Expand Your Digital Presence

When we talk about our digital presence, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and personal web pages are natural starting points. All these options excel in how general purpose they are. The sky is the limit for how you want to balance your personal or professional personas. But I’d like to bring up a few other options that are scoped a little more tightly, but have great potential to improve your professional reputation as a designer. I’ll briefly describe how these work and they value they have.

1 – Stack Exchange (nee Stack Overflow) and Quora: These are both question and answer sites where individuals “upvote” what they think are best answers. Quora focuses on all industries with an eye to bigger picture questions and you can follow particular topics. Stack Exchange sites allow people to mark one answer as “best” or that it solved their problem, so it’s more tactically focused. Stack Overflow started out as a programming Q&A site, but has since spawned a network of sites including UX and IX design. By providing quality answers, on either network, to other people’s questions, you can build your reputation as a knowledgeable and helpful person who works to improve design by taking the time to give back to the community.

2 – Github is widely known among software developers because it helps them manage their code, collaborate with other developers, and track issues. What makes it so powerful is that developers can share their code publicly and allow anyone to contribute. As a coder looking for a job, many employers want to see that you contribute to projects and use Github as a way to see your own code. As a designer, potential employers are probably not looking for your work on Github, but your professional reputation could greatly be improved if you were willing to share common libraries, tools, or design patters you’ve developed: for example, icon sets, Omnigraffle stencils or Illustrator symbols, or maybe Photoshop templates. If you do code, make that available. The designers at Twitter and at Zurb have both shared their HTML/CSS frameworks on Github, and they have much more momentum now that the community is involved in building them. To put it another way: give away a few quality, useful tools for free to win friends and influence people.

3 – Dribbble and Behance: If you are a visual designer or interface designer, Dribbble and Behance are portfolio sharing sites. To oversimplify it, consider it Instagram or Pinterest where you post galleries of your work. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and get feedback. If you are applying for jobs in interface or visual design, these sites give you quick ways to share your portfolio with potential employers. Even if you don’t join them, these are great sites to peruse if you are looking for inspiration.

4 – AngelList: Ever thought about having your own startup? Maybe you made a ton of money and are looking to invest. Or you’re looking to work for some of the latest startups. AngelList is a great place to establish a profile for any of these scenarios. It’s a great way for investors, entrepreneurs, and other talented people to meet. As an entrepreneur, you can spread the word about your latest startup and list your previous ones. For investors, you can peruse new startups raising money, and try your hand at picking the next Instagram. Or you can list yourself under talent to connect with and find employment at new startups.

BONUS – SoundCloud: The intended purpose for this site is to allow musicians and producers to share their work. The coolest function of SoundCloud, though, is that comments are tied to the audio timeline. This makes it a great tool for several collaborators to annotate discussions at specific points in a recording. You can view the comments both in a standard list or as popups during audio playback. Although you probably want to keep interviews private, it’s a great way for you and several designers to record a discussion about issues in design and share your insights to the world.

When you think of sharing and social networks, consider that most web-based tools these days have a social component that you can use to expand your digital presence. If you’ve found great utility from a network not listed here, please share it in the comments!