Ayush Kumar On Friday, October 15, 2010

In this world full of tough competitors, we must constantly mold and sharpen our skills. We must keep on learning new things and skills. This is because only the fittest and the best survive. This is true for whichever field you choose, be it technology, education, research or even design.

But the road to learning is not easy. The most frustrating situation is when you are a beginner and don't know how to proceed and whom to ask directions. Many people back out at this stage, just because of the lack of clarity of the road ahead and the confusion. Or they keep doing the things wrongly until someone points this out to them. Since this blog is all about design, we'll talk keeping the designers in mind. Many young designers go on the wrong path due to the lack of proper guidance. And many others waste too much time, online and offline, searching for solutions to their problems. So today, I am writing this post to share with you all one simple method for easy solutions of your design-related problems - Design forums.

However, if you think that online discussion forums are only for your solving problems, think again. Here are some points as to why online forums are beneficial to you as a designer:

Benefits of participating in online discussion forums

  1. Solve your problems - Ofcourse, this is why the forums are mainly built for! You can post your problems and seek advice from experts and users about any topic you like - graphic design, web-design, blogging, SEO, marketing etc. There are a whole lot of forums dedicated specifically for each topic you may find a problem in. I've listed some of the best design-related forums for you at the end of this article.

  2. Networking with like-minded people - If you participate in graphic design forums, it will be graphic designers who will respond to your queries. Same is the case with other types of forums. These are the people who have the same interests and professions as you do, and many will be more learned and experienced than you are. Therefore, you can gain a great deal of knowledge here and make new friends in these forums.

  3. A Source of inspiration - This is true and tried-n-tested by me. Let us consider blogging, for example. If you run out of topics for your next post, give these forums a try. Observe the problems of people. If you know the solutions to their problems, make a post out of it, clearing all topic-related doubts. Hence, you get a new post idea and earn respect in people's eyes all at the same time. This idea has a lot of scope and can be modified and applied anywhere to gain some inspiration.

  4. Solve other people's problems - If you have a great deal of knowledge about any topic or subject, you can consider helping people out by participating in forums. This thing alone has so many benefits:
    • Earn credibility and respect - People who share their knowledge and solve people's problems are highly respected everywhere. If you can do this in forums, and continue doing so regularly, you start earning the respect of fellow designers and people want to know more about you. Though I must warn you that this takes a lot of time. Reputation can't be built in just a day. But what comes next is even better.

    • Job leads - Yes sir, job leads. I have read people's comments in so many places about getting a job via forums. But obviously, you have to be very reputed and learned for this. Its not very easy getting a job via forums. Its only possible by regular and helpful posting in big forums.

    • Traffic boosting strategy - Need more traffic to your website or blog? Read on. Many of the forums allow a 'signature' for the people who post there. This signature is your chance to display the link of your blog, portfolio or website. If the signatures are not 'nofollow', you can automatically get links to your site if have included the link in the signature and you leave meaningful replies. This helps in SEO (though I don't claim to be any kind of SEO expert to be commenting on this topic). However, SEO or not, if you start earning the respect mentioned above, people might want to know you even more. They might want to visit your website and follow you on facebook or twitter. In this process, you are getting traffic to website and returning traffic if the people decide to follow you. In my opinion, this is a very strong benefit of participating in the forums.
Okay, so we know why the online forums are beneficial for us. Now let us have a look at some of the best online forums out there for designers and freelancers.

Some of the best design-related online forums

Webmaster-Talk - Threads: 177,477, Posts: 999,849, Members: 145,492

As the name suggests, its all about Web design, web administration, internet marketing, coding etc. Beautifully split into sections for each kind of topic.
online discussion webdesign design forum

Sitepoint - Threads: 616,008, Posts: 4,112,563, Members: 401,057

A famous design-related forum with a LOT of members and posts.
online discussion design forum

Kirupa - Threads: 306,552, Posts: 2,214,354, Members: 182,366

"This is a friendly community of designers and developers who love what they do and aren't afraid to share their knowledge (and quirky sense of humor) with others."
online design discussion forum

Estetica Design Forum - Threads: 25,133, Posts: 219,163, Members: 32,345

There are categories for everything related to design here. Well structures and a good design forum.
online design discussion forum
Estetica Design Forum

DesignersTalk - Threads: 55,730, Posts: 658,404, Members: 90,793

A beautifully built forum and with lots of members and threads.
online design discussion forum

Freelance Switch - A great place for freelancing-related discussions and queries. A part of the Envato network.
online freelance discussion forum
Freelance Switch

DaniWeb - Its an IT discussion community, but it has a category for web-designing and coding for the web too. And it is beautifully made.
online freelance discussion forum

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Do you know of any more design-related forums? List them here! I would be glad to hear you out!


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