I’m sure many of you are aware of Forrst and Dribbble. For those who aren’t, they are in essence community sites based around design and development. Dribbble is focused mainly on designers for web, user interface and user experience whilst Forrst has a wider remit with both designers and developers posting their work.

Similarities

Both work on an invite only basis, this means that in order to get your own account, someone has to invite you. This is a good way of controlling the quality of the users of the site, if done right. Gaining an invite to Dribbble is notoriously difficult, with invites released to random “players” at seemingly random intervals. Once you have a Dribbble invite you can invite anyone you know or choose from an ever growing list of prospects. Forrst invites are two-pronged, an active Forrster is rewarded with invites and there is also a queuing system, where any Forrster can cast a vote, up to 3 times a day, when that wannabe has 5 votes, they get invited to join Forrst.

With Dribbble invites hard to come by, this makes membership highly sought after, with prospects often tested for their design skills before being invited.

Both have a comments and ‘like’ system, with popular posts going to the top of the popularity feed.

Both allow open access to your work, without login – here are mine…
http://dribbble.com/cdwharton and http://forrst.me/cdwharton.  Forrst has another layer of complexity though, allowing posts to be public or for Forrsters only.  Which is great if you’re posting something random for feedback or a piece of client work you don’t want to be available in the public domain.

Differences

The main difference is that Dribbble allows image file only uploads, these are limited to 400px by 300px. Forrst allows 4 types of post: Link, Snap, Code and Question.

Dribbble is geared towards “sneak peeks” of work, whereas Forrst is against the idea of teasers and prefer a fuller work in progress project that you require feedback on or a finished project that you’d like to share.

Dribbble also offers an oAuth login via twitter which is pretty handy.

Forrst run a promoted post system, where you can buy their currency (acorns) to buy page impressions where your promoted post will show at the top of the post feeds.

Quality of Feedback

In my experience, this is the vast difference between the two. I’ve often added my work to both sites at the same time. I rarely even get a like on Dribbble, let alone a comment. I always get more feedback on my work on Forrst.

Take this one holding page I designed for Coding Stable. This was very popular on Forrst (for me) with 70 likes and 23 comments (some comments are mine) whilst in Dribbble – 4 likes and 0 comments.

Forrst: http://forrst.com/posts/Coding_Stable-wfZ
Dribbble: http://dribbble.com/shots/259215-Coding-Stable

Subscriptions

Both offer a paid for service. Forrst have “supporters” and Dribbble have “pro” accounts. They’ve got their own pricing models, Forrst supporters benefit from: Unlimited attachments on their posts, Traffic stats and custom domain for their Forrst.me account, 20 Acorns at the beginning of each month (up to a $20 value), option to turn off adverts, advanced search in the directory and a ‘supporter’ badge that shows on your profile and against your name.

Dribbble professionals get: Projects (ability to group shots), advanced stats, have up to 5 additional attachments on a shot, show a ‘hire me’ link, add skills to your profile and display a ‘pro’ badge.

Site clientele

There are a lot of top quality designers on Dribbble posting their work and this leads to a massive amount of aspiring, like minded designers following and liking their work. For me, this has an elitist feel, if you don’t have a lot of followers on Dribbble it seems unlikely that you’ll get any likes or useful feedback.

Forrst seems to be more geared towards feedback and although I don’t have many followers, I often seem to gain a lot of likes and comments from people I follow, people who follow me and general Forrsters. For me, this has a more friendly and community feel. Of course, you get crazy feedback here and there, but most of the comments are from your peers and others you respect in your field.

Enhancements

Aside from the subscription model, Dribbble don’t seem to want to increase their functionality. Forrst are constantly tweaking and talking about new features. This makes sense to me though as Dribbble have always had a rigid idea for what they wanted to achieve whilst Forrst have grown and are growing based on the feedback from the community.

Which is best?

I guess this depends on what you are after. Speaking as a designer who wants valuable, constructive feedback – Forrst has consistently delivered for me.

My advice, next time you’re desperately tweeting “I want a Dribbble invite” or jumping through hoops to get one, why not try tweeting for a Forrst invite or adding yourself to the Forrst queue, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.