What Does Design Mean to You? Enter Shopify + Dribbble’s Design Contest


When we announced our partnership with Dribbble earlier this year, we knew we wanted to have some fun with it.

That’s why we just launched a design challenge to any designer out there with a Dribbble account. We want to celebrate great design, and share the many different definitions of what design means to us.

Take a look at our first shot depicting what design is to Shopify, by talented in-house designer Paul Pritchard:

This image is the result of an internal design competition at Shopify. Many of our talented designers created an image showing what design means to them. The result was tons of beautiful images – but only one could be voted in as Shopify’s winner. (We’ll be sharing the rest of those entries with you soon!)

Want to enter the contest? Accept our rebound challenge and post a shot on Dribbble depicting your definition of design. A great entry will include the phrase “Design is…” but other than that, the sky’s the limit. Experiment with type, icons, illustrations, patterns, gifs – whatever you can dream up.

You could win $5K in Apple gift cards, a three-day pass to An Event Apart conference, some Shopify swag, and one year of Dribbble Pro. We also have two awesome runner-up prizes, as well as 10 honourable mentions.

But you better get designing, because the contest closes on Tues. Aug. 5 at midnight PT. Enter the contest here!

Paul Pritchard (the winner of Shopify’s internal design challenge) shared some thoughts about what design means to him, and the process he went through to create the winning graphic.

The Idea

When I first read about our competition, I knew that I wanted to try designing something around the common saying, “good design is invisible.”

For one, it’s the simplest way to explain design to non-designers because you can use examples that everyone can relate to. Bad design is a push door with pull handles on either side. Bad design is two uncomfortably close urinals with no separator. Bad design is a ‘Shift’ icon no one understands. In other words, bad design stands out. Good design, on the other hand, is invisible because it just works. This perspective also pushes people to think about design as more than just aesthetics.

The second reason I chose “good design is invisible” is that it had a ton of potential for interesting visual ideas. I could obscure the word “invisible” and leave the viewer guessing about the “design is” sentence fragment they would see at first glance.


Not wanting to try to force an idea by staring at a blank Photoshop canvas, my first step was to start researching a few visual ideas I could use to obscure text.

Narrowing It Down

A pattern that could be manipulated to obscure text within itself seemed like the most versatile idea and opened up room to a lot of variation. I wanted to quickly test out the idea to see what I was getting into so I grabbed a topographical pattern and jumped into Photoshop.

So invisible.

This mockup made me realize that the type needed to have almost all of its characteristics in common with the obscuring pattern — colour, size, shape, etc. — and that the easiest way to get a good pairing would be to build from the type out.

I grabbed a copy of Infinite Pattern and took note of what kinds of patterns the featured designs were using, how they were used, and if a typeface with the right characteristics could fit. Looking through these gave me a good sense of what kind of styles could work and I settled on a geometric pattern as my core idea. It needed to be something that looked nice and could still be bent to fit type.

After some searching I found a few good examples of different styles of geometric patterns I could use.

An isometric pattern looked like the winner. What would look like a somewhat-simple pattern done on a normal grid looks way more interesting on an isometric grid. I just needed to find a typeface that could sit on an isometric grid and then I’d have a number of options to draw a pattern around it.

After sifting through a lot of cheesy Lego-looking isometric typefaces, I found a mockup of Isosibilia – a slick Escher-esque typeface by Rodrigo Fuenzalida. All links to it were dead so I ended up drawing the letters one by one, reshaping them to fit my grid.

I then looked for an isometric pattern that could blend in well with the false perspective and elongated letters of the typeface. I tried a few and settled on this, redrawing the pattern onto my grid.

I didn’t have much time left to finish my piece so I quickly slapped some “design is” type in and chose a colour scheme. I was happy enough with the result at the time.

The Result

And then, as most designers do, I decided that my design looked terrible when I looked at it the next day.

I took some more time to rethink the visual style and settled on a look that I’ve liked for a while: thin lines, bold type, and a combination of black, white and gold.

And there we have it, the final design. No more revisions, I promise.

This was a nice break from day to day designing and an awesome chance to try out some visual design ideas that I don’t always make time for. Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s submissions. Give ‘er, buds!


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