On Loser Experience Design
Matt LeMay

DeviantArt is guilty of this throughout their UI in trying to promote their “Core” platform. In nearly every action you can take, be it submitting a piece of art or writing a journal or updating a status or leaving a comment in a forum, you see grayed-out but highly enticing options that are only available to Core members. In your profile details, if you aren’t a subscribing Core member, they even tag you with the phrase “Needs a Core membership.” In some cases, you’ll be lead along in using a feature (such as browsing through your own art pieces you’d like to add to your journal) only to discover that you’re not able to when you want to save or publish (the last action you take in the flow).

From a sales perspective, maybe it works to show in real-time all the benefits of getting a Core membership, but as a “loser” user it gets annoying quickly and feels very exclusive.

I also agree with the note on Instagram helping you find “your” people. I’ve discovered a lot of amazing Instagrammers who don’t have many followers or are more up-and-coming. Back to DeviantArt, they seem to have a fairly good “Discovery” section, but the site overall seems to favor the most talented and popular artists. I joined DA in 2002 when it first launched, and it was very easy to get noticed and get feedback on what you post. I took several years off, then re-joined recently, and it can feel like no one even knows you exist no matter how often you post or where you try to promote (especially without a Core membership!).

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