Early last month, I got the news that I had been accepted as a UI Visual Design Intern at Layer5. Five months ago, I was a new contributor with zero knowledge of cloud native technologies roaming through their Github looking to make my first contribution. In this article, I’ll share my journey contributing to Layer5 as a designer. I’ll also share insights I hope new contributors find useful as they navigate their open source journey.


I first learned about Layer5 through the LFX Mentorship. I stumbled upon a tweet by Anita Ihuman announcing that Meshery was accepting mentees for a design-related project. I had always been looking to make design contributions to open source projects but it was hard finding one. So, this was a great opportunity for me.

My First Contribution

Interestingly, my first contribution to Layer5 had nothing to do with design. It was a writing task. They needed a blog that highlighted the importance of GitHub stars to a project. The purpose of the blog was to boost the project’s visibility by encouraging more people to give Meshery a star on GitHub. Since I had some experience writing, I volunteered to write the blog. It was a bit more tasking than I had anticipated but with the help of the community, I was able to work through it.

Making Design Contributions

I noticed there were a bunch of open issues to design badges for users and contributors. I requested to work on one of the badges and got assigned. I didn’t initially have edit access to the community Figma file so I struggled to get assets like the logo and font to create the design. I eventually found them in the local branch of Layer5 that I had cloned earlier on my PC. Turned out that all the resources I needed to complete that task were available to me; I just needed to know where to look.

That was my first design contribution. Since then I’ve designed more badges and contributed in many other ways besides design. For instance, I worked on documentation and helped with marketing and community management.

How I've Benefited

Here’s a non-exhaustive summary of how contributing to Layer5 has benefited me:

  1. Autonomy - I’ve learned to own my process and see tasks from start to finish. When I volunteered to write that first blog, I thought I’d do just the writing part and someone else would get it up on the website. I didn’t realize that I would have to clone a repository, learn to use Git CMD, make commits, learn Markdown, and raise a pull request. These were all foreign to me and I was doing them for the first time. It was a great learning opportunity and I’m grateful for it.
  2. Presentation - We hold weekly meetings where contributors share what they’re working on and receive feedback. Presenting at these meetings has taught me to not just show my work, but to talk about it. I’m not a great orator so this was challenging for me at first but I’ve noticed that I’m getting more confident with each presentation I make. I’m gradually learning how to clearly articulate my thought process and have a valid justification for any route I choose to take to complete a task.
  3. Design - Making design contributions has helped improve the quality of my work. Sometimes, I’d nail a design on my first try. Other times, I may have to iterate several times before I get it right. The important thing is that I end up producing high-quality work. I’ve also learned to detach myself from my work, be objective, and gracefully accept constructive criticism.
  4. Collaboration - For the first time, I get to work together with developers and other designers. Thanks to Layer5. I’m also learning to use communication and collaboration tools like Slack, GitHub, and ClickUp.

How You Can Contribute to Layer5

My experience clearly shows that you don’t necessarily need to know anything about coding or cloud native technologies to contribute to Layer5 projects. Are you a designer, technical writer, community manager, or digital marketer? There are several ways to contribute. You can

  • Work on improving the documentation,
  • Design new website pages or improve the UX of existing ones,
  • Warmly welcome newcomers to the community and offer support,
  • Give constructive feedback during the weekly meetings,
  • Talk about Layer5 and invite your friends to use and star Meshery,
  • Write articles for our blog.

The list is endless. My advice is that you do not box yourself. Don’t feel that because you’re a designer, your contributions will be strictly design-related. If you want to make impactful contributions, pay attention to the needs of the community/project and help where you can.

For more guidance on contributing to Layer5, check out our newcomer’s guide.


Victoria Nduka

P.S.: If these topics excite you and you want to explore the beautiful realm of service meshes, come and say "Hi" on our Slack Channel and one of us will reach out to you!

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Layer5, the cloud native management company

An empowerer of engineers, Layer5 helps you extract more value from your infrastructure. Creator and maintainer of cloud native standards. Maker of Meshery, the cloud native manager.