Why Developers and Designers need to engage with a Community

09 August 2016 | Life

Darian Rosebrook

10 min read

Here we unpackage why engaging in communities is important for developers and designers, especially for those starting out a an entrepreneur. Along with going over what the different communities like Seanwes and the DevTips Community have to offer and why they’re a gold mine for new creatives.

Where do you usually turn when you need to ask a question?

Imagine yourself being new to your career as a designer. That could mean that you are just rolling out of college or high school wondering what’s next, or you could be like me who was tired of doing the current work and was looking for a change. What no one tells you is that it’s hard to sift through the noise of what information is out there in the world. There are countless resources all over the internet about whatever it is you need to know, whether it can actually help you or not. And when it comes to design questions that I needed answers for, I had two people in my life who kind of know about what I’m trying to learn. Most of the time though, I’ve had to turn to the almighty Google and throw it questions like feeding fish to an army of angry penguins.

Many times while searching for information about building websites, I have had to turn to YouTube to figure out what I need to do next. The answers that I got was unhelpful until I stumbled upon the video “How to Code a Responsive HTML Email.” Which, I admit, is an odd one to jump into. This cool cat’s name is Travis and he’s the host of the DevTips Show. I usually look at YouTube videos like these when I want to learn something new even though it can be as productive as it is unproductive.

Searching 'How do I style HTML emails?'

So why did this change everything for me?

A lot of the time you find yourself alone with no one you can get answers from. That can be pretty difficult when you need to grow in a certain area. What do you do? Do you go back to school? Do you call up your aunt who did graphic design in the 80’s? Maybe the best solution is seek out people doing the same thing you’re doing.

I had found that just watching videos wasn’t cutting it. I needed help with things that I was learning, had so many questions. I looked to what seemed like random corners of the internet for answering questions and even resorted to asking people with personal websites using their contact forms. (Yes, I was that committed.) When I finally found the answer to something I was looking for, I just happened to watch the end of another DevTips video, the host, Travis, talked again about the DevTips Community.

So what does a community do?

A community is a group of people who collectively come together around a certain purpose or walk of life. They form when at least two people are drawn to some idea or interest. It is the first time you realize that you aren’t the only one who needs the same answers you are looking for. People have personalized experiences that to them may seem inconsequential but to another person, that experience shared could mean saving years of their life searching for that same thing. For the commune of web designers and developers, the ability to be able to convene together and ask for help is invaluable. Each new idea or niche is a seed that grows into it’s own community eventually.

When this forms how you think of communities this helps you see that they are all around you. Maybe it’s the yoga group that meets every week, maybe it’s the church down the road, or your high school buddies hanging out at the parking lot of a Safeway (you do you, Arlington). I know that there are meetups for all types of careers, code languages, ideas, religions in every town. People convene in locations all around you and you might not even see it.

The benefits of being part of communities are that you have access to some of the brilliant minds of others; if it’s online, that could be at any given point from any type of life from any place on the globe. They help you sift through that sea of emptiness on the internet by sharing what they know about their work. They take on the questions that you ask and help work on solutions. You’ll start to find that you have answers to some of the things being asked too. By sharing what you know, you may not just help the person who asked, but find that you’re able to help yourself solidify what you know, or even realize what you still have to learn.

Community hangout for people who love to do things, I guess

So if communities are great, what are some of the ones that you’ve seen or been part of

  • The DevTips Community
  • The Megamaker group
  • The Seanwes Community
  • Been to dribbble meetups and freeCodeCamp meetups

What is DevTips and the DevTips Community?

DevTips is a weekly YouTube show that focuses on web development and design, hosted by Travis Neilson.

Quoting Travis himself, DevTips is “a weekly YouTube show that focuses on web development and design.” It’s focused on exploring the front end development side of making website designs. It’s pure gold to someone like me who’s wondered how certain things are done with the crazy and unpredictable CSS and JavaScript (ECMAScript). This show is hosted by Travis Nielsen, now (at the time of this writing) an employee at Google who has been doing awesome videos for the past few years. Travis has built a large following of over 125,000 subscribers (again, at the time of this writing) who all want to learn more about the design to development process. I can say from personal experience, I owe a lot of my current skills to what I have learned from his videos.

He has grown his channel into something much more than himself. At a certain point, you have people that are hungry for more and willing to support the content you make, and Travis has helped facilitate that. In return, he has created an online community group for the patrons of the show, which you can check out here on Patreon .

The Community here is a group full of Designers and Developers across the globe that want to learn more and give their help towards making the web a better place. Here, I have found a dumptruck load full of people willing to help others with questions and problems they’re having with their current designs and code. Everyone here can be found around the YouTube comments and Patreon page. From here I’ve found work as a web designer with a startup and countless smaller projects to help me grow as a designer. You’ll find no better coding community than this to get feedback, play around with codepens and joke around about the industry. We’ve started hosting some weekly google hangouts for people in the group to showcase what you’ve learned or came up with that week.

devtips community hangout

What is MegaMaker?

It doesn't matter if you swing hammers, a keyboard and mouse, a paintbrush, a needle and thread, or a soldering iron. We're all makers here.

Spearheaded by Justin Jackson, a crazy Canadian who has a knack for creating awesome products. He started 2016 with a MegaMaker challenge. Justin still plans on making 100 things in 2016. With a challenge like that he created a podcast to document his progress. Since then he’s created quite a following for his challenge with a new secret society and new seasons of the MegaMaker podcast.

Justin is a product centric creative that is helping other people learn how to make a living as an independent creator. He gives out plenty of tips for digital products and marketing tips. Recently he’s been challenging others with miniature maker missions to create something around a general topic. If you want to see how to make an interesting mark on today’s society, I really recommend checking out his podcast.

What is Seanwes

Grow your business and connect with people who won't let you quit.

Sean McCabe and his team of awesome people have created a large network of awesome resources for people who are trying to build and sustain an audience driven business. Just recently he’s driven up the price of the community up to reflect the amount of value that you get from being a part of this network. I still recommend this if you are an entrepreneur that focuses on your audience to engage with and increase the success of your business.

The members in here challenge each other to grow and keep on top of their game with constant learning and discussions. Sean is working really hard at creating learning paths and other resources for current and future members of the community. Within the membership you get access to all of the seanwes podcasts in the vault as well as watching live streams of their podcast.

You don’t have to be a paid member to get some value from what their brand has, but there are also things like the seanwes conference and his seanwes.tv youtube channel. Don’t let the price of the membership scare you because practicing what he teaches pays for any expense you find in here. I believe he does this too so you take this as an investment towards your future and treat it seriously.

So I’m going to have to pay if I want to take part of any of this?

No, these are just the ones that I choose to spend and invest my time into. There are countless communities everywhere you look. Some other great ones to get into that I can also suggest are:

You can find a community for whatever you are interested in to help you grow. You might think that you don’t have time for engaging within these but you make time for the things that are important to you. Maybe people there are helping keep you aligned with a public commitment you’ve made for yourself or your brand, or maybe you’re touching base with a coach or mentor. Maybe you’re helping coach and mentor another person. Maybe you have been spending years going in the wrong direction with your current path because you’ve never gotten feedback on what you’re doing. Everyone there is going to help keep you away from that and cares about your success. All because you’re part of their own community too. This is all an investment of your time, you get out of the community what you put into it.

Look for ways to engage in a community for your interests and see how that helps you grow!

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