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Is it just me or is DN working to improve your experience and appreciates your feedback?

over 2 years ago from , Producer at Dribbble, Designer News

A few days ago, a thoughtful and mostly lovely conversation kicked up around Cristian Moisei's post: "Is it just me or did DN used to be more interesting?".

As a team, we're feeling grateful that the Designer News crowd cares for the community enough to have such a forward-thinking, solution-oriented discussion. Both feedback and ideas abounded, and we're considering it all fodder as we make decisions to improve your DN experience. To those that joined in and those that read along --- thank you.

If I may, I'll simplify the major point: the users that participated are not feeling that they're seeing a good enough ratio of high-quality posts and discussions. This is compared to what DN was like for them in early days. Lots of ideas about cause flew about, including open registration, no ability to downvote, the "hot-take economy of web publishing" (well-phrased, Steven Cairns), a narrow content focus on product design, and more.

A general theme too was a noticeable difference in how users are typically engaging with posts now, voting on title rather than on content, and commenting less. This is the part that feels tricky to me: are DN-ers engaging less because the quality of posts is low, or are they posting quality content less because DN-ers are engaging less? Or... none of the above? A classic chicken-or-egg-or-something-else-entirely conundrum.

If you're interested, I encourage you to read Cristian's post and the comments. I won't address every point but I will tell you how we're planning to improve your DN experience.

The great news is that we have some more firepower, having added new team members (including myself actually, hey, what's up) to help us make more change faster. We're wrapping some important infrastructure work, and are turning our attention toward improvements that you'll be able to more tangibly feel. These include: looking at badges, evaluating how voting works, and reducing spam by enhancing our community management capabilities.

Of course, we're continually on the hunt for great companies that'll support the site and community through sponsorships, listing jobs, or offering Designer Deals. It's kind of joyful for us to see you happily employed or discovering new products to love.

We'll be busy on our end, but we're always open to hearing more. Email me at margaret@designernews.co, or reach the whole team at hello@designernews.co.

A final point: I echo Evan Kosowski's sentiment in the thread: "Be the change you wish to see in DN." While we're working on the product side of things, it's in your power to change the usage side of things. Write posts that encourage discussion, ask questions. Upvote stories that you've read, and you feel are important for other DN-ers to read too. Comment on those quality posts! See who's up for a discussion.

Take care,

Margaret, Designer News Team

19 comments

  • Elliott ReganElliott Regan, over 2 years ago

    Thanks for listening!

    17 points
  • David ThornDavid Thorn, over 2 years ago

    I think we need more Eli posts.

    15 points
  • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 2 years ago

    Thank you for this. As a community member its heartening to be heard and know that DN is thinking about these issues.

    The solutions are not all clear cut, we know, but we are all behind you.

    Also remember that you have thousands of talented designers who want to help. Feel free to tap into that!

    6 points
  • Phil RauPhil Rau, over 2 years ago

    Is there a chance to add a "controversial" or "discussion" tab like reddit has, to show only posts that have a lot of recent comments? Those are the most engaging posts to me because I like to read what every different designer thinks!

    5 points
    • Margaret GrayMargaret Gray, over 2 years ago

      That's a really good idea Phil! We'll talk about it. I agree, I like seeing really active posts too. Forum lurking is one my major life skills.

      1 point
  • Benjamin WillemsBenjamin Willems, over 2 years ago

    I am commenting on this quality post. Thanks Margaret!

    4 points
  • Joey Patterson, over 2 years ago

    I keep hearing people wanting less-tech oriented articles. I understand the rationale but it's almost unavoidable for both industries to intersect. I would suggest adding more options to filter out content you're not interested in.

    4 points
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, over 2 years ago

    Well, you cannot facilitate a change that is not wanted. I always post cynical and pointed comments, but I didn't comment on that specific post, because the text didn't convey to me that the author actually understood the root of the problem.

    TLDR: its not your fault, its not your responsibility. You can do little things like remove an apple badge, like wtf. If you have an apple badge we need a google badge too. They dominated design more then apple in those last years.Add a Medium-Badge, so people can easily scan over them. And add an article or podcast episode badge...


    If you wanna read my salty rant about our industry, there you go:

    The root Problem is the target audience. So first of all, this website targets user interface designers, or if we go back even more years, webdesigners. Yes, you don't like to hear that, now you call yourself UX Designers or Product Designers, but you do the same with different tools and with additional media. (Baaaaah, I am a product designer, because I design apps, websites AND posters!!!11e1even)

    People here are either managers that apply design-thinking to their process and call them UX Engineers (these are the people that only work in prototypes and LOVE collaborative tools), User Interface Designers that apply basic Rules of Usability and Marketing to their process (these are the product designers). So don't get me wrong, these professions have their legibility, but they come from a different background then designers that started 10 years ago. I learned very hard to acquire the skills needed to finally use the prestigious title of "web designer", because there was no other way to learn this, then the hard way. Today, you can learn of these skills on a surface level with ease - there is tons and tons of free content, some with value, some with hardly any value out there - and this produced, of course different kinds of people in this profession.

    Webdesigners were people that spent days in photoshop or fireworks or in some other graphic program and some shitty editor to produce a high quality website, where as the we-have-a-dog-on-our-team-page Agencies threw out one crappy, trend-stenched flash website after the other. And guess who got most of the attention? Of course the flash websites.

    Then something interesting happened. Due to amazing people that still don't get the credit they deserve, we as an industry started to appreciate well crafted work, because it was the better thing on all accounts. And today, everything shifts back again. "Designers" back then couldn't produce good websites, unless they spent time and energy into learning that specific skill. Today you don't have to do that anymore, which is not inherently bad, but it changes the face of the industry. Where as back then, people who made websites were called webdesigners, today those people are called frontend designers, of if they were foresighted enough to learn javascript, frontend developers.

    This website does not target discipline-agnostic designers, even though it acts like it does. You don't see architects, industrial designers or print designers (or at least not many) here. It targets the dribbble crowd, the people that desperately looks for other people to tell them how to spend their money, the people who dream of a minimal lifestyle just because they have heard of it, not because they like it - but because it drives their narrative of "the designer". They didn't choose this profession consciously because they wanted to do this specific kind of work, because they wanna become that person, the designer. They associate something with it - and most things posted here fuel this narrative.

    And it will continue to do so. 60% of us are taken hostage by trends, dominated by the constant need to fit into the crowd, not to lose the status of the designer. We need those listicles about design trends and clickbaity article about how to best exclude the designer next to you, to check if we are still the designer. You have a youtube channel? Please don't forget a video about the topic weather designers are supposed to be able to code. Designers are DESPERATE to know what is popular, so they can pop it into their designers. Roboto and Proxima Nova were the most used fonts of the last years, not because they are so unbelievably awesome, but because they were key elements to the dominating trend of their time, this is no different here. And it isn't ending - now everyone has to use operator mono on their blog posts? wtf? Why don't we code in Papyrus from now on?

    But the most hilarious thing about this, is that while we are so desperate to have other people tell us what to do, that we don't realize that what this actually means, is that we don't want to do our job. It should be our job, to decide what goes best and what is appropriate. Instead we let the trends do our job. Design will be replaced by AI in less then 30 years if that trend continues. Designers have a never ending urge to find someone or something that does their job for them.

    It was never so easy to become a designer in this industry, yet it was never so frustrating to be a designer in this industry. I don't even wanna call myself designer anymore, even though that is what I do. I design Websites. Creativity has wandered off, you don't find it in this industry anymore. This industry is about big data, results - money is what it comes down to. Not that there is anything bad with it, but don't pretend like you care about your users experience, when you pop in a javascript rendered website that serves no less value then any flash website 10 years ago. "Uuuh, smooth scrolling is more important then all those other people that cannot even access our content..." alright then. Be honest, you wanna cater to people that will be easy to monetize. That is all and that's fine, but don't praise yourself with honor for delivering a good experience, when you marginalize all people that don't convert well to money.

    You know what is really, really sad? I used to go to dribbble for inspiration, because I saw a lot of different things, sure trends where there - but in general you saw a lot of very different interpretation of solving the same problem, which inspired me very much. Now people post a purple image of themselves on there and ask people in the description to pray for their aunt, because she was delivering a baby at that moment. People use dribbble like instagram - to cast a projection of themselves, not to post work. So you acquiring dribbble does not raise the quality of the content on this website. It only helps you monetizing those people here even better.

    But the saddest part is, that you can actually see proof of most of what I say here when you go on the dribbble popular page. Without seeing the names or avatars of the designers that posted the shot, you can almost with a 100% success rate tell, from which country they are, because they all follow specific trends that seem to be limited to regions. That's how unbelievably dominated we all are by trends.

    3 points
    • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 2 years ago

      Thanks. That was a good read.

      As I'm learning more about graphic and industrial design I've grown more skeptical about UI design as an industry (I'm also quite salty on DN). Although it's interesting to hear it from a web designer.

      1 point
  • Brendon Rell, over 2 years ago

    This is great to read, thanks!

    1 point
  • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 2 years ago

    I'm glad to hear this, it's great to see DN take action. Welcome to DN!

    1 point
  • Peter Vogt, over 2 years ago

    Hot take after hot take after hot take. Yeowza! And to think this is supposed to be content marketing for hiring UI designers.

    1 point
  • Luca Candela, over 2 years ago

    It's great to hear you hear us, but it doesn't seem you have any ideas on how to move forward which is a little troubling.

    1 point
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, over 2 years ago

    It's great that you are looking at ways to improve the community and we all look forward to seeing what solutions you come up with.

    However, one point I'd like to respond to from your post is the part about ads. I never found anything of use among DN's ads and considering how many companies already try to spam the site with their crappy products, it feels like you are only making things worse. Now don't get me wrong, I understand you need sources of revenue and I even believe there are ways to promote valuable products, jobs and services to this community (a win win), but the current system is far from it.

    You'll have to figure this one out also.

    0 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, over 2 years ago

    Here's an idea.

    Moderators decide what makes the front page through them voting.

    Then everything else is in a tabbed feed. For example, there would be a tabs for the most popular subjects; redesign, apple, sketch, coding.

    We can personally subscribe to those themes so they show up on our homepage.

    0 points