonds like Yuhki’s and Collins’ talks, and unpolished gems like Yanick’s masterclass. And I’m happy to say all of them will contribute to my design endeavors and raise levels of creativity and productivity in my current/future line of work.

Final thoughts

First of all, thank you for bearing with me till the end 💪. Secondly, I wanted to thank my Lisbon crew from The Workshop — it was an amazing 4 days, and I’m super glad I could get to know you better guys ❤️.


And in a brief summary, if you decide attending Web Summit is a right move for you:

  • Be aware of the size of the Web Summit,
  • Accommodate for bumpy organization,
  • Bring your conversational A-game,
  • Be open-minded,
  • Take opportunities,
  • Take notes and,
  • Follow up with people.

While you should have a clear plan and set of goals, also leave some time to take in the event in a more laid-back way. It’s also important to have some time to wander around the space to check out the startups and companies booths.

Some of the coolest networking stories that we’ve heard happen in the line for a food truck. So it’s important to find the balance, to casually bump into people and make connections.

Get ready for a refreshing experience. And even though apparently, everything will be oversaturated with ‘this year’s’ buzzwords, just try to look through it and focus on extracting things that are important to you, your work and fulfillment of your passions.

Andrzej Delgado

Author Andrzej Delgado

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