A little over a year ago, we decided to formalise the UX Mastery community and give it a home. We opened our forum doors, and we now have a membership of over 500 people, all with one thing in common: a love of UX.
Here are just a few of the ways that you could use the community to your own benefit, if you haven’t already.
Resolve a Design Problem
Although ASHM is currently doing a bang-up job of trying to convince us that design is just 5% of UX, that 5% can sometimes mean a whole world of pain. One of the most powerful aspects of belonging to a community is having an entire team on call, 24/7. We love to chat about design, brainstorm ideas, and look for solutions. It might be how to deal with a ‘fork in the road’ or perhaps you need help fixing your entire website. There isn’t much that can’t get to the bottom of when you have 500 other UXers to bounce your ideas off.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is often the turning point in establishing a career in UX. Mentors are valuable in infinite ways, from helping you shape your design process, to encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone. Joining a forum community is a great way to meet people who might be able to fill that role for you. Take a look at David in Melbourne for example; or Ash in Canberra, who is mentoring JC in Ohio. We’re currently looking for mentors for Ana in Zagreb, Croatia; Patrick in Montpellier, France; and Vonnie in Toronto, Canada. When we can’t find someone to help you out immediately, we do it ourselves.
Get Career Advice
Forums are a great place to get career advice. An international forum with people from all walks of life, who came to UX from so many different places, is home to a wealth of knowledge. Take for example Andrew, who is considering a sideways move from product management and is wondering about building a portfolio when he doesn’t have strict UX project experience. We’re currently talking through that process. Or Michelle, who came from a business background and is looking for suggestions for ways to get experience on UX projects while studying. We chat about transitioning to freelancing, and we try to find work opportunities, we look at different training options and we talk about coding. In short, if you need advice, chances are that someone else in the community will be able to offer it.
Get Your Portfolio Reviewed
We all know how important a great portfolio is, and we all know the power of user testing. Whether you want help to run a full-scale project with your portfolio as a deliverable, or you’ve already built something and you want a review, the community can help. Here’s another example.
Network With Peers
One of the most powerful reasons for belonging to any community of practice is that you are immediately afforded the ability to network with a large group of people that love exactly the same thing that you do. In a community such as this one, it’s like being in a room with 500 UXers of all abilities. If you have a problem, the collective brain will no doubt be able to solve it. Even better, we’re an international community, which means someone is likely here to help around the clock. Even if you don’t have a problem, it’s always great to be able to bounce ideas around.
Pay It Forward
Most of us have had someone do something amazing for us at some stage or other, whether it was offering help with finding a job, mentoring, writing a great reference, or helping to solve that totally unsolvable issue. Being part of a community gives us the opportunity to pay that forward by helping others. Something as little as answering what seems like a simple question can mean that someone else has a really great day.