DesignerNews is almost dead

almost 4 years ago from , Lead UI/UX Designer

It looks like this place is finally coming to a dead end. There's not that much new content coming in, there isn't a lot of voting going on, and most importantly discussions seem to have come to a stop. And looking at the subreddit, it doesn't seem to be faring any better either.

I would like to discuss why this has happened, and if there's anything that can be done to improve the situation. Do you think anything should be done to improve it? Are there other design communities people have gone to?

Personally, I see the biggest issue being the lack of support from the owners of the site. To me to looks like they've given up and are not interested in spending more time and effort to make this work. If that's the case, I guess there really is no hope, other than the site being sold or given to someone with the interest and resources to make it work. My intention is not to criticize anyone in particular and I'm not trying to place blame, but IMO there's plenty that can be done to inject life into a community and I'm not seeing any of it being done here. Here's just a few things off the top of my head that could be done:

  • Weekly discussion threads about design subjects
  • Reach out to designers in the industry for AMAs
  • Improve the site. Sticky topics for weekly posts/important announcements, as an easy one.
  • More visibility from mods/admins. Add a mod/admin tag to usernames.

I could go on, and I understand some of that can be done by the community also, but it's hard when there's no perceived support from the admins.


  • Matthew Hollingsworth, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Riho! We certainly haven't given up. We're actually doing another AMA tomorrow with @debbiemillman. Hope you all can come out and we can have another discussion!

    We've had Halli from Ueno and Dan Mall from Superfriendly over the past few months. These have been posted and pinned to the top of the feed.

    If you would like to have weekly discussion threads, please post it! Or reach out at matt@designernews.co if you'd like to kick off anything in a more systematic way.

    As always, we're happy to have the discussion -- if anyone wants to chat further about getting more involved, please email me!


    26 points
    • D M, almost 4 years ago

      A simple change would keep me coming back to read more stories... target="_blank" -- Stop opening links within stories in the same damn window. When ever I click on a story from the feed it opens a new window (why?) but when I click a link inside a story, I've lost my anchor to the thread/comments. Not sure what the thinking is here, but flipping this UX would keep me more engaged.

      Also please make a button that mutes all of the negative elitist banter... or give them their own thread. In the 15 years I've been doing this, I've never seen the appeal of it.

      2 points
  • Bart S, almost 4 years ago

    To be honest, I think this community is the most active whenever a topic like this gets opened. Which is every 3-4 months. I've kind of given up at this point. Thats not to say that I wouldn't like to see it become active again, but there's just no saving it I'm afraid.

    24 points
  • Teodor DecuTeodor Decu, almost 4 years ago

    Today, DN looks like a link dump, with rare insightful discussions drowning in a sea of random shares, and we all contributed to it, one link at a time.

    Maybe DN is trying to be too many things at once. Maybe it should focus on one particular thing, like these platforms do:

    • Playbook is great for career advice
    • Sidebar is the go-to place for curated design links
    • BrandNew is where designers comment on popular Branding projects
    22 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, almost 4 years ago

    This happened because of "open registration," which opened the spam doors.

    While this was a gated community, this place was just awesome. Now... listicles, how-to's, ugly Dribbble shots, "trends" posts, endless UX hot takes, and run-of-the-mill "show site" submissions are the norm.

    16 points
  • Rui Sereno, almost 4 years ago

    Well, even though I agree with you, I must point out which in my opinion is the greatest reason why DN has collapsed: personal agendas, lack of altruism. The truth is people post and comment when they want something in exchange: in most cases attention on their work, projects, and whatnot. People don't interact for the sake of a better, more comprehensive community, that's a mere utopia. People do it so they can leverage a group of other people. Truth be told, it is a matter of mentality which will hardly change – Dribbble is exactly the same.

    12 points
  • Carolann Merchant, almost 4 years ago

    Seems like we could also default links to open up to the thread here on DN, instead of opening up the link itself.

    It's almost like they don't want you to start a comment thread on links shared because it's harder to get to the thread than to just open the link.

    10 points
  • Oliver Swig, almost 4 years ago

    There used to be a time when the site was ripe with inspiration and news being posted from designers with diverse backgrounds. But then came the gatekeeper silicon valley product designers that took over and anyone who posted anything other than a product design post, trend reports, silicon valley news, or sketch update was ignored. Don't get me started on the crap marketer medium gurus.

    Despite being called Designer News (not Product Designer News) why would graphic designers, branding designers or any other designer want to contribute? The invite to those people were never really there. Everything became really focused and policed. No diversity of thought. No one cares.

    8 points
  • Ryan B, almost 4 years ago

    RIP DN

    6 points
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, almost 4 years ago

    I've been saying it since forever and it is still true:

    Designers use platforms exclusively to promote themselves or their business.

    That is the big problem. If you make Platforms that evolve around attention, which increase its exposure with increasing attention to it, you will always attract a crowd that mostly sees this as an opportunity to milk the audience.

    Also, many designers do not care about this stuff. And the designers who do are busy working. Look at this "10k Website Process". They are literally trying to milk designers who don't know better. We have let this happen forever. People who praise this behaviour are contributing just as much.

    Our Design "Community" is driven by ego, money, and reinventing the same job title over and over again, just exclude someone else.

    I agree with your suggestions completely and I think they would really improve the community, but, and its a big but, it will interfere with monetization of this website. This website relies on sponsored content, ads. Nothing more. The more exposure, the more impressions. It feeds itself, because as more people come to consume the content here, so will people who intend to milk this by posting some nonsense about their mediocre icon library, 200€ Sketch Plugin and clickbait titles about shaming you who is using anything other but whatever is currently popular.

    I think you are trying to solve an issue that cannot be solved. Designernews going down is just a side effect of this issue.

    If you really wanna improve the community, designers need to stop:

    • using twitter as their main source of news
    • start making their own platforms, making their own sites instead of relying on big companies
    • find solutions themselves instead of relying on cookie cutter solutions
    • never, ever again go on dribbble or behance
    • stop stardoming people who are not actually contributing. Someone who makes something pretty is not worth it. We are all capable of making something nice to look at.
    5 points
    • Andrew C, almost 4 years ago

      Dribbble is one of the (if not THE) most positive and pleasant outlets for designers to visit on the internet. Fuck that Intercom article, and any designer taking their work so seriously they’ll shit on others that are actually posting good and interesting designs or thought provoking concepts.

      A community based on doing and not waxing poetic is exactly what the doctor ordered for this field.

      1 point
      • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, almost 4 years ago

        Dribbble is one of the (if not THE) most positive and pleasant outlets for designers to visit on the internet

        Are you serious? I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not.

        Fuck that Intercom article

        I don't know about this Intercom article - can you link it please?

        ... any designer taking their work so seriously they’ll shit on others that are actually posting good and interesting designs or thought provoking concepts

        That is a bit of a misleading way of thinking about it. Because what is being posted on dribbble distorts the reality for those who consume what is posted there. And that is influencing the way they work and what they produce, which creates trends. So we should absolutely post responsibly on dribbble.

        90% of shots on dribbble are decoration. They are things made pretty. But Design is not only about making it pretty. The way it is right now I only use it to follow illustrators.

        3 points
      • Joey Prijs, almost 4 years ago

        Do you find it pleasant because thousands of people on Dribbble only respond with "great work!" - hoping you're gonna click on their profile doing the same for them?

        I'd argue Dribbble is one of the main reasons ego-trips and self-promotion became so prevalent in the community. It started out great tho; "show us what you're working on" instead of "make a great Dribbble shot!" - at this point it's fair to say Dribbble is the Instagram of the design world; mostly toxic.

        0 points
        • Andrew C, almost 4 years ago

          Dribbble is built on people putting up shots and I like the value of designers showing over telling. Our field is full of rhetoric and endless waxing. Hence why a story about us gathers more rote activity than stories about work and products of our peers. It’s nice to see the busy worker get their due.

          0 points
  • Ken Em, almost 4 years ago

    Top shelf content: https://www.designernews.co/stories/104996-feedback-on-website-design-singapore-carpet-cleaning

    4 points
  • George Bartz, almost 4 years ago

    I'll throw my two cents in.

    Between 2016 and 2018 (I know that is fairly late to the game of DN), I was a daily visitor that looked forward to the new, and relevant content. The discussions were insightful and always left me with a new perspective on a given topic. In 2019, all of that slowly faded away and so did a good amount of users.

    Assumption #1

    The top players stopped contributing to the site over a period of time which had a greater effect than could have been expected. I remember seeing stats for reddit that showed a small fraction of redditors generate the majority of the content and discussions that drive engagement.

    Assumption #2

    Moderation/moderators are key to the success of a community. I think DesignerNews got hit by the perfect storm of system changes, a loss of the key contributors to the site, and a lack of proper moderation. This opened the doors for the flood of self-promotion and surface level content that gets old after a month or two.

    Assumption #3

    People have to make money. It's no secret that DN made it's money through the job board. As long as enough people were visiting the site, job board impressions and visits were enough to keep the employers happy. If the revenue stream is happy then DN is successful. If the business model is to keep the job boards full, the content portion of the site will ultimately fail.


    The top contributors matured as designers and found new areas to focus on. I think once you get past a certain level in your career, you care less about the trends and updates that used to inspire you and they are solving bigger, much more specific design problems. Where I am now, I don't necessarily care about the latest trends or the best tool to build a design system. I want to know how you overcame roadblocks to implementing a design system. Those questions aren't answered in "Best Design Systems of 2019." They are answered in deep discussions with experienced designers who want to share their stories and help others.

    How can DN get back to it's roots?

    I'd say go private again, shrink the user base, and get a team of moderators involved to seed discussions. This would push a lot of the self-promo, thoughtless content out, and could bring back designers that bring authentic content to the site. A random AMA and banning Medium articles is a quick win that doesn't have much impact on the culture.

    I really do hope for the best but it's going to take a big change to see a big change.

    Until then, I've gone back to the tried and true RSS feed. I found that it's hard to find a good discussion online so I cut the middle man and curated my feeds directly from the source.

    3 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, almost 4 years ago

    My answer is that Twitter is a better resource if you follow the right people who bubble up the stuff worth reading. I don't care about the community aspect per se because I find web folks to be mostly strange.

    3 points
    • Noah SNoah S, almost 4 years ago

      Who would you recommend following on Twitter?

      1 point
      • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, almost 4 years ago

        I’d recommend following design team accounts of products you like, anyone from Basecamp, low-key grunts from non-unicorns and then you’ll get enough recommendations to snowball. It’s a pruning process. I tend to avoid freelance “celeb” designers tho because they mostly tweet lifestyle / self help porn.

        4 points
        • Roman TesliukRoman Tesliuk, almost 4 years ago

          well said. Every time I discover a new "celeb" designer and try to find examples of their work, cannot find anything. Every time. They are more of "content creators" than designers

          1 point
    • John PJohn P, almost 4 years ago

      Yeah love having my design chat punctuated by political hot takes.

      Why do Twitter addicts always try and push their crap website on dying communities as the answer. "follow the right people" there are no right people on twitter. it's all trash.

      3 points
  • Michael RurkaMichael Rurka, almost 4 years ago

    Curious: How much does it cost (monthly) to run something like DN?

    3 points
    • Emmanuel HerreroEmmanuel Herrero, almost 4 years ago

      Depends. As little as $0, but possibly up to a couple of hundred dollars. Depending on the traffic and ad partnerships, it could pay for itself.

      1 point
  • Ken Em, almost 4 years ago

    This place has been dead for quite some time now for the reason the OP states. The owners simply do not care. The site has been overrun with spam, blatant self-promotion, posts about every little figma and sketch update, and other useless crap. Pull the plug, it's dead Jim.

    3 points
    • Jordan BJordan B, almost 4 years ago

      There were a few negative people who drove me from the site, along with the introduction of downvoting, which I'm not a fan of. I've always appreciated your comments and input into conversations.

      2 points
      • Jessica Brown, almost 4 years ago

        When was downvoting introduced?

        0 points
        • Jordan BJordan B, almost 4 years ago

          It was introduced a few months ago (I think?) as a response to unwanted spam posts, then changed back after a time for reasons I don't know. I feel like downvoting invites negativity and isn't beneficial to a forum that is trying to foster productive design conversations.

          0 points
    • Matthew O'ConnorMatthew O'Connor, almost 4 years ago

      I get that spam and blatant self-promotion posts are crap and waste space on this site for decent content.

      But tool updates are important to post because of the discussion it creates.

      Saying that Figma have just mentioned their own Auto Layout features and also new prototyping features and theres barely any mention of it on here.

      0 points
  • Darren Krape, almost 4 years ago

    Where do you go now for community like this?

    I've joined a few Slack channels, but mostly they've been regional or otherwise not quite a good fit.

    2 points
  • faz kamisanfaz kamisan, almost 4 years ago

    I agree. It's such a shame. Designernews used to be my source for finding interesting articles/sites/discussions. Now I rarely come here if at all.

    I agree with some of your suggestions. They should consider reviving this site otherwise, it will end up being "dead".

    2 points
    • James SheddenJames Shedden, almost 4 years ago

      Out of interest, where do you go for similar content instead?

      0 points
    • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, almost 4 years ago

      At think point in my career, I could care less about another tool, framework, nor trends. They're a dime a dozen. However, I am interested in discussions around problems I am currently dealing with or have dealt with in the past.

      Two weeks ago there was a discussion regarding if you should go to school. In my past, there was a discussion about burn out. What goes in a Jira ticket. Topics like that I can relate to and want to engage with. I was hoping Reddit would bring that out... but still the same.

      I am curious about what design topics people would want to discuss.

      7 points
  • Jordan LittleJordan Little, almost 4 years ago

    The self-promotion and spam keeps me away most days.

    If you work at, say, Invision and you post here about your Invision blog. I'm not going to read it. It's just sideways advertising and rarely adds value to the site.

    Downvotes would be nice, though I understand the rationale in not having them.

    More guidance/input by staff (the AMAs are great) and site owners.

    Better algorithm for top posts. It seems like I'm always seeing bs mixed in with good posts on the homepage.

    Search could be improved.

    Surfacing old content. It seems like there are a half-dozen "best backpack" posts, but having a way to surface these classic/active posts would be a good idea. Best Of DN?

    I still visit at least 4 times a week, but my sessions keep getting shorter and shorter. Scan the Top posts…maybe click a link…see a ton of spam posts and leave.

    I hope the site owners can figure it out and get this place hoppin' again.

    1 point
    • Nick ZakharNick Zakhar, almost 4 years ago

      The search feature, in my opinion, is one of the biggest issues here.

      I often come here with a topic in mind, type it into the search bar, and I don't think I've ever actually found something useful based on my searches... yet I KNOW there are articles that were posted in the past here related to the topic I entered.

      I typed in "Designer News Is Almost Dead" and this was the first link... I typed in "Designer News Is Dead" and got a page full of posts NOT including this post which is current and trending... Instead, I see several posts from 3-4 years ago.

      0 points
  • ChrisArchitec t, almost 4 years ago

    what are you contributing here Riho? How about post some news once in awhile? All that's needed is the freshest new site designs and what is new in design. The hottest new site launches, trends, tips on maybe achiveing similar effects and implementing strategies. It's simple. Discussion follows if stuff is good, but mostly the site works well as a link aggregator (and similarly on twitter). That's it!

    I do appreciate the AMA efforts too, takes organizing and attracting time from big names/busy ppl.

    1 point
  • Carolann Merchant, almost 4 years ago

    Weekly discussion threads about design subjects

    I like that idea! I think that would help a lot. Conversation starters tends to get people engaged.

    I've recently started engaging more in the Designers Guild Facebook group. It seems like there's a little more discussion there.

    I remember when DN started it seemed like the intent was to create a community like Hacker News but for design. I agree the interest around that agenda has changed. I think the industry has changed.

    I would hate to see places like this die out. I hope we can implement some of the ideas you had to keep it interesting around here!

    1 point
  • Joey Prijs, almost 4 years ago

    I honestly think the design community in it's current state isn't the right audience for these types of websites (HackerNews type-sites); it will always result in shameless self-promotion and listicles (again for self-promotion).

    1 point
  • Campbell Kenya, over 3 years ago

    DN is not dead yet! So alive!

    0 points
  • Dipmal lakhani, almost 4 years ago

    Hello, folk

    I'm working on something similar which solve these problems.actually, I'm building a community platform for designers where they can share, write or discuss their ideas, case studies, tutorials and much more. something similar to dev.to but for designers.I think writing is essential then just showcasing the visual aesthetics on platform like dribbble.

    Any thoughts and suggestion would be appreciated.

    0 points
  • Ken Em, almost 4 years ago

    As long as DN continues to be a dumping ground for spam, it’s going nowhere.





    0 points
  • Kat ☺, almost 4 years ago

    I spend much more time talking about design on Twitter, in different Slack communities, and irl at meetups.

    For me, this format doesn't work well for discussion - but I might just be pining for vBulletin forum days.

    It's as much the content uploaded (or lack thereof) as it is about how form is not necessarily following function. Example:

    • Text, whilst clean, is not optimised for reading anything longer than a tweet.
    • It's not at all accessible (there are 300+ accessibility breaks on this page alone).
    • The threading is confusing
    • It's difficult to differentiate users/commenters
    • The visual and typographic hierarchy is weak

    I also think the site is trying to do and be too many things at once. Is it a community for discussion? And/or is it link posting and upvoting platform to seperate the wheat from the chaff in our noisy industry? Is it a podcast? Is it a job board? If it's going to be multiple things, perhaps it's there should be some sort of dashboard or homepage rather than trying to force discussion to be the carrier?

    Who is DN? What do they want, why do they exist? What are you trying to achieve? Why is this site any different or better than using Discord, Twitter, Slack, etc - what's the USP? Looks like it's mostly been an UI redesign but there's no content or community or product strategy.

    0 points
  • Frédéric AudetFrédéric Audet, almost 4 years ago

    Well, what's the purpose of DN exactly? A platform to let people voice their opinions, or a place where designers go to interact with curated content managed by community staffs?

    0 points
  • Ken Em, almost 4 years ago

    Why would anyone agree to do an AMA on a dead website?

    0 points
  • Matthew Hollingsworth, almost 4 years ago

    While we're here having this discussion -- what people do you want to hear from in the form of an AMA? We want to keep organizing these, but only if it's interesting and people want to engage.

    Any suggestions as to who you'd all want to see do an AMA?

    0 points
    • Frédéric AudetFrédéric Audet, almost 4 years ago

      I guess what we're looking for isn't community staffs interacting only with certain threads, but feel you guys are more proactive in filtering, curating or creating content.

      1 point
  • Fulgenzia Delucci, almost 4 years ago

    While I'm quite new to DN, I came with high expectations tbh. I was expecting a lot of discussions, tips & tricks or any type of interaction. It's just another version of Quora where people shamelessly promote products, themselves or whatever.

    Not sure how that can be handled but I don't necessarily agree with the poster as it should be the community that keeps the wheels turning. No effort from the site owners would do any good if it's just a easier to penetrate PH (which is already made extremely easy).

    But hey, the 'x site is dying' post always works. But to the contrary of what I saw on different platforms the community really wants DN to work. I believe we can work from there.

    0 points
  • austen m, almost 4 years ago

    Why don't we open source DN and allow the community to run it?

    0 points
  • Andreas EllwangerAndreas Ellwanger, almost 4 years ago

    Over the last couple of months, I have caught myself visiting HeyDesigner way more often than DN, mainly because of the absence of spam and a shortlist of new links/posts. But still, I miss the exchange/discussion like it is taking place on PH/HN.

    0 points
  • Rey AlejandroRey Alejandro, almost 4 years ago

    Local communities tend to be more helpful and well managed.

    0 points
  • Artur MaklyarevskyArtur Maklyarevsky, almost 4 years ago

    It was damn good the first year.. At some point some Grad students should study this unique phenom.. it could just be normal entropy curve after X time.. nothing lasts forever.

    0 points
  • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, almost 4 years ago

    These communities frequently die off, not due to owner disinterest typically, but due to the user base being so fickle.

    0 points