Peel those white labels off your design collaborations.
How to contribute to a positive sum game.
As a designer, sometimes that missing piece of the puzzle lies outside of you or your team, and that’s OK!
Whether you’re looking for new ideas or things are getting a little tricky, by turning to the community, you’re able to turn projects into bigger (and better) versions of themselves.
At Opera, there’s been more than one occasion where we’ve been working on a project and we’ve contacted a specialist to support us.
We’re not ashamed to admit that either. We’re humbled and proud that we can turn to the community when we’re looking to create something bigger than ourselves.
Earlier this year we released Opera Neon, our team’s killer vision for what we have to look forward to from browsers in the future. While we were psyched by its overwhelmingly positive response, we were equally inspired by the level of support it received from those within the design community we collaborated with for its release.
The fact that designers are willing to help other designers design (that’s a mouthful!) is a testament to everyone who’s helped turn the community into what it is today.
It’s one thing to share your knowledge and your audience, but another to be willing to share your time. Time is the most valuable resource we have, and sharing it with the intent of helping others is meaningful.
More than just the warm-and-fuzzies
We all become better, smarter and greater through this process as well.
An iterative approach and a focus on collaboration breeds innovation and opens up new ideas, thoughts and experiences.
In the world of one, what you see is all there is (WYSIATI), but in the world of many, you’re open to new and exciting opportunities.
That’s why collaboration is found at all levels, in any industry.
It’s why you see tech monoliths partnering with fledgling startups (and vice versa). When there’s opportunity to collaborate, innovate and learn from each other, people will take it.
Collaborations aren’t exclusively defined by size either; they’re defined by what you’re hoping to achieve, and your vision.
It sounds a little David and Goliath to hear that a small collaboration can have a colossal impact on an industry, but it’s true. If there’s vision and hard work, an impact is sure to follow.
Some of the best ideas, products and experiences often stem from the underdog work of two or more bodies that share a common goal and have a clear vision for change.
That’s another reason why you’ll see larger companies partner with startups — to share and collaborate on common goals, to make a change.
For startups or freelancers, it’s tricky (at best) to get your message across to the right people at the right time. There’s so much vying for the attention of the people you’re looking to help, and when you’re working on a tight budget, it makes it all the more challenging.
But, when larger companies support startups or freelance artists, you end up in a situation where they can be introduced to a larger audience in a fraction of the time needed to build their own.
Don’t hide your collaborations away under white labels; vouch for them. It’s better for everyone.
In any collaboration, you’re vouching for the quality and character of your partners. You’re telling the world, “We support X and you should too!” By making this public, you’re not only confirming your faith in your partner, but also your faith in collaboration itself as a respectable component in the creative process.
For the community, this creates social proof that looking outside your core team for design support isn’t something to be ashamed of or to hide away.
Contributing to a positive sum game
By fostering this sense of community (that allows us to share resources without a sense of loss), we’ve managed to build the world you see around us.
Look back as little as 10 years and you can see how far we’ve come by working together, especially in design.
We’ve made it through the horrors of skeuomorphism, we’ve wrestled with dark experience patterns and we’re continually sparking innovation from the creative tools at our disposal.
Through community and collaboration we’re able to share our thoughts, feelings and a lifetime worth of learning in a fraction of the discovery time.
We no longer need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we’re able to share and learn from those who did. Something that would’ve been much trickier 10 years ago, and frustratingly painful 10 years before that.
Building for the future
Through this collaboration and fostered sense of community we are collectively building a vast library of knowledge; but as with anything that grows, it needs tending to.
This is why it’s important to continuously nurture the community through both contributions and support. Without these contributions, we end up in a reality where the best ideas in the world are quietly laid to rest in graveyards, never shared with the world.
Share your ideas with the world, empower the community to carry them forward.
Your impact on the community’s growth not only affects other designers, but the lives of those around you too.
As designers, we have the luxury of being able to change and improve the way the world around us grows and thrives. We’re able to create products that can connect accountants, firefighters, lovers and anyone in between.
Take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come, what’s in front of us, and the wonderful opportunity we have to collaborate on the future.
Give your time, share your energy and collaborate as much as possible.
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