TL; DR: When the team at Wix dreamed up Playground, they wanted to help designers get as wild, crazy, and innovative as their imaginations would allow. And once it successfully launched the creative site-building solution, Wix decided it wanted to use Playground to help communities. That’s why it started Wix Design Playground, a three-month program for novice designers in New York City and paired those students with local nonprofits in need of web design help. Through Design Playground, Wix is building what it calls “a loop of empowerment” that gives back while imparting knowledge.
When the Wix team set out to create a website development platform that would inspire designers to forge imaginative sites, simply improving established tools wasn’t enough. Instead, the team decided to focus the experience around the designer rather than the result.
“We knew that we wanted to put the creator at the forefront – because it’s part of Wix’s values, and it also adds emotion and a sense of empathy,” said Lior Dahan, a Wix Designer, in a blog post introducing its new platform.
So Wix created a new language, a new perspective, and an immersive world in which designers could play. That’s why they named the innovative web platform Playground. Another Wix Designer, Amit Asulin, added that the team found inspiration by analyzing the experimental, rational, and emotional worlds.
One challenge the team faced was that, while it had an audience of designers in mind, that audience approached its work in a variety of ways. Some designers trusted their instincts and built sites with no structure or template. Others solved problems with a rational, deductive style. That meant that Playground needed the flexibility to work for many types of designers while still sparking the one thing they all prize — creativity.
Playground makes it easy for designers to upload videos from YouTube or Vimeo, and if they want to secure their own photographs, they can trust Playground’s built-in image protection.
Besides having 100 fonts built-in, Playground allows designers to upload their own. It includes tools to sharpen images, and it optimizes those images for both desktop and mobile platforms. And with its capabilities for vector art, site layout, and design effects, it has plenty of tools to stoke a designer’s creative fire.
After Wix built Playground, the team still didn’t feel like it had finished its job. The platform helped designers, but they wanted it to build more than websites. According to Hagit Kaufman, Wix VP of Design & Brand, Wix wanted Playground to help build communities.
So the team started the Wix Design Playground program that serves as a launching pad for designers who were just starting their careers — and as a way to help nonprofits in the process.
Why the Wix Team Built a Playground for the Design Community
Playground provides established designers with a powerful new tool, but Wix also uses it to support those who are venturing into the field. That’s why the company set up a three-month program that gives students a space to study design while learning from experts in the field.
“Students come to New York City, learn the tips and tricks that professionals use, and also learn how to market themselves. It’s a fantastic way to nurture new talent,” Hagit said.
And since Wix believes that the best way to learn web design is by creating a website, the program gives students that real-world experience while helping the community.
“We started our social good project and reached out to local nonprofits. They’re like any other business in that they’re usually bootstrapped for cash and time,” Hagit said, “Building a good website can be very difficult. But at Wix, we know that a beautiful website increases trust and gives you an advantage over your competitors.”
These partnerships accomplish two beneficial tasks at once — they give students the opportunity to build sites for real clients and provide nonprofits with beautiful websites without them having to invest money they could use to help their own clients. Wix Design Playground students got to show off all the skills they had learned, including SEO, email marketing, and gallery display. And the website was the program’s culminating project.
“The students got work experience and developed their portfolios. They got to see how design directly impacts others and how it can enrich their own lives. Plus, they saw what it takes to launch a business online,” Hagit said. “The nonprofits got powerful websites and strong business platforms, much more than just something pretty to look at.”
Helping Nonprofits One Website Project at a Time
The goal of the Wix Design Playground program is to create a community where everyone helps one another and improves the place where they work — New York City. That was the purpose in reaching out to nonprofits and it has created what Hagit called a “loop of empowerment.”
One nonprofit the students worked with was CharacTours, which provides informative and entertaining walking tours throughout New York. CharacTours saw the program not only as an opportunity to redesign its website but also as a way to create new content and to strengthen its standing in the community. The redesigned site was streamlined and created a strategic online presence.
That helps CharacTours achieve its ultimate goal — to connect people to New York City’s past and its evolving future.
The range of organizations that Wix Playground partners with is impressive and each one has a unique mission and brand. For example, Inky Blue Animal Rescue works to foster responsible and humane behaviors toward animals through education, communication, and rescue programs. It uses its new website to advertise youth projects and help pets get adopted.
Then there’s Start Within Coaching, an organization started by the stress management coach Colette Ellis. Her goal was to empower women, and she wanted to give clients an easy way to book appointments online.
These and other organizations do incredible work. Wix Design Playground helps them do it better.
Wix Design Playground Allows Imaginations to Run Wild
While the Wix Design Playground has been an integral part of helping communities, it’s important to remember the power of its website platform. The easiest way to understand the impact it has had is to hear feedback from the designers who use it.
Australian designer Frankie Ratford wanted to put 15 years of her work on one simple, on-brand site.
“My animated resumé, short bio, images, and sections help clearly present my portfolio,” she said in a designer spotlight on the Playground site. “It looks great across mobile and desktop versions.”
Lauren Hom took the opposite approach. As a designer and letterer from L.A., she uses her website to dive into passion projects. And one of the most important aspects of her website is its color scheme.
“A regular portfolio site is a curated gallery of all your work. But a passion project is an ongoing series that tends to be more condensed,” she said in her designer spotlight. “For those that follow me, you know I love turquoise. I wanted to incorporate my signature color into the template. I opted for an infinite scroll, so I could add as many images as I wanted. The background color of each image panel is a light version of the turquoise to add some visual interest.”
Whether they’re putting together a massive survey of their career or curating small bursts of creative energy, many designers agree that using Wix Playground’s tools unleashes unlimited imaginative power.
And, through the Wix Design Playground program in New York City, up-and-coming designers can build their skills while helping out nonprofits in their local communities. Then, they can use Wix Playground to build their portfolios and come into their own in an exciting industry.