a.k.a. How it’s hard to see the forest for all the damned trees!
If you’ve been here before, you’ll notice that this site looks a LOT different than it did before. Often, when such a dramatic visual change happens on a blog it’s the result of using a new theme. However, in this case, the theme is the same. The reason is the image at the top and the background color. That flexibility is just one of the many reasons Thesis is such a great theme for WordPress blogs.
The new image above is the new crowd source designed logo for Virtual Impax.
Crowd sourcing is a relatively new concept and made possible by the new “social” web. Graphic design is just ONE area where crowd sourcing is becoming popular – and unfortunately there are many graphic artist who are vehemently opposed to crowd sourcing for design.
Crowd Sourcing Design 101
First, a quick lesson in “crowd sourcing” – in this case crowd sourcing design.
I “crowd sourced” my design by launching a “contest” on the site 99designs.com. The “winner” of the “contest” would be awarded a pre-determined prize – the amount I was willing to pay for the design. Graphic artists from around the world then submitted more than 100 fantastic designs for my little contest.
When the contest ended, there were 143 designs submitted and had I been running this contest for a client, I would have been happy to show approximately 135 of the submitted logos.
In other words, the quality of work submitted by these designers was really top rate.
So what’s not to love about crowd sourcing design.
As a design consumer – there’s very little not to love about crowd sourcing for design. The whole process eliminates many of the “uncertainties” around design for the consumer.
As a design consumer, there are two fear based “questions” which seem to be lurking either consciously or subconsciously:
- How much will this cost? (ANSWERED by crowd sourcing – the dollar figure is set at the beginning by the client. There is no fear of going “over budget”.)
- Will the graphic artist actually deliver? (ANSWERED by crowd sourcing – the design is completed and submitted to the contest – there is no worrying whether the designer will take your deposit and you’ll never hear from him/her again.)
So if you’re wondering why crowd sourcing design sites like 99designs.com are so popular – it’s because they help to solve a PROBLEM design customers have.. By using crowd sourcing sites, design consumers fears are assuaged.
Which brings me to why many in the graphic design community feel that crowd sourcing devalue the design industry. Those designers feel that the work done by the graphic artists who were not chosen as “winners” in the contest were asked to work for “free”.
Crowd Sourcing Design is Evil stance
I’ll make no bones about it – the talented designers who entered and whose designs weren’t chosen DID work for free when they submitted their work to my contest.
Working for free is part of getting started in any service based profession.
Whether you’re a graphic artist or an attorney -when you’re selling “nothing but air” – which is what you’re selling when you sell your expertise -when you begin your career you’re caught in a horrible catch 22 where you need to DEMONSTRATE your expertise before someone will pay you to utilize your expertise. So in order to demonstrate your expertise, you have to have examples of applications where your expertise has been put to use. The quickest way to get those examples is by working either free or on the cheap. 🙂
Which brings up the one incredible advantage I can see for designers who participate in crowd sourcing: the work they did can still be included in their portfolio to demonstrate their expertise.
Instead of showing a “slim” portfolio, the talented graphic artists who submitted their design can point potential clients to their portfolio on the crowd sourcing site to show their work. They can point to the specs for the project and their interpretation of the specs. Other business owners can see what they did and possibly hire them for future projects based upon their portfolio.
Crowd source resources, such as 99designs.com serve as an “introduction” to a designer’s services. Whether the designer chooses to develop those relationships – well, that’s another matter.
Crowd Source Confession
Earlier, I asked “what’s not to love” about crowd sourcing design – and unfortunately I found it. During my little foray into crowd sourcing design, I stumbled upon the one thing NOT to love as I perused over 100 talented entries to my design contest….
I needed expert insight to determine which design was “right” for my business.
They were all GREAT designs – but I needed some way to determine which great design was right for MY business.
Because I was standing INSIDE of my company looking out – it was hard for me to see which design submitted “spoke” the essence of the business I’ve spent the better part of two decades building.
So I did what people have been doing since the beginning of time – I asked for input from my clients and colleagues.
The “problem” was that when each client or colleague offered his/her suggestion – my response would be, “Yes, that definitely looks like something [insert name here] would like.”
Truth be told, THAT is the hidden “downside” to crowd sourcing design. I needed outside expert insight and to be honest, I needed that insight BEFORE I began the contest – not once the contest was up and running.
In launching the contest, I asked total strangers to offer their representation of my business based upon the information I gave. The problem is, the information I gave was full of “mixed messages” because I’m INSIDE my business looking out. It’s hard for me to see what others see when they “look inside”.
So when I began my crowd source contest, I made a similar mistake to hundreds of other business owners. I “thought” I needed a design when in fact, I needed a “brand”.
I didn’t recognize this until the entries started flooding in for the contest. Then it was too late.
For now – this is the “look” of Virtual Impax – until I decide to invest the time, energy and capital into developing and completing a full fledged business branding exercise.
It turns out, that’s why hiring an outside consultant can be so valuable for a business of ANY size- because it’s really, really hard to see the forest for all the damned trees!!!