How and where to get involved in web design communities?
Designers as well as developers have always been a close-knit group (there always seems to be a problem you need help with, right?), but online interaction and presence amongst this industry has just recently started growing over the last few years. While social media and forums became a necessity quickly for many professions—marketers, writers, sales representatives, etc.—it wasn’t something the development and design community jumped on right away. Now that this is changing, it’s more important than ever to get involved. The question then becomes easy: If I’m a developer and/or designer and want to be more active in the online community, where do I even start?
Top 3 Best Forums for Developers and Designers (and How to Get Involved)
Visiting a forum and interacting with others is a great way to hear about new ideas and share your knowledge. You can make connections with those who understand something you might not, which could come in handy in the future. It’s easy to do and forums are often moderated so you know you’re talking to real people with real answers.
Below are a few of the best forums specifically for web developers and designers:
- Forrst. This isn’t a traditional or overly popular forum, but once you really get to reading you’re realize there are a lot of quality people participating. The focus is on design (split up into categories like interaction and visual) and code review, and the discussions are some of the liveliest I’ve seen.
- Stack Overflow. I think this forum is great because it allows readers to interact without having to answer or ask a question. In other words, users can vote the answer that you thought was best to the top, so when you’re reading through the forum questions you are reading the best answers first. Anybody can ask, anybody can answer, and anybody can vote. There is also no registration required, which is quite unique.
- Web Developer. This is one of the more popular forums (you’ll surely find it at the top of your SERP) and therefore has a huge amount of information. You have to register before you can start posting, but you can be sure that your answer is going to get a lot of visibility on this site.
Top 3 Developers to Follow on Social Media and Why They Matter
If you don’t want to be overly consumed with social media you don’t need to be, but there are some industry experts you might want to consider following so that you can learn more information quickly. A few of these experts and their Twitter accounts are listed below:
- Gina Trapani. Although she might have 300,000 followers on Twitter, she keeps it together and posts a lot of her own content on the social network. She’s the cofounder and CTO of ThinkUp and is definitely one of the more influential women developers out there today.
- Eric A. Meyer. I love this profile because he really answers questions and responds to those who have comments about HTML or CSS. He’s maybe not one of the top people in the industry (he didn’t start any major company, although meyerweb.com is reputable, or create any major program), but he knows his stuff. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and accessible, and with 22,000 tweets you could say he’s very active.
Top 3 Development and Design Blogs to be Reading
This is one area where developers usually find time, but it’s important to also engage and interact with different blog posts. Below includes a list of popular company blogs, but also international and personal blogs:
- Smashing Magazine. One of my favorites and one of the most popular. With a really easy to read layout and content from some of the top developers in the industry, you really can’t go wrong.
- Scott Hanselman. This wasn’t a blog that I was overly familiar with, but turns out he puts out great content. He talks with you as if he knows what you’re going through and knows what it’s like to be an actual programmer and not just a company who hired writers to talk about programming.
- OXP (One Xtra Pixel). This blog puts a focus on design as well as development and reads more like a fun blog than a super information blog. It covers topics ranging from working from home to more technical subjects, but always with a cool graphic to match.
Bonus: Community News Blog for Developers
A community news blog allows you to offer your own content to the blog. In other words, you can visit the blog and read some of the best content from around the web on a community news blog. If you want to submit your own news (in the form of an article, of course), you can. One of the most popular options includes:
- CSS Drive. This is a huge site that is layed out just like a news site, so you have a lot going on at once. Nonetheless, the site does a good job of making it easy to navigate and only publishes the most newsworthy content. It does have a negative reputation amongst some, but it’s worth checking out for yourself to see where you stand.
In the end, getting active in your community is a great way to not only make connections, but also draw inspiration. Design particularly is a field where you can be creative and bounce ideas off others, and the community knows that and wants to help. Make it a part of your morning routine or take a look around just before you’re about to head to lunch.