With the argument about sites like Dribbble watering down the value of design thinking into pretty pixels, I felt the need to address my opinion. While the well written "Dribbblisation of Design" article on Medium sparked most of the debate, the thought was already on the minds of many.
To start, I think the point of the article is accurate. The sub-title says it all: "Only one of these weather apps is attempting to solve the real problem.”.
The shiny animations that plaster your feed can send any Sketchaholic into inspire (or even copycat) mode. And, if not careful, that can skew our perception of great design. That can mean masking un-usable functions with charm. If you put value into your Likes as a deposit into your “design ability” you would be mistaken, regardless of how much context you provide.
Leading by Example
As leaders, we need to expect more from one another. Pushing back when we see a concept consuming or diluting value is important. It's also important to propose how to move forward. Create awareness and offer suggestions.
One thing we need to ask ourselves is: Do most draftees think that Dribbble Likes means that much? I argue that many are thinking more about our experiments than many assume. That’s not to say tons of designers aren’t, and I know that’s the issue at hand. Especially when I think about young designers seeing this as a way to “rising up in the ranks”. That’s not how you get a job, and that’s an important distinction design leaders need to portray.
I would also argue that posting beautiful visual work on Dribbble isn’t the problem. It’s how it’s portrayed as the holy grail of showing our abilities. I think the theory's popularity is important, to point out that it is not. As many things in our field, we need to know the difference between showcasing and deep dives. Awareness is everything.
Additionally, we can be more mindful on how we comment. "Looks great!" can be true without acknowledging the design thinking aspect. Give the user the benefit of the doubt that they know they are just posting an experiment for fun. Also, there is nothing wrong with asking for more context for a certain decision to help shed light on the value of deep thinking. It’s always up to the user how they want to present or respond.
Not Everyone Posts for Validation
To be fair, a lot of processes are confidential. I can’t think of one project at my job that I would be comfortable sharing the ins and outs online, let alone something with high traffic like Dribbble. Not everyone works for transparent facing companies.
I see many people using Dribbble as their portfolio now. If you are a visual designer or artist, I think that’s ok. If you have explanations and process shots in there, go for it. But if not, I think a full portfolio on your own website is a better option. Leave the deep discussions for interviews, and show just enough to tell a story.
Sites like this can show more than just the final UI. Showing “shots” of your process as a product designer can be a part of showing off your mission, vision and architecture. Just like any tool, it’s all in how you use it. No matter where you post your work, designers need to stop relying on visual creations to showcase an entire process.
Dribbble has a place. There is a need for exploration in any creative field. Sharing with others is important and inspirational. It makes us question things, learning more. It has inspired many of us to be better at ways of connecting design solutions, architecture and user experience with interface design. Anything that pushes our industry forward like that should be commended. While I would also argue that we can get caught up in demonstrating for our peers, our peers are what can push us into new ways of thinking.
These conversations are a way of highlighting the needs of design solutions and pairing them with UI or no UI solutions. Awareness and discussion ends up improving the field as a whole.