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Dribbble: Kind of like Twitter for graphic and web designers

At this point, I don’t tend to get too excited when I learn about a new social media tool. I don’t doubt that some new ones are cool and useful, but there are an overwhelming number of them and, obviously, only so many hours per day to use them all. I think that’s a tumbleweed blowing through my Google+ profile right now…

HOWEVER, as a designer who loves to gaze upon the work of the millions who do it better than I do, Dribbble recently caught my eye. Dribbble (no typo) is a smallish community of graphic and web designers who post screenshots of their works-in-progress for quick evaluation by their peers, who then can provide suggestions for improvement. As a registered user of the site, you can choose to follow other users who are posting their work, and whenever you log in, you’ll see everything the people you follow have recently posted. It’s kind of like the way your Twitter timeline works: most recent stuff first, but only from the accounts you choose to follow.

The catch with Dribbble is that you have to be invited, or “drafted,”(they're fond of sports metaphors; notice the basketball-ish logo) to actually post your own work for others to see. Yup, new Dribbble “prospects” have to submit portfolio links for peer review before they can even show work on the site. Anyone can show up and look around, but to actually share, you have to be good. This built-in filter is great for visitors who want to browse through exclusively awesome stuff, rather than (for instance) junk uploaded by a 12-year-old kid with a pirated version of Photoshop and too much time on his hands. Thus, most of the people who share on Dribbble are incredible graphic and web design talents who make me feel woefully inadequate, but inspired at the same time.

I think this social model makes a lot of sense for designers who want to share, discuss, and improve their work. It also helps that Dribbble itself is a well-designed yet understated site that’s very easy to use. It’s one of my new favorite social tools (actually it’s not all that new, just new to me) and has become one of my favorite quick sources of inspiration. Now all I need to do is make it past “prospect” status and join the elite ranks of its members…