5 Websites To Get Feedback For Your Design Concepts

I was thinking of launching a similar startup in October. I thought of making it easier for designers and photographers to share their work online with their friends, co-workers and people they don’t know in order to receive good feedback. I did some research and spoke to some of my friends online about where and how they share their work.

It turns out that designers don’t really like feedback from other designers, at least at the concept stage, since everybody has different tastes. And if you’re quite an experienced designer, you don’t wanna know what others think about your concept, but you do want to get feedback when the project is complete, and that feedback will most of the time be from your clients.

Upon more detailed research of existing websites and startups, I came through quite a good set which let you collaborate on design concepts inside your team, but nobody’s going public. Others were the more popular online-portfolio websites, and only some were quite close to the ideas we initially had. Below is their list with a short description of each.

1. Dribbble.com

They’ve quite an interesting concept – Show and tell for designers in 120,000 pixels or less. They don’t allow big images, which makes the pages load much faster and designers concentrate on certain parts of their work. Each “shot” (it’s what they call them) can be tagged, faved and shared on Twitter, which is awesome. Members can leave comments to shots too, which is the actual feedback, then again, most of them are “great work”, “i like it” and so on. Not very useful ;) Dribbble is an invitation-only community, but artwork and comments are public.

2. Forrst.com

Forrst is an invitation-only community and in order to apply you have to show something that you’ve already made. The concept’s quite interesting though: not only you can share screenshots of your work. You can also share pieces of code and interesting links. So this seems to be a closed web designers and developers community. The screenshots show that images, links, questions and code pieces could be “liked”, commented and shared (yeah, you can share it on Twitter, but they have to have an account to view it.)

3. Notableapp.com

This is very, very interesting for collaboration inside your team. You don’t get much for the free plan and basic costs $24/month. This is good for companies with design and marketing departments. Their javascript widgets let you leave comments directly on top of uploaded images. They have the ability to comment inside source code, which is great. And as a bonus you can also get a rough SEO report of a certain website and comment inside that report. It seems that Twitter and Mozilla are using Notable.

Bounceapp.com is their sister which lets you grab a screenshot of a website, comment on top of the image and share with your friends online.

4. Behance.net

It seems to me that everybody is aware of the Behance Network, but unfortunately not everybody is using it to share their work. Since Behance is more of a portfolio, it’s not typical to see design concepts there, but feedback on finished work is as important as feedback on concepts. Although not as exciting ;)

Registration on Behance is private, but if you’ve got some designs to show off already, you can get your invitation in no time.

5. Lynchelka.ru

A Russian website for design feedback. The concept is taken from Artemiy Lebedev’s Business Lynch, hence the name. The community’s not very big and comments are not always decent, but it’s fairly easy to use, there’s a rating system and comments are allowed on top of the uploaded images. This was the closest concept to what I had in mind.

Well, that’s about it I guess. Do you share your work online? Code, design, poetry, music? If you have any other websites worth mentioning here in this list, please let me know via the comments.

How to Generate Quality Data for MySQL

We all had fun with the World Database, Sakila and the others when learning MySQL (see Example Databases), but it sometimes isn’t enough to run certain experiments, benchmarks within your own schema. Of course you could write a script that would generate junk data based on your column types and populate your database with a few thousand entries, but as it turns out, Benjamin Keen already did.

Meet Generate Data – a free and open source script written in php, generates quality data for your databases. Works with MySQL and, well, pretty much with any SQL compliant database I guess. What I liked about Generate Data is that you get to pick your columns, their types, and the sample data like names, last names, integer between two values, lorem ipsum (my favorite) and a bunch of others. This is why I said “quality data”.

There are a few issues I encountered, like trying to get 5000 rows gave me only 200, but such issues could easily be solved by downloading the source code and launching it locally with a few fixing (I wonder why Benjamin did such a bad job at documenting the whole thing). It took me a few minutes to fill up 30,000 rows of sample data, so who needs the World database anyway?

The script is being updated from time to time and new features are being added, not too fast, but they are. Let’s see where Benjamin takes this by the end of this year ;)

Mockingbird Launch: Goodbye Beta Users

I received an e-mail a few days ago from Mockingbird, the wireframing online software which I constantly used for my project:

Mockingbird will launch on August 15th, 2010

Hurray? No. According to their blog post about the launch and a few posts on Twitter, most users seem quite disappointed and they do have a point. Some say the pay-per-month model doesn’t work for them, as they prefer to pay per project. Others say that pricing is quite weird and the active/archived projects doesn’t make any sense. Some argue about the number of pages limiting for free users.

After some feedback the guys at Mockingbird posted two updates to the post about new plans, the beta plan and the transition from beta to an upgraded account.

I say that Mockingbird simply ditched all their beta users. I’m very disappointed as I loved their service so much, that I constantly mocked up anything that came into my mind – from websites to apps, mobile apps, mind maps, graphs and charts and much much more. Now that they’re shutting the whole thing down I’m moving back to my good old Axure RP and Photoshop. Too bad.

I do think that at some point any startup has to go commercial and make some cash, but restricting access is definitely not the way. Add some new cool features and make Pro accounts with these features. Add new exclusive components and sell access to them. But restricting access to what you’re already working with, what the hell? Imagine Twitter says that in order to post more than three tweets per day you have to get a $10/mo subscription, huh? Or Gmail says that in order to read more than 10 e-mails per day you need a $5/mo subscription.. Rediculous..

Creating Mockups with Mockingbird

Everyone these days knows that creating any user interface should start with a mockup. Whether it’s something drawn on a piece of paper or almost designed in Photoshop. When speaking about application UI, software like Borland Delphi or Microsoft Visual Basic would be just fine, especially if you need to create some simple click events. The web though is slightly different, and creating mockups with online web applications is way cooler (and faster too) than VB.

Take a look at Mockflow. It’s driven by Adobe Flash, the interface is sweet, but meh.. You have to pay if you’d like to use it for more than 4 slides. And here’s an alternative that comes to rescue – Mockingbird! Totally awesome, free of charge, javascript driven, no limitations. Here’s something I managed to do based on my previous post. It took me about 1 minute and 50 seconds, sweet huh?

By the way there’s also an option to share you mockup. Both in Mockflow and Mockingbird, so you wouldn’t have to print screen your slides like I did ;)