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The Dribbble Experiment

Written by Robert Williams

A few days ago I tried an experiment: I purchased two expensive Dribbble products for finding a designer, and compared them.

The first one was their standard job post1 which is billed “the world’s most used design job board” – and the other was their advanced search tool2 which is a little more mysterious and dribbble gives less information about.

Though the job post costs 50% more than the advanced search tool, the results were surprising.

Before I get to that, a bit of backstory:

Dreamten3, a great agency in Raleigh, North Carolina, came to me a couple weeks ago because they found their team overbooked.

They recently relaunched their website and have landed a couple large contracts as a result.

Despite the success, Dreamten is facing a common problem for agencies: needing to find a designer at precisely the time when they’re at their very busiest.

So my review of these dribbble products is through the lense of helping an agency in a remote location find a designer (it’s a service I offer).5

I think it highlights a ton of useful tips for designers too. I’ve been curious about the hiring side ever since joining dribbble in 2011 and I can’t believe it’s taken me 8 years to finally figure out how it works. So let’s get started.

Dribbble: Job Posts

Job posts are Dribbble’s most expensive self-serve product at $299/month.

The first thing that I learned about job posts is that you’re not just paying for one job post. You get access to a job “slot” for 30 days.

You can use that “slot” to post multiple jobs or even repost the same job again and again. (Doing this moves it to the top of the jobs page).

When you archive and repost your job post, it reappears atop the /jobs page

Thus, many companies repost their job daily, and yours will move out of the top section shockingly quick. (In my case, it was within minutes but I posted at a busy time: Monday morning.)

Clearly, the person who will benefit most from this is recruiters because they have the time to manage this and keep their job at the top of the post. In addition, each job post allows you to fill in a different company name.

Dribbble lets you enter a different company name for each job

Because of these two features, my guess is the percentage of jobs on dribbble posted by recruiting companies is quite high. More on that shortly.

A wild upsell appears

Later in the process, I posted a second UX design job, this time in Boston.

A few minutes later, someone at Dribbble reached out and told me that I should try their white-glove match-making service instead.

After posting a job in Boston, dribbble reached out and offered to do recruiting for me

I didn’t get this with the North Carolina post, so I presume this is a big-city thing and something that they offer only in popular areas.

I asked about how much this costs and the response was: it depends – but essentially dribbble is offering to do recruiting on the platform for a % of the first-years salary.

Dribbble’s recruiting pricing is percentage-based

So I have to refine my guess now and say that a lot of the jobs on the jobs page are actually managed by dribbble itself, who is doing recruiting on behalf of the companies listed.

Apply links on dribbble

When you’re creating a job post, Dribbble requires you link to a 3rd-party application link. It can be something like a Wufoo form or your website.

In my case, I almost created a form using Typeform but then realized I’d probably forget to check it, so ended up linking to a page on my site with directions to email me.

Initially I had wanted the link to be a mailto link to my email address but this resulted in a 404.

Mailto links don’t work on job posts

I’ve actually seen other job posts making this mistake, so it’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, what I would take from this is: even-though the job you’re applying to links to a form, it may not actually be the best place to apply.

The results: job post performance

All in all, the results of the Job Post were mediocre. I’m waiting on the results from the Boston job, but for the Raleigh gig, I received a total of 2 worthy applications.

One looked like a pretty close match, but never responded to my follow-ups. The other wasn’t a match.

I did receive other replies, but they were either not in North Carolina, or, looking for contract work.

Both of which weren’t an option, and stated so in the job post. Overall, a disappointment for the price.

Dribbble: Advanced Designer Search

By the looks of the wayback machine, this product evolved from a $20/year tool for designers shortly after launch in 2012 to a $199/month recruitment tool for companies sometime in late 2017.

As a result, I was actually more familiar with it than I initially believed. As a designer, I’ve used a lot of this product to find other designers in my area, back when it was free for members.

There are, however, a couple tweaks to it are worth noting:

Advanced search capabilities

As a company hiring on dribbble, you’re able to search by the following parameters: availability, type of work, general experience level, and specific experience.

Advanced search UI maybe more familiar than you think

By default, the results come back sorted by “trending”. I have no official data on what that means, but I assume it might have to do with the number of recent likes on your posts.

So if you’re a designer looking to get more local inquiries, use that information accordingly.

The other way to sort is by followers.

Dribbble also lets you specify the distance from your selected city or state.

For reference, my search for UX designers within 25 miles of Raleigh, North Carolina, got 22 designers total.

Hire me button

Incase you’ve ever wondered, the green hire me button on your profile brings up a window which lets clients see your salary range and write you a message.

I believe this is what sends you an inquiry email from dribbble, if you’ve ever gotten one of those.

Instant results?

The difference here to the job post was that I got an immediate response from designers after messaging them.

Unlike the job board, within a couple hours I had 5-6 replies from designers.

However, something worth noting, Dribbble makes it really easy to send the same message I just sent you to other designers so if you’ve ever gotten an inquiry, chances are, multiple designers got the same one.

The results are in: verdict

The advanced search tool is a much better option for most companies in most situations.

For agencies outside of the big design hubs, I recommend you skip the job post.

(And it looks like even if are in a design hub, dribbble recommends using their hiring platform instead.)

However, I’m honestly not sure how long this product will last. It seems like dribbble stands to make way more money by forcing people to use their recruitment so I have a feeling that will be their focus moving forward.

Overall, only 1 solid applicant came from the job board. The advanced search feature resulted in many more fruitful conversations and was a much better deal overall.

Still, your mileage may vary and if you’re a designer on the platform already – reaching out to designers on their website may be just as good (and save you $199-$399). Thanks for reading!

I’m still looking for a UI/UX designer in both Raleigh and Boston so if you’re in that area – or know someone else who is – I’d love to chat with you!

Email me and let’s chat

Robert Williams

I help underwater design agencies fix staff shortages quickly and come back up for air. I run Folyo, a private referral community of product designers, and I host Freelance, a podcast about how to work independently.

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