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View Poll Results: Have you participated in Crowd Sourced Design before?

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  1. #1
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    I'm involved with a new concept in web design and development that involves crowd sourcing. I'm interested in opinions on crowd sourced web design and interest from freelance designers.

    We are a few months away from launch and looking for feedback on how to make the site attractive for designers. Your opinions are appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    what is a "crowd sourcing"?

  4. #3
    Senior Member MrTeapot's Avatar
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    What wikipedia says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing

    I haven't participated in crowdsourcing, but I do think that it's an interesting concept.
    Kevin Kennedy likes this.
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  5. #4
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    From a web perspective, Crowd Sourcing basically involved a website that offers a service (web design, logo design, PPC, etc.- even loans/Lending Tree), but leverages the community to provide all or part of the service. In the loan example, Lending Tree is the site, but individual banks provide the loans. From a design perspective, Logo Tournament and 99 Designs are examples, where designers compete by submitting designs online. I've used Logo Tournament a number of times and it works great.

    Our new concept, which will launch in a few months is called SiteTropolis, and will rely on a community of web designers to provide designs. The key, which we are working hard on, is to make the site (and process) a desirable and profitable experience for designers as well as customers. That is part of the reason I'm trying to get feedback from designers-so we can design our processes to their liking.

  6. #5
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    Ah I see - thanks for the explanation, i think I understand now...
    So the client would pay "SiteTropolis", then "SiteTropolis" would pay designers to come up with the designs?
    I can forsee a problem: if anything goes wrong or the designer doesn't so what the client wants, "SiteTropolis" will be stuck with the issue...
    Unless of course "SiteTropolis" is going to just be a resource to find a designer?

  7. #6
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    We are still working through the details, but the process is such that the designer isn't paid until the customer selects the designer's design. Designers also get reviewed over time, so that the customer can see that "Joe the Designer" has been selected 20 times and has a high grade.

    The easiest way to understand the process that I know of is to check out Logo Tournament. We used to do logos for our clients, but now we just show them this site. It is much quicker and affordable for them and they get many choices. My brother just used them, at my suggestion. His company, WordMasters paid $500-$750 and received a few hundred logo designs in one week.

    This trend will keep growing, so it is worth your time understanding it, regardless if you want to participate.

  8. #7
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Personally, I hate the term (it has corporate buzzword written all over it) and the concept as it pertains to web design and see it as the 2012 web design fad...although I did find out about 99 Designs 3 months ago myself.

    Now, before you get mad and jump down my throat, I'm going to explain why. Keep in mind as well that I have experience from the standpoint of both of your potential target markets (the web designer and the web design customer/project manager):

    1) The designers that would participate in this will generally fall into one of two categories:
    • Starving artists looking for work who will sell themselves short
    • Companies, primarily offshore companies, that will turn the design competition concept into a giant template factory just as soon as the first article is written about how these sites are the next big thing and what you can do if your design isn't selected (since I've mentioned it publicly, I give it about 3 months, and I also predict no one will give me credit for the idea either). If the design customer selects the company, then the company gets paid for the template. If not, templatemonster.com gets another template for sale.

    In either case, the top-tier design talent...as in those designers who would actually work and think about the design and implement things that would give the design customer the best chance at success...probably won't participate. Why? See the next reason.

    2) Having hired people in the very recent past (read: the last couple of months), the average design job will yield 3-7 decent-to-good prospective employees. Let's take the average for simplicity and use 5 as the number of competitors.

    That means realistically, a good designer has a 1 in 5 chance of having his/her deisgn selected. Let's assume that the designer is good enough to double his/her odds and give the designer a 2 in 5 chance. That means for every 5 designs, 2 will be selected and paid for. The other 3, which the designer will have been forced to work just as hard on, will be rejected.

    That means that the designer will have to charge 2.5 times what he/she normally would to cover off the waste of time created by doing the other three jobs. Is that designer going to get the extra 2.5x as much money? No...it's a crowdsourcing competition, which means that the design factory types will be able to charge their normal rates because they're jost going to flip their template to someone else if they don't sell it on the crowdsourcing site.

    You get that waste of time as a designer/developer being interviewed by prospective clients and not landing them, but it's nowhere near to the degree that it exists with a crowdsourcing site.

    3) From the standpoint of someone hiring, I wouldn't use it because I don't want to sit and read through generic cover letters AND look at generic designs that I know are just going to be sold off if I don't pick them anyway.

    4) I know I can hire a good designer/developer on oDesk, see his/her work, talk to the designer/developer throughout the process, and track their work via oDesk Team. oDesk by itself provides a standalone reason why crowdsourcing design sites don't need to exist.

    5) Again, I know that the good designers probably won't use a site like this because it doesn't make financial sense for them.

    Of course, now that I've said this, we're going to see another hundred or so of these pop up. Someone will probably make a clone script. And we'll all be annoyed by these sites until about the summer of 2013 when the 99% of the crocodile sites die before maturity leaving 1% of crocodile sites to survive (that's actually a nature fact...only 1% of crocodiles reach full maturity.)

    I don't know how you solve this, either...it's the business model that's messed up.
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  9. #8
    Member Janja's Avatar
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    Let me ask you this: do you want to get paid for every hour you are working or are you ok with getting paid for say 1 week even though you worked a full month?

    Sorry, nothing personal.... of course I see the value as a customer in this: to get all these wonderful designs to choose from and only pay for one, that's awesome.

    The only desingers that are going to be intrested in this are people from low income countries. For them, getting a design chosen and getting $700 might cover their rent for a few month.

    While I have been part of logo design competitions, I would never participate in something like that. At least in the design competitions you get recognition and some bragging rights...

    My advice to you is to target and advertise your website at local colleges since design students would probably be the only willing takers for this one here in the US. That way they could grow their portfolio and maybe make some money off it.
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  10. #9
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    The Game1264 and Janja,

    First off thanks for your honest feedback and I'm certainly not mad at you (Game1264) for pointing out legitimate concerns about this type of business model. That is why I asked my original question and posted.

    We also realize that this approach (crowd sourcing or whatever you want to call it) is not for everyone. From a customer point of view, we realize that this model is geared toward smaller businesses that don't have significant web design budgets and might typically choose a template solution. In this case we feel we can offer a much better product to support their businesses. We realize that larger organizations that need a more strategic approach to their web design/development are better suited to hire a combination of a higher end designer, in conjunction with website and business strategy resources. For the smaller business, however, we believe we can automate a better process that will help a designer more quickly understand the customer's needs and objectives vs. the customer just selecting a template that wasn't based on their specific business needs. This is also a benefit to the designer, who will save time on the upfront side, as requirements and objectives will be provided to/for them without a significant amount of wasted (non paid) time.

    Another benefit to the designer will be a significant number of leads passed on to them in an efficient manner that does not require upfront time (possibly unpaid time) spend to generate business. So while you are both correct that the designer will not get paid for every design they work on, we hope they will spend less time in other areas such as sales, lead generation, marketing and requirements gathering. Additionally, we'll have to make sure we don't have too many designers, so the odds of success are reasonable for our design community.

    Other benefits to designers could include:
    • Using the site to supplement their traditional designer income
    • Flexibility to provide designs on their schedule (off hours, etc.)
    • Ability for designers to be ranked, based on their results, so that they can achieve greater results on the site, but also so they can market/promote themselves
    • Quick turnaround of their design into a working website (great for their portfolio)


    We are also trying to think of other creative ways to add value for designers, as we do want a model that works for both customers and designers, although you are both correct in that this is probably not appropriate for the high end (top billing) designers. Other things we are considering is how we may open up the ability for customers to choose and work with designers directly at some point. Or we may open up the ability for ongoing work to be offered to designers through the site. Possibly when current customers need smaller graphic design tweaks and changes (like new sections for their sites).

    Any further input is appreciated and thanks again for your feedback.





  11. #10
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Hi Kevin,

    I'm not going to speak for others, but for me personally, because I arguably represent the most difficult of the developers/designers you'd have to deal with. If you can convince me to join your site, you'll pretty well be able to get anyone to. But I'm going to tell you upfront that I'm going to be a real hardass with you because of that, and I'm going to throw questions and ideas at you that I guarantee you no one else will. I'm not doing it to be a jerk or simply to play devil's advocate, either...I'm doing it because there are people who will be in similar situations, albeit probably not from the angle I'm approaching this from.

    As far as leads are concerned, I can't speak for others and I won't claim to. But if I want to, I could grab 25-30 leads for any given week and put in maybe two hours' worth of time for various design and development jobs (I'm more a developer myself) and if I get two clients out of that, I'm set. I also don't have to put anything of significance upfront as far as "come up with a layout" or "come up with a design" is concerned, either. I just do what I do the way I do it. I can get 20 of those leads alone from what I'd consider to be your toughest non-crowdsourcing competitor, oDesk, and the other 5-10 would come from other sources.

    The other reason I mention oDesk also relates to my experience as a project manager. I can review prospective employees, I can see their past works, I can see their ratings, I can see comments, I can see their portfolios, I can see test scores, I can pretty much drill down to the most granular of levels, find the people I want to fill various positions, and eliminate a large percentage of the factory designers and general nitwits along the way. Here's an example of what I'm talking about...I'm looking for someone to build a 3-D Flash globe that will draw from an XML file and present the data all nice and pretty like and move around and update more or less in real time. I post that job on oDesk. I get about 30-40 applicants. I can take those 30-40 applicants and very quickly weed through the crap with the system I have and the tools oDesk provides me to do so. I can pare a list of 30-40 down to a list of 5 within maybe an hour (of which #4 and #5 on my list are the "inh" candidates in case the top 3 guys don't work out) and spend an hour each talking to these guys on Skype to see if they get what I'm talking about. I save the chats, I show the owner of the site, and we pick our guy. Once we got the challenge of writing a good job description solved, this has worked pretty well for us. To sum up the math, I spend about five man-hours total writing the job post, putting it up, weeding through the muck, interviewing people, and finding the guy or girl I want.

    Now, my question to you is...how do you cut that time down without sacrificing on the quality of the top 3 guys, all of which have expressed an interest and an understanding of the project, all of which have shown me similar examples of work they've done in the recent past, all of which actually have a solid oDesk rep, and all of which are relatively safe bets to give me what I want (you're never 100% sure but when someone's got thousands of hours logged, it's a lot more of a sure thing than the unproven and unknown)? More importantly, how do you cut that time down and not take more than the 10% oDesk does for a job (I think guru.com offers even less if you sign up for one of their monthly deals, but they're downright crap so I wouldn't even consider them a threat)? You obviously are going to want a cut and aren't doing this for nothing, but I don't think you can push this beyond 1/10 for yourself.
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