Jan 16 2011
If your like me — a designer formally trained in a particular way, but continually seeking new ways to learn and stay “up” on the critical information in order to keep pace with the newest things kids are doing things these days — you have a few go-to places on the web for tips, tricks and current trends.
Wikipedia is great, there are infinite numbers of forums available, and we all know most information is a Google search away, but in the design / creative space I have found that nothing quite beats the focused, almost real-time Q&A format of the newest offering in web 2.0 user-contributed knowledge, Quora.
Simple put, on Quora, you ask a question, and those who know something about it post their answers, opinions and all-around general input. Users can then “follow” a single question, monitor “topics” and even vote answers up or down.
While in places like Wikipedia, you get more fact-based information in a very encyclopedic fashion, Quora is more about real-world practical advice and input from people who have “been there” or who have something to say on a subject, right or wrong. Think Amazon reviews, but for for your questions about everyday projects and work life.
While still new yet, and very much dominated by Silicon Valley folks and lots of exchange on rounds of VC funding and start-up founding, I have found some incredibly useful discussion to both observe and participate in (and hey, we land VC funding and spin up tech start-ups in Pittsburgh too, right?).
For example, “I am a creative guy with a startup idea. Where is the best place to find a rockstar developer to bring it to life?” or even (and this one is a personal favorite that I am “following” closely), “Just how important is a well designed logo for a startup?” In response to these questions, you’ll find dozens (if not hundreds) of answers in reply, some positive, some negative. Moreover, if a user finds someone else’s an answer to be particularly good, they can “vote up” that response to a higher position in the thread, or if an answer appears (by opinion) to be less than helpful relative to the question, a user can mark it….well – “not helpful.”
So what makes this a creative “secret,” you might ask? Well, if you had asked me that a week ago, I would have said, “nothing,” but since a friend first invited me to sign up, I have noticed literally every designer in my “friends list” start “following” me on it. It went from a virtually unknown web app to a game changer for me inside of a week. After just a few days I have begun following topics relevant to my day-to-day, like “Branding Issues,” “Web Design,” and even just some that are interesting to look in on, like “User Behavior”
The web 2.0 landscape gets more interesting every day, and Quora is just the latest example of the power of collective knowledge and communities of like-minded experts on the web. For anyone in this space or even on the periphery of it would do well to take a look at Quora – if for no other reason, to get on there and give that guy who thinks there is no use for the word ”“Awesomest” a piece of your mind. And if you’re on it already, be sure and follow me – I’ll see you on there!