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How

Design Companies Build Communities

The most comprehensive overview across the web on how big design companies build digital communities.

Lisa Dziuba
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All companies aim to win user loyalty.

Engaged community drive product development, create plugin ecosystem, write guides and learning resources. Loyal users help spread the word about the product. This gives dream viral growth, while the company continues building their sticky product.

But how to build such a loyal, and engaged community?
You’re now reading results of 4 years’ research on community building practices from the biggest design players, combined with our lessons.

Lisa Dziuba
Co-founder of Flawless

01.

Giving the best learning opportunities for the community

A community of loyal users, readers or followers is a huge asset for any company. Design companies are doing an excellent job in educating existing and potential users. It keeps the community constantly engaged with the company brand. With high-quality guides, e-books, podcasts, newsletters, and courses, these companies aim to position themselves as thought leaders and industry experts. Some companies even share content created by their community, empowering users to engage even more with each other and the company brand.

  • DesignBetter learning hub

    The InVision team invested heavily in educational content. Initially, all content was a part of their blog. However, in 2017, things became more structured: InVision launched DesignBetter. This is a collection of design books, podcasts, interviews, and reports. It’s everything needed to educate the creative community and earn a place in user minds.

  • Inside Design blog

    The InVision blog initially held hundreds of design articles. In 2018, they restructured this content piece, transforming it into the “Inside Design” blog. This resource contains guides, educational videos, and e-courses. Most of the published articles have been written by designers from the community.

  • Design Defined glossary

    How to engage with newbie designers?
    A glossary of terms is an easy entry point. “Design Defined” is a glossary on steroids, with dedicated articles that cover many terms in design.

  • Reports, DS videos, films

    InVision has a strong team behind their educational content, headed by Aarron Walter and Elijah Woolery. They often share videos on Design Systems (DS), hiring reports, documentaries, films & much more. Everything focuses on educating the design community.

  • Design + Sketch Publication

    The Design + Sketch Medium Publication has over 86K readers. It covers design, development, and many Sketch topics. It’s managed by Todor Iliev, who also runs the largest online community for Sketch resources — Sketch App Sources.

    Design + Sketch has existed since 2014. There are guides from 378 writers: designers, community leaders, and companies. It’s done by the community, for the community and inspired by Sketch.

  • Dozens of Sketch learning sites

    Enthusiasts from the community have made dozens of learning sites around Sketch and design topics.

    It’s a great example of a community creating learning content on behalf of a brand. Most of these sites flourished in 2014-2016 and performed independently (some of them have closed by now). The Sketch team supports many of them, often mentioning the Sketch App Sources site and highlighting projects on social media and in their newsletter.

    This content is totally community-driven, showing how strongly designers have supported Sketch.

  • Sketch App Sources content

    Sketch App Sources is a resource hub first. But there you can also find tutorials, articles, and videos. Most of them focus around Sketch, and all this content is created purely by designers from the community. The core Sketch team helps by highlighting and supporting all of these content creators.

  • Design courses for beginners

    “Learn Design” is a program by Figma that shows how to use their tool, as well as teaching some design fundamentals. For those new to design, this is a perfect entry point for Figma to build relationships with the user.

  • Design Glossary

    In 2018, Figma launched its own resource of design terms. In addition to writing it themselves, the community could also suggest new terms to the glossary.

  • Design System hub

    Design Systems (DS) are popular now. Whatever community members want to learn, design companies make it happen. So Figma launched a hub with articles, open-source design systems and a short history of DS.

  • Conduct design research

    Conducting research is a useful way to absorb information from the community, and then give it back. Figma partnered with Clarity conference to analyze the state of Design Systems in companies. After surveying 499 designers, Figma shared their DS report. As you see from the tweet, the community was very excited

  • Marvel blog

    The Marvel team started their blog 5 years ago, and it now it has 533 design-related articles, making it a huge learning resource. The first articles were written by the Marvel co-founder/CEO himself, Murat Mutlu. It’s extremely authentic and grounded for the founder(s) of a large design company to share their knowledge with the community.

  • Free e-books

    Marvel has released 2 design books so far: Design Systems e-book and the Book of Collaboration. We’re looking forward to seeing the next book in this series!

  • Abobe learning blogs

    The Adobe family of companies powers education throughout the creative community. Their content includes actionable design tutorials, dives into the creative process, design best practices, career advice, tips for Adobe XD and much more.

    Adobe team works hard on sharing learning content via the Adobe Blog, Create Magazine, 99U and Thinking Design publication on Medium. Want to learn from Don Norman? Just open their publication on Medium.

  • Learn from other designers at Adobe Live

    “Adobe Live” is an online platform where the community can see designers working live, crafting illustrations, UI for mobile apps, animations, digital art, typography. Everyone can ask questions in real-time and interact with the speaker. If you missed a live stream, watch replays on the Adobe website, Behance, YouTube or look at the hashtag #AdobeLive on Twitter.

  • Wireframe Podcast

    Adobe team curates a storytelling podcast about design and has already released a whole season. Together with the educational mission, it aims to show how design is relevant to the world at large.

  • Facebook Live

    Since 2016, Adobe XD team has been running a Facebook group. It's active and well-moderated. Every week Adobe designers run live learning sessions over Facebook, highlighting different interesting design topics

  • Blog

    The Abstract team started their blog in April 2017. Now it has 75 design-related articles, grouped into 5 sections: customer stories, open design, design ops, stories about the company and product.

  • Newsletter

    As another channel of sharing learnings and insights with designers, Abstract has a monthly newsletter where they feature everything related to design. The diverse range of topics includes articles on scaling teams, design systems, and how to thrive in the modern design world.

  • Webinars

    At the beginning of 2019, Abstract created a YouTube channel, that now collected 40 video-tutorials. You can find here guides on how to use Abstract, what are the benefits of the version-control system and 5-second tips, useful customer stories and many more. From time to time there are live sessions where anybody can join and learn valuable insights about the product.

There is no replacement for a deeply rooted passion, an intense level of care and consideration for community by the product builders themselves.

I think this boils down to three key traits: humility, vulnerability, and kinship. Humility to admit you don’t have all the answers and will make mistakes. Vulnerability to open yourself up to feedback and to regularly engage with your audience.

Kinship in discovering the right things to build in partnership with your community. Simply put: community should be the cornerstone of everything you do. I don’t think that level of care can be faked— it shows in a product builder’s attention detail: their love of craft, the way they interact with their audience, the compassion and sensitivity they show to meeting others’ needs.

Maybe I’m a romantic, but I think this is only possible when walking hand-in-hand with your community and charting the waters of innovation together.

Stephen Olmstead
Chief of Staff at InVision App

02.

All design resources community might need

UI kits, icons, mockups, and fonts are useful when working within any design tool. Design companies have taken care of that. Everything is already made by the companies themselves, or by passionate community members. When using any tool, we’re often welcomed by ready-to-use design assets.

Firstly, design companies nurture community via useful educational content. Then they provide handy design resources to work faster, right inside the tool. So users have no reason to leave.

  • Free design resources

    InVision has been sharing free design resources since 2014. Since then, founder and CEO, Clark Valberg has hunted various InVision UI Kits on Product Hunt. Now their resources hub holds 17 UI Kits, 7 icon packs, and a growing number of mockups kits. Their UI resources are also very comprehensive and well-crafted. They were initially made for Sketch but now are also available in Studio format.

  • Free design concepts

    Design companies attract very talented people to their teams. Those designers create mind-blowing concepts in Studio, and give it away to the community, enabling anyone to play with the source files. Kudos goes to Daniel Korpai and Charles Patterson.

  • Sketch App Sources Community

    Sketch App Sources is a community-driven site, covering all the possible resources for design. You’ll find there 2024 UI kits, 222 wireframe kits, 962 icons packs, 117 logos and hundreds of other resources. Need a Sketch plugin or library? It’s all there too.

    Sketch App Sources was born in 2012. Now more than a million people visit this site every month. A tremendous effort from the makers enabled Sketch App Sources to be one of the largest collections of high-quality assets available. It's a valuable asset for advanced users, newcomers, or designers who just wish to share their work. Kudos to Galya & Todor. While it’s independent project, run by Todor Iliev, Sketch team supports it.

  • More Sketch resources

    Sketch enthusiasts have also made resource hubs on their own. Amongst them are Sketch Repo, Sketch Hunt, and Sketch App Rocks. These projects create a huge variety of easily available Sketch resources.

  • Community resources hub

    Figma gathers pre-built design assets made by their team and community members into a community resource hub, born in 2018. The hub contains UI kits, icons and component libraries. It acts as another great way to showcase their users' work whilst providing value to others.

  • Free fonts pairs

    Working with fonts and pairing them can be a hustle. To keep users inside their tool, Figma released Google Font type pairing. This is a useful addition for many in the Figma community.

  • More Figma resources

    Craig Wattrus made a Figma resource listing. There, designers can submit Figma UI kits, templates, and design concepts. Another project like this is “FigmaFinder”. We haven’t seen that the Figma team supports such projects from individuals. But this is a seed from which any company could grow a huge tree of love.

  • Design Thinking Kit

    Marvel’s Workshop Kits provide simple processes based on Design Thinking to help companies and individuals create apps, websites, and products. The Kit includes a printable PDF workbook with Design Thinking steps, workshop slides, presentation template slides, and a facilitator guide

  • Marvel styleguide

    The Marvel styleguide is a live inventory of UI components, brand guidelines, assets, code snippets, developer guidelines, and more. The community can use the Marvel styleguide for free. It’s a wise move to give away assets that you’ve already built, which can be beneficial for other people.

  • Free design resources

    From time to time you could see Marvel releasing useful resources such as Sketch Pads, free printable templates or design UI kits.

  • Free XD resources

    Among other Adobe products, Adobe XD has a dedicated Resources right on their website. There the design community can find ready-to-use assets — 23 UI kits, 7 icon sets, and XD plugins.

  • More Adobe resources

    Passionate XD followers are making resource hubs on their own. Among them are XD Guru and XD resources. These projects provide a huge variety of different templates, UI kits, freebies, tutorials & guides, all for Adobe XD.

styleguide image
Jiří Třečák

New ideas, improvement, and first-rate design are the result of a thriving community

With a tool that brings designers and developers together, it was crucial to provide an equally inclusive and collaborative space for our community. Slack group gives that direct line of communication to the entire team so that users can ask, share, and build relationships as easily as possible. It’s proven to be a successful channel as our community continues to put their time and trust in our product and offer up continuous suggestions that have helped shape Supernova into what it is today.

Jiri Trecak
CEO & Founder of Supernova.io

03.

Inviting community to contribute

We’ve already covered educating the community and providing design resources to work faster. But what about engaging more closely with users? This section looks at enabling users to talk on behalf of your brand. It covers initiatives such as inviting the community to contribute to the company blog, promo-projects, and social media. Check out the examples below, and you’ll see how companies motivate us by sharing design tips, articles, assets, designs, and even positive vibes.

Some design companies focus on content, inviting opinion leaders to share their knowledge through in-depth interviews. Others run community-driven blogs, openly inviting contributors by prominently positioning “submit content” call to actions. Another tactic is to motivate the community to share more of their design work made with specific design tools. The more the community contributes to anything brand-related, the tighter the connection formed between brand and users.

  • Community Resources Hub

    Figma’s Community Resources Hub collects guides, courses, assets, and extensions made by their users. Figma asks the community over Twitter to submit their resources, but we haven’t found an easy way to do this on the hub itself.

  • Gathering positive vibes

    A great way to create feelings of belonging is by asking people to openly share their beliefs. Figma asked users to tweet #WhyILoveFigma, and made a ‘Wall of Love’ from all the responses. Besides social proof, this can again motivate users to engage more with the Figma brand.

  • Figma Tips

    The Figma community generously share all the gems they find. Just check the #FigmaTip hashtag to see all the useful tips & tricks. Those tips are then curated into a #FigmaTip Roundup blog post. All of this started back in 2017, with the Figma team asking on Twitter: “Do you have tips to share?”.

  • Contributing to DesignSystems

    The Design System site allows anyone to contribute and submit an article, DS repository, or historical moments of DS development. Even with this being a learning resource, Figma have also opened the project to contributors.

  • Adding design terms

    Yep, users can also submit design terms to the Figma Design Glossary.

  • Talking to Community Leaders

    Within InVision’s books, podcasts, interviews, and webinars you’ll often find opinion leaders or designers from large organisations. Such content drives more attention from readers and helps to build a better relationship with the design leaders themselves. The learning from this is that given the chance, why not ask popular designers to contribute to your company blog?

  • Interviewing users

    Putting users in the spotlight is a good way of giving additional value — positive PR, traffic and recognition. Interviewing users for blogs and podcasts can be a win-win when it comes to community-building tactics. InVision team does it pretty well.

  • Made with Studio

    It’s always exciting to see what users create with your tool. Asking designers to contribute to company activities is a smart strategy! Makers receive attention from brand followers, and the brand gets great visual content from the community.

    Showing cool designs praises talented designers. At the same time, it promotes tool capabilities. Want to get mentioned in the “Studio Smashers” tweets and Medium articles? Just make your design in Studio and share it with the hashtag #InVisionStudio.

  • Submitting to Sketch App Sources

    When you open the Sketch App Sources site, there is a prominent call to action: a big pink button, with the text “Submit your resource”. This makes it super easy for makers to contribute their own Sketch resources and help designers around the world.

  • Publishing at Design + Sketch

    The Design + Sketch Medium publication invites anyone that wants to contribute their work to submit an article. The publication itself is a collection of stories and tutorials on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond. With 300 writers in their Medium blog, it's a great place to share your design knowledge and learn from others.

  • Motivating the community to organize events

    The Sketch team often ask the community if they’re open to host events or if they want to become a Sketch Ambassador. Also, you can find a clear “Want to host your own event?” button on the Sketch site, but it’s not the main focus of the page.

  • Contributing to the blog

    Would you like to share your article with a community of 500,000 readers?

    The Marvel blog has a clear call to action on every article: “Contribute to the blog”. Also, folks from Marvel approach writers directly. We got a message over social media to share our articles on the Marvel blog and have published content with them in the past.

  • Interviewing Community Leaders

    The Marvel team engage with prominent designers in the community by running interview sessions. They then turn these sessions into blog posts, in a series called “Designers Spilling Tea”.

  • Explore by Marvel

    “Explore” is a site listing prototypes and designs created by the Marvel community. It was released 3 years ago and users still upload prototypes there. Cool, that Marvel made a dedicated place to showcase their users’ work, and motivate the community to contribute.

  • Daily Creative Challenge

    Such a cool way to engage with the community! Adobe team runs daily creative challenges, where designers can improve their skills.

    For 9 days in a row, anyone from the community can receive design tasks, access the community chat & live shows and then get feedback from the Adobe team. Such challenges are held for XD and Photoshop. If you’re curious, check the XDDailyChallenge to see what community did.

  • Made with Adobe XD

    Adobe XD team motivate the community to contribute with their XD designs. When someone shares #MadeWithAdobeXD work, folks from Adobe follow up and help to spread design around the web. You can see #MadeWithAdobeXD concepts shared on official XD Twitter account or highlighted in their Community Spotlight.

  • Sharing XD designs from Behance

    Probably, you already noted that if you design something nice with Adobe XD, you will receive love from their team. It works for XD designs shared on Behance as well. Designers love public attention and Adobe teams doing their best here.

  • Portfolio review

    Together with Adobe, Behance launched Portfolio Reviews where anyone from the community can get feedback from a leading designer.

  • Abstract Tips

    Two months ago Abstract started to share their tips & tricks within socials. Check #AbstractTip hashtag over Facebook and Twitter to see all the hacks. Here are just several posts, but they could be pretty useful as well.

  • Encouraging users to share their experience

    A great way to spread the word about the product is to encourage own users to share the successful experience with the tool. Abstract team is extremely active at talking to their customers, gathering interviews & case-studies and sharing them on social media.

  • Actively listening to feature requests

    The direct channel of communication with users is absolutely necessary while developing a product. Abstract uses Spectrum forum to encourage people to share their feature requests and suggestions on how the tool could be improved. The team is actively responding to each request and shape the roadmap accordingly to users’ need.

Josh Brewer

Over the last year, there have been no shortage of conversations about design tools, the challenges of scaling teams, stakeholder collaboration, and yes, burnout, in the design industry.

As designers, we feel that it’s critical to evolve the infrastructure of design in order to enable our industry to grow sustainably. For us, community input and feedback have been critical to how we’re evolving our product. Our mission is to bring an improved workflow to all designers, no matter the tool you use; we started with Sketch, and are now expanding to include Adobe XD (and more). It’s also how we’re giving back in terms of increasing transparency, clarity, and collaboration around design.

We’ve catalyzed conversations around the need for a more open design process by involving our community in everything from editorial content to meetups, forum conversations to surveys and polls. At the end of the day, we believe that authentic conversations will fuel a better future for design, and everyone involved in the design process.

Josh Brewer
co-founder and CEO. Abstract

04.

Empowering community to build plugins & extensions

As Graeme Fulton, our friend and founder of Prototypr, explained — an open plugin ecosystem is key for all design tools. Plugins enrich the tool capabilities, providing huge value by giving end users the opportunity to build the features they need. At the same time, this forms a loyal community of plugin makers, who can even build their own small businesses on top of it. The main question is how to motivate the creative community to make plugins.

  • InVision Studio App Store

    In May 2018 InVision announced InVision Studio Platform — an app store, asset library, and open API for Studio. Within their Maker Program, the community could contribute and create integrations, plugins, apps, UI kits, components, icons, and even typography.

    It’s a very logical step to create such an ecosystem around Studio, and encourage the community to contribute. As listed on the InVision site, their Maker Program is officially launching later this year.

  • Super rich plugin ecosystem

    Do you know how many plugins are available in Sketch?
    The community created 1109 plugins since 2014. An active interest from plugin makers was highly supported by Sketch team from the beginning.

    Now Sketch is famous for its rich plugin ecosystem thanks to all makers who contributed to its development.

  • Helping plugin developers

    Making a plugin and have a question? There is a development forum for all plugin makers to get a fast reply from the Sketch team or other makers. If you scroll through the questions, you’ll see how fast, proactive, and helpful the community are! As well as this the Sketch team run an active Slack community to support developers working on new plugins and extensions.

    Such community support is a great catalyst to plugin development, which is beneficial for all users and the company itself.

  • Sketch Plugin Hackathon

    Would you like to personally meet with Sketch founder Pieter Omvlee, Framer founder Koen Bok or Abstract founder Josh Brewer? Then you could attend Sketch Plugin Hackathons, where all these awesome people were speakers. It was 2017, and the caliber of the speakers tells for itself how important it was for the Sketch team to support plugin makers.

  • Awesome Sketch plugins lists

    The Sketch team made an open-source list of all the Sketch plugins and plugin requests from the community. This is maintained by Ale Muñoz.

    In 2014-2016, Sketch plugin directories had been very active. Making plugins back then was popular. Now supporting Sketch via a plugin is a normal workflow for many tools. This wouldn’t have been possible had Sketch not invested their time in the maker community.

  • Plugins are coming to Figma

    Figma started their plugin push by inviting users to join their beta program for building Figma plugins. The official launch was on August 1st.

  • Sharing Figma Plugins

    In July this year, Figma introduced the developer beta for plugins. Before the official release, Figma proactively asked developers to share their plugins on Twitter using #FigmaPlugin hashtag. That’s a great way to motivate the community and build their plugin ecosystem.

  • New Marvel API

    Understanding the vast potential of a maker ecosystem, Marvel announced its API back in May 2018. It’s a platform for the community to build features, integrations and even apps on top of Marvel. This way, Marvel empowers creators to build more things with the Marvel brand in mind.

  • Spreading the word

    The Marvel API is open and some products have already been built! As a motivation, Marvel shared cool integrations with all their community over Twitter, and on the Marvel blog. Helping makers to get extra attention is a kind move, which is useful for both parties.

  • The developers community

    Adobe encourages developers to create XD plugins and made a dedicated place to start — Adobe XD Platform. There developers can engage with others, share tips & tricks, ask questions, and provide feedback. Adobe XD Platform mentions all relevant resources for plugin makers.

    Have a question on anything related to building XD plugins? Adobe team and community experts are there to provide support and help.

  • Answering on Stackoverflow

    XD plugin makers can also ask questions to the broader developer community on Stackoverflow. When someone uses the adobe-xd tag, Adobe XD teams comes to the rescue.

  • Spreading the word about plugins

    Are you building plugins for Adobe XD?

    All plugin makers can benefit from free distributions by Adobe via their Twitter, Facebook, or official plugin page. Also, Adobe has a monthly newsletter where they feature news for anyone who creates plugins, extensions, or integrations for the CC products.

    And last year Adobe made an open-source list of all the Adobe XD plugins, utility libraries, developers tools. All these done to help developers community to reach more users for their plugins.

  • GitHub repos

    Adobe team made open-source repos with Adobe XD Plugin documentation, plugin-samples for learning, plugin-toolkit to simplify access to certain APIs.

  • Hello, XD plugin!

    Last winter Adobe ran developer workshops and hackathons across Europe. The main intent was to bring Adobe XD Platform directly to the developers and show them how to start building plugins.

  • Opening up for public API

    Abstract SDK is fully Open Source which is untypical for a design tool. This way the team can engage with developers in a more direct manner. Also, as with any other Open Source project, everyone is welcome to contribute.

  • Acknowledge third-party developers

    Bringing visibility to those who use your SDK is another great way to encourage other developers to try building an integration for your platform. From time to time Abstract team mention third-party developers who build tools using Abstract SDK in social media or blog posts.

Graeme Fulton

I love that a design company with zero funding can build a community as large as one that has hundreds of millions of venture capital behind it.

It’s like David and Goliath - you’d expect a company with 100s of millions in funding to squash competitors, yet smaller companies are still able to grow their own loyal communities. I think it’s because all of these audiences are pockets within the general design community – a group who are genuinely excited to support new tools and solve problems different ways. Authenticity and realness is valued over tasteless content pushes and marketing emails.

Graeme Fulton
Founder of Prototypr.io

05.

Actively seeking product feedback

Listening to users and matching those insights with analytics is the right path to build great products. Design companies, like no one else, knows that. All of the big players have some way to gather user feedback. It can be a community forum, Spectrum chat, UserVoice, Slack communities, closed Facebook groups. There dedicated team answer on feature requests, questions or complaints.

Besides the huge value of knowing what users want, proactive and open communication turns users into loyal fans. It’s equally true for answering to people on social media. When design company shows by action that community opinion matters, community answers with love and support.

  • Listening requests at Spectrum

  • Talking to users at Community forum

  • Answering questions over Twitter

  • Listening requests at Spectrum

  • Answering questions over Twitter

  • Sketch Developers Forum

  • Talking to community on Facebook

  • Asking users feedback

  • Answering questions over Twitter

  • Listening requests at Spectrum

  • Answering questions on Twitter

  • Gathering feature idea

  • Asking users feedback

  • Getting feedback on XD

  • Inviting to the interviews

  • Collecting plugin requests

  • A place for API bug reports & feature requests

  • Always active Adobe Customer Care

  • Managing Adobe Support Community

  • Listening requests at Spectrum

  • Answering questions on Twitter

  • Help Center

Feature requests of Marvel app
Andrew Shortend

From the outset we knew that we were embarking on a mission to positively impact how designers design, we were not just building a product.

As we started the journey, we sought to create a team within Adobe and engage with a broader community of designers that cared passionately about the future of design. The conversations we had then and continue to have now are about challenging the status-quo, striving for a better way to work and imagining what’s next.

Being transparent as to what we’re working on and why, sharing our principles and beliefs and embodying the opportunity that comes from constantly learning has enabled us to partner with like-minded designers around the world, to create a community-inspired movement within Adobe that fuels the development of XD.

Andrew Shortend
Senior Director Product Manager Adobe XD

06.

Get communitiy offline

It’s super cool to gather an existing community of loyal users and supporters in the real world. People can exchange knowledge and ideas, find mutual opportunities, and have fun. Design companies do their best to help users organize local meetups and events. They provide local ambassadors with guidance, financial support and swag. Some companies hold design conferences, workshops, retreats, closed “private clubs” and even parties.

  • Talks at design conferences

    Conferences are designed for networking and meeting with the community. Some designers from InVision attend conferences as speakers, guests or jury. At the conference it’s easier to chat with the community in a friendly atmosphere.

  • Design Leadership club

    InVision made something called the Design Leadership Forum. It brings together industry veterans and design leads/directors. For those members, the InVision team organizes dinners, community meetups, and retreats.

  • Design Exchange

    As InVision explains: “Design Exchange is an opportunity for senior designers from the world’s leading companies to experience a new city through the lens of design.” We haven’t attended Design Exchange, but it sounds good as a traveling and networking program under the InVision umbrella.

  • Sketch meetups, really global

    We met Galya and Todor from Sketch App Sources in 2015, when we’d just started Flawless App. They ran the first-ever Sketch meetup in Ukraine. Now Sketch lists 103 local meetups all around the world.

    Sketch also partners with design-oriented companies. One example is MacPaw in Ukraine, who then organized Sketch meetups on their behalf.

  • Helping community in offline

    At that Ukrainian meetup in 2015, Galya and Todor did us a favor. We asked if they could share a few words about our new tool. Flawless App was just a concept in 2015, but they still announced it to all the design community in the room. We were very happy!

    Now having our own huge community and several released tools, we still remember how important it is to help. Those small favors make all the difference.

  • Talks at design conferences

    The Sketch founders gave dozens of talks, presentations, and workshops at designer and developer events. To mention a few: FrenchKi, NSConference in the UK, CocoaHeads, Dribbble meetup in Copenhagen, and BubbleConf in Amsterdam. You can also meet Galya and the rest of the community team at many design events in the USA or Europe.

    As you know, Sketch was founded in 2010. So they have had plenty of time to build relationships with design conferences.

  • Local meetups

    How to empower a community to connect in person more often?

    In 2018, Figma introduced “Local Communities”. At its gatherings, people can connect, learn and share. Over 30 local user groups in different countries make up Figma’s Local Communities, as highlighted on their site. The cool thing is that the Figma founder sometimes speaks at these events.

  • Design System Meetups

    Figma helped organise and sponsor design system meetups in 8 cities around the world. It brought many designers interested in DS together under Figma brand.

  • Hosting design events

    Have a fancy office in San Francisco? Great! Just invite all the community to your space. Figma was running design meetups, office hours, “happy hours”, light talks, fun design activities and much more.

  • Talks at design conferences

    The Figma founder, Dylan Field, attended and gave a talk at the “Ladies that UX” Amsterdam community, FIGS workshops, Loom's internal hack week, WeAreDesignX and many others. Such an active presence in the community is very beneficial for the company.

  • Adobe MAX

    Adobe runs huge annual events in North America, Europe, and Japan called Adobe MAX. There creative community can learn the latest Adobe announcements, attend 300+ sessions, labs, creativity workshops and network with each other.

    This conference was launched way back in 2003 by Macromedia (purchased by Adobe). So it’s one of the oldest offline gatherings for the creative community.

  • 99U Conference

    99U is the well-known design blog, a part of Adobe learning content. The 99U is a New York-based conference, where designers can meet people from the industry. It’s pretty similar to Adobe MAX with plenty of workshops and networking.

  • Creative Jams

    To empower a community to connect in person more often, Adobe regularly hosts local meetups, like Creative Jams. It's an event series where designers share a behind-the-scenes peek into their processes and projects. At Creative Jams, people can also compete in a creative tournament.

  • XD Summer Camp

    Adobe team is focused on building a relationship with the design student community. The summer camp is a free two-day UX design event, where participants get hands-on training on all aspects of UX design thinking and the latest hints on Adobe XD.

    This is just one example from many other offline events which Adobe organize for students.

  • Hosting design events

    Adobe offices became a viber place for many design events. At their SF office design community can attend meetups organized by World Interaction Design Day (IxDD) or AIGA San Francisco. A great way to engage with the design community and show hospitality.

  • Talks at design conferences

    You can see many designers, executives and product people from Adobe at various design conferences all around the globe. Just to list a few: Mobile UX London, In/Visible Talks at San Francisco, Data-Driven Design Day at Helsinki, Awwwards Conference in New York or IxDA meetups.

  • #AbstractOfflineMode

    Nothing can replace face-to-face human connection! Abstract is creating a space to unplug from emails & social media and connect with fellow designers in real life. As a part of this effort, they launched a design-focused gathering, called #AbstractOfflineMode.

  • Hosting design events

    Abstract contribute to the offline community a lot. As an example, last year they hosted a Charlotte Dribbble Meetup. Here designers could connect with each other and talk about design system with some of Charlotte’s top design professionals.

  • Run own events

    Abstract ran their meetups to demo recent product features and preview of future improvements. This obviously allows them to have a direct and honest conversation with customers, receiving valuable feedback and making a product better.

  • Talks at design conferences

    Attending conferences is a good place to meet your community. Abstract team members are frequent speakers at design conferences like LaddersConf and PlatoElevate.

Community is at the heart of everything we do.

With a network of over 100 meetups in 45 countries and five continents around the world, as well as a vibrant and growing developer community, the way designers have rallied around our platform has been incredible. Designers are so passionate about the tools they use and it’s our job to harness that passion by engaging with them, online and at events, to find out how they work, how Sketch helps and how we can do even more to empower them.

Peter and Emanuel
Founders of Sketch

07.

Being proactive in existing design communities

It’s great when a brand is proactively engaging with the design community on other platforms. It could be online — at Dribbble, Designer News, Product Hunt, Prototypr. Or offline — at design conferences, meetups, university classes, or through different social communities. Companies can support design communities with expertise, insights, swag, free licences, or just financially. Such an active position of design companies is mutually beneficial. We’d be happy to see all these big design companies in Ukraine, talking at our design events or making classes in our design schools.

  • Making Dribbble love you

    34 InVision team members contribute to their Dribbble profile, followed by 147K people. They share product designs, UI Kits, animations, illustrations and many beautiful things made in Studio. Without a doubt, Dribbble is a perfect place to visually engage with the creative community. That is what InVision does well.

  • Launching on Product Hunt

    Clark from InVision probably has a lot of love for Product Hunt. The InVision founder has submitted 64 products there! Launching on Product Hunt is a great way to get feedback and have a friendly conversation. So you’ll see most of InVision new products, research and learning resources there.

  • Talking to community at Designer News

    The InVision team members are also actively chatting with designers on Designer News (DN). Not only to share product updates, but to reply to critics, feedback, or questions.

    Stephen Olmstead is one of the first to answer InVision-related comments on DN. Besides holding an executive position Stephen is always at hand to chat with the community.

  • Joining forces with existing design community

    In 2016, the Muzli team joined InVision. We read the Muzli Medium blog and admire their community-driven content approach. The Muzli founders, Eyal Zuri and Ohad Aviv, put a lot of effort in nurturing their own design community, which organically became part of InVision.

  • Supporting design conferences

    InVision also supports design conferences as a sponsor. Sponsorship is a way for conferences to provide better content for the community.

  • Dribbble x Sketch meetups

    The Sketch team partnered with Dribbble to run design meetups. Later on it, this became mainstream. Local designers started organizing “Dribbble x Sketch meetups”. As perks, the community received Dribbble invites, Sketch licenses, swag, snacks and drinks. This is a great example of a symbiosis of Dribbble and Sketch brands.

  • Partnering with App Camp For Girls

    App Camp for Girls is a one-week summer day program encouraging people to design and build apps. In 2017, Sketch contributed revenue from selling their T-shirts to support App Camp for Girls.

    Sketch have also continued to support them in various ways. This is great for the community, and good for the Sketch brand.

  • Partnering with other design companies

    For some time, the competition in the design space wasn’t as hot as it is now. Back then, design companies were partnering with each other.

    Speakers from Sketch were giving talks together with folks from Framer, Marvel, Abstract, and InVision. It was a good chance to get access to the design communities of other companies.

  • Supporting design conferences

    Since 2010 Sketch were one of the most active to support many design conferences out there. Their team gave free licences, swag, financial support and attended events as speakers.

  • Talking to Dribbble designers

    How to reach out to designers on Dribbble? A great way is to give interviews on Dribbble’s official podcast! This is such a smart tactic from Figma to grab the attention of the creative community there.

  • Launching on Product Hunt

    Figma has also been launching on Product Hunt since 2016. As you’ll see, they have a lot of fans out there.

  • Cooperation with universities

    The design class at UC Berkeley and Stanford were using Figma. The team behind Figma visited students and Figma designer, Rasmus Andersson, made a talk there. Nurturing loyalty starting from the university is a wise approach.

  • Supporting design conferences

    Figma partnered with Clarity, the design systems conference, offering scholarship tickets. Also, they sponsored other design conferences, such as Vectors in San Francisco, Design Systems in London, and Layers in San Jose.

  • Product Hunt citizens

    As well as many creative folks in our community, everyone in Flawless team are huge Product Hunt fans. The Marvel founder himself is also pretty active on Product Hunt.

    Murat Mutlu hunts not only Marvel products but also tools and resources from the community. For example, he hunted Prototypr.io, a popular design resource and Planable, a cool marketing tool made by our friends. You can often see Murat commenting products there too. Such a proactive approach from Murat makes Marvel a good citizen of Product Hunt community. That pays back every time they launch something Marvel-related.

  • All colors of Dribbble

    The Marvel team pays a lot of attention to their Dribbble account. You can see shots from Marvel designs for blog posts, learning resources, books, and products. Everything is colorful and trendy. No wonder the Dribbble community actively comment on their shots.

  • Attending events

    Sometimes you can meet team members from Marvel at DevelopHer in London, ReactLondon and even at hackathons. Marvel tries to keep a presence in the London tech community when it can.

  • Supporting student community

    As Michelle Crozier, Adobe Director of Brand Purpose mentioned: “art, creativity, and technology must be central in education.” Adobe follows this mission with their summer design camps, fellowships and scholarships programs, Adobe Digital Academy, Achievement Awards and much more.

    Without a doubt, Adobe is highly focused on building a relationship with students in the design industry. On top of educational support, they showcase great designs done by students over dedicated Adobe Students Twitter account.

  • Partnering with design organizations

    Together with IxDA, Adobe presented World Interaction Design Day, an annual design event. Also, they motivate their community to make events by hosting activities for their local communities around the theme.

  • Programs with tech companies

    Big tech companies have access to design communities, who interact with their products. Adobe leverages those connections. Just one example of such cooperation is combo with YouTube Space. This partnership aims to help creators master the art of video production. And at the same time, it’s a nice way to access the motion design community.

  • Joining forces with existing design community

    In 2012 Behance became a part of Adobe family and its CEO Scott Belsky joined Adobe as the Vice President of Community. As you probably know, Behance is the leading online platform for creatives who want to display and showcase their work. Launched in 2006, the New York-based Behance built a viber design community and Adobe empowered this community.

  • Supporting design conferences

    Adobe supports many big and small design conferences, as a sponsor and a partner. It’s a great thing in our community, as conferences receive more flexibility to invite foreigner speakers, provide better kettering and give away diversity tickets.

  • Adobe and Dribbble

    31 folks from Adobe team are contributing to Adobe XD Dribbble account, sharing beautiful design concepts.

    Also, Adobe XD hosting different Playoff for Dribbble community. Rules are simple: you need to bring your design life with some XD features, let’s say Auto-Animate or specific fonts. Then you share Dribbble shot with #MadeWithAdobeXD tag and wait to win a 13” MacBook Pro with a 1-year Creative Cloud subscription. Great activation for design community on Dribbble.

  • Dribbble

    11 Abstract team members contribute to their Dribbble account. You can see illustrations from Abstract blog and videos on how they were created, different variations of logo animation, website illustrations and much more.

  • Sponsor design events

    Abstract is proactively engaging with the offline design community and generously supports design conferences. This year they've sponsored over 5 conferences: DesignOps Summit focused on scoping design and research operations, Design & Content conference, a design systems community conference Clarity, Joint Future and Interaction Design conference.

Building a product for designers gives you the opportunity to be a part of such an engaged and vibrant community.

It's amazing how invested designers can be in products that help them do their day to day work. We've run everything from events to workshops, I think a lot of it comes down to being genuine about your intentions and also creating really high quality, valuable content (whether that's the speakers at an event or the usefulness of workshop).

Murat Mutlu
Founder of Marvel App

08.

Managing community efforts

  • In-house ambassadors

    Many InVision designers actively tweet about Studio, share Studio tips, and beautiful designs done there. Such active support not only comes from InVision designers but from their top management. You can often see Stephen Olmstead, Chief of Staff, actively chatting with the community.

    When company employees bring value here and there, it builds trust and spreads the company brand within the community.

  • Listing community activities on site

    Maybe you noticed Community section on InVision site. It mentions webinars, programs for design leaders and InVision fund. But we already know that InVision community-building activities are much broader.

  • Swag for community

    Who doesn’t like swag?

  • Listing community activities on site

    Sketch mentions its Medium blog, Facebook group, developer forum and all meetups.

  • Hiring a community manager

    After working for 3 years on Sketch App Sources, Galya Iliev joined Sketch in 2015. Since then the Community Team has grown and now Galya Iliev, Patrick Hill and Valentina Colombo drive the development of the Sketch community.

  • Putting Sketch sites in one place

    As we mentioned already, Sketch users are very creative and active. They make a lot of plugins, listings of useful Sketch resources, learning sites, and video courses.
    Most of those resources are listed on Sketch App Sources.

  • Leading Facebook community

    Since 2014, Sketch has been running a Facebook group. The group is well-moderated with many discussions around Sketch features, plugins made by the community and general design questions. The Sketch team managed to create a good place for users to chat with each other.

  • Managing ambassadors

    Sketch ambassadors organize events, host workshops, run training sessions, and actively support Sketch online. The Sketch team supports their work daily by having a dedicated Community Manager, Patrick Hill, run the Sketch Ambassador Program. The Ambassadors have hosted over 100 events since the beginning of 2019.

  • Swag for community

    Who doesn’t like swag?

  • Listing community activities on site

    Figma mentions most of their community-related activities in their “Community and Events” and “Resources Hub” sections.

  • Hiring a community manager

    Figma’s community manager takes care of community building activities, meetups and all communication with users. Josh Dunsterville was the first to take this role in February 2018. The creation of this job is a clear sign of how serious Figma are about connecting with its community.

  • Designer Advocates

    In September 2018, Figma additionally hired three Designer Advocates across different time zones and geographies. Among them are Tom Lowry from Canada, Namnso Ukpanah from Nigeria, and Zach Grosser from Amsterdam (ex). Their main role is to support Local Communities.

  • Community advocates

    When Figma introduced local meetups, they started looking for brand ambassadors in different regions. Having direct touch with Figma enthusiasts allows them to keep global community efforts in sync.

  • Swag for community

    Who doesn’t like swag?

  • Listing XD community activities

    The Adobe family of companies have various community-focused activities. Talking about XD, in particular, their official site lists most of the resources, intertations, plugins and UI kits. While Adobe XD Platform hosts all plugin-related activities in one place.

    Also, one of the Adobe XD Evangelist, Howard Pinsky, made a LetsXD site. There are gathered various learning and community initiatives, such as Community Spotling, Daily Creative Challenge, Creative Jam, Adobe Live and social accounts of some members from XD team.

  • Adobe Evangelist

    Adobe has its heroes — product evangelists.

    Just to list some of them, whom we saw over social media or met in the offline world. Jason Levine is the Principal Worldwide Evangelist for Adobe, he travels the globe inspiring users on video, audio, and mobile workflows on Adobe Creative Cloud.

    Howard Pinsky, a Senior XD Evangelist, is responsible for sharing his experiences through videos, live streams, and at creative events, with a focus on the Adobe XD.

    Stephanie Maier, whom we met in London, is taking care of UK design community. Stephanie organizes the different educational event and actively engage with designers in Europe.

  • Ambassador program

    In 2014, Adobe asked a select group of employees to take part in a new Adobe Ambassador program. The main idea was connecting with people both inside and outside Adobe to have an open chat with the design community.

    The ambassadors talked to customers on social media, expanded their networks, took part in company events and programs, tested social sharing apps, and just had fun with other designers.

  • Adobe Support Community

    Adobe collected requests and conversations around all their products in one place. So users of Adobe XD or InDesign can post questions, open issues, chat & help each other.

  • Swag for community

    Who doesn’t like swag?

  • Hiring a community manager

    To hire a community manager is a win-win for your community-building as well. As it is to act as a bridge between a brand and the community it is aiming to create. After working 3 years on Dribbble as a community manager, Alison joined Abstract team.

  • Evangelist

    Also Abstract has Designer Evangelist. Max Lind leads the offline marketing communications, advocates for Abstract amongst the greater design community and much more.

  • Designer Advocates

    Abstract hired four Designer Advocates. Among them are Aayla Anderson, Andrea Burton, Alden Spence, Scott Welliver. Their main role is to support Local Communities.

  • Status page

    Abstract doesn't hide any issues from their community. Oppositely, they launched Abstract status landing and shared all system operations within the webpage, API, project storage and job queues. You can subscribe to updates and be on the same page with their developers.

  • Swag

    Who doesn’t like swag?

Claire Butter from Figma

In Figma's community we believe designers learn from each other

Design is constantly evolving, and the practice of design is intricately tied to the tool where it happens. In our community we keep that in mind and aim to create a space where users can connect to and learn from each other; leveling up their own practice online and in person.

Claire Butler
Head of Community at Figma

This is independent research on how design companies build communities, done by Flawless App team. It's not affiliated in any way with any design company mentioned in the research.
All information was taken from the public sources: blogs, press releases, publications, public talks, and tweets.