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Dribbble is show and tell for designers. Once invited, players share shots—small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. Like the name suggests, Dribbble uses basketball terms for various aspects. Like shots! Yes, it’s five o’clock somewhere but we are not talking about liquor. Shots are small screenshots (400×300 pixels max) posted by members to show what they are working on.

The community is very passionate about pixels and thrives with creativity. Some of the most talented designers in the world are on Dribbble. Of course with any success comes criticism. Today we want to take a look at what makes Dribbble successful and it’s downsides. The following statement are completely based of opinion and I strongly encourage you to throw in your two cents in the comment section after the article. Enjoy!

Logical Delusion

Some have called Dribbble “Twitter for designers.” I personally call it Facebook for designers. Whatever way you wish to relate to it, we can all agree that it’s a type of a social network. The whole aspect of it being an invite only network creates desire. As humans we generally crave for things we cannot have. If they are hard to acquire, we want them even more.

Judge this theory as you will, but it certainly holds true for most human beings. What if a Lamborghini, Ferrari or the car your fantasize about was within your budget. What about Prada, Gucci or Louis Vuitton? If you were a multi-millionaire and had the money for it, I’m sure you wouldn’t feel bad about buying it.

Once you hold the thing you dreamed about, you think your life is complete. Little do you know, there is a brand new hot item that just came out and it’s a must have. Now your focus is lost on the previous ambition. It’s like a repeating pattern of life. Some call this materialism, and it’s like an ongoing RPG game that never ends. You are always trying to pursue the best valuables.

So how does this crazy scientific theory relate to Dribbble? I know you will be shocked when I tell you, but I’m not a scientist(sarcasm). We see other designers on Dribbble and envy them. “I wish I was on Dribbble.” Many say this, and want in. Having a profile is a special bragging right that you have. Others will automatically assume you’re a super-duper creative incredible amazing designer. In reality, that is not the truth.

Even if you are a member, it does not mean you are the best or most talented. Personally I’m far from good, but I’m working on improvement. One thing you can take away, is that mental desire is part of Dribbble’s success. Take a second and think what it would be like if anybody could come by and start uploading shots. Interesting right?

The Dribbble Trap

What is it you ask? This is when you are solely focused on creating work that will get you hundreds of likes on Dribbble. You were invited to share your work and generate feedback. Utilizing this wonderful tool for self exposure is unethical and can be really dangerous. After all, your main function is to accommodate the needs for your client.

You are also exposed to a huge variety of styles and trends. Falling for them becomes easier than you think. Sooner than you know it, your style has changed because you envy another designer. “I’m gonna create cool shiny icons and grungy retro works just like him/her”. The world would become a very boring place without variety. So try not to enter the copy-cat gateway. Dribbble is 100% what you make of it.

Dribbble Makes You a Better Designer

Dribbble has helped many designers and artists improve their skills. Being surrounded by beautifully crafted pixels, creates a specific standard of expected quality. Learning from the top designers is key. I know this is kind of weird to say, but you will also start to think creatively. From personal experience I would like to refer to Glenn Jones from Auckland, New Zealand. Most of his work speaks for itself without explanation. He takes common every day concepts and applies a different perspective to them.

Ever since joining Dribbble, I rarely visit Forrst anymore. It used to be cool, but now it just lost it’s appeal to me. Plus the ridiculous amount of rules is just annoying. With Dribbble you have a Pinterest type layout. The grid styled layout is very useful while searching for Inspiration. Even thou Pinterest was founded in 2008, it’s finally being recognized on a national level. Don’t know if Dan got inspiration from it, but it sure played out well in the end.

A Never Ending Cycle

Designers should not depend on Dribbble for inspiration. Here is something to keep in mind. As I mentioned earlier, the shots you see are for actual projects designers are working on. You have no idea what the client intended for the logo design, illustration, emblem, web design and etc. What if they requested specific style, colors, size, print or web only, and other factors that the designer had to incorporate. Now while you happen to browse the site for your own logo project, you spin the ideas in your own way.

This does not create value. Instead in this repeating cycle Dribbble is starting to have the same types of work posted. Take a look at the popular page right now. Is it all that different from the popular page last week, month or Even year? I bet you $5 that it’s probably not. Designers keep fostering the style that got invited in the first place. Now that they are attached to their own ways, they will invite similar artists. This never ending cycle is the main reason why Dribbble is becoming less of a unique and distinguishing service.

Conclusion

Is Dribbble perfect? Or course not, just like Salvador Dalí said: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Is it a great resource for the digital age? Yes! I love it and so do others, the problems it faces are not extremely devastating, but should be noticed. We hope you have learned a few things today, and apply the lessons to your digital lifestyle.

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Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos. Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

2 Comments

  1. Dribbble is one of those things we all love to hate. From my own point of view I’ve found it a valuable resource and a challenge to ‘up my game’ in terms of producing quality work, but it’s certainly not a perfect service. I dislike like the ‘celebrity’ culture it encourages – certain peoples designs getting hundreds, if not thousands of likes, regardless of their quality just because of who they are. I make a point of never viewing the popular page, instead preferring the ‘everyone’ or ‘debut’ sections.

    If you’re interested, a while ago I also wrote an article on my own experiences with Dribbble: http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/grafikwire/?p=64

  2. Yeah that’s easy for you to say all of that, you already have an account!

    Ha! Just kidding, nice article. I have to admit that for about a month or two after I discovered it I was itching for an invite but I knew that it was never going to be easy and I didn’t really want to bug people by asking for one since almost everyone wanted/ wants to get in. So I just signed up as a prospect.(actually the one thing MADE me sign up was with the fact that I could use my twitter profile to do so and how easy it was, I find sign up forms very annoying at times)

    I’m not really anxious to be drafted as a player anymore (I still wouldn’t refuse if I got the opportunity though) since it kinda works well for me at the moment. I can see people’s posts, I can read conversations/ comments, I get the inspiration and almost everything I need by merely being able to access the site. Plus whenever I’m on the site I like diving deep and searching for things that mostly aren’t on the front pages. Stuff like caricature designs and drawings and I follow those guys.

    It IS still a great site though.

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