Well-known design firm ZURB has acquired Forrst, an online creative community that enables designers and developers to ask questions, showcase their work, and receive feedback. Forrst, a 500Startups company started as a side-project by founder Kyle Bragger in 2010, has gone on to raise $205k in seed funding and was acquired by ColourLovers in early 2012.
Though often mentioned in the same breath as sites like Dribbble and Behance, Forrst has always been unique in tone. Whereas the other two enable designers to showcase their work, neither is particularly suited for cultivating feedback. Forrst is friendly and open to creatives of all skill levels, with questions and posts coming from veterans and amateurs alike. Judging by the language in their press release, ZURB intends to make Forrst the foremost place for designers and developers to request and receive constructive feedback on their work.
Matt Kelly, ZURB’s product partner, says that Forrst will be “a place where people can post designs and get constructive feedback from other designers. Something much more useful than ‘Cool design bro.’”
The Forrst purchase becomes more interesting when seen in the light of ZURB’s other recent acquisition: the web design showcase PatternTap, which it acquired almost exactly seven months ago. Taken together, it appears that ZURB is indeed building a community to rival Behance. Combining a robust, feedback-driven community like Forrst with a high-quality showcase like PatternTap would place the site squarely in a category with that and similar sites. Whether or not this is ZURB’s plan has yet to be seen.
Regardless of their plans regarding PatternTap, ZURB has much in store for Forrst. They’ve already stated their intention to do away with Forrst’s job board, stating that it distracts from the true purpose of the site. They also plan on reforming the invite system to reflect user reputation (a la Dribbble), and will be implementing responsive design to ensure the site works well on mobile devices.
Like many design firms before it, ZURB seems to be moving from a service-oriented business to a hybrid service/product model. They have released several web apps, numerous open-source products, and now two high-profile community websites. Between their open-source contributions and the workshops and other resources they provide, the company is also continuing its tradition of building strong ties with the creative community at large. In the words of ZURB CEO Bryan Zmijewski:
“Our industry is very fragmented with self taught designers and developers. And there are new tools and technologies popping up every day- we want people to have a place to go to, to build confidence in their work. We don’t always have the answers, but if you’re looking for an approach to deal with all these issues, we’d like to think ZURB is a good example of how companies can solve problems in a positive, people first approach.”
If you aren’t already involved with Forrst, now is a great time to start. Check it out here.
The computer image above is courtesy of PlaceIt.