Sometimes it’s the little things that can bring a smile and make your day. More than ever these random acts of kindness are needed to help get your community (and the world) through tough times.

As a designer, you can use your creative ability to spread kindness. Your skills give you a unique way to brighten someone’s day, help a local business or charity, and make a difference.

Not sure where to start? We have a few ideas that you can borrow, add your creative flair to, and use to spread kindness and happiness.

Keep smiling!

1. Take On a Pro Bono Project

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Now is the perfect time to take on a pro bono project. Pick a group you love, a friend with a small business, or office to design something for your kid’s school.

It doesn’t have to be a big project. Maybe a poster design, maybe help set up a simple checkout for a website, or help a friend edit or critique a design-in-progress. You can volunteer your time or once you finish a small project, just tell your client that it’s on the house.

2. Design Some “Strava” Art

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Do you run or bike? Plan a course with an artistic flair and save it to Strava.

Finding these course unicorns is a lot of fun and will bring delight to those who log in and see them. Plus, you get to exercise some creative and physical muscles at the same time.

3. Chalk a Mural

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Find a section of sidewalk and sketch words of encouragement to others or design a mural.

There are so many different things you can do here to show your creative side. As a bonus, consider leaving your art supplies in a safe place next to your creation so someone else can continue creating as well.

Simple messages and drawings are a fun way to create a connection with others and spread joy.

4. Paint Rocks

Have you ever found a painted rock somewhere with an affirmative message on it?

Use your creative and design skills to fashion a smooth stone and place it somewhere for others to find. Add a nice message of encouragement or affirmation for the person who finds it. You can even attach a note asking the recipient to hide it somewhere else.

5. Teach a Kid to Code

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Designers and developers can share their skills by teaching a kid – your own, a niece or nephew or even through an online class – how to code a design.

Sharing the skills that make up our craft can be very rewarding for you and help a youngster find a love of design at an early age. You never know who might end up walking in your footsteps.

6. Create a Playlist for Your Design Team

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a great playlist. One art form influences another.

Share some of the music that gets you in the zone by creating a playlist you can share with your friends or remote work team, or just create a stellar public playlist using your favorite music service. (I admit to finding a lot of joy in finding a list like this from a random source.)

7. Design Zoom Backgrounds to Share

With the growing use of video conferencing, a good background can hide untidy or embarrassing workspaces. Design a few backgrounds to share with the community of Zoom users to make their meetings a little more professional. (Think of it as using your design skills to help someone in need.)

This kind of project can be a welcome diversion to regular deadlines and workflow and can make you feel good about helping someone who might be struggling with using video tools.

8. Leave Cheerful Notes in Unexpected Places

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Grab a pack of sticky notes, write nice things (or create fun sketches), and leave them for others.

Put on a library book before you return it or inside of a locker at the gym.

The epitome of a random act of kindness is doing something that will make someone feel better, happier, or more special even if you aren’t there to see the fruit of your labor.

As a designer, you have some of the creative tools and the ability to leave little meaningful things in your path.

9. Share a Design Freebie

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Take the idea of completing a random act of kindness to the digital space.

If you have a neat UI kit you’ve designed, or a font, or anything else for that matter, offer it as a downloadable freebie for others to enjoy. Not only will it make you feel good, but it will also help create a connection with other designers. You never know when that good karma might come back around.

10. Compliment a Stranger’s Portfolio

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This might be the easiest random act of kindness one designer can bestow on another: Compliment someone’s portfolio.

You know you spend time every day browsing projects on Behance or Dribbble or Instagram or GitHub. Next time you see something you like or admire, leave a comment of appreciation and let them know you like their work. (The example above from designer Ashley Dimick’s Instagram. I love her posts because they show depth and evolution in her creativity.)

Take it a step further than a generic like. Explain what about the piece or project appeals to You. Why do you like it? What about it made you stop and offer words of encouragement to the designer? By offering specific feedback you can help them do better work and even serve as an anecdotal recommendation when they need it.

Conclusion

It’s not that hard to be a good person. That’s what incorporating random acts of kindness is all about as a designer. You never know when you might be able to use your ability to make someone else’s day.

More often than not, you may never know how these random acts turned out, but if you have experienced one from the receiving end, you know that nothing can make you smile like an act of kindness from a stranger.

While this is something the world needs right now, it’s always a good idea to practice kindness and try to generally be a good human.