It’s Not Dribbble’s Fault

Why you should reject the idea that Dribbble is ruining design.

Seth Coelen
2 min readJan 15, 2016

The Dribblisation of Design

I’ve been using Dribbble since 2012, and I can undoubtedly say that it has made me a better designer. I remember one of the first nights I tried to design something “beautiful.” Something that didn’t have any restraints or specifications. This was fun, something I wouldn’t have been able to do at my day job. It showed me what I was capable of doing; it helped me flex my “design muscles.”

I’d venture to say that many of the (popular) designs on Dribbble aren’t real world designs for actual clients or products. Some think this is bad for the design community. Paul Adams writes:

This is why redesigns of other people’s work is pure folly e.g. the new Yahoo logo, iOS7, changes to Facebook, the New New Twitter, the American Airlines rebrand. People have no context for the decision making process involved in these projects, no knowledge of the requirements, constraints, organisational politics. (Excerpt taken from “The Dribblisation of design”)

Yet, I think this is the beauty of posting made-up designs. You don’t have to worry about organizational politics, or know all the requirements. You just get to let your imagination take the concept and run with it. I battle politics and requirements throughout the day. Sometimes I just want to design for fun, and dribbble is a good outlet for that.

I like to draw parallels between Dribbble and the Harlem Globetrotters. They do fun, crazy, unconventional, entertaining shots. They also don’t ask for advice after shooting half court shots.

Furthermore, no one in the crowd ever say “OMG why are they shooting backwards, between the legs?!? They’ll never do that in a real game…” But If you can shoot a half court shot backwards between your legs, you probably have a fairly decent jump shot.

The Community

To be sure, tons of people post actual work on there. But let’s not be too quick to judge Dribbble community when you receive crappy feedback. You have to know a lot about the project before you can offer valuable feedback, or constructive criticism. This is where I echo Paul’s sentiment. You have to know context for the decision making process, knowledge of the requirements, constraints, organizational politics, etc…

Dribbble will probably never be a source to get high quality feedback. Your co-workers should fill that void. They know the project specs, constraints, and decisions that went into the original design concept. Until Dribbblers start providing these details don’t expect anything more than blind praise, or the occasional “contrast criticism.” For now let’s enjoy Dribbble for what it is- a community where we can push our design skills and try new things.