Dribbble Pro: Is it Worth a Shot?

If you’re a designer — or an aspiring designer, or perhaps just someone who loves seeing beautiful pixel art — you’ve surely heard of Dribbble. The “Twitter for designers”, of a sort, Dribbble is the place to showcase shots of your latest design creations. It’s hardly a new site, and we actually reviewed it originally 3 years ago.

I’ve been playing around as designer for the past few months, especially after I was drafted on Dribbble. Then I wondered about going Pro, because, you know, the badge fits my color palette and I thought: “What if our readers ponder the same thing?”. So we’ll be looking through the pros and cons of going Pro on Dribble and by the end of the article I’ll be drafting one of our readers. That’s today’s game.

Scouting the field

Ok, let’s say you have your Dribbble account and now you’re on the bench watching the other designers play. Which is quite boring, as you can’t actually find a reason to cheer up for anyone. If you choose to go Pro right now, you still won’t be able to upload work. You can’t bribe the coach.

A ‘Prospect’ account, as they call nerds on bench, up there with the benefit of Pro allows you to refine your search for designers by location, skills and availability, organize other members into public or private lists and lift the limit of messages you can send to hire designers, in the case you’re a Scout. If you set your profile to Prospect, you can also be available for hiring.

And you get a badge!

And you get a badge!

If you’re only on Dribbble to track down a freelance designer to make a quick dirty job, maybe you won’t even need a subscription. It depends on how much research are you willing to do in the look out for the designer who will carry on with your wishes – and if you are just a client, you often don’t know what those are as well, so you better retain a carefully selected professional. The control given with the Pro search tools reflect on the amount of control you desire for your project.

There are those who use Dribbble mostly as an inspiration tool and perhaps counting on following players, liking and adding shots to buckets can be enough for you. However, if you deal with several projects, tools, or whatever, Lists may come in hand to organize all your research material.

Create lists to organize players you want to keep track of.

Create lists to organize players you want to keep track of.

At the end of the day, if you’re a freelance designer looking for a stint, being available for hire at this stage won’t do you much good as you don’t have any work to show off. That description, link to your Twitter account or every other tool that Dribbble offers you to direct contractors to your portfolio, often pass by unnoticed. Even Pro search results are better organized by followers and, guess what, since you have no shots, who’s going to follow you?

You just got picked up!

The sun shone above the horizon this morning and for some highly enigmatic reason, you got drafted on Dribbble. Even the coffee tastes better. As you painstakingly prepare your first shot, it is time to re-evaluate the benefits of a Pro account for you.

No, I didn't post this. Just created so you can check Projects and Attachments.

No, I didn’t post this. Just created so you can check Projects and Attachments.

The shots are limited to 400×300 pixels on all accounts, which is great to show off an icon, not so great for a website layout. How to guide whoever checks your shot out to a full resolution picture? Non-pro users can detour that by using a service like CloudApp or Droplr to host their files and link to them at their descriptions. Pro users, though,  have built-in attachments, up to 10mb each and 5 per shot, that don’t make you feel like you’re tricking the system.

Being a drafted Pro also grants you with the opportunity to archive your shots within Projects, so you can keep a record of the drafts as you work on them.

At your stats page, check how the crowd is enjoying your shots.

At your stats page, check how the crowd is enjoying your shots.

Pro players also have a bunch of stats to check out and procrastinate a little on Saturday evening. It basically gives all the tools required to see how your work has been accepted and by who. How many times your shots were viewed, who are your biggest fans and so on. I have this personal business plan mantra that says: “If you don’t have anything to offer, give them stats”. It is a little extra that feels good to have and drive the curiosity off for a change.

Last seconds of the fourth quarter

Think about it for a minute: shots are snippets of projects. Most of the time they’re not a mere cropped image, but something thought from scratch to be displayed on Dribbble. Dribbble is a great place to settle home for your portfolio, if you’re a designer, or to find the person up to the task if you’re scouting for one. As everyone who gives a penny to how their works are exhibited, it is a priority to make everything look professional. A Pro subscription is a good way to say that you care enough.

Learn how to earn a draft invitation to Dribbble in the paragraph below. Seriously.

Learn how to earn a draft invitation to Dribbble in the paragraph below. Seriously.

Even though there is not a plethora of features and most of them have an alternative way around, we’re talking about less than 2 dollars a month, so even if you’re not a player, but still use Dribbble often, showing your support won’t hurt your pocket.

Yet, of course, being on the field helps a lot when it comes down to make this decision, so let’s play a little game ourselves, shall we? Leave a comment with your Dribbble handle and a link to your most impressive work (that’s, obviously, not on Dribbble yet). I want to see the next Mona Lisa popping from our comments. Then, in the next Sunday (June 2nd, 2013, just in case you’re really, really lost), I’ll be drafting one of you guys to the Dribbble game.

May the best designer win!


Summary

Dribbble is show and tell for designers, developers and other creatives. Members share sneak peeks of their work as “shots” — small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. It’s also a place to talk design, give and receive feedback and iterate toward better work.

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