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Join Bitcoin Design

So you’re interested in joining? Fantastic! We welcome, appreciate and encourage newcomers and contributions.

To set you up for success, we’ve created this guide to help. It will help you set a solid foundation for yourself by navigating you through the basics of contributing to open-source projects in this community. In it, you’ll find resources for many of our documents and materials that you’ll need as you embark on your journey.

You’re welcome to ask questions as you go along. In fact, please do. Sometimes you might even highlight a question that others have pondered too.

We structured this guide in milestones that you can go through one by one at your own pace.

Milestone 1: Say hi

It’s time to join the community on Discord and say hi in the #introductions channel. You can use the format below:

  • 👋 A little about me
  • 🥕 What I am currently working on?
  • 🚀 What are my interest?
  • 🤩 A random question for the community?
  • 🥁 A design joke that makes you laugh?

Then go ahead and browse the various channels to see what projects are being discussed and chime in. Open-source relies on proactive contributions, and participating in conversations is one of the most essential ways to do so.

To stay up-to-date:

Milestone 2: Explore

Now it’s time to learn more about all the projects and collaborations that happen in and around the community. Projects are incredibly diverse and are at varying levels of progress, so it may take a little bit of time to get a feel for what’s out there and what you connect with well.

Here are a few activities you can choose from (or chart your own path).

  • Start reading the Bitcoin Design Guide, if you haven’t done so already
  • Browse the projects page to see some of the projects we are involved in
  • Review the Discord channels in the “Community projects” and “Collaborations” channels for even more projects
  • Review upcoming calls in the calendar and Discord events tab
  • Take a design challenge
  • Create your own copy of the Bitcoin UI Kit and explore the designs
  • Watch recordings of calls we organized on BitcoinTV and YouTube

This is also a great time to try different bitcoin applications. Note that you will need to own some bitcoin to really experience them:

  • Download Blue Wallet, set up an on-chain wallet, and go through the backup process
  • Make your first transaction (with someone you know, or between two wallets you own)
  • Try a lightning wallet (like Phoenix, Breez, Blixt)
  • Create an Alby account to get a lightning address (note that these are custodial)
  • Set up tipping on Discord via the “/connect” command and send bitcoin to someone by leaving a ⚡️ reply on their post
  • Earn bitcoin for posting on Nostr (or try Stacker.News)

How were these different experiences for you? What was good, and what can be better? Share your experience with us in the community.

Milestone 3: Tune in

We organize over 100 calls per year across many different projects and activities. While much work and conversation happens offline, calls are a great way to get to know one another and discuss. If that’s your mode, it might be time to attend a first call. Some call formats we organize:

  • Design reviews: Project share some of their design work and we provide feedback
  • Project-specific calls: These are often weekly catch-ups for the team and also good places to ask questions
  • Design guide jam sessions: Anything related to the Bitcoin Design Guide and its sister projects
  • UX research calls: Discuss techniques to understand user needs and collaborate on research efforts
  • Community calls: We schedule those when there are larger things to discuss that affect the whole community

Find out about calls via the calendar, the Discord events tab, and the newsletter.

Milestone 4: Chip in

You are ready now to get hands-on. A first project contribution may seem intimidating, but everyone starts that way and you’ll be just fine.

Depending on your skills and interest, you can help in a number of ways. We design, illustrate, write copy and code, do technical research, discuss and answer questions, run workshops and community calls, and more. Design is a multidisciplinary activity and there are many different ways to be part of this community and help improve how we interact with the bitcoin protocol.

If you are not familiar with the concepts of open design, we have a great intro for you. Open, public collaboration gives a lot of freedom to each participant and relies on us organically coming up with the organizational structures we want. The result is that things can sometimes look unorganized or unintuitive from the outside. The big benefit is that you can choose how you want to participate and can have a say in everthing.

Some ways of contributing could be:

  • Reviewing a piece of content in the Bitcoin Design Guide and providing a suggestion
  • Reviewing a design file and dropping in some comments
  • Jumping on a call of a project and asking questions or providing insights
  • Testing a project and and proposing improvements
  • Helping a project redesign a screen of the user flow
  • Commenting on a document that is being written
  • Design an icon for Bitcoin Icons
  • Help out with usability testing an application
  • Sort through and bucket research data
  • Conduct user interviews

Milestone 5: Become a regular

Did your first contributions go well? Great. If not, maybe check out a different project or start your own initiative. Many contributors continue helping out with projects on a part-time basis for a long time because they enjoy the camaraderie, use the product a lot, and are proud of what they helped build.

If you find yourself helping out more regularly, you may also notice others referring to you as a go-to person for a project or specific expertise. Maybe you meet up with other contributors at a conference or other event, do your own presentations, and get even more closely involved. We also organize some events in the community, like the designathon, accessibility day, and conference design tracks.

There might be a project that you are interested in working on that requires a heavy investment of time and energy, and whose outcome would be a great benefit to the community. You may consider a grant or other funding option to help you balance your involvement with the practical realities of making a living. The Bitcoin Design Foundation was created to help with this.

Milestone 6: Lead

Even further into your journey, with a good amount of experience under your belt and consistent contributions, maybe it’s time for you to lead a project. Whether you start your own, or take that role in an existing project, your perspective and activities will change. You might:

  • Help create roadmaps
  • Host calls and facilitate conversations around current topics
  • Help make big decisions and take responsibility
  • Make large contributions in your area of expertise
  • Be available to the community for questions and support
  • Consider funding more seriously

Milestone 7: It’s a lifestyle

You did it! You’re probably by now a multi-year lead contributor across multiple projects. You might bring unique expertise, experience, and skill sets to the ecosystem. Maybe you even came up with completely new ways to use bitcoin. And you might make a living from your contributions, in one of the many ways possible. Congrats.

Helping out and mentoring others on their journeys is probably also something you are thinking about or already actively doing. This can happen directly in the projects you’re involved in, via workshops, personal relationships, or programs like Summer of Bitcoin.

No pressure making it all the way to milestone 7. You can find your personal sweet spot that works best for your personal preference and situation, and it will likely change over time. Share feedback on how settled you are now, your plans as a part of bitcoin design and where your onboarding experience could be improved with the community.

If you’d like to keep reading, here are a few more links:

Bitcoin Design Guide

Our biggest community project is this free, open-source repository of best design practices for anyone building non-custodial bitcoin products.

Bitcoin Design Foundation

This initiative was created to ensure the long-term sustainability of the efforts of the Bitcoin Design Community. The foundation engages in fundraising and accepts donations, which are then used to financially support individuals and projects for their open-source bitcoin design contributions.

For more information visit the foundation website. We are always thankful for donations and grant applications.