Subject: Request for detailed feedback.
Hello Senior Designers,
I am Nikhil Yadav, a young designer learning design for the past 3 years now. I don’t have any professional degree in design. Whatever I have learned till now is all because of my mentors. I am writing this letter to you on the behalf of every young designer to improve the current state of design.
When I started learning design, it used to be fun. My mentor Vineet and I used to sit together for long discussing on how minor tweaks in our design improved the design. We used to debate on the designs and ended up finding a solution which both of us had not thought of. These design discussions were fun and helped me to grow as a designer.
After about a year, Vineet told me the importance of marketing my work online. So I started posting my designs on social platforms: Dribbble, Behance, and Uplabs — full of creatively designed yellow, red and purple shots, These platforms had always amazed me. Within some hours of posting my designs, comments started pouring in.
“Good Work. Check out my work too.”
I was so happy that my designs were appreciated. This motivated me and I started posting more shots. However, after some time, I started noticing a pattern. Every time I posted these shots, same comments were posted by different people. This trend continued for a long time and I realised there was a red flag for me. Something was wrong.
Disclaimer: This article is not yet another article about Dribbblisation of design. So much has been spoken about it already. I will talk about the other problem with these platforms — the spam comments.
Where was the problem?
With the outburst of designers, it had become more difficult for every designer to gain visibility. In order to gain visibility, some designers have started resorting to these activities of spamming the other designer profiles with such comments. Writing these short comments takes less effort for them and this had also created a high probability that the designer might view their profile.
These comments were not providing any valuable feedback for my designs. As more and more such comments started pouring in, I started ignoring these comments. Now, I started to judge my designs based on the number of likes I had received on each shot. More the likes, the better the design is.
How it affected my design process?
These social platforms being my first source of inspiration, I started imitating the design patterns of the popular shots (shots with more likes). I found out that my shots started to look beautiful. I began using colorful gradients, randomly scattered shapes and shadows. Now, I was focussing more on making my shots aesthetically look beautiful. These shots started gaining more likes than my previous shots.
Soon the realisation struck hard
After gaining some internship experience over the years, I realized how wrong I was. It was a really hard to stop worrying about the number of likes and followers. It was hard to just keep working and posting good work constantly. People who really cared about quality designs would anyway see my work, appreciate it and follow me. I didn’t have to resort to any mean practice of spamming other designer profiles for visibility. Visibility had to come organically. I only needed to do good work. Sometimes, people would also send me appreciation emails. Those emails would be the true source of motivation, not the likes I got on my work.
I literally wasted my 2 years creating aesthetically beautiful designs when I should have been working hard for creating a value-centered design. I should have been focussing on the value the design delivered rather than how it looked. I should have learned about understanding the usability of my designs and should have tried to improve my designs in that direction instead of walking on the popularity path, a path that would make me an artist rather than a problem solver.
But what now? How can YOU help?
I am sure many of young designers like me have faced this problem and many are still recovering. And there are still many who are walking down the path I walked on. How would it be if we join hands to enlighten their path towards becoming real problem solvers. How would it be if we help young designers by giving our 2 minutes while viewing their shots and provide them a detailed feedback. Our 2 minutes would really help them become better at design. Our 2 minutes would create an atmosphere of healthy design discussions. These discussions would help them improve and give them a way to look at their designs with a different perspectives. We would see more quality designs being posted and these social platforms would become a better source of inspiration for everyone. This would save many young designers from walking down the path I walked on.
Now, is it just our responsibility? Shouldn’t the platforms be designed to support healthy discussions? Of course they should. Just look at the the commenting mechanism of Medium. Every comment is posted as a story on writer’s profile too, thus, preventing them from writing spam comments on every other story.
Also, the like and upvote mechanism of Dribbble and Uplabs respectively is unjust way of judging a design. It’s hard to tell if a person has liked the design because of its aesthetics or usability. These mechanisms need to be made exhaustive to provide better way of judging the designs.
Let us all stop wasting our time writing unthoughtful comments on these design portfolio platforms and instead start providing detailed feedback.
Let us develop a strong mentor-student relationship with every designer we can.
For the better Design Community,