Crowdsourcing, a term derived from the merging of ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’, first came to prominence in 2006 and its use has grown rapidly in tandem with the growth of the online population. Crowdsourcing differs from outsourcing as knowledge, services or content are requested and obtained from an undefined collection of individuals rather than a specific individual or company as seen in outsourcing.
One of the earliest and best examples of crowdsourcing is wikipedia which is created by hundreds of unrelated writers and researchers. It would never have become the largest encyclopedia that ever existed without the owners of wikipedia empowering a crowd of unrelated individuals to create and moderate content on the site.
Another variation on the model is crowdfunding, as seen in sites like kickstarter, which has started growing exponentially in recent years. This also derives from the ‘power of the crowds model’ and has been hugely successful in getting projects off the ground that would never have seen the light of day had traditional funding methods been used.
Traditional Crowdsourcing Vs Crowdsourcing Design
Although the basic principle for crowdsourcing is more heads are better than one there is a big difference between crowdsourcing web design services and crowd sourcing knowledge, content or money from from multiple unrelated individuals. Crowdsourcing for web design and other design services (i.e. graphic design, branding, logos, furniture design, video, product design, print design etc) has a competition element whereby multiple designers submit draft designs for the same project before only one is selected for the paid work. Therefore, the final paid design is completed in the traditional manner whereby an individual or business has a contract with only one designer.
People and companies who use crowdsourcing websites are hoping that by having multiple talented designers develop concepts and draft designs before selecting a winning design they will end with a much better result than if they had chosen just one person or company to start from scratch. There is some debate as to whether this is the best route to when you need design work done and whether the designers themselves get a raw deal. However, there are plenty of advantages for both parties and the pros and cons for both parties are summarised below.
Pros & Cons Of Design Crowdsourcing From A Buyers Perspective
Minimise Risk: If you need design services it is very hard to predict what you will receive from a certain designer or design company even if they have substantial portfolio to show you. By using the crowdsourcing model you can have multiple designers spend time developing draft designs and concept ideas with you over a period of time allowing you to single out one or two who have demonstrated they have the skills and vision to turn your vision into reality at a price you are happy with. You will therefore be far more certain you will end up with design you are happy with before agreeing the fee.
Save Time: Putting up a project on a popular crowdsourcing website means that designers will come to you rather than the other way round. It would take you several days to contact all the designers who are likely to submit designs but using this method you only need to write one project brief and publish it on one of the popular crowdsourcing websites shown below.
Effective Long Term Recruitment: Setting up one or two crowdsourcing projects is not only a great way to find talent for a specific one-off project, it is also a great tactic to find fantastic designers that you can use on an ongoing basis. This is a great method if you want a full or part time designer but don’t want to commit to signing a contract until you have worked with them on a few short term projects first.
Price: Whilst is certainly possible to get work done cheaper than normal due to the very nature of having designers compete with each other it is also very possible that you pay more for the designs you end up with due to two reasons. Firstly, a percentage of your fee will go to the crowdsourcing website and not the designer. Secondly, it is likely many designers will add require a little more money to compensate them for the the risk of not winning the paid job. For example, if a designer would normally charge $1000 for a certain job if you went to them directly, they may only enter a crowdsourcing contest for the same job if there was a guaranteed payment of $1300 to the winner.
Limited Participation of The Best Designers: There is no doubt there are some amazing designers who use crowdsourcing websites to find work. However, as designers are required to put in plenty of unpaid work in order to have a chance of being hired many of the established top quality designers simply don’t use crowdsourcing websites. They feel they get enough work from referrals and from showing their portfolio of work and the work involved in winning crowdsourcing contests is not cost effective. Therefore, whilst you will get dozens of designers submit various draft designs to you, you are unlikely to get the cream of the crop unless you budget is sufficiently big to make it worth their while to give it a shot. However, some of the crowdsourcing sites have recognised this and offer premium packages to try and attract the very best designers.
Pros & Cons From Designers Perspective
More Paid Work: If you are designer that does not have established marketing funnel bringing in new clients every week then participating in crowdsourcing design competitions are are great way of getting more paid work. Winning contests and showcasing your designs on a high traffic crowdsourcing website will also increase your chances of gaining more long term work. As stated in the recruiting method point above, many companies used crowdsourcing sites to find long term employees by testing them on one design project. You may not win every competition but overall it can be very lucrative.
Building Your Profile: Although the most obvious reason to submit your designs to a crowdsourcing design contest is to win that particular piece of paid work, there is also the added benefit of showcasing your design ideas in a public forum where there may be hundreds if not thousands of people viewing your designs. Therefore, even if you don’t get the particular job you pitch for you may win more work from others who have viewed your design submissions online.
Equal Playing Field: The only thing that matters is the designs you submit for the project brief posted – you will not be judged on your existing portfolio or testimonials. This allows you to take on the bigger players who may have a more established online reputation and a network of previous clients but who simply don’t have your talent. This is great for new designers trying to make a name for themselves.
Potential For Unpaid Work: As with any business that needs to submit a proposal before being awarded a contract there is always the potential you will work for no tangible reward if you are not selected for the paid project. However, with design crowdsourcing you normally have several rounds of feedback allowing your to adapt and alter your designs to the buyers wishes giving you the opportunity to turn around an initially imperfect design. Also, as noted above, entering into a design contest will also showcase your talents to many other prospective employers that may contact you about other potential work.
So, without further ado here are the best crowdsourcing services for web designers.
Web Design, Logos, Branding, Print Design
- Website: http://99designs.com
- Fee Type: 4 fixed price packages which vary depending on category
- Commission On Prize Money: 20%
- Average Entries Per Contest: Depends on package
- Design Contests Completed To Date: 200K
- Prize Money Paid To Date: $52M (up to April 2013)
- Registered Designers: 280K
- Open Contests At Time of Writing: 2,330
99 Designs is one of the most popular crowdsourcing sites which has a huge community of over 280,000 registered designers in a range of fields including web, logo, print, art, merchandise, clothing and product labelling. By April 2013 they had paid out $52m to designers and hosted over 200,000 design contests. Having been founded by Mark Harbottle and Mart Mickiewicz in Australia, they are growing fast and expanding into the US, Asia, Europe and Latin America through organic growth and acquisitions.
In order to crowdsource a design with 99designs.com you need to submit a project description and decide on a fee you will pay to the designer you end up choosing. Your project will become a design competition that designers will submit designs to and the number of design entries you receive will depend on the category of your design (web and logo designs have the most designers) and which of the 4 price packages you opt for. You can also increase the quality of the designers submitting designs but opting for the most expensive platinum package (the price will depend on what type of design you need). 99Designs fee will come out of the price you pay so the designer will not receive 100% of your fee. All contents run for 7 days and you can expect to receive 30-70 designs for each content before you have to choose a winner.
- Website: https://www.crowdspring.com
- Fees: 3 fixed fee options with custom fees also possible
- Commission On Prize Money: 40%
- Design Contests Completed To Date: 40K
- Average Entries Per Contest: 129
- Prize Money Paid To Date: No up to date figures found
- Registered Designers: 150K
- Open Contests At Time of Writing: 660
Crowdspring are another huge crowdsourcing website for logos, web design, print design, graphic design and multiple other design related categories. They also crowdsource other business tasks such as content creation but design was how they started and where the majority of the their projects lie. They have over 150,000 registered creatives from 185 countries at the time of writing and have had 4.8 million entries to date on over 40,000 projects with an average over 110 or 130 entries per project depending on which part of their website you read.
Unlike 99Designs which has 4 fixed prices per category, you are free to name your project price in CrowdSpring if you don’t like their 3 fixed price packages which will give you more flexibility to get smaller projects done or conversely attract the very best designers by putting in a very high budget. The designers will receive 60% of your fee and CrowdSpring will take the rest as commission.
- Website: http://www.mycroburst.com
- Fee Type: Custom fees possible
- Design Contests Completed To Date: Not published
- Registered Designers: 41
- Average Entries Per Contest: 108
- Current Open Contests: 81
- Prize Money Paid: $5.9M
- Listing Commission: 20%
MycroBurst was officially launched in 2009 when the owners of LogoDesinGuru.com realised it would better to crowdsource designs for their clients rather than employee designers in house. They cover all the major design categories including logos, web, stationary, print and T-Shirts.
- Website: http://www.hiretheworld.com
- Fees: 3 fixed price packages which vary depending on category
- Design Contests Completed To Date: 140K
- Registered Designers: 7K+
- Average Entries Per Contest: Not published
- Current Open Contests: Not published
- Prize Money Paid: Not published
- Listing Commission: $40, $45 or $95 depending on package
HiretheWorld was founded in 2009 by Doug and Terry Beech and Arash Afroose. They have designers in 130 countries producing work in a variety of design projects including logo, web design, brochures, business cars and packaging design.
Freelancer Design Contests
- Website: http://www.freelancer.com
- Fees: Flexible
- Design Contests Completed To Date: Not published (5.4M Total – not just design)
- Registered Designers: Not published (10M Total – not just design)
- Average Entries Per Contest: Not published
- Prize Money Paid: Not published
- Listing Commission: 3%-10%
Freelancer.com is probably most well known as an outsourcing site in competition with the two other big players in the online outsourcing sector odesk.com and elance.com (who recently merged) rather than a crowdsourcing site for designers. However, it now offers a Design Content service for crowdsourcing designs which makes sense given it massive number of registers contractors and employers. To start a content click on the ‘Post Contest’ link in the header bar.