Over the last year I've noticed people posting links on twitter to their latest design, a new layout they want feedback on, or even something graphically compelling. These links however, were Forrst links, and to anyone outside of Forrst, inaccessible (By default, but users can change). Not being a designer myself, it didn't bother me that much to find out what it was all about. When I started creating designs for one personal project, I was reminded of Forrst, and decided to give it a try.
Next to the logo on the Forrst homepage, we are greeted with the following description:
"Forrst is a community of passionate developers and designers focused on helping themselves and others get better at their craft, providing thoughtful critiques, and sharing their knowledge to build better applications and websites."
Let’s decompose this a little. Forrst is for designers and developers exclusively. If you are looking for end user or general population feedback, you would be on the wrong site. Forrst welcomes passion in your craft, be it design or development. To get the most out of the community, you should like what you do! Forrst wants to help you (the prospective user) and other members be better. Final point, you should want to help each other!
Three noteworthy qualities
Here at Clock, we nominate staff for praise at our monthly company meetings, and try to focus on 3 qualities: being agile, being on the bleeding edge and being creative. Recently I've grown to believe Forrst can help with all 3 of these qualities with varying degrees. To explain how I came to this conclusion, I need to take you on a journey of several steps from the past few months.
"Everyone has something to contribute. Tell others, work together and build *real* products!” - Christian Heilmann - Mozilla Evangelist
Where does Forrst come in to all this?
"Fantastic," you might say, "I'm all up for making the web better, but how as a web design agency will this benefit both us and our clients?" Part two of my explanation, begins at a talk from PHPUK, an annual PHP London conference. A fair number of us Clock folk attended PHPUK, something I would personally recommend to any web developer. Sebastian Bergmann spoke on Agility and Quality [Slides], and while talk was focused on how you can tweak the "Time, Money, Quality" triangle, the talks opening was something I had read about before. Software Development is much like playing a Roleplaying game .
The simile was that each member of the team has different roles which aid the whole team. The project manager as the Tank, keeping the focus of clients. The Environment / Productivity engineer as the Healer, the invisible process facilitator, bug communicator and infrastructure maintainer. The coders and testers, the Damage Dealers, battling with the low level requirements and requests. Fantastic analogy for anyone who has played RPG's before.
Taking the comparison one step further, the Damage Dealers (Coders and Testers) in these games need to sometimes pause, use power-ups to make them stronger, go on a rage run or just something that gives them an edge. Forrst can be seen as one of those power-ups.
The Forrst power-up increases the Damage Dealers' agility. Upload snippets of code here and there, or posting a quick question; both are reviewed by your followers who often suggest improvements or complements in the form of "Loves". Reviews of a small amount of modular code can be a different view when you don't look at the whole system. Complements encourage good quality code.
The Forrst power-up increases the Damage Dealers' bleeding edge quality. Bookmarks are another form of post that you find on Forrst, often exciting new tech demos. Reviewing each others fresh code can help inspire new ideas and make us more willing to try out new things!
The Forrst power-up increases the Damage Dealers' creativity. Depending on how many inspiration blogs you subscribe to, you will probably be aware of posts with titles such as... “20 amazingly inspiration email templates / profile sites / wordpress themes”. Forrst holds the front line for this sort of content, right from the source, the creators of awesomeness themselves. You will be inspired and awed.
OK, you've sold it. How do I join?
Becoming a member of Forrst isn't quite as easy since their latest update. You can either be invited or apply for membership, and your application would be reviewed and approved or denied by the community. you can now only gain invites to share if you are amongst the most active members (93rd percentile or higher).
I use Forrst maybe a few times a week, and I’m at the 85th percentile, so realistically this sounds like a good way to do things. If you are a business however, and already have one member of the team forrsting away, you can ask Forrst really nicely, they will allow your whole team in.
If you've used Forrst, or any similar alternatives, we'd love to know what you think. Let us know in the comments section below.
Find me on forrst as Relequestual
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