I’ve likely said it a million times and in various ways: there’s something incredibly special about the web design community. Sure, it’s highly-competitive. Yet is comprised of people who are willing to share what they know. Paying it forward seems to be a way of life.

This has always stood out as one of the main benefits of being in the industry. But perhaps never more so than right now, when the world can seem out of control and devoid of common courtesy.

Maybe that’s because web design is relatively new when compared to more traditional careers. Many of us have come of age together. Therefore, helping hands are both welcomed and necessary for long term survival.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of just how good we have it. What with all the stress that comes from work, life and the world at large.

But every so often a situation comes along that reminds you of all that is good in this great big family. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have such an experience.

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Getting Lost in JavaScript

I admit that there are certain areas of web development that are my Achilles heel. Things that cause me all kinds of frustration and lead me on a wild goose chase for answers.

JavaScript can get me off my game with relative ease. It’s intricate and, for whatever reason, makes me a bit nervous when diving deep into code.

In this case, I was knee deep in the Google Maps JavaScript API. Surprisingly, I’d accomplished more with it than I could have anticipated. That is, until I hit a proverbial wall.

My first steps were to search Google’s documentation, which was overwhelming. Next it was Stack Overflow – which would have been great had I been able to find a thread relevant to my exact issue. Now I was desperate and struggling for answers.

JavaScript code displayed on a screen.

Answering a Call for Help

So, I decided to try my luck by putting out a call for help on Twitter. Within a mere 10 minutes, it had been retweeted five times and I’d already gotten a response from Matthew Lovelady, a developer located in Nashville, TN.

Matthew asked to see my code and, over a series of direct messages, helped me more than any psychiatrist or soothsayer ever could. He’d figured out where my cobbled-together code went horribly wrong and sent over a refactored version.

It’s amazing what a little back-and-forth with an expert can do. The issue I’d been struggling with all afternoon was solved within a half hour – thanks to Matthew.

Even more impressive was that, in the middle of our conversation, I’d offered to pay him for his time. He politely declined and said he was happy to help.

A hand coming out of water.

Inspiring Others to Pay It Forward

This wasn’t the first time someone went out of their way to provide me with a helping hand. Perhaps that says as much about my neediness when it comes to code as it does the kindness of many web developers.

But this isn’t an isolated incident. This same scenario plays itself out in support forums and chat rooms all over the globe each and every day. By sharing our knowledge, we help to lift each other up. And, when we are the recipient of such help, it inspires us to pay it forward.

This is why, when someone asks me a question, I try my very best to help them find an answer. Going through the experience of needing that extra bit of support creates empathy. It leads to an understanding that all of us will, at one time or another, benefit from someone else’s expertise.

That spirit of camaraderie is what makes web design unique. The willingness of others to take time out of their busy schedules for total strangers may be unfathomable to people in other lines of work. But this cycle is what keeps the web moving in the right direction.

It makes me thankful to be a part of this industry. And it also makes me wonder – what if we could bring this same concept to all communities? That just may be a sure-fire way to make the world a better place.



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