Crowdsourcing Design – can competitions be made to work?

Photo by Thomas Hawk (Creative Commons Licence)

One of my former clients used Crowdspring (a design competion site) to source their graphic design and yes it is a terrible way to implement a design. In fact I had to withdraw from the project I was so appalled at the exploitation and poor end result in design terms – a huge a waste of resources.

However I also participate on Conceptfeedback – a reviewing website where we review each others work pretty much for free. This has been an incredible way to build up my skills – I am actually a UX designer. However I love the conversations I have had over on conceptfeedback and it has been a useful learning process. It is based around reputation and it works.

I use outsourcing sites like elancer and odesk to get a lot of my contracts. The bidding process for this is often competitive but I find it really works for me. I have had a lot really great projects this way.

What I’m saying is that the remote model which in part is what crowdsourcing is – works really well. When it is designed well. One my problems has been sourcing good graphic designers. I think the attraction of a crowdsourcing model for design is that you get a set of designers rather than one possibly bad designer – so you get to pick from a handful of directions – never a bad thing in a design situation.

There is nothing wrong with the model of crowdsourcing for design – it can be seen as a glorified interviewing process. There is nothing wrong with competition. It certainly stimulates good work in me.

However there is a big problem in people doing huge amounts of work and not being paid for it. The other thing is that the current model in crowdspring or 99designs is that it does not encourage the designers to use the best idea’s from each. In order to be a useful process it has to be a learning process. For both the clients and the designers involved.

What is needed is a better model. How about a graphic design site where you post a project for an initial period of one to five days where people submit a brief response – kind of an interview phase. The client picks three people as potential candidates. All three have a guarantee of a certain amount of money. With bonus payments for good ideas or some other reward scheme. There could be rewards for support of each other and rewards for elements that are used. Anything to encourage a collaboration between the client and the 3 designers.

The key would be to attract a few good designers … others would quickly follow.

With everything moving to the web there is a huge need for good design. This has the potential to be really positive thing for all of us. Think about it every single company in the world wants a web presence. We need to make it really easy for clients to do that.

Remote collaborative work has to be the way forward. It frees us from formal workplaces and head us towards a much more sustainable economy. We need to find easy ways for clients and graphic designers to come together and with the right model a crowdsourcing site could really work.

I for one am excited about this (:

One response to “Crowdsourcing Design – can competitions be made to work?”

  1. Jack says :

    Crowd sourcing can do wonders… that is, if you are connected with the right networks!

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