Crowdsourcing Web Design
Crowdsourcing Web Design Changes Everything
It used to be that designing for a site meant selecting a web designer and being limited to the talents, ideas and inspiration of that one web designer. Then came crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an “open call”. This works great for web design… if you know what you’re doing (if not, the crowdsourced designers won’t either and its probably best to have a traditional web designer walk you through it all).
Before you start Crowdsourcing Web Design
- Decide which design crowdsourcing site to use. We use 99Designs.com ourselves, but there are others too.
- Be ready to go public. This is a public process. Most crowdsourcing sites allow you to set up a private contest, but it costs more.
- Have a clear vision of what you want your design to convey.
- Make sure to write a good design brief. The design crowdsourcing site you use will walk you through this, you just need to make sure you take the time to fill it out thoroughly. Remember, designers will only give you what they think you want, so that is what you need to communicate to them.
- Research how much you should spend. Take a look at contests similar to the one you will be creating. How much are they offering to the designer. You will notice that the greater the reward, the better the contest entries. This is already the “cheap” way to go, don’t be cheaper as it will just waste everyone’s time.
- Know there will be additional “middle man” charges of around 20% on top of what your set the contest for. You need to factor this cost in when you set the amount the design contest winner receives.
Example Crowd-source Design Contest
For just over $200, I got 7 very talented designers to submit 27 designs, and compete to win the design contest.
In submitting my contest, I did not select a lot of the options available, which all cost extra. Some of these make sense, such as promoting the contest in the forum area of the site, especially if you are in a hurry and want the attention of the best talent. For me, I give the design period about 5 days, ensuring me time to work with the designers through feedback etc. You can also highlight the contest etc and make it stand out. All these things might work, but how much more than just throwing the additional costs into the contest reward is debatable. I personally would rather see the extra money go to the Designer.
Here is my Design Brief for the eMarketing Matador Web Logo/Header
In the Design Brief , there was 4 key points I wanted to make;
#1 – I gave the address of the site so they could see where the logo/header image would live.
#2 – I “sweetened” the pot by offering to recognize the designer and link to their site. You can see this in the footer of this site.
#3 – I wanted the design or part of it, to have good icon appeal. If you look at the address bar, you will see the icon for this site.
#4 – I pre-paid the prize money. This showed I was serious and that someone was going to win.
Once published, a Design Brief looks like this to prospective designers
You can see that the summary is just that. I used it to give the basic and vital information, as well as provide the incentive related information of what I was going to do above and beyond just the contest.
Below are the different entries I received.
You can see I got a lot of variety to select from. It is amazing what 7 different designers will come up. Each has their own style and interpretation of your design brief. This is where crowdsourcing design excels. This is where you win!
Tips to Getting the Best out of Design Crowdsourcing
- Give Timely Feedback – I try to check my contests at least twice a day and provide feedback for each design. I rate the ones I don’t like and the ones I do like, I let them know. If I see something with potential, or going in a direction I like, I let the designers in the contest know so they can all go down the right path together. Design feedback is crucial.
- Get a good start – If you don’t see at least 5 designs submitted after a couple of days, review other contests and see what the bids are there. You might need increase your bid a bit. For this contest, I raised the bid by $20 once and saw better results after.
- Build a relationships – If you see someone with talent, keep in touch. You may want to go direct to them in the future, cutting out the competition and middle man. Going direct to the designer will easily cut costs by 2/3′s. Worse case, you can let the designers know of your next competition and have them “raise the bar” a bit.
In the end, the winner of the contest was UaLz, a university senior taking time out of studying for finals to made some much needed money to pay rent etc. If you’d like to use him, his email address is email@example.com.
Here is a close up of my Logo. It is not what I thought I wanted. Its a lot better.
Listen to Seth
I’m a big Seth Godin fan. He’s a great Marketing author, blogger and Entrepreneur. He wrote an article “How to live happily with a great designer” that captures the essence of working with a designer, web or not, crowdsourcing or not. I recommend reading it before working on any Web Design Brief to any Web Designer.