Who are you? Let us know where you hail from and what you do.
I’m Rich Thornett, co-founder of Dribbble. I do a little of everything at Dribbble these days - product design, code reviews, coding (when I’m lucky), hiring, support, and trash removal to name a few. For better or for worse (don’t ask my team which), I have a hand in almost everything that goes on over here. It can be exhausting, but product ownership is my thing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts with my wonderful, witty wife, where we spend most of our time corralling our children who are lost-in-bonkers. In my my spare time, I like to run and pun and spend far too much time playing and reading about basketball.
What are you working on?
It feels like I’m working on 14 different things at the moment. (And all moments.) Most recently, I’ve invested a lot of time improving our support, hiring, and working toward a new version of the Dribbble API. There are also bigger efforts for Teams and something we call Playbook that are just getting underway.
Choose a favorite shot of yours. Tell us why it’s a favorite.
I’m not sure I have a favorite shot, but I’ll go with Mo’ Better Views. (Internally we called this D2, short for Dribbble 2. My git branch name was rt-d2 and, yes, I’m proud of that. PUN INTENDED!)
It’s a preview of filters that we added to some of our primary pages to enable more fine-grained shot browsing. It was one of those big, visible changes to the site that always scare the hell out of me. On release, you hope you don’t break anything and wait with bated breath to see how folks react on Twitter about the redesign. It involved a lot of thought, refactoring and fine-tuning of queries, as we were touching hallowed pages that had been around for some time. But primarily, I picked it because it was big first step toward a more flexible browsing experience that we’re after. I love big features that pave ground and stake territory toward a better future Dribbble.
Tell us about your setup. What tools did you use to create the shot (e.g. hardware, software, pens, paper, blowtorch)?
My setup is very simple - I use a 15” MacBook Pro. I never use an external monitor. It prevents me from moving around easily (I go from desk to sofa and back regularly, as well as often wandering over to show Dan what I’m working on.
The tools I rely on are GitHub, Sublime Text 2, Chrome, nvALT and Snappy. We use lots of open source to build Dribbble, but Ruby, Rails, and PostgreSQL are the core of our operation.
Choose a favorite shot from another player. Tell us why you dig it.
Since I’ve been on the Dribbble scene for a while, I tend to look at shots in the context of Dribbble history as well as their own merits. (There are just too many good shots to pick from if I don’t.)
In 2010, we ran a Veer Rebound Playoff. That was our first sponsored Playoff and it showed us that we could do advertising on the site in a way that was genuinely fun and interesting for members. We didn’t have any paid offerings at the time, so the revenue from that event was oxygen for us as bootstrappers. (We’re so grateful for folks like Veer, Media Temple, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp and others who kept us afloat in the early days by advertising with us. Thank you!)
For my favorite shot, I’m choosing Ticket Stub by Ryan Putnam.
Ryan’s entry received the most likes from the community and became the most-liked shot in Dribbble history at the time. Personally, I love the orange and blue, the vintage look of the ticket, and the way he worked the ‘bbb’ theme of the contest and Dribbble’s basketball motif into the shot.
Ryan would go on to win the Squarespace Rebound Playoff in 2012 and has been prolific in sharing his amazing work on Dribbble, which he now does as a member of the Dropbox design team. I feel honored that the history of his incredible work is linked in some small way to that of our company.
How did you get to Dribbble?
The better question is probably how Dribbble got to me. Dan and I both live in Salem and happened to meet and become friends when we both had kids around the same time. He let me share his office on days that I worked from home and our shop talk eventually turned to doing a side project together. He wanted to call the site we were building Dribbble (as in, leaking your work) and make it purple. One of those things actually happened.
To our surprise, our little side project drew more interest that we ever dreamed. As time went by, we scrambled each month to get some banner advertisers and eventually had just enough revenue for me to take a chance and quit my job to become Dribbble’s first full-time employee. As I write this, I realize I’ve now been self-employed for over 4 years. This was always a dream of mine and it actually happened. Thanks, Dribbble! #sniff