Dribbble is a well-known service in the creative community. The pink basketball-themed social network is the first place that crosses my mind when I’m thirsty for visual stimulation.
In this note, I will cover how Dribbble helped me opening up during 2020. A story of how I fell in love with design all over again.
I joined the design social network around 2012. Back then, to upload shots (aka posts) to Dribbble and showcase your work, you would require an invitation from another member. This invitation model would keep the community's growth in control and ensure the quality of the content. Dribbble removed this restriction, and now everyone is welcome.
In 2012, I worked as a freelance and posting shots tomy Dribbble profile brought me projects, inspiration and new contacts. Shortly after that, I got a full-time job as an in-house designer. My work was buried in NDS (non-disclosure agreements). As a result, I was not allowed to share online any of my design work.
I was in design silence – nothing to show or share.
Fast forward to mid-2019; a former dev colleague shared with me a couple of side project ideas. They invited me to collaborate with small design contributions: visual identity, user flows, prototypes, interactions and more.
For the first time in years, I had the opportunity to design something different than enterprise software.
Getting started was hard and I felt entirely out of practice. I was not able to think clearly and fast. Every small task took forever, and my attention span was pretty short.
My head was full of thoughts:
Perhaps, what happened was that I was too deep into the daily hustle of designing enterprise software. Without realizing it, the passion and joy I once felt about design died; right there, just in front of me.
I refused to give up.
Somewhere, once, I read that when you don’t know how to continue and you are feeling down; there is, at least, one thing you can do:
Show up and have fun.
And that is precisely what I did: show up every day and make design fun again. Dribbble gave the perfect playground to have fun and experiment.
In 2020 I signed up to DailyUI and started completing the daily challenges. The challenges gave me an excuse to open my computer and start designing just about anything. It didn’t matter what I would be working on; the point was just to get moving.
Sharing progress consistently on Dribbble had a significant impact on my mood and motivation. From day one, I started sharing my experiments publicly in a way I could not before (thank you NDAs, you pushed me here).
Since I refer to my work as experiments, I felt an immense sense of freedom. Experiments are just experiments, and the outcome does not matter as long as I enjoy the process.
As my confidence levels were going up, I let go of the DailyUI challenges and moved into experimenting with personal ideas and side projects. Every little progress would make it into my Dribbble profile in the form of a shot. Doing that would allow me to get feedback and keep iterating quickly.
Pink Club Project
This loop of inspiring and getting inspired is satisfying. Being part of the community and contributing to this inspiration loop has motivated me to continue experimenting and sharing my work online.
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As expected from most modern social networks, Dribbble has many different egocentric metrics: views, saves, likes, comments, and followers. I will be lying if I say that I do not look at these numbers. Indeed, I keep an eye on them.
Numbers and metrics were a real struggle. During my first month or so, I would go into the profile statistics and play the blaming game for not getting enough views, likes, etc. This behavior would ultimately kill the joy and add unnecessary stress every time I pressed the “Publish” button.
With time, I have learned that those numbers do not mean much after all. There is certain randomness that comes with the popularity game of any social network. It is your choice to play that game.
Instead of focusing on the numbers, I prefer to focus on what’s behind them. I take time to reach out to the people that would engage with my work. This way, you would turn those numbers into meaningful connections with other creatives.
I met great people through Dribbble and we had a chance to collaborate on a couple of projects.
The only metric that I value when it comes to Dribbble is the answer to how much fun I am having while I am designing.
Dribbble is the place where trends are born and die.
Any popular visual design trend has a ripple effect that quickly reaches Dribbble and causes a wave of similar and homogenous shots.
Do not let trends force you to design in a specific way; give yourself time and space to find your direction.
Present work in your style, solve design challenges using a familiar process, try new tools and learn along the way.
There is no need to blend in. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to design or a perfect style to showcase your work.
Remember to keep it fun.
Reflecting on this year in Dribbble these are the main things I discovered:
→ You are much more than your daily work
Give yourself time and room to experiment. Work on your own ideas and have fun.
→ Dribbble is a progress log
Post regularly, and you will be looking back in awe at how much better you have improved.
→ Trends are just trends
Try them out, experiment with them but, in the end, learn and use them to find your own direction.
→ Practice presentation
Being good at presenting your work is essential. In Dribbble this is key and you will need to keep a balance between attractive presentations and exciting content.
→ Don't get obsessed with numbers.
Please, just don't.
This year in Dribbble was a reminder of how much I love design. It helped me fighting back perfectionism and gave me space to play. As long as you are having fun, it is never too late to get started.
You can check my Dribbble profile at: dribbble.com/ramsescabello
Thanks for reading.