Valuing Your Design Community

Do you interact within the design community? Better yet, why do you interact with the design community?

A while back I wrote an article about valuing your design, in this article we talked about taking certain steps to improve our personal fulfillment and the creative value of our projects.

So as a follow up this article will take the same approach to our interaction with the design community and discuss way that we can improve the value of our deign community interaction.

With the many different means of interaction for designers we have an awesome opportunity to connect with designers all over the world. As I thought about this concept and how I interact with the design community I realized that the value and benefit of being a part of this community could very easily be taken advantage of.
Lets look at twitter for example, the more people I interact with the further my reach goes. So it can be very easy to focus on getting more followers to re-tweet my articles in an effort to drive more traffic to my site.

Interacting with people on twitter, and having people retweet your articles is not a bad thing, but it is the benefit of building a relationship, and should not be a means to an end.

If your sole purpose for interacting with the design community is to promote yourself… you are broken, or maybe better said…

Community… ur doing it wrong

I would imagine that it is within most of our aspirations to make something for ourselves and accomplish creative, and career goals. So no matter how we look at it there is a level of self-promotion involved, there is definitely a time and a place for that. If we do community right we will see that we gain a value that is more fulfilling, and productive than self -promotion alone.

So what are the benefits, and how do we interact within the design community in a way that benefits us as well as others? Here are a four points to consider.

Creatives need friends too-

No matter what we say about being independent, or shy when it comes to interaction with other people, the truth is we need friends, and acquaintances to interact with that we have something in common with.
In the design world our work and frustrations are often misunderstood by those outside of the community, simply due to the nature of creative work. That being said it will lend to better personal fulfillment to build relationships with other designers.

As we interact within the community and build relationships we will also build a great resource for support, feedback, and collaboration, these are the results that we should be looking for more that just more face time, and traffic to our blog/site.

Be the interaction you want to receive-

It has been said that “it is better to give than to receive”, and this principle is at the foundation of quality community interaction. This sheds some light on the definition “Community is helping each other get to places we can’t reach on our own.”

We will start to receive the interaction and feedback we want for ourselves when we make that the standard for the interaction we offer to others. So if you feel you aren’t getting the interaction you would like from the design community, write down the main things you would like to see improve and then start being that to others in the community, if you are already doing that then keep being consistent and interacting… it will happen.

Be YOU, and establish YOUR personal brand-

There can be a lot of pressure to live up to others standards especially in the design community. Part of interacting within the community is being you, your experiences, knowledge, and skills are unique to you, and no one else can offer them because they are yours.

So be yourself, build your personal brand, and don’t try to be the next Jeff Zeldman, or Gary V. We already have those guys and they rule, but what we need is you. What I have noticed in my interaction is that other designers are looking for like-minded designers, and devs that they can relate to, and even interact with on a daily basis (via skype, twitter, friendfeed, etc.).

Get out from behind the computer-

You heard that correctly… get out from behind the computer and go to some meet up and network/interact with other designers in your community. Use tools like Nearby Tweets to find other designers in your area and connect. Check and see if there are local meet ups, and if not start one.

This can be dependent on where you live, as there may not be designers in your immediate area… but if you search you will probably find something within 30 minutes of driving. At our recent collekt meet up we had two people drive over an hour from LA to connect!

The interaction is out there; if we just look a bit harder we can find it!

Wrapping Up!

So wrapping things up… yes interacting in the design community will help get out your name out there, and build your personal brand… but more importantly it will allow you to give back which is more rewarding, and I will go out on a limb and say that people will support/promote those they have interacted with, and share/agree with their vision and approach to design/creativity.

Here are some places that you can connect with other creatives in a community setting

DCTH

Chat Creative

TinyChat

DesignMoo

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic… Am I crazy… right on… what is your approach to design community interaction… and how have you found ways to connect?

30. July 2009 by Aaron Irizarry
Categories: Design/Development | Tags: , , , , , | 23 comments

Comments (23)

  1. Very true indeed! Here, here for community!

  2. Nice! The design community should feel more like a “family” rather than a competition to promote yourself.

  3. Aaron,
    You are right on with this. Interacting with your design community is key, and if you don’t, your not only hurting yourself, but missing out on gaining valuable knowledge, interaction and experience’s that you normally wouldn’t get. I encourage anyone who does not network within the community to get out and go for it, and if there is nothing in your area start something. Be proactive.

    Nice post.
    .-= ´s last blog ..Do You Have Tough Skin? =-.

  4. Great article! I think that the majority of the community does it right :) . But every now and then you come across the person who’s all in it for themselves. They don’t tend to stick around long.

  5. Hi Aaron, I think you know I’m not a designer but you guys so gladly let me into your community as I have a passion for design even if I can’t design myself ;)

    I see too many takers and less giving recently, shouts for bumps and diggs and moos etc please retweet this or whatever but none of them put the effort in to read others posts or vote up others stories that makes me a bit sad actually!

    Don’t get me wrong I do my fair share of asking but my point is that we (the design community) shouldn’t be asking we should already be supporting…

    One of your section titles sums it up for me but I would ad the word ‘proactively’!

    “Be the interaction you want to receive”

    • @roger,
      You may not think of yourself as a designer, but you are an integral part of the design community, and one of the first people I interacted with along with Adelle Charles, Kyle Steed, Calvin (mayhemstudios) and the interaction I received was awesome. It motivated me even more to do this blog, and get more involved in the design community.

      @Dan,
      your comments are always insightful, and well appreciated my friend.

      @Josh,
      exactly! be proactive

      @Henry,
      I know… we don’t need ego competing, just support each other, and share in the joy of each others successes

      @Rob, and Angie,
      You guys Rule!

  6. Recently I’ve been commenting on the posts that that I read. It takes a lot of time to write even the simplest of posts. I think that commenting goes a long way and lets the author know that he / she is being heard.

    Keep up the good conversations!

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  8. Hey Aaron, nice article :-)

    I’m from LA, would like to check the collekt meeting one of these days :-)

    Thanks for the good read~

    -Soh

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  11. Good post. I’m a designer in Temecula and would love to get to know some of my like-minded neighbors here. I go to a lot of networking events, but have yet to meet any of them. At least any I’d like to get to know better.

  12. I couldn’t agree with you more. Often I’ve met both designers and clients who don’t see the relationship or interactive component of much of what they are doing regardless of whether it involves SEO or Social Networking, Interaction Design, or just outright Marketing. The will see something as the destination, instead of what it really is, a “vehicle” or a “bridge” to a destination or objective. It can be really frustrating sometimes, but as designers and developers it is as much our responsibility to educate people and fight the ignorance and/or business narcissism in the industry, as it is to maintain high level standards and good practices. A thing I might add that a lot of people don’t think nearly enough about.
    .-= ´s last blog ..Featured Artist EJ Santiago =-.

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  14. Aaron

    Great article and great advice for anyone, like me, who has recently discovered what a huge, friendly and helpful community of designers we have here online. To this point I’ve been using my twitter name in all of my comments and because of your article I’ve decided to go ahead and start using my real name so as to make it more personal. It’s easy to get lost and/or hide on the internet and it’s easy to become just a name on a screen. I think it takes people, myself included, a while to feel comfortable enough to let others know that we’re real flesh and blood people. Luckily, this online community of designers are a group of very cool and friendly people who are willing to lend a hand when needed and that makes the newcomers, like me, feel welcome.

    As far as getting out from behind the computer I totally agree with you and I realize that I need to make more of an effort on that front. Living in a very rural part of the country means I’m a little cut off from any kind of irl design community but I have to confess to not really putting the effort in to look for one or get one going. I have a meetup account and always a see a few people who are interested in a web design group from the area. I guess I’m a little shy but it never occurred to me to start one myself. I think I’ll do that right now. :)

    Thanks for the awesome article!

  15. @Arron, no problem at all I love what you do here, and I think this was a valid point. In reality a lot of what we do should be about creating or sharing an experience or building a relationship. I think this is why Deviant Art for example was such a huge success.
    .-= ´s last blog ..Free Fantasy Wallpaper Light Bringer =-.

  16. What a post Aaron! Answered a lot of questions that I’ve had.

    I always thought about meeting up with other designers around the area but never actually tried too. I also have to attend some web conferences this year so i can learn more and further my skills.

    Great post Aaron, really made me think.

    you rock!
    .-= ´s last blog ..PSD to WordPress Series Part 1 =-.

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  18. Here! Here! If you’re in social media for an end-result you’re missing the whole point.

  19. Wonderful read! I love the design community. Being a part of this community has allowed me to learn and inform others! I’m a web design teacher assistant (hoping to teach the class soon) and I always pass on the knowledge I find through Twitter and blogs to the design students.

    I basically live in a small town of 1k but thankfully the nearest city is only a 30 minute drive away. Unfortunately, nobody has set up a web design meetup so I guess I’ll have to create a group myself when I have the time!

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