Democratising Design Education with a Web Monetised Publishing Platform
In support of our work building an open and accessible platform for designers, we’re proud to announce a flagship grant of $99,370.00 from Grant for the Web.
✨ This flagship project will develop Prototypr as an inclusive Web Monetized publishing platform for designers, that rewards contributors whilst democratising design education by providing openly accessible, quality content across different cultures.
This post will give you a quick overview of the challenge we’ll be working on over the next 6 months:
Custodians of the Open Web
Prototypr.io began over 6 years ago, with a mission to enable people to share and discuss ideas around design, prototyping, code and beyond. Ran as an independent platform and newsletter, in tandem with an online publication hosted on Medium.com, we grew to hundreds and thousands of monthly readers by following an Open Design ethos:
“The idea of Open Design is one of sharing knowledge openly, to invite people to collaborate and learn from eachother, thereby improving the community as a whole.”
Over the last few years though, the web has seen a change. Many of the free, centralised platforms we relied upon to host and distribute our work shifted to closed models and ‘walled gardens’. Less and less content was openly accessible – you now need a subscription to read it.
Bringing back the ‘Tim Berners-Lee Web’
Our Web has gradually shifted away from the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners Lee’s vision of a collaborative and accessible medium:
Tim Berners-Lee had a grand vision for the Internet when he began development of the World Wide Web in 1989. “The original thing I wanted to do,” Berners-Lee said, “was make it a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write” – Sagepub
Everything and everybody seemed to become a subscription. Substack introduced paid newsletters, Medium incorporated a paywall, and gated content has became more of a norm.
Our open source project aims to bring back and build upon aspects of an accessible web. We’re developing Prototypr as an inclusive Web Monetized publishing platform for designers, that rewards contributors whilst democratising design education by providing openly accessible, quality content across different cultures. Here’s some aspects it will cover:
Open Education for Designers
In late 2020, Prototypr Publisher (beta) was launched as an alternative space to publish without the paywalls. Now, with the support of Grant for the Web, we’re expanding on this to develop an alternative solution for self-learners:
🎓Design School alternative:
University design degrees are expensive, and UX bootcamps can cost up to $15k or more. Furthermore, some aren’t available to all countries, despite being remote. Design schools therefore aren’t a viable option to many, so an accessible place to learn is needed for people on the self-taught route.
💸 Paid content alternative:
Over the last few years, free and unbiased material has become less accessible due to a rise in paywalls and gated content, as centralised platforms become more optimised towards profitability over education. Web Monetization can help shred some of the hegemony large organisations have in the design industry.
💼 Sponsored content alternative:
A lot of free content in the design industry is sponsored, or trying to sell you something – be it a design tool, or a course.
A Web Monetized platform can help create a space for unbiased, safe and quality content that has no ulterior motives.
Accessible and Inclusive Platform
We’re also priotising our work for people of different abilities and backgrounds:
A rebuild of our front-end pages to put accessibility first. Use accessibility tooling to check contrast and scan for missing alt text for images.
A huge portion of content is currently tailored to English and Western culture. With the support from Grant for the Web budget, we can start to cater for wider cultural norms and begin translating popular articles for wider audiences.
3. Web Monetization for all
When using a tipping model on Prototypr through a Ko-Fi donation widget, we found some of users in Africa and India struggled to set up Paypal accounts. The same goes for paywalls with Stripe. This has always been a concern when creating an open platform – it should work for everyone.
With Web Monetization, payments are streamed natively, so we can monitor how Web Monetization helps previously unsupported regions
The code for the Prototypr platform will be open sourced under MIT Open License for anyone to remix, learn from, and copy. If you’re interested in the learnings from building it, we’ll be shared along the way, so sign up to the newsletter to hear more.
There’ll be rewards for contributors too, so stay tuned!
💡 Grant for the Web, part of Interledger Foundation, is a fund to boost open, fair, and inclusive standards and innovation in Web Monetization. Read about all the other awardees over on the Grant for the Web blog, and in the Web Monetization Community.
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