Every time Adobe acquires something, and you happen to be a user of that something, you worry a little. Since Adobe acquired Bēhance, there’s been no exception to the rule. Here’s what’s got me a little worried.
(Update: During the release of this article, Adobe has announced that ‘Adobe XD’ can now be shared in behance posts 👍)
1. Circle jerking culture
Not everyone receives comments on their projects, but if you happen to get commented on, you can be sure that it’ll be someone trying to get more profile views. For example, here’s the comment section of a project posted earlier this year:
It would need to be your first day on the internet to feel as if comments like this are sincere. As if a stranger has been so inspired by your work, that they are compelled to begin a meaningful interaction with you.
No, instead you’re thinking about how all the effort you’ve poured out to get everything just right, has been hijacked. Suddenly your pride and joy has been reduced to serving as a host to a section of desperate pleas for attention.
If we compare that low point with the comment section of dribbble, we start to see a different story:
There’s no boilerplate comments, people create dialogue with username handles, there’s upvoting comments via liking, there’s ability to sort comments, and there’s no shameless plugs. Maybe there is something to be learned about community from dribbble’s invite only system and their friendly players handbook.
Although, to be honest, these aren’t out-there features, unique to the forefront of internet innovation. These aren’t even conventions unfamiliar to my mum, who in reality, could benefit greatly from watching a few episodes of ‘Internet Comment Etiquette’.
It’s not like Bēhance is the only place where you can find people trying to get their “ego” stroked. The problem’s that it’s almost the only thing that is happening in the comment section.
So if a platform boasts it’s prolific community, why wouldn’t you want to give that community the best possible opportunity to interact meaningfully?
2. Lack of supported embed codes
Here we are on Medium, on the first ever post to this account and what has already become clear during the making of this article, is that more can be done on Medium to showcase designs, than what can be done on Behance — a platform made explicitly for designers and artists.
In fact, Apart from the now defunct ‘Adobe Slate’ there are only five other embed codes that Bēhance supports and Medium does not. So what are these embed codes? Surely they must be some specialised design tool integrations, right? Maybe some 3D previews? Perhaps a player for SVG animations? No, instead it’s these…
- Adobe TV: Video hosting that the public cannot upload to
- Appointy: To schedule your team in the most inconvenient way possible
- Creddle.io: For when you think your resume is a work of art
- Adobe voice: Because showing your visuals, visually is a cliché
- Wufoo: Online forms. Okay, okay, maybe this one is useful… maybe
If there is no distinct advantages for designers, it begs the questions: what good is it posting designs on Bēhance?
3. Platform stuck in 2012
Perhaps one of the more prickly points that users may experience is the general platform neglect. According to the blog, there’s been nine features tacked onto Bēhance in the four years since Adobe acquired it (Dec 2012). To help us to see which end of the spectrum these features fall, it’s useful to split this short list into two categories:
Things make posts more engaging:
- Full width images
- Creative Talent Search
- Creative Cloud Integration
- Project Metadata
- Mobile/Tablet App
- Responsive redesign (sort of)
- ‘Work in Progress’ posts (discontinued)
- Profile Statistics
The majority of effort directed at features on Bēhance is seemingly focused on making it easier for recruiters to search and find content and almost nothing to do with making the posts more engaging once they are found.
Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s a great deal of motivation to keep the recruiters happy, the going rate to search talent on behance can be as high as $1499 a month.
Despite this, designers push on and find workarounds to some of the platforms shortcomings. One popular trend is to export text as images, instead of using the site’s text editor. In fact, it’s not uncommon for content creators to simply upload a few very tall images just so they can have proper control over the appearance.
Techniques like this wouldn’t be quite as much of an issue if they didn’t come without their own debilitating side effects.
Woeful on mobile
Single images coming in at over 26k pixels tall, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s take a look at how some of these projects look like on the Bēhance app.
No retina support
Unlike dribbble, Behance doesn’t support retina artwork and so resulting text looks unclear on the browser and totally embarrassing in the app. It’s likely that posts like this kill SEO too, simply because it removes all potential search terms.
Can’t tell the story
A common plea heard among design authors on presenting designs is summed up nicely by Jonathan Omar Bowman. In his post he writes: “Just show me the steps you took… Tell a story. Tell your story”.
It may be a little difficult for designers to take Jonathan’s advice when they prefer to opt out of using any of the platform’s features in favour of total visual fidelity. When all content is combined into one item, the ways in which you can interact with that one thing become severely limited. To be clear, this isn’t to say that Bēhance posts should be 5000 word long case studies, rather that the platform is encouraging designers to post their work in the most closed off way possible.
No cross pollination
It’s a struggle to think of a whole lot of excuses as to why Bēhance doesn’t take more advantage of the plethora of software available within Adobe. Here is a handful of things that would be warmly welcomed in the the Bēhance family…
- Extensive library of web fonts from Typekit
- Scrolling effects and photo layouts from Spark
- Responsive layouts and widgets from Muse
- HTML5 animations from Animate
If these were implemented, there would be posts rivalling Apple’s product pages before long 🙌
Design sharing platforms sometimes get a bad reputation for being a dumping grounds of ‘design porn’ as Michael Abehsera points out in his post ‘Dribbble and The Creation of The Useless Designer’. However, I would argue that with the way things are going, Bēhance swims in that same stream, only much further downstream.
Hopefully it’s clear that these opinions are my own. There will no doubt be some people who will take no issue with points raised here and that’s great. However, if there is some premise that has been discounted unduly, or if a critical point of view has simply been missed, let me know about it. New perspectives on the topic are welcome.
At the very best, this post is a call on Behance to become the best platform in the world for designers to share their work and engage meaningfully with like minded people everywhere. You were great once, you can be again 🙂