Open Source Design Is Now Design Open
Thanks to some timely posts to Open Source Design’s GitHub issue on branding we decided to rethink the name of the project. Originally I planned for the site to be a definitive guide on what open source design is, hence the original domain name, opensourcedesign.is, but that has become too limiting for the direction the project is heading. Instead we are moving to a call for action: Design Open! (designopen.org)
The Difference between Open Design and Open Source Design
To work on open source design means to publish creative work with an open license, giving the community a chance to reuse and rework your content in ways you may not have considered. It is also the act of contributing design work to existing open source projects. Both executions of open source design imply that the work is open to contributions and collaboration from outside designers.
Although open sourcing is great, not every design can be published under an open license. However, almost every project can be designed openly to some degree and usually more than we are accustomed to doing now. If it is a client project, request to write a post mortem of the process. If you have design variations that you did not ultimately use, see if you can publish the source files so someone else might benefit from your investigations. Use a public platform to broadcast progress and keep yourself accountable to the goals you’ve set on a personal project. Put forth real effort to designing in the open. Show your work, process, and mistakes. It’s good for the community, but more importantly, it is good for your own personal growth as a designer to honestly track progress.
As an added benefit to designing in the open, it is a short leap to open source design. Put an open license on work you think could benefit others and post it publicly.
The removal of the term open source from the name of Open Source Design to Design Open does not signify we are going to stop encouraging designers to open source their work, or to collaborate on open source projects. On the contrary, we want to encourage all designers to become familiar with open source and make contributions to projects they care about.
A while ago the Open Source Design site hit the front page of Designer News and the traffic spiked dramatically. It was wonderful to get the exposure, but ultimately I found it a little disappointing that it didn’t lead to any significant, trackable increase in discussion. This is not merely a nice idea, it is a clarion call to shed our insecurities, pride, and paralyzing perfectionism; to dedicate effort to helping worthy causes; and to raise the quality of design and design education on the web. A call to design open.