Social media sites tend to be driven by words; we blog, we tweet and we update our Facebook statuses naively assuming our friends care that we just ate awesome tacos, all the while trying our best to sound witty. Being social in the digital world is exhausting, but Doodle.ly, a site that aims to be the social destination for artists on the web, is downright relaxing.
Unlike the other social media sites that gravitate toward visual expression like Tumblr and Pinterest, at Doodle.ly there is an emphasis on personal creation. Since its launch in 2011, Doodle.ly’s mission has been to allow users to express themselves by creating virtual sketches, pictures, doodles and yes, even notes for those of us who are more verbally inclined. Armed with nothing but your computer or iPad (the Doodle.ly app is available for free at the iTunes store), you can craft your very own doodle on the site using tools that simulate using a pencil, Sharpie, crayon and the other usual suspects from your art box.
Rather than reblog other people’s efforts, you are encouraged to make your own, no matter your skill set. While there are plenty of amateur creations featuring the expected balloons, flowers and colorful scribbles, Doodle.ly is already a haven for some real talents, many of which are showcased weekly on the site’s official blog. Check out user Tyler Hedge’s clever homage to Lost, (his doodle was chosen as doodle of the week #5 on the blog) or this gorgeous fairy tale inspired picture from user ppratiwi (who was recently named a spotlight artist) to get an idea of the kind of creations you can find on Doodle.ly, or even create yourself if you have the patience and talent.
Once you’ve created your doodle, you can share it with the community at large or with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media sites. But you can also choose to simply doodle until your heart is content without ever sharing a thing. The latter option is nice if you’re looking for a quick way to de-stress or release some creative energy at your desk but don’t necessarily want to publicize your stick figure masterpiece. Unfortunately, if you decide not to publish your doodle it disappears into the ether. It would be nice if the option to produce a private gallery became available in the future. If you do choose to share your doodle though, you can expect to see it pop up on the site’s recently drawn doodle feed on the front page.
On May 8th, the site announced new features designed to facilitate interaction between users, including the addition of a list of the most popular doodles, a like button and the ability to receive notifications when your doodle is liked by another user. While it hasn’t been added on yet, a follow button is expected soon and users will be able to create profiles for themselves in the coming months. These features are designed to keep users engaged, create a better sense of community and to keep the best material front and center—all important factors if the site wants to see continued growth.
The up and coming site recently received an additional profile boost when the New Jersey Devils’ hockey team partnered with Doodle.ly for a contest that encouraged fans to draw and submit play-off themed doodles. Winner Jessica Chepauskas not only won season tickets, but also had her artwork printed on 17,000 rally towels. Thanks to the success of the contest, the site is becoming an attractive option for sports teams looking to host contests. A partnership for a contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves was announced on April 11th. They’re not limiting themselves to the sports world though, the site has also inked a deal with the band Indecent, and additional bands Fictionist and Grafitti6 have run independent contests on the site.
Doodle.ly is off to a good start, but it isn’t the first site of its kind. Draw Something, a similar app, caught on quickly with users but it has been shedding them at an alarming rate since its developer, OMGPop, was purchased earlier this year. What sets Doodle.ly apart from its predecessor is that Draw Something was framed as a game, but Doodle.ly—even with its somewhat silly name—has much higher artistic aspirations. Ones that the creators of the site hope you’ll share.
To start creating your own doodles head over to http://doodle.ly/ and sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account.
Image copyright of Doodle.ly.