Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crowdsourcing, a good pass time, but not a full time Gig, & how to for Buyers.

Have you heard of crowdsourcing? I'm sure many of you have, but for those who have not here is the Wikipedia definition:

Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task (also known as community-based design[1] and distributed participatory design), refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

The term has become popular with business authors and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals. However, both the term and its underlying business models have attracted controversy and criticism.

I've taken to doing one or two of these contract jobs for fun (per day). It only takes an hour out of my day and well if I win bid I'm generally awarded between $200-$1,500. Not bad for a simple logo, website layout (no coding), identity packaging, or other random design work. Their are sites also for coding that you bid by the proposal, but I prefer to just use the design sites rather then waste my time and energy on the proposal sites. (Don't get me wrong some people are largely successful with the, but you are competing against 20-300 other individuals, which is why I'd rather not spend 2 or 3 hours perfecting a proposal)
Their are many sites that run off this basis such as,,,, uship, sitepoint, threadwise, istockphoto, and their are many others. The basic premise is someone posts a need, the talent responds with samples, the buyer then chooses a winner for the project. The buyer pays and everyone is happy.
Okay, so crowdsourcing can be a little more complex. Let's break it down so that it's easy for you to have a successful project posting. If you are the buyer it helps if you are as descriptive as possible. Since you wont have an account executive to ask you questions and flush out what you really need, I will layout what you should write up in your project posting.
Ten BUYER tips for having a successful crowdsourcing project:
  • What is your goal?
    • For example are you looking for a logo? If yes, then you need to tell the creatives a little more then just, "hey I need a logo." Say I need a logo for business cards, stationary, letter heads, a sign, or all of the above. That way the designers can know more specifically how to lay it out. See if your doing business cards and you can only afford to use two colors, that is something important to mention, because for your online logo you may want it to appear more vibrant. So you may need them to design two of everything.
  • Do you have a theme?
    • The theme is your style. You may like modern styles, simple layouts, intricut designs, very feminine touches, or very bold and masculine themes. Maybe you want a mixture? A way to describe this to the designers without trying to figure out a fancy way of saying what you mean is a sample board. What is a sample board? find magazines with the style you like, other logos, fonts that you like, colors (preferably as a palette), and lay it all out in a collage like square with your color and font preferances in the bottom right corner (preferably labeled). Then scan it or take a picture and use that to post with your project. If you have an old logo, post that too.
  • Who are you, and who are your clients?
    • Are you a printing company targeting large businesses, or a mom and pop shop targeting a smaller marketing? Do you have more then one type of client? Lay that out in detail. See also my article on personas.
  • Do you have samples of old pamphlets, logos, a website, or anything else that represents you and your company? Proudly display it or attach links to it. If you have a company blog, that will also help represent your voice. It's always nice to get to know the buyer a little bit, and to better understand who they are.
  • Know what kind of files you are going to need: Psd, .jpeg, .png, all of the above, resolution, color scale, rgb, the exact sizes you need, the font names etc.
  • Be sure to comment on the samples you receive. It's nice when the site you uploaded your project to has public forums, this way you don't have to repeat yourself. Just mention you need a specific color, or hate a certain layout, and hopefully the creative will catch on, as well as new comers looking to try out designing for your project. Be as precise and use constructive cristism, also make sure to tell people when they are headed in a direction you like.
  • Invite creatives from other projects or online to bid on your project, thus giving you more options.


Anonymous said...

Crowdsourcing is horrible in design. The over used example is "Would you ask a group of carpenters to each build you a house and you will buy the one you like." that alone devalues our profession, and participating in these design contests just makes them more valid and commonplace. Why should we let design be just a "game/contest." is an awesome site that covers this topic very thoroughly. Just because some designers will do these, buyers should not buy into these projects for their projects.

desaraev said...

I think for small projects that don't take very long its not a big deal, but if I had a choice of this or the people on craigslist asking for students to do their work for free. I would take this.

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