Other design forums?

I know there was a similar topic that asked if there were any other sites similar to Core77…I’ve found the Product Design forums, but they’re mostly dead. What I’m asking is more of a general question; why does ID/Engineering/etc have so little online presence compared to something like CG or Graphic Design?

Is it because what we do is innately related to the physical world, and people don’t see a lot of the crossover into the digital one? Even Core’s forums are relatively slow compared to something like the CG Society forums. I’m not saying this to bash Core, I thinks these forums are a great resource and an excellent community - I’m just wondering; what do you folks think is the reason for the lack of a multitude of active design communities online?

Also, if you know of another (active) design forum, please let me know. :smiley:

It has to do with the fact there are far fewer industrial designers than there are graphic or CG artists, and the design community is so small most of them know about Core 77, but most designers also don’t join the forums they’ll just read the front page and that’s it.

Product Design Forums had some momentum for a while, but I think it started to trail way off and became more of an amateur/student site rather than a site for professionals.

Ditto Cyberdemon on the population size influencing the forums.

I also think it has something to do with the work that we do. Graphics and CG are often freelancing and a high proportion of their work goes public. Corporate IDers have limits to what they can discuss because of corporate secrecy and consultants sign NDAs. That leaves alot of our work behind closed doors.

Moreover, their clients don’t care how they work, they care about the final product. I feel most companies and consultants view their process as their proprietary advantage and don’t want their employees telling everyone about how to do it online.

It’s too bad about PDF. They have excellent how-tos if memory serves. Kinda like IDSA though, we just don’t have enough people to support many different outlets. Either except the compromise and chat here, or don’t.

Agree with everything said, with one addition

GD and CG work is really snapshottable. Finished products are nice 2D images. You can glance at it and “get it” quickly, so it lends well to pinning/tweeting/gramming/blogging/whatevering.

Fully encapsulating and describing a functional (or even decorative) physical piece of work is really hard to do in a pithy JPEG. It’s almost a disservice to the object. The novelty of something might not even be understood unless someone explains or demonstrates it to you (“Look how good this custom-made hinge feels”, “Look how this catches the light when you move it”).

The best we can do is produce highly expressive photos or renderings, but they’re always going to be an insufficient description.


This plagues every single I.D. site/community. Students need a community too, but portfolio feedback discussions (+etc.) tend to flood and outnumber the pro level discussions.

I had the same question the other day. It’s a disappointment that there is no other online professional community regarding industrial design. My guess is that it’s related to ID’ers wanting to keep their work and ideas more to themselves due to IP possibilities.

Sometimes on www.eng-tips.com some industrial design related topics are discussed on a professional level - but it’s just not the same.
I also recently found 3dprintboard.com which is only interesting if you’re interested in 3d printing.

With all these hardware entrepreneurs, Kickstarters, makers, 3D print people, etc, I keep thinking that there’s probably a larger audience here that’s more spread out - they might just be calling themselves something else.

Maybe the ID community can grow as well as foster some better non-“industrial” (i.e. mass production) design? There’s a lot of people out there that want to build stuff.

Though I suppose the web medium makes it more difficult to fully appreciate physical objects, as hatts has enumerated. However with 3D model embeds at least some of the slack can be taken up, no?

I think any maker running across the boards would think, “Why should I care about project management and why do these people hate hubless wheels so much?!?!?!” and then leave.

“Why should I care about project management and why do these people hate hubless wheels so much?!?!?!” and then leave.

Ah, but they spent a little more time nosing around they’d realize we loves trains!!

Good observations, and even these forums go through some serious high tides and low tides. I know a lot of designers read the forums but do not post.

I also know a lot of designers use the forums, grow and develop through posting and feedback, and then leave never to return the favor to the next generation. Andrew Kim do Microsoft and Mark Miner of Nike are just two examples, both blog, tweet, and gram frequently, but never post anymore … If you are reading,sorry to call you out fellas, but you benefited, it would be nice of you to pass on what you have learned in a more interactive way here on the forums.

I’d like to better understand why both of these things happen.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the real world with some of you, as well as several ex posters. I gather that sometimes people just outgrow their need for the community, or they use the community as a tool to get feedback on a specific problem. Both are understandable.

I’ve been posting pretty consistently on the forum since 2000, moderating since '03. Personally it has really helped me to develop my voice and POV on the industry. I have benefitted from it greatly and I prefer the casualness and interactive nature over the mor formal and one directional feel I get from blogging on the front page. Thanks to all of you who make this an awesome little corner of the internet. As you know, Fast Co named these forums one of the most influential design sites on the internet.

That said, always room to improve. Open to any ideas you might have.

I enjoy writing, but there is something fundamental about tweaking in the design process. I think that’s why I like the forums. Whatever I write, I always feel there is someone, not just with a different view, but with an additional 5% to add to the argument. Maybe this is why I love reading annotations in books.

Core77 might not be the best place for them to start, but they could certainly learn things from here if they were of the right mindset. I think that there’s room for multiple communities, though - maybe if Core77 is more professional leaning, then there’s room for other communities that focus less on real-world projects and more on personal one - offs or small production runs. Or a bunch of “check out my Kickstarter idea” stuff.

I’m not saying that they’re exclusive, just that there’s room for multiples. :slight_smile:

I believe the need is there but the platform has not evolved. I participate in a handful of forums (automotive, hobby, technical) and participation has dropped across the board in the past few years. I would attribute it to the rise of other social media platforms such as Facebook groups and LinkedIN. The way we communicate as a collective online has changed dramatically.

Because Core77 does not hold a presence in one of these platforms, it’s an “extra step” to visit this site specifically for the discussions. I know of one automotive forum I frequent has made a successful transition from a forum platform over to a FB group.

Maybe it’s time for Core77 to explore or diversify it’s communication platform?

If what you’re saying is true (that multiple platforms like LinkedIN or Facebook denigrate discussion on forums), then I sure hope not. I like the forum structure in general and Core77’s forums specifically.

By the way, what auto forums do you visit where there is design discussion?

Yes, I used to be a diehard fan of pHp and vBulletin forums and I reall did love the structure. But after participating on a few FB groups, I can definately see the appeal to such a format. Only thing that sucks, is that you can’t search older discussions. Other than the the UX and UI are vastly improved over a forum structure.

I typcially visit a forum for it’s specialty, I rarely go onto one specialty and expect valuable conversation on a different speciality. However, VWVortex offers a whole “lifestyle” offering and I’ve noticed participation has dropped off there significantly.

My college car club which has some very loyal members over the year transitioned to a Facebook group and it spelled certain death for the forum which had a few thousand active members at one point. The general post mortem consensus was the Facebook group had virtually no “Discussions” but was a great way of finding out who wanted to get together for real world interaction. But not so much as a platform for discussing projects or other general topics which works well as forum banter.

I agree. I used to participate in a few other forums as well, then just consolidated my time into c77. I do participate in FaceBook and LinkedIn groups. As Boosted stated, the integration into what I’m already doing on FB and LI makes it super easy… but there isn’t really a way to integrate these multiple platforms in a seamless way at this time. I’m sure that will change. Essentially you would end up with multiple different forums across different platforms.

The discussion of FB vs. phpbb, vbulletin, etc, is one I have a bit of history with.

Back during the early days of Occupy, I kept rallying for a more concentrated web presence - unfortunately, it was never picked up. I noticed a trend where people preferred to discuss on FB, since it was so easy and ubiquitous (not to mention well-marketed; the “Arab Spring” being referred to as the “Facebook Revolution” by some commentators), but those same discussions were almost useless; there was no archiving ability, and they quickly got bumped off the page by status updates or other single posts. A thread with 300 replies and one with none are treated the same in terms of information heirarchy; neither has a title, there is no easy way to view all discussions going on, there is no “trending” or “controversial” filters.

What Facebook is great for is community interaction, setting up events, blasting a message out to a wide audience and getting direct feedback from a wide variety of people. But as a discussion platform, it falls flat.

I think you’re encountering the communication differences by generation. Most younger folks seek out only what’s relevant in a smaller scope of time as opposed to older generations. So while there’s no “trending” filter, the topics commented on most recently is what’s bumped to the top in a FB group. I imagine if you REALLY need to search a FB group, you could make it public and rely on Google’s filters to pick it up.

I don’t think it’s a generational thing; there were plenty of older folks on the page. I think it’s more of a difference in technical skill/knowledge. A more technical individual would be more likely to want to look through old threads to find an answer to a question, whereas someone who’s less so is probably more likely to just want to see what’s currently going on and isn’t too committed to discussion in the digital space. Hence, Facebook being a great conduit for in-person meetings, but lacking in discussing virtually.

That being said, the less technical you are, the less likely it is that you would even have been exposed to forum discussions.

If you think forums have gone down hill, I used to be big on IRC (internet relay chat). I have a friend that was huge on BBS. He almost got me hooked, but it was right at the same time that internet connections became ubiquitous.

Sometimes I post things that I think are important and I want to know how others feel on FB. It will get a couple of posts immediately and then die. If your thought or question can’t be answered immediately, it will die on the vine on FB or twitter. Sometimes, I answer posts here a week later when something has come to me.