Crowdsourcing is basically the act of obtaining a solution to a problem from a community of people. A few examples of crowdsourcing in the design industry are Design Crowd and 99 Designs. Let’s say that a business needs a logo design. The business can simply submit their brief to a community of designers and over a week’s time they will receive hundreds of logo designs from designers all over the world. They then pick their favourite logo design and that designer gets paid. It’s a very simple yet powerful concept that is growing rapidly and changing the design industry as we know it. But is this change for the better or worse, let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons.
Handy for small businesses
Small businesses don’t usually have a large budget set aside for logo and website design and going to design agencies can be quite costly. Crowdsourcing websites make it quick and easy for small businesses to get a logo and website design for a relatively cheap price. There is usually a good variety of designs to choose from too as so many designers are submitting designs.
Quantity not quality
One of the issues I’ve noticed with crowdsourcing designs is that the quality of submissions is sometimes not that great. Many of the logo designs for example look like stock logos. This isn’t surprising when you consider the relatively low rewards offered to designers for their work. Not to mention the fact that a designer isn’t guaranteed to win a brief. So they could end up putting a lot of time and effort into a design for no monetary gain. For these reasons I think many designers are spending minimal time on designs and thus the quality of the designs reflect this. I have however seen some great designs on these crowdsourcing sites, but these were for businesses that offered larger rewards.
Well oiled machine
As far as business models go, the model employed by crowdsourcing websites is just about perfect. Businesses have a need for design work and on the other side of things, designers have a need for projects to work on. By mediating this relationship between designers and businesses, crowdsourcing websites can meet the needs of designers and businesses while also receiving a cut from each transaction. Like a well oiled machine, this business not only meets the needs of two groups of people, but it’s also highly scalable and low maintenance as it’s an automated system which thrives on growth. I guess the only main issue is the high initial start-up cost of developing the application.
Experience for young designers
When you’re first starting out as a designer you don’t have much experience, so there’s not a lot of work in your portfolio. It’s always a challenge to build up your portfolio and gain some momentum in your design career. Crowdsourcing websites can be a good avenue for young designers to gain experience and build up their portfolio while also making a bit of pocket-money on the side.
What are designs worth?
One of the issues designers have with crowdsourcing is the relatively low price of design work. Creating a logo design for example is a timely process which requires research, experience and a load of creativity. Yet logo designs are being sold for as little as $160 US! As competition grows, the cost of design work on these crowdsourcing sites could get cheaper and cheaper which is a scary thought for designers everywhere.
Crowdsourcing is a powerful force which is already changing the way the design industry works. The question is, will it change the design industry for the better or for the worse? What do you think?