7 signs you’re suffering from Dribbblefluenza

Because too much of a good thing can make you sick.

Jeff Cardello
March 8, 2018
Web design

Dribbble provides designers with an amazing showcase for their work. But so many of these designs are too perfect — every pixel meticulously placed, but not a lot of context. And like a neighborhood in suburbia, everything all kind of blends together in a blur of surface-level perfection. If you've been exposed to an excess of these seemingly flawless designs, you may have a case of Dribbblefluenza.

‍1. You’ve lost the ability to explain things

One of the common criticisms is that Dribbble is just a showcase for pretty work, without any real depth. Sure, we're wowed by the bright visuals and clean layouts, but when there isn't any explanation, it leads us feeling a bit empty.

But so much of our modern content consumption lacks depth. On dating sites we swipe left or right, often making the decision solely based on someone's photography skills. Web design, like dating, should offer substance. We need to find out more about a design to see if it’s practical — and we need to know more about a person’s hopes and dreams to determine if it’s worth going on a first date with SushiLover182 .

Those afflicted with Dribbblefluenza have lost their ability to fully articulate their design thinking, lapsing back to unhelpful phrases like:

  • It’s new!
  • It’s cool!
  • It’s innovative!

If you find yourself repeating these same words over and over, you’ve likely got the Dribbbles. The cure? present your work in front of real people. Force yourself to verbalize a thoughtful explanation of your design and how it will help your client achieve their goals.

2. You can’t give meaningful feedback

Dribbblefluenza not only robs you of your ability to explain your work, but it also affects your ability to give constructive feedback. One symptom to watch out for is short compliments without specifics. And if you’re leaving this feedback online — you might catch yourself making liberal use of exclamation points.

You may find yourself offering non-constructive feedback in response to ... everything. From your roommate’s spontaneous rearrangement of the apartment furniture to getting dumped, your Dribbbleriffic reply might include:

  • Great work!!!
  • So cool!!!
  • Awesome!!!
  • Nice!!!
  • Fantastic!!!

Comment section on a Dribbble post. Names and avatars are blurred. Comments include "the best!", "love it!", "great shot!"
‍Names blurred to protect the guilty.

In some cases, Dribbblefluenza may actually come in handy. Like when your partner asks what you think about their new haircut. “So cool!” might be perfect, even though the stylist could have maybe taken a bit more off the sides.

Got it?


3. You find yourself obsessively rearranging things to look more perfect

The projects featured on Dribbble are easy to look at it. Their immaculate designs, well-placed elements, clean typography, and use of negative space gives them a well-ordered visual logic. But how much pushing of pixels is too much? Just like adjusting a tie or blending eyeshadow, can perfection ever be achieved despite all the small adjustments we make try?

Dribbblefluenza makes you want to arrange everything in your life to look like stock photography. If you’ve arranged your workspace to mirror that one stock photo (you know the one) with the notebook placed carefully at the perfect angle, surrounded by other well-spaced objects — you likely have Dribbblefluenza.

And get rid of the damned typewriter. Who do you think you are, Truman Capote?

Perfection isn’t real, so ease up on the time you spend obsessing. But that weird spot on your skin you’ve been trying to ignore? You might want to get that looked at. Just to be safe.

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4. You consider yourself an artiste

We know — you started as a self-aware, “how it works” designer. But under the influence of Dribbble, you now consider yourself an artist. Forget about functionality — all you care about is the perfect color palette. You've started referring to just the right amount of kerning as "sexy." And don’t get me started about your fixation on line height.

If you tell people your work is informed by the Bauhaus movement, adopt an eyewear style common among German architects, and pepper your conversation with the words “diaspora,” “pathos,” and “pedestrian,” you’re nailing this pseudo-artist thing.

If you’ve forgotten it’s your job to create something that has purpose and solves problems — you’re suffering from Dribbblefluenza.

5. You’ve forgotten that designers are problem solvers

Design without intent results in so much visual junk food. Sure, it looks pretty, but do all those bright colors really provide sustenance? Besides looking good, what reason does the website have to exist?

If you douse yourself in cologne or perfume instead of showering, paint your car to deal with its transmission problems, or keep adding more salt to soup that doesn’t taste quite right, you’ve definitely got a case of Dribbblefluenza.  

To kick it, get back to problem solving. Forget about covering up issues with a quick fix and look for long-term solutions.

6. You spell everything like it’s an app

Apps have such cool names, right? Who needs spelling and grammar when you’re trying to be edgy? And finding a domain name that’s available at an affordable price is always helpful when naming apps.

Whether we’re catching a Lyft, reading something on Reddit, or calling someone on Skype, creative spellings are a part of the fabric that is the internet. If you’re spending too much time on Dribbble, you may start taking liberties with your own spelling.

Does your grocery list look something like this?

  • Eeeegs
  • Bredddd
  • Cakeify

Yes? It might be time to take a break, lest you forget to Dribbble your Miiiillk.

7. You seek external validation from people you don’t know

Dribbble is all about praise from people you've never met. Sure, we all love external validation. But hundreds of likes from an anonymous audience doesn’t mean a whole lot.

One of the symptoms of Dribbblefluenza is the need for approval from strangers. This can range from asking the barista if they like your new outfit, to inviting the pizza delivery person inside to check out some wireframes you've been working on.

Neither of these people have stakes in honest feedback. They’re also not getting any sort of consulting fee. Seek real validation and constructive feedback from people you trust so you can improve your craft.

There’s a cure

Okay, we’ve had some fun at Dribbble’s expense. But Dribbble does serve a valuable purpose: it helps us get a diverse set of eyes on our work and provides opportunities for feedback. It wasn’t designed for long-form discussions about our work — and that’s okay! We can appreciate Dribbble for what it is.

A catalogue of visually appealing work is a great resource for sure, but keep in mind the need for deeper reasoning behind our designs. And if you know of other Dribbblefluenza symptoms we missed, share them in the comments below.

Jeff Cardello

Advocate for better design and professional writer excited by tech, entrepreneurship, and branding. Writes the occasional joke on Twitter.

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