People Who Design: Connecting Design Communities

by:   |  Posted on

These days, creating a personal website is easy. You don’t need to know about how to code; the newest platforms can host profile pages with templates you can fill in with photos, links, and text about you and your works. Especially if your content all fits in just one page, you have all you need for a website no matter if you’re a media person, digital professional, creative designer, or a tech expert. Having a website really helps to make you relevant and reliable, establishing yourself as a landmark in anything, and everyone knows this. If you’re a company or organization, private or public, it doesn’t matter, you obviously need an online presence.

The Problem

According to the Hosting Tribunal there are about 2 billion websites but less than 400 million of them are active. By the time you finish reading this article, thousands of new sites will spawn. Looking just at blogs and personal pages, stats reveal great prospects for those as well. Every day, over 500 million blogs and 19 million bloggers spawn a massive amount of new content readily available at your fingertips.

There are many websites, too many. How can your site rank for a search without being overwhelmed by thousands of other results before yours? Sure, you can invest in on-page SEO, creating perfectly optimized and indexed content but there will always be someone who will do this better than you (and many people will). And this is all without even considering taking out paid ads, which have now  become predominant in search results.

So, with all this in mind, what if I’m on the other side, and looking for websites within a certain kind of profession?

Directories 

Over the years directories and other sites have been created that try to group professional figures of a certain type. Is the problem solved then? Unfortunately not. They all have the same flaw, you have to register to be able to contact them, often you cannot view the complete profile and, in the worst case, you have to pay to create a premium profile and have access to the complete list. This is a solution that is not suitable for everyone.

Recently, thanks to Jules Forrest (who created womenwho.design), a trend seems to have been born that has pushed creatives from all over the world to create directories similar in shape but different in content. In fact, they all focused on creating a list of professionals grouped by sector (e.g. designers, creative directors, writers, etc.), but they differ in the overall reference niche.

Some have focused on creating a list of professionals united by their origin (eg. Brazilian, Italians, Asians), others by gender (eg. Women, Trans). All of these initiatives have a common goal, to give value and visibility to a specific niche of professionals, often people who are little known and therefore marginally taken into consideration.

Here is a non exhaustive list of the most famous of them so far:

Let’s Explore Some of These Directories

Below we will find three of the websites that, in terms of approach, target, and design choices, differed from each other but all were born with the same goal. To increase visibility of a niche within the design community.

Brazilians Who Design 

Created and curated by Zeh Fernandes and Fabricio Teixeira, from UX Collective, it’s a place to showcase the work of talented Brazilian designers to the world. The goal is to inspire new designers to diversify their references, to get experienced designers to diversity their network, and for companies to diversify their teams. 

Brazilians who design homepage

If you pay attention, every time you refresh the website, you will notice that the website features a different Brazilian artist in the top right corner. The goal of this website is to showcase not only contemporary Brazilian design but also to celebrate the history of design in Brazil.

The Code behind this is open source for anyone who wants to create their own showcase. 

Women Who Design

Created by Jules Forrest, this website is a Twitter directory of accomplished women in the design industry. It aims to help people find notable and relevant voices to follow on Twitter by parsing Twitter bios for popular keywords.

Women who design homepage

Leveraging this moment’s elevated awareness of the experiences of women in the workplace, this website aims to create a space for dialogue. The main goal is to provide a platform to ask what it means to be a woman in design, and through collaboration and exploration, to propose how it can be different.

Queer Design Club

Queer design club homepage

Founded by John Hanawalt and Rebecca Brooker, Queer Design Club’s goal is to create a community for queer creators to share their work, connect with their creative history, and build relationships with one another. The project is distributed across platforms, either public or closed, to give members a variety of ways to participate.

They also run a closed Slack group, as a safe space to connect with other queer design professionals, offer resources, post job listings, and for sharing projects that you’re working on.

Italians Who Design

Inspired by these projects, Italians Who Design is a showcase of the most talented Italian designers out there. It aims to help people find notable and relevant designers to inspire others, to increase and diversify networks, and perhaps to find someone to work with. There are a number of Italian designers that are working abroad designing products used by millions who may be less known internationally than they deserve to be. This site is a good place to find them. 

Italians who design homepage

Created by Andrea Paci and Alessandro Greco, Italians Who Design is inspired by Fabricio Teixeira’s article about ‘Brazilians Who Design’, an amazing project to showcase talented Brazilian design portfolios. We have a long history of amazing Italian designers and our style is well known all around the world, so it made sense to create Italians Who Design.

Starting from the first conversations, we discussed how detailed and atomic we should be in listing the different roles. We decided to keep it as simple as possible with the hope that people’s links and portfolios will help tell the full story. So, we started with these categories: UX & Product, Branding, Graphic, Motion, and Illustration. We are still discussing how we will add a few other categories as Writing, Industrial Design, and Research, as the list grows. There is still a long way to go before we reach a final state but this is the nice part about building something new.

Conclusions

New trends emerge constantly. The projects presented here are only a small part of the existing ones, however, it seems evident that a new trend has just begun, we do not yet know how it will evolve and how it will continue to expand. These directories are trying to solve a real problem: that too many personal websites are hard to find, or simply missing on the web. Gathering niches of creatives and professionals of all kinds into larger and better indexed groups like this can be a decisive turning point to give greater visibility and authority to everyone.

The various niches, grouped by the projects, are very different from each other in terms of targets and objectives. Some of these sites, such as Brazilians Who Design and Italians Who Design, create communities around the nationality of the professionals. In other cases, like Women Who Design, the focus is on the gender problem that concerns the under-representation of women within the technological ecosystem. As well, for the Queer Design Club the goal is to build a community where LGBTQ+ designers can celebrate their contributions to the design industry and visual culture.

These are very different projects but all have a common goal, and the next few years will be exciting to understand how they will evolve.

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Andrea Paci

Andrea Paci

Andrea Paci is an HX Designer specialized in innovation design. He is a contributor at UX Collective and a member of Designer Hangouts. Feel free to subscribe to his design blog at italianswhodesign.substack.com, drop him a line at info@andreapaci.me or, to follow him on Medium.
View all posts by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.