Which Social Networks Provide the Best Design-Related Content?
For those of us that enjoy and appreciate reading great articles on web design and development, we’re fortunate to have access to a vast amount of quality information. Of course, subscribing to blogs is one of the best ways to stay up-to-date with the best content available, but most of us can’t manage a feed reader full of every post on web design.
Social networking and social media sites are a great alternative, as they give you an opportunity to quickly find information that other users have submitted and appreciated. But with so many social media sites to choose from, monitoring them can be just as time consuming as subscribing to hundreds of blog feeds.
Because of the time crunch, you may want to spend your time on the social networks that continuously provide the best design-related content. In this post I’ll take a look at a number of different networks and the type of content that is provided on each.
When it comes to finding content that is specific to the subject of web design, you really have two basic choices. There are several niche social media sites that focus on content relevant to web designers and developers, and there are also general sites that offer web design as a category.
Design Float is a niche site that takes a broad-based approach when compared to a few other niche sites. There are various categories such as graphic design and business/freelancing. Design Float appeals to designs that use other mediums besides just web design. While Design Float is less than 1 year old, it has a fairly large and active community.
Typically, a submission to Design Float will require about 3 votes, or “floats”, to be promoted to the front page (including the vote of the submitter). There are a number of submissions that become popular each day, and there is an RSS feed for popular entries, as well as separate feeds for each category.
My opinion is that the broad-based approach is both a strength and a weakness. As an active user of Design Float, I appreciate the variety of the content on the front page, and it certainly gives opportunities to more bloggers to gain exposure. However, I also think in some ways it has an effect on the quality of some content that makes it to the front page, and because I go there for web design content, some of it is not relevant to me.
Generally, I visit Design Float every day to find new content, and I like the fact that there are 24 entries on the front page at a time, which means less clicking through to endless pages to find content. Personally, I prefer the niche approach rather than finding design content at Digg, which is why Andrew created Design Float.
Here is a sampling of some submissions that have been on the front page during the past few days:
- Simple Images Slider to Create Flickr-Like Slideshows
- So You Wanna Design T-Shirts? Part 1: There Are THAT Many Ways to Design a T-Shirt?
- Student Questions: What Should I Study to Become a Web Designer?
- Top 12 CSS Frameworks and How to Understand Them
- 30 Years of Jacqueline S. Casey Posters
- Adding Post Thumbnails in WordPress
- Better Blog Design Through Redesigning a Sidebar
DZone is a social media site for web developers and software developers. Because it emphasizes development over design, the content at DZone is more advanced and technical than what you will find at any of the other social networks mentioned here.
To content that makes it to the front page is very targeted because of DZone’s approach to providing only the most relevant content. Typically, it will take about 5 votes to get a submission to the front page, and content that isn’t relevant to developers has no chance. Not everything that relates to web design will be appropriate for DZone. If you use the site for a while you will get a good feel about what fits at DZone and what doesn’t.
Like Design Float, I visit DZone on a daily basis because I know I will always find well-written and relevant articles. In fact, the RSS feed for popular items has about 12,000 subscribers.
Recent popular submissions that focus on web design and development include:
- Simplicity on the Web: Designing to Hide Features
- CSS Fixed Layouts Starter Kit
- Meta Tags in ASP.NET using MasterPage and ContentPlaceHolders
- reForm: CSS Form Design Template for Any Layout
- The Amazing LI: Using CSS and Unordered List Items to Do Just About Anything
- Showcases of Creative Flash Preloaders
Design Related is a niche site for designers of all kinds. The site offers more than just links to design content, but it’s news section is really what makes it belong in this conversation. With a smaller audience than the other sites we’re looking at, Design Related’s community is still growing.
The content that you’ll find in the news section is very diverse, and only a portion of it will relate to web design. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be a large amount of content here, but hopefully it will grow with time as the community itself grows.
A sampling of some recent popular submissions includes:
- Adobe Photoshop Express Released
- The Lone Web Designer: Strategies for Competing Against the Big Agencies
- What Are Your Principles of Good Design?
- 16 Bad Ass Band Posters
While CSS Globe is not a social media site, the community news section is an excellent resource for finding information that other community members have submitted. CSS Globe also features some original articles written by Alen Grakalic, who participated in our group interview last week.
The CSS Globe community is pretty active, and typically there are a few new submissions each day. Personally, I subscribe to the combined RSS feed that includes both original articles and community news. If you’re interested in staying on top of design-related news and finding plenty of great articles, I suggest you subscribe to the feed or at least visit the site on a regular basis.
Here are some of the recent submissions to the community news section:
- CSS Compatibility and Internet Explorer
- Views from a Screen Reader User
- 10 CSS Navigation Menus
- Designer’s Toolbox: Blank CSS Template
- Subversion for Designers
- List of Google Analytics Alternatives
- 6 Web Design Tips from Leonardo da Vinci
- 24 Great Niche Galleries
CSS Drive is a community site that includes a gallery, navigation menus, forums, and a news section that is similar to the community news at CSS Globe. The news at CSS Drive is also submitted by users, although it’s a smaller group of select members that can submit news.
The news items that are submitted can be voted up or down by visitors, although the votes don’t affect the positioning on the page like it would with a social media site. The content at CSS Drive is very targeted to designers and you’re certain to find something of interest (and of course there is an RSS feed ).
Recent news items include:
- Grid-Based Design: Six Creative Column Techniques
- Free Glass Style RSS Feed IconsEvaluating the WordPress 2.5 Interface
- ScrnShots – Share Your Inspiration
- The Evolution of Websites: How 10 Popular Websites Have (And Have Not) Changed
- 25 Ways to Improve Your Site in 5 Minutes
Noupe is a design blog that is growing pretty quickly, with over 1,500 subscribers. Nora has recently added a design news section similar to those at CSS Globe and CSS Drive. Anyone can submit a link for inclusion, and submissions are moderated before being posted.
So far there are about 1 or 2 items added each day, and it’s worth checking out at least occasionally. Some of the recent submissions include:
- How to Get Paid Freelance Work While You’re Still a Design Student
- Grid-Based Design 101
- 12 Fantastically Free Graffiti Fonts
- 22 Most Creative Web Portfolios
The most popular bookmarking site has a very high percentage of technical users, which means that although it is a general site as opposed to a niche site, there is plenty of web design-related content that gets promoted to the front page. Delicious consistently showcases excellent content, resources, and tools for designers.
Because the items on the front page are there because of gaining bookmarks from users, you’ll find a lot of really useful resources that can save you time and make your life a bit easier. After all, that’s one of the main reasons someone will bookmark a page for future use. If you’re looking for articles and discussions, some of the other social networks are probably a bit better.
I visit delicious several times throughout each day to see what is currently on the front page, because I can quickly see what’s there, and because I usually find something of interest. In addition to just visiting the front page, check out the pages for specific tags, like design, web design, WordPress, Web 2.0, and WebDev.
If you’ve been visiting the Delicious front page recently, you may have seen:
- 9 Best Practices for Email Design
- Adobe Photoshop Video Tutorials – Best Of
- 63 Essential WordPress Hacks, Tutorials, Help Files and Cheats
- 960 Grid System
- Top 10 WordPress CMS Plugins
- Planning Your Stylesheet – The Definitive Guide
Digg is of course the most popular social news site, and fortunately it has categories for design and programming within the technology category. However, there aren’t as many submissions that get promoted to the front page from these categories as there are from some of the others. In this case, you may also want to visit the upcoming pages in these categories to find more content of interest.
Personally, I use Digg, but not on a daily basis. I feel like I find better content at many of the niche sites or at Delicious. My opinion is that the stories in these categories that make it to the front page are not usually the best available information, but rather they come from bloggers who target Digg or have connections to power users. I have no problem with this, I’ve targeted Digg in the past, but I think it doesn’t always result in the high-quality content making it to the front page.
Here are three submission that have recently been popular on Digg:
- 101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Website
- Aviary, Photoshop Express, and Other Image Editors Compared
On the toolbar, see where it says “All” with a down arrow. Click on the arrow and select computers and then web development. Or, select arts and then graphic design. Or, you can view hot links in design .
Recently popular links include:
Which Networks Do You Rely On to Find Design Related Content?
Personally, the ones I use most actively are Design Float, DZone, del.icio.us, and CSS Globe. But I’m interested to hear about your favorites.
Published April 2nd, 2008 by Steven Snell