Stepping Up Our Game

Dribbble began way back in 2008 as a little side project between two Salem, MA neighbors whose kids played together. As luck would have it, Dan and I happened to be web enthusiasts with complementary skills. We both had jobs and kids, and then we had two kids, so time to work on our idea was scarce. Progress was slow. But always enjoyable.

In 2009, we decided we had built enough to invite some folks to try it out and see if the idea of sharing small screenshots of design work resonated. People came, and though the number of users was small, the content was dazzling. (For proof, check out the inimitable Shaun Inman and the progression of his game, Mimeo, that has captivated Dribbblers for the past 6 months.) It wasn’t long before we realized that the designers who had assembled in Dribbble were producing something special: A sparkling, real-time window of the web as it was being rendered.

We grew our membership slowly to preserve the quality of our content and community. But also, frankly, to keep the site manageable given constraints on our time. As Dribbble drew more users, shots and attention, we were thrilled. The list of features and possibilities for the community began to seem endless; simultaneously, our flaws became more noticeable and irritating. Though a labor of love, there just wasn’t much spare time in our lives to work on Dribbble.

Recently, circumstances changed - my son was in school longer, my baby daughter was now a toddler and my wife was offered a full-time, work-at-home writing job (after years of staying home with the kids). We saw opportunities on many fronts - career, lifestyle, independence. And Dribbble. We decided to take a risk. I left my job and, on Monday, became the first full-time employee at Dribbble.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I had been working for the last 3 years at PatientsLikeMe¬†where they are - for real, not in press releases - changing the future of health care. I am forever indebted to them for giving me an opportunity to work on something truly meaningful and great. If you’re a software developer in the Boston area and want to use Ruby on Rails to build software that has significant impact on people’s lives, I hope you’ll consider working at PatientsLikeMe which is looking for Experienced Ruby on Rails Developers.

As for Dribbble, what does the change mean? Engineering resources have been our primary bottleneck, so we’ll be able to ramp up the time we spend improving Dribbble by a factor of ~10. We have hundreds of ideas to improve the site and suddenly more time to advance them. Here are some highlights of what we’ll be doing in the near future:

  • Publishing the first portion of the Dribbble API.
  • Growing the community. We’ll be issuing another round of invitations soon. We’re still obsessed with the quality of our content and community, but we have more time to invest in monitoring growth and releasing features to help the community manage itself. We’re long overdue for an expansion and now in a better position to manage it.
  • Fixing bugs. (We need to get those comment hyperlinks hyperlinking! And many others.)
  • Building new features. The community has given us incredible feedback and we have many ideas of our own. Plus you need to be able to see follow-up comments after you comment. (That makes me weep, too. Sorry.)
  • Writing. We not only have more time to work on Dribbble, but also to write about it. It’s fun, we love this community and want to be more transparent about what *we* are working on. We now have time to be more active in doing so.

One final, but important, note: We owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to our advertisers who took a chance on a new platform. Without ad revenue, I could not have taken the risk to do this full-time. If you haven’t already, please check out the advertising page where our current advertisers are displayed on the right. Simply click through and buy all their products :)

Now back to practice so we have more to show on the court. 1 … 2 … 3 … DEE-FENSE!

Fist bumps,

Employee #1

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