Does Design Twitter need a code of ethics?

Snarky comments do little to help the creative industry, but can Twitter be salvaged as a place for useful design discourse? Nicole Phillips and Craig Oldham discuss how to deal with negativity, and whether design Twitter needs a dose of online etiquette

This year, Twitter celebrates its 15th birthday, and for most long-standing users it’s hard to believe almost two decades have passed since the little blue bird landed in our lives. The service is vastly more sophisticated than when it launched, but in many ways it’s still a chaotic, wild west place of expression. As well as an insidious outlet for racism, misogyny, homophobia (and the list goes on), Twitter is the spiritual home of the snarky comment. It’s where rebrands and new logos go to be crushed by the morass of public opinion.

In many ways this is nothing new. Design is a public-facing discipline, which means most designers and studios understand that criticism is an inevitable outcome. But things can become weirdly personal on Twitter. Nicole Phillips, designer and founder of blog Typograph.her, has been the recipient of unsolicited negative feedback on Twitter, and understands first hand how demoralising it can feel.

“Creatives are inherently emotional beings,” she tells CR. “I know that’s a huge brushstroke to put across all creatives but it’s pretty true. That’s what makes us good problem solvers. But we’re so invested in our work and it’s really easy to take [negative feedback] as a reflection on yourself and your creative ability. I think it can be super paralysing. If you publish something and it has strips torn off it, you can take it off your social media feed but it’s still out there in the world.”