I’ve been a member of Dribbble (with 3 B’s) for approximately 2 years. I’ve been a member of Behance.net for a few months. If you’re weighing your options as to which service to use to host your online portfolio, read on. My results may surprise you.
In this day and age, designers need an online portfolio to showcase their work. The trouble with most custom standalone online portfolios is discoverability. Sure, people who have your business card or click the link on your email signature can find your personal site – but the truth of the matter is that unless someone is actively seeking you out, other people won’t.
Enter services like Behance and Dribbble. Both services are social networks with a design bent that allow you to share your work with a much larger audience and discover new-to-you artists in the process.
To join Dribbble, you have to pass the curation process (if you have what the powers that be at Dribbble consider to be decent work, you will get an invite). Within Dribbble, you can operate as a free member or a paid subscriber. For your annual fee, you’ll get 24 uploads a month and a “Hire Me” button which allows prospective clients and art directors to quickly get in touch with you. Why 24 instead of unlimited uploads? Presumably to avoid flooding the site with an endless stream of your work. Non-members get only 10 uploads per month.
Behance, now part of Adobe, doesn’t feature an upload limitation, whether you pay for the service or not. I am currently a paid member of Dribbble (there is annual fee of $20 per member) and a non-paying member on Behance. What follows are my experiences on both platforms.
It is much, much easier and faster to publish content on Behance. Select your file, add a thumbnail, give some descriptive tags and you’re good to go. With Dribbble, you have to manually crop your image to 400px wide by 300px tall (or 800px wide by 600px tall, for Retina displays).
This step, in my view, is an added hurdle. Dribbble has a clean look about it, and all images on the site fit a uniform dimension. You can add an attachment to your thumbnail upload for folks to see the large version. Again, this is another step in the process. In terms of sharing content, Behance wins for ease of use.
Both Dribbble and Behance allow you to explore other work. You can find featured artists on both as well as search through tags. Both sites do a good job in terms of discovering new artists to follow. Behance shows more thumbnails per page compared to Dribbble. What does that mean for you as a designer? Art directors may hop on both sites to see work, but given the user base, Behance has much more work posted on its site compared to Dribbble.
Dribbble has a “suggestions” option that lets you see recommendations of people to follow. You can only see one sample image per artist. Behance has a “Featured Creatives” option which gives the name of each artist, his or her location, and three thumbnail samples that accompany the listing. Behance also has a useful option where you can browse through collections and galleries from studios and universities. In terms of Discoverability, Behance wins this round.
Behance, thanks to its acquisition from Adobe, has the lion’s share of user activity when it comes to the social interaction. More work is viewed and “liked” on Behance because there is a much larger user base. Dribbble’s user base appears to be much smaller, if the activity on the site is any indication. For me, personally, I want to go where there are more users. More users means more variety, more interaction and more art directors potentially looking at work. The winner here is Behance.
Behance is free to all paying Creative Cloud complete users, meaning that if you have full access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, you get your ProSite tossed in with the bundle. With the ProSite, you can customize the look and feel of your portfolio through a clean UI interface (no HTML /CSS needed) and even add a custom domain name or integrate your Behance site with WordPress and Tumblr. Dribbble doesn’t offer any custom portfolio options.
That makes it a clean sweep for Behance.
In summary, both Dribbble and Behance offer a social network framework for sharing, interacting with and discovering new artists. Dribbble is billed as “show and tell” for designers. In my view, its focus is limited in its scope. And yet it takes it takes more effort to populate and maintain in exchange for less visibility. With Behance, on the other hand, the designer benefits from greater visibility, more interaction, and the option (via a ProSite membership) to develop a custom portfolio site in a quick and efficient manner.
Hands down, Behance wins.
The deeper question in all of this analysis is:
How effective is a site like Behance or Dribbble in actually getting client work?
is a design-based social network site really necessary if you already have a stand-alone web portfolio?
Let’s tackle the first question. I have yet to receive any client work or contacts from art directors from either Behance or Dribbble. A big chuck of my client work comes directly from this site (pcweenies.com), while the remainder (about 20%) comes through via referrals from existing clients. In other words, I don’t have any external data to suggest that having an account on either or both sites is worth financially investing in.
Personally speaking, I wouldn’t pay for any hosted online portfolio site on Behance or Dribbble. I prefer to code my own site. But, if you’re code averse, Behance might be just the ticket for you. I view my Behance site an enticement (or advert) to bring viewers to my portfolio site. And I like the interaction I’m getting through Behance’s community.
I’m curious to know what you think. Are online portfolio sites worth it to you? Let me know in the comments.