First, the good.
I know, a lot of you probably don’t want to hear the good about my experience because you are so set against crowdsourcing. While I still would not recommend this path to any designer hoping to make a viable career from his talents, I can admit that 99Designs did do a few things well. Most impressively, they have a forum where you can make suggestions on the contest process. As you scroll through the forum, you can see that many of the suggested issues are in the planning stages and will be implemented soon.
As a designer, I really appreciated that 99Designs was listening to the voice of the designers who participate in their contests.
The bad & ugly: changes crowdsourcing sites should make
While the experience wasn’t terrible, I found that there were a few simple steps that sites like 99Designs can take in order to make the process as beneficial for the designers who participate in the contests as clients who come looking for design work.
1. REMEMBER WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE
2. EDUCATE THE CLIENTS
The particular contest I participated in was a logo design contest. Unfortunately, the client had no clue about what makes an effective logo and which logo decision would be the most beneficial for their company. While I didn’t hate the winning logo, there were much more successful logo designs there. (NOTE: Please do not misconstrue this as a bitter rant stemming from the fact that I lost the contest. I didn’t really expect to win, I was more interested in learning about the process.) 99Designs should have educated the client in order to better understand what makes a successful logo.
They should also assist the client in writing an effective creative brief. While I am unsure of the exact process that a client goes through when creating a competition, some of the design briefs that I read were far from complete. They lacked essential information that any self-respecting designer would need in order to produce great work.
4. REQUIRE TIMELY FEEDBACK
Part of my freelance design contract includes a section that explains that I am not held responsible for completing a project if the client fails to offer proper feedback. This only seems fair and natural. If the client fails to provide feedback on a design, how can I tailor that design to best fit their needs? Clients should be taught the importance of timely and effective feedback.
Did you know that sometimes clients run a contest, don’t like any of the results, choose to pull out, and get a partial refund? That’s right. The sites cover their bases by only giving a partial refund in these situations. But what about all the designers who took the time to read the design brief, submit designs, even modify designs? They’re left out in the cold. Crowdsourcing sites should force clients to accept the fact that people are putting in time to create something for them. The risk they take when choosing this method over hiring a professional designer is that they may not get exactly what they want or need. But what’s to keep a client from running a contest, not choosing any design, and then hiring their “nephew who knows how to design” to mimmick their favorite option?
Join the discussion
Let’s face it. Crowdsourcing sites are not going away any time soon. So instead of discussing how much we hate or love them, try joining in on the problem-solving aspect. What do you think crowdsourcing sites can do to further help designers? Please share your thoughts with the community.