I used to have a really strong love/hate relationship with Dribbble. Up until a year ago, I was always so torn between feeling super inspired and super intimidated by everyone’s work. If you were to map my browsing experience of a single visit to Dribbble it would start off somewhere around “OMG. Everything is awesome!” before then descending to somewhere around “I am not worthy!”.
I’m not sure what happened but one day I just got tired of riding the emotional rollercoaster that was Dribbble and decided that I would stop feeling intimidated but the work on Dribbble and start learning from it. From that moment I took more time to study the the shots instead of simply comparing everything I saw to anything I was working on at the time. Of course, as a result, my Dribbble experiences became a lot more positive, enjoyable and productive. I now use it as a tool instead of a straight up gallery and seek out designers that use Dribbble to not only show off their work but also take the time to share their process behind their work. My favourite designers are those who actively involve the Dribbble community in their design process, asking for and taking onboard feedback and critique. That stuff is so invaluable to the design community.
This neurosis didn’t stop at being a Dribbble audience member though; this also extended to posting on Dribbble. I’m not quite as comfortable posting as I am browsing but I’m definitely not as crippled as I used to be. This week I posted a shot of something I worked on a little while ago. I didn’t have to spend a week prior talking myself into posting the shot and although I experienced a little post-publish anxiety I was generally pretty okay with the entire process. I like to think that hopefully this is a sign that I’m finally coming into my own as a designer — that I’m finally feeling more comfortable and confident with my skills and abilities. I’ll admit, I certainly feel this way so it’s nice to be able to recognise actions of my own that back this feeling up.
Much to my surprise this shot got quite a bit of attention. I am not on Dribbble for the ‘likes’ nor does the popularity aspect of Dribbble appeal to me, but it was nice to see that so many people liked it enough to make it end up on the “Popular” page within a few hours. This was one of those little boosts of confidence I talked about a few weeks ago. It definitely lit a little fire in me this week to keep striving to be better daily and reminded me of the value of Dribbble.
I know that there is a lot of debate around Dribbble’s contribution to the design community on the web. Some people argue that it’s damaging while some people advocate it. I’m somewhat of a Dribbble advocate. While I appreciate and even agree with some of the arguments put forth by those who disagree with Dribbble, I also find a lot of value in it. I learn from it, it helps me break through creative block, I discover and meet wonderful designers from around the world, it’s an opportunity to receive feedback and it gives me a platform to share my work beyond my local circle. The trick, I’ve found, to enjoying Dribbble for all all that it has to offer, is to shift the way you view and use Dribbble. Engage with the community, look at Dribbble as a tool rather than a design stand off and realise that everyone is putting their best foot forward so, as they say, don’t compare their highlight reels with your behind the scenes.
The lesson this week is a little bit of an odd one. While it sounds like I'm just saying "learn to love Dribbble", I want to point to something a lot larger. There are so many "designpiration" sites around the internet with Dribbble being one of the bigger, well known ones. It's really easy to look at these sites and get intimidated or worried about what everyone else is doing in the design space. On the other hand it's much harder to look at these sites and instead choose to take something constructive away from them and yet this is what you should do. Don't look at other designers as competition and let comparisons get you down. Use these sorts of sites to learn and grow.