Among the many benefits of becoming a web designer is the chance to be part of a fantastic community. Designers and developers of all stripes take pride in sharing what they know. It’s also a great place to exchange ideas, code, and a meme or two.
And, seeing as how so many of us reap rewards from the web design community, it’s only natural to want to give something back. However, finding a way to do so isn’t always so clear-cut. Maybe you have a desire to do something positive, but what should that be?
Thankfully, there are a number of different avenues you can take. It’s just a matter of finding a way to contribute that is the best fit for both your skills and personality.
That’s where we come in! Let’s look at some things you can do to help out your fellow web designers (and maybe make the world a better place in the process).
Lend a Hand in Support Forums
When a web designer runs into a roadblock while working on a project, where do they turn? Quite often, it’s a support forum such as Stack Overflow. Or it may be something a bit more niche, such as the WordPress.org support forums.
These communities are great for getting even the toughest questions answered. Whether it’s a sticky situation with CSS or perplexing PHP, odds are you have been helped by an answer found in one of these resources somewhere along the line.
That is reason enough to pitch in and pay it forward. If you happen to see a fellow developer who has an unanswered query that’s in your area of expertise, feel free to offer a helping hand. Just be sure to respect any community guidelines that are in place.
Even if you don’t have the exact answer, it’s still possible to point someone in the right direction. That alone can lift a huge weight off of their shoulders when problem-solving.
Contribute to an Open-Source Project
Open-source tools are a boon to web designers – and maybe to mankind as a whole. Just the idea of people collaborating on a project that benefits all is inspiring (we’re getting a bit misty-eyed just thinking about it).
These projects run the gamut from large applications like WordPress all the way to tiny CSS frameworks. It seems like there is something to help with virtually every aspect of building or maintaining a website.
The thing is, many of these ventures rely solely on dedicated volunteers. They need people who can contribute code, test out bug fixes, write documentation and handle support. The bigger the app, the greater the need.
If there’s a particular open-source project that you enjoy, why not offer up your talents? Even a small commitment of your time can be a big help in keeping things moving forward.
Create and Share Your Own Resources
Whether your specialty is in code or design, you have something positive to offer the web design community. If you’re feeling especially generous, you might even share something of your own creation.
This can take a number of forms. It could be in building your own open-source app. Or perhaps you let your inner-artist shine by releasing a free UI kit or set of custom icons. If you’re a coder, adding tutorials to your blog or snippets to your GitHub profile can serve as a valuable resource for others as well. Business advice is also a well-received contribution.
You don’t have to necessarily be an expert or commit to something that’s going to take up all of your free time. The point is more about offering up items, however small, that other web designers can benefit from. The fact that it reflects your particular talents makes it all the more meaningful.
Become a Mentor to Other Web Designers
There’s an old adage that says, “each one, teach one”. The idea is that taking the time to teach someone can lead to great things. And, if enough of us participate, the community as a whole will reap the rewards.
That certainly applies when it comes to mentorship. By taking another web designer under your wing, you can help them reach their potential. They, in turn, can do the same for someone else.
Again, you don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert on web design. Sometimes, being a mentor is more about being a good listener. Find out what your mentee’s goals are and offer tidbits of advice where you can.
Of course, this kind of relationship will likely cover things like code or design techniques. But it might also include the experience of dealing with clients, learning new skills or discussing ideas.
Giving a little bit of your time and knowledge can make a difference in someone’s life and career. Plus, it also provides you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s a win-win situation!
Promote Best Practices and Ethics
You may not realize it, but if you’re promoting best practices and ethical behavior – you’re benefitting the entire web design community.
For example, touting the virtues of accessibility and standards-based code on social media does two things: It spreads the good word about these subjects and it can help to convince web designers to adopt them.
Then there’s the way you serve clients. It’s a matter of both putting best practices into action and treating clients in an ethical manner. By doing so, you are helping the industry build and maintain a great reputation.
In the grand scheme of things, these are little steps. But, over time, they add up to something substantial.
Giving Back Is Its Own Reward
We hope that the ideas above have inspired you to give your time and skills to make the web design community a better place. And, if you’re already contributing in some way, hopefully they’ve reinforced why you’re doing so.
Of course, these are but a few potential options. The web is a great big place and there is no shortage of room for innovation. You may find a different way to share your creativity and unique experiences.
It’s a safe bet that each one of us has benefitted from the kindness, generosity and wealth of resources this community has to offer. So, let’s all pitch in and keep it going, shall we?