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By Christoph Ono, builder at GBKS, and tweetable at @GBKS.

The Dribbblisation of design


I very much dislike this article because of it's tone. The core message that design is a process and there is a lot more to a product than visual styling is great, but getting this point across could be done in a much more constructive way. From the start, the author points out what he thinks is bad design and puts a whole well-respected online community in a bad light. I'll just discuss the beginning of the article, otherwise this post will get too long.

The cover image and the first sentence already show the bias. He states that the beautiful weather apps don't solve the real problem, but the one that tells you whether you need to take an umbrella today does. What about knowing today's high and low temperatures so you can decide whether to bring a jacket when you're going out in the evening? Weather apps simply displaying weather statistics is fine because everybody's context is different, people have different sensitivities to temperature, etc. The information being generic lets everybody make their own decision based on what they have planned for the day.

Second, weather apps are extremely simply in terms of functionality. Typically, you start the app, look at it for a few seconds, maybe tap once or twice, and then move on. Because of this, it's fine that they are playful and visual. This adds a human element and what way to better communicate that it's a nice day by showing a blue sky with some fluffy clouds?

Third, because weather apps are so simple and visual, many designers use them as their playground. It's easy to design a quick weather app over the weekend to try out a new technique, or experiment with a style you saw somewhere. Much of what's on Dribbble are experiments and practice, just look at how many people took their own spin on iOS 7 icons when it was announced.

Dribbble is a place to be playful, which is part of what makes it great, and it does not mean that the designers there lack depth. You're only allowed to post 400x300 images, which was an intentional decision so people could only post small snippets. For more complete case-studies, a site like Behance, or the portfolios sites of agencies and designers are more appropriate.

To sum it up, I think the article would have been much more successful if it had used a more positive tone.