What does 'talent' mean when contributing to open source as a designer?

Hi everyone,

I had an interesting conversation on the slack at the North America open source summit last week. I was talking about open-source design, just chatting and spreading the word when I had a conversation with an OSS maintainer who talked about ‘the lack of designers’ and ‘the need for designers’ in OSS but then dropped the word ‘talented’ in the conversation (as well as time/dedication).

So OSS contributions need some kind of time commitment and it’s typically longer for designers by the nature of what we do and the amount of us doing this kind of contribution, but ‘talent’ I found a complicated word.

So what does everyone think about the term ‘talented’ in regards to an open-source designer/design contribution?

I have thoughts but keen to hear others!


I am intrigued as I do not have an idea what a perceived lack of “talented” designers refers to. Assuming that much open source software has few input of designers and thus the improvements are design wise not hard to define, I guess it would not need a particularly talented person.

I, like you, find the word… complicated. It focuses on an assumed essential (rather than acquired) trait of a person. Aside of that it can mean anything.

I guess a “good” (or talented) designer in open source (culture) might be one that does code themselves.


Reading from the given context I assume “talented” means “high quality”. I guess many Free Software projects have lots of experience with design contributions coming from people without an extensive background of design education.

It would be similar to designers talking about “talented” coders being needed, when they use software that constantly crashes or has poor performance.

I think “talent” is a loaded word in general though, as was pointed out: most skills are aquired, not received by birth.