Why the web design community is so strong and what it offers creatives
Five creatives tell us about the community they’ve found through SuperHi and the web design world, and why they think this field in particular is so close-knit.
The benefits of being part of a community are innumerable. Having people to turn to when things aren’t going the way you planned or when you need a question answering is helpful. But also the emotional support a community can offer you is incredible, and in turn, can build your confidence, motivate you and make you feel less alone in tricky circumstances. When looking at the creative world, pockets of community pop up all over the place, but one field which seems to thrive and relish in working together and supporting each other is web design. There’s a culture of sharing and uplifting, rather than the competitiveness that prevails in many other fields.
SuperHi, founded in 2016, is an online education platform and global community of creatives. It specialises in coding, design and project management courses and teaches practical skills that bring creative visions to life. So while in the immediate sense, those who sign up to SuperHi’s courses are taught practical and industry-quality skills, the community aspect of SuperHi continues beyond the end date of a course to offer creatives the chance to talk with likeminded individuals via Slack, and get work through channels for inspiration, job opportunities, and peer feedback. For many, one course with SuperHi isn’t enough, especially in an industry where new technologies and languages are constantly being released. As a result, SuperHi has released an unlimited membership that not only offers access to its entire catalogue of courses, but also access to extra community perks like free Ask Me Anything events with creative industry experts. You also get early access to new SuperHi Editor features and exclusive tutorials.
Below, we chat to five creatives about what they’ve learned from SuperHi and the community they’ve encountered there, as well as their thoughts on why web design, in particular, seems to be such a supportive world.
A programmer based in Austria with a background in design and art direction, Christian was drawn to SuperHi for the fact it cared about aesthetics, accessibility and also learning how to learn. His interest in coding peaked when working on a side project with a friend a few years ago so when the project eventually ended, Christian realised he “loved the feeling of not only designing sites and applications, but also bringing things to life.” After going through several YouTube tutorials and “buying an 800-page book that made me actually feel more lost than it helped,” he discovered SuperHi, and was actually one of their first students. What he’s gleaned from SuperHi though has not simply been programming skills but “technical sophistication” and the confidence to be able to figure things out when in a bind.
Over the years Christian’s taken part in multiple courses and remains a SuperHi member because of the way it teaches him to think. Crucially, he’s learned how to overcome obstacles which is a constant part of being a programmer. That’s where the community at SuperHi has been so helpful, as in the early days when someone is still figuring out the basics (“as a beginner, you need to ask a decent amount of stupid questions”), the more experienced community members refrain from being snarky or patronising and are instead encouraging. The way other students answer questions and it’s not just the tutors chipping in, is something Christian particularly loves as he’s been able to get better as a programmer through doing so. For him, this community has been vital as “a freelancer living in a rural area, I find it hard to meet like-minded humans.” He notes that while there are of course “some dark corners and places that should be avoided” within web design, “I personally only met supportive and nice humans, even during competitive situations. I feel a lot of supportive people simply want to help others as they had to go through the hard times and sleepless nights themselves and want to give something back.”
Similarly coming to web design from a different creative field, photographer, designer and now-developer Bethany enrolled in SuperHi in 2018 “after realising how important a digital and web experience was to my practice.” Based in Glasgow at the time, she had been working as a photographer for eight years and was looking to brush up on her self-taught coding skills. She started with the foundation course and straight away something clicked, so Bethany signed up to the membership “as soon as it was offered to me”.
She describes the community at SuperHi as one of its most valuable offerings. “I’ve been a part of online communities in the past, specifically Flickr as a young photographer, and there was always a sense of underlying competitiveness,” she recalls. “SuperHi doesn’t have that, I’d say it feels like having a very big group of supportive friends who cheer you on and pick you up when you’re down.” While she’s learned attention to detail and patience through SuperHi courses, Bethany also notes how she loves the “ability to ask questions no matter how silly you think they may be.” She recognises this as existing across the wider web design world too, especially in the context of open source code which allows web designers to trade and share. Interestingly, she adds that “there’s also a level of anonymity that I think might play a part in the supportive nature of web design and code, we’re all sat behind a screen and we aren’t obligated to define as someone or something.”
Rebecca is a frontend developer and art director at Same Same Studio. Already a designer focused on web applications, “naturally SuperHi seemed like the perfect fit for me,” she says. What then kept her coming back was that, from every course, Rebecca built something that could then be used on a real-world project – the courses were directly impacting her practice. Through having the membership, she’s learned that “developing websites is a lot more creative than I initially thought it would be,” to not be afraid to ask questions and simply have confidence in her abilities.
Through SuperHi’s Slack channel, in particular, she’s been inspired by the wealth of talent in the community. “It’s motivating to see what others build and how they use the SuperHi tools in their projects,” she says, adding that “it’s inclusive and is filled with the loveliest people, helping each other to thrive.” She’s also found a fair bit of work through the SuperHi community, namely through its jobs boards, job announcements and the dedicated channel for work opportunities. “I’ve found people to work with through these channels and collaborated with them on projects as a frontend dev,” she tells us.
Quintin Radford and Lily Fielding
Two people who understand the benefits of SuperHi’s community maybe more than others are Quintin and Lily, as they in fact met via SuperHi and now run a studio, Bggy, with Lily the lead developer and Quintin running the accounts and project management. They both had some web design skills when they signed up to the foundation course but were looking to get a more progressional, design-focussed education. Lily recalls how “I just completely caught the bug! The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn,” which is what led her to sign up to the membership. For Quintin, it was the fact “there is always new technology and information to learn about that is important to running a web development studio. SuperHi makes it easy to stay ahead (or catch up),” and so being able to take part in multiple courses was a must.
For Quintin, the community has been invaluable and “incredibly friendly, non-judgmental, and encouraging.” He jokes how “I often felt like I was the worst coder in the entire Slack, but everyone made me feel at home, answered my questions, and helped me get my head around taking on real-life projects of my own.” Communities this close-knit are clearly important for growth as a creative and he adds that Bggy “would not be doing half of what we are doing today without the people we have been able to surround ourselves with. We are super grateful for this.” On the Slack channel specifically, Lily says “it’s honestly staggering to think how much it helped me grow, as it’s literally where I met Quintin and started partnering on all the amazing projects we’ve been doing. I genuinely don’t know what I’d be doing right now if I hadn’t been a part of that channel.” On why web design seems to foster this kind of interaction between its community members, Lily remarks “I think because web design is a pretty new field, everything is very democratic, and the interest is in pushing things forward.”
They both use what they learned through SuperHi to this day, referencing several courses in their everyday practice. Quintin has found a number of opportunities through the #opportunities thread but on the more intangible side of things, Lily says she holds onto “confidence, communication, and the persistence to keep working on something when it isn’t going the way you want it to.”
SuperHi is an online education platform and global community of creatives. Founded in 2016, it specialises in coding, design and project management courses and teaches practical skills that bring creative visions to life.