Open source software is nothing new in 2017. Even now, big tech giants are exploring open source. More and more companies allow employees to contribute to open source software on company hours, if it isn’t altogether encouraged. However, design assets and work have not enjoyed the same popularity with open source licensing and use as software has. However, Albanian design agency Ura Design is helping change this.
The team consists of four people: Elio Qoshi, Redon Skikuli, Giannis Konstantinidis, and Anxhelo Lushka. Ura Design started from an idea. The team believed that many open source projects are full of capabilities and features, but their design can make it difficult for users to effectively use the software. This could be through user experience, branding, or accessibility. And the goal? To help bring these better design principles to open source projects at little to no cost. “In open source, there are amazing projects that are poorly communicated with the outside world. By communication, we mean visual communications, branding, even marketing. That is nonexistent for many reasons. There is a connection between communicating your project well and also getting contributors or users on board,” says Skikuli.
The Ura Design team helps open source projects improve their design so they can focus on great code.
How it works
Together, the four of them work with open source project owners to help them bring better design elements to their projects. The principles of ethical design are part of the goals and values of the project.
Some of their past projects include Mozilla, the Tor Project, Free Software Foundation Europe, Glucosio, and more. The team takes contract work with companies or communities with a budget, but for projects with less financial support, they’ll even do the work free. This is in part supported by their Patreon page, where anyone can subscribe or see updates from Ura Design.
Their Patreon page is part of the reason Ura Design is able to take on some projects at no cost. “Since there are working hours involved, we are asking for people to make small contributions to help us pay living costs, so we work for small projects who apply for free or minimal design support from us. This is our way of supporting some open source initiatives that we think are worth it,” says Skikuli. Right now, they have 22 backers to the project, which lets them cover most infrastructure costs. Some of the goals for the team now is to expand into photography to release work into the public domain.
Ura Design has worked with many open source projects already. Some of their work covers projects at Mozilla, the Tor Project, Glucosio, GalliumOS, Open Labs Hackerspace, and more. You can see the full list of past works on their website.
The Mozilla localization team was looking to send a reward to their community translators around the world. Specifically, it was to celebrate the relationships formed between mentors and mentees over the years. The localization team was hoping to design t-shirts that captured these relationships and why they were important for the community.
For Mozilla, Qoshi had an existing relationship with Mozilla as a contributor. He was asked to help design and capture this connection inside of the localization community for Mozilla. The final design focused on two lions, one big and one small, looking at each other. “It was nice effort for contributors who have been mentoring others to get recognized for their contributions. Good design breaks off a conversation even for a project like this,” Qoshi said.
The Tor Project
Working with the Tor Project was a unique experience for Ura Design. The Tor Project was looking at rebranding the entire project. The end goal was to try to improve the accessibility of the project by incorporating good design elements.
Together with the Tor Project leadership, Ura Design helped lead the rebranding of the project. This included graphical assets, logos, and corporate identity. Today, you can see the new branding featured across Tor’s web presence online. There are still plans to continue to roll these changes out over the coming year.
The newest project from the team is Logobridge. From unused work or small samples, Ura Design releases several new logos into the public domain each month. People are encouraged to use them in their projects, for icons, for placeholders, or anything they want. There’s no restrictions on how the logos can be used. Anyone can download the source SVG files to use in vector imaging software, like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
Most of the logos designed through Logobridge are supported by monthly subscribers to Ura Design. It was from this that they decided to start Logobridge. You can see all of the logos they have on their website.
Ura Design is still relatively new, but they hope to continue impacting open source projects through their work. To learn more about Ura Design, you can visit their website or read their blog. Additionally, you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter for other news and updates from the team. If you want to support their work, you can visit their Patreon page. And if you’re an open source project? The Ura Design team encourages you to get in touch!