Dribbble.com – Charlie, Steph, Scott

Scott Robertson – s3891587

Charlie Ralston – s3854863

Steph McLean – s3912463

Dribbble.com, co-founded by Rich Thornett and Dan Cederholm, was created in 2009 as an attempt to create a show and tell for designers, developers and other creatives. Designers including graphic designers, web designers, illustrators and logo designers, share their work process and finished products online with the hope to receive comments, criticism, or just general feedback and possibly, employment.

Novel Features and Interactions of Dribbble.com

The web interface provides the medium of interaction between the human and the computer in web applications and plays a vital role in the systems’ usability.” ( Islam 2012). Playing such a vital role it is therefore very important that the interaction and interface design of a site is intuitive and familiar to its targeted demographic. Dribbble has very successfully made it’s site’s terminology and very much so, philosophy, focus around the language associated with the game of Basketball. By doing so the site becomes extremely intuitive to people who are familiar with the game and the sites structure is easily understandable, with many phrases and words in correlation.

When a user first signs up, they can sign up as a prospect or a scout. Prospect being someone of draft potential, is a new member to the site. Scout, being someone looking to find or follow designers, is the alternative new member to the site. Once a prospect has signed up they can be drafted by invitation to become a rookie and then from there, once they’ve been a member for a while they can become a player.

Being a player or rookie is where all the action can happen. They are allowed to upload shots, a small image of work which they have made. This then in turn, once posted, can be commented upon, liked, collected into a bucket, Tweeted or if necessary flagged as inappropriate. A bucket is terminology used for a folder of categorised selected shots from other users by a user. Similarly a project is a folder of categorised shots by that user. As the site is aimed at designers, there are some neat features of the site keeping them in mind, such as being able to save a colour pallet of a shot and being able to search by colours. Players or rookies can choose to become Pro, a paid subscription and are then entitled to extra features. Pro users can be hired by other users, players or scouts, for design work outside of the sites foundations. As with a lot of social media sites the user can also follow others and be followed by others. Further more there is a jobs listing database on the site, where users can be connected with current job positions with in the design industry around the world.

It is important that users are able to visually perceive information in a meaningful way” (Cheng 2004). For this to successfully happen the mode of communication has to be understood by all of those using it, which is why Dribbble’s approach is rather good. There use of Basketball terminology to structure and dictate, to a almost protocol degree has given Dribbble a competing edge in a already flooded field of social-media designer sites. An example of this is Dribbble’s use off playoffs and rebounds. “A rebound is a shot in reply to another shot” (Dribbble 2012). Playoffs are when shots have rebounds by multiple players. This kind of interaction on a social media site is key to a site’s success. Users intuitively and easily use this feature to ‘bounce‘ (no pun intended!) ideas off each other, creating that community feel and giving the important aspect of social interaction and feedback happening.

Geographic and Demographic Aspects of Adoption and Growth

 A report put together by Ignite Social Media (2012) uses data collected by Google to analyse the geographical and demographical aspects of some current social media networks. Dribbble has been included in the 2012 Social Network Analysis Report.  For the purpose of this analysis we shall compare Dribbble’s demographic and geographic data with that of Facebook. In doing this we aim to show how a niche social media network such as Dribbble has managed to grow over the last four years, when up against a mainstream social media network such as Facebook.


The Dribbble search traffic growth chart shows that growth has been consistent and steadily rising over the last four years since its birth. Comparatively, Facebook started growth steadily in 2006 – 2008 and then shot to fame rapidly over the following two years until it began to level out in 2010, and its growth stays in that position to date.


The top region per- capita for Dribbble usage is the United Kingdom, followed by Australia, Netherlands, United States, Canada, France, Spain, Brazil and Germany. However, the top city per-capita for Dribbble usage is San Francisco followed by New York, Paris and London. It’s clear from this data that the majority of Dribbble users are from affluent Western countries. However, when considering Facebook data it can be seen that the top regions for usage are predominantly non-Western and less-affluent countries with Turkey as the reigning region.


The report shows that 80% of Dribbble users are men whilst only 20% of Dribbble users are women. This does not show that the design industry is particularly male dominated, but rather that Dribbble.com is pitched at a male target public, with its use of basketball terminology etc.  However, the gender that primarily use Facebook are women. This could reflect broader sociological factors. The age group that dominates in Dribbble usage is 18-24 year olds at approximately 37%, followed by 25-34 year olds at 30%, 35-44 year olds at 25% and 45-54 year olds at 7%.  Evidently the greatest use of Dribbble is by young adults, whereas the majority of Facebook users fall into the age group of 45-54 year olds. This predominance of use within the age group 18-24 years could be associated with the site’s education data, which shows that 65% of Dribbble users are College students, whilst the remaining 35% are students doing Bachelor degrees. The majority of students studying at this level would fall into this predominant age group. Facebook’s education data shows a similar majority percentage in the College education bracket (60%) however, 19% of users are also spread over less that high school diploma and high school students, whilst 21% of users are spread over Bachelor and Graduate degree groups. Therefore Facebook covers a broader demographic than Dribbble.


The income data for Dribbble usage reveals that approximately 61% of Dribbble users earn 0-24,999k per annum. This is followed by approximately 22% who earn 25-49,999k per annum, 8% who earn 50-74,999k per annum and 7% who earn 75-99,999k per annum. These results show that the majority of Dribbble users fall in a low-income bracket, in comparison to Facebook where this same income bracket covers only 10% of usage, and 20% of users earn over 75k per annum.

In summary, this data shows us that Dribbble is a niche social media network that has been targeted to a particular interest group, and kept within its demographic and geographic boundaries. According to Dimmick, Feaster and Ramirez (2011, p. 1267) ‘in the study of communication, the niche of a medium is defined by the resources that support its existence such as gratification utilities or needs satisfied for users’. It is due to this that it has managed to maintain steady and continual growth. It has a specific target public and serves an explicit purpose. Unlike Facebook whereby anyone can contribute content, Dribbble is only available to those who have something of quality to share. It is because of this superiority in user-generated content, that the site has gained and continues to gain popularity through word of mouth in one particular interest group i.e. Design. As mentioned earlier, in 2012 we can see the Facebook’s search traffic has leveled out since 2010. As suggested by David Armano (2009) in his blog on The Harvard Business Review, predicted that niche social media would become more popular as it would move towards more exclusive mediums, and enable users to have a better quality experience by weeding out the chaos of a social media network that is open to everyone. The fact that the majority of Dribbble users are young adults, and that Dribbble’s growth is gradually on its way up, shows that perhaps youth have something to do with this increase. It is also clear that the majority of Dribbble users are tertiary educated, even though their incomes are low. This could be due to the fact that many of them are students or free-lance artists and highly paid jobs are harder to secure. This education data is also in line with the results showing that many Dribbble users are from wealthy western countries where this education group is more prevalent.

However, one point worthy of noting is that without mainstream media perhaps niche social networking sites like Dribbble would have struggled to gain momentum. For example, Dribbble has used the social networking site Twitter to spread its word and currently, approximately 48,755 people follow Dribbble.com through Twitter. (Wildfire Social Media Monitor 2012)

What makes Dribble different?

Dribbble.com, when compared to your typical social media sites, is more exclusive. Though anyone can sign up, to be promoted up the ranks is not easy thus creating a hierarchy uncharacteristic of sites such as Twitter and Instagram.

Another key difference when comparing Dribbble and other social media sites is the reason people sign up. When signing up for Facebook, along with many other social media sites, one will access the pages of their friends, acquaintances, or celebrities to browse their interests, day-to-day activities, relationship status, photos and other personal information. However when signing up for Dribbble.com, the main objective is to either share, or view the creative designs of those sharing similar design interest.

Though some will upload designs simply for feedback, many will have the hope to receive employment as a result of what they choose to upload. Though some may receive employment via Facebook, Twitter etc. it is not one of their main objectives, unlike Dribbble.


Dribbble.com focus’s almost entirely around members of the community uploading designs, and will thus never be as big as such sites as Twitter and Facebook, which cover a wide range of subjects, including personal information, as there is simply not the same level of interest in the specific nature of Dribbble. However, this growing social media site has created a platform for designers to receive feedback, good or bad, and have the opportunity to receive employment as a direct result of the work they upload.


Cheng, EY 2004 , User’s Perception of Conventional Web Multimedia User Interfaces: An Exploratory Experiment, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Dimmick, J, Feaster, J , C & Ramirez, A 2011, ‘The niches of interpersonal media: Relationships in time and space’, New Media and Society, Vol. 13, Issue 8, pp. 1265-1282, viewed 1 October 2012, retrieved from Communication and Mass Media Complete

Dribbble 2012, FAQ – What’s a rebound?, viewed 3 October 2012, <http://dribbble.com/site/faq&gt;

Dribble, 2012, About, viewed 4 October 1012, <http://dribbble.com/site/about&gt;

Harvard Business Review 2012, six social media trends for 2010, HBR Blog Network, viewed 1 October 2012, <http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2009/11/six_social_media_trends.html>

Ignite Social Media 2012, 2012 Social Network Analysis, Ignite Social Media Blog, viewed 1 October 2012, <http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/social-media-stats/2012-social-network-analysis-report/#Dribbble>

Islam, MN 2012, Semiotics Perception towards Designing Users’ Intuitive Web User Interface: A Study on Interface Signs, Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Wildfire Social Media Monitor 2012, Chart of @Dribbble Twitter followers April 2010 – October 2012, viewed 1 October 2012, <http://monitor.wildfireapp.com/comparisons/561470/fans_followers/dribbble-on-twitter#&data=cumulative&range=all >


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