Every designer knows that a project creator often has a skewed perspective when it comes to critiquing their work. When you churn out a project for days or weeks on end you can’t really see it with fresh eyes anymore. This is why input from other designers can prove to be immeasurably helpful.
If you work in a design agency then you have coworkers who are often more than willing to lend their opinion. But working freelance is another story and personal projects are the same way.
I’ve collected 7 of the best websites for gathering online feedback and help for any design project. Whether you do typography, web design, illustration or something else, these communities will come in handy. Some communities are geared more towards support while others are more about critiques. You should cater your posts to each community based on your personal needs.
Every developer knows about Stack Overflow and how useful it can be for problem solving. The stack network includes many other sites including GD Stack Exchange. This is a community focused on solving graphic design problems including print and digital work.
Graphic Design Exchange should only be used for solving problems or answering technical questions. This is not a site meant for personal critiques, but rather it’s for learning how to do something. If you have a particular question about recreating a pattern or how to do a certain task in Illustrator, then you’ll take away a lot from this community.
Reddit is currently the most popular social news community on the web. It took the place of Digg and drives an enormous amount of traffic each day. Topics of discussion are split into sub-reddits which are like mini communities.
For designers the most popular choice would be /r/design, but it’s a large community & somewhat difficult to garner attention. When I turn to Reddit for help I prefer to hit smaller niche communities like /r/photoshop or /r/web_design.
If you’re looking for a critique on your work there’s also /r/design_critiques but it can take a while for feedback. The user ratio seems to skew heavily towards people who want critiques more than people giving them. But with so many other subreddits to consider it’s not a huge problem. Reddit should definitely be on your radar when it comes to asking for help on any design topic.
Designer News is meant to be like Hacker News with a focus on design instead of programming. It was previously hosted on LayerVault until it was sold as a separate entity.
Signup is free and it works just like any social news website. You can submit links to news, tools, or even your own projects asking for critiques. Users can also submit self-posts where they ask for opinions or information on a certain topic.
Designer News is one of the youngest communities in this list but it contains very high quality content. I’d recommend that every designer at least browse Designer News to see what’s on the front page. It has such a wide range of users and many topics are quite intriguing.
I know the name 4chan often invokes a sense of seedy disgust, but the graphic design board can actually be very helpful. All posts are completely anonymous so you don’t need to sign up or attach your name to anything. The downside is that it can be hard to find your post at a later date – but in general it’s a viable resource.
The 4chan board /gd/ is full of both amateurs and professionals alike. Since everything is anonymous I’ve found the critiques to be harsh yet accurate. Nobody cares about hurting your feelings and most people freely speak their minds.
This doesn’t mean you should take every reviewer seriously – but /gd/ is an honest-to-goodness real community of designers who are willing to share their knowledge and personal opinions.
Although Behance is more of a portfolio website it can be used for critiques too. The community is massive and full of talent from around the world. This means it’s also harder to filter through and find people worth following.
Behance is often used by designers for inspiration. It’s not exactly meant to be a social network which means feedback is tough to come by. A better portfolio site for gathering feedback would be Dribbble – but keep in mind it’s invite-only so you’ll need to find your way into the community first.
Most digital artists live by DeviantArt as the best site to showcase work. The most popular users on DA tend to be digital artists & graphic designers instead of web/UI designers.
The DA community is huge and works similarly to Behance except DeviantArt has more of a social community with organized friends lists, private messages, and large comment threads.
If you do web design or mobile app design I’d suggest finding your way onto Dribbble. That community is much more UI/UX oriented whereas DeviantArt is meant to be a community for digital artists.
Classic vBulletin forums are still going strong even in the face of larger social networks. designerstalk is a free forum with different sections for discussing all areas of design including websites, typography, motion graphics, and illustration.
The one downside to using a traditional forum is the slower response time. Most people have moved away from these old-school forums to newer sites like Reddit. This means you might need to be patient awaiting critiques on your work.
But this is still a great community to save and possibly bookmark with other bulletin boards. Another popular choice is Design Forums among many other results in Google.
Go Forth and Design!
We live in a time where connecting and gathering feedback is easier than ever before. But you still need to know the best places to ask for help and critiques. These websites are the best ones I’ve ever found – many of them I still use to this day! But new sites pop up every year and it’s good to stay vigilant in the search of design communities that best fit your needs.
Author: Jake Rocheleau
Jake is a creative designer, illustrator, and web developer. He frequently writes articles involving new-age design concepts and freelance management skills. You can find him in Google or follow his tweets @jakerocheleau