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Thread: Running a website design competition...advice?

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    Post Running a website design competition...advice?

    Hello all!

    My name is Lina and I am new to this forum. I work for a nonprofit called March On (March On: Spinal Cord Injury Programs | Sydney | Australia) and we really want to overhaul our website. To do this we are planning to run a global web design contest. The winner will receive a cash prize, a paid contract to work with us on the site as well as other goodies. As I am still at the very early stage of development, the purpose of this thread is to outline what we are looking for and ask for advice/suggestions.

    So, March On is a Spinal Cord Injury non-profit. And we would like to create a spinal cord injury resource by indexing web pages relating SCI. Ideally, it would be a search engine which is focused specifically on spinal cord injury issues. Some categories would include: Travelling with SCI, Medical Developments, Blogs, General News Stories etc We were thinking that the entrants could create a sample (skeleton) website and submit it to us for consideration.

    Would you say that it is practical to run a contest like this? Are there any pitfalls/problems/obstacles that you could see with the website idea or the way we are thinking of running the contest?

    I will freely admit that I have no experience with Web Design at all, so any thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.

    Lina

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    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    In the web development community, we're often bombarded with requests like these. The impracticality of your idea doesn't lie in the idea itself, but in the fact that so many others have ruined it for you. For that reason, I don't think you'll generate enough interest.

    You're essentially asking the community at large to design/develop something for you for free, in hopes that you will choose their entry and pay for it. At that point, the work is already mostly done.

    I see where your head's at, and many of the regulars on this forum will as well, but that won't be enough to overcome the problems with your proposal.
    TheGAME1264 likes this.
    Ron Roe
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    "If every app were designed using the same design template, oh wait...Bootstrap."

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    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    That's what this site is all about:

    https://99designs.com

    You put your "prize money" in their escrow account, describe your specifications and let them provide design ideas. Just like you mention, except it's real and you'll really be spending your prize money. That's the part most people won't accept ... unless you put your money in escrow, they probably won't get paid. Just promising or saying their is a cash prize does not mean anything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    That's what this site is all about:

    https://99designs.com

    You put your "prize money" in their escrow account, describe your specifications and let them provide design ideas. Just like you mention, except it's real and you'll really be spending your prize money. That's the part most people won't accept ... unless you put your money in escrow, they probably won't get paid. Just promising or saying their is a cash prize does not mean anything.
    That adjustment can be very easily made. Thank you for that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Roe View Post
    In the web development community, we're often bombarded with requests like these. The impracticality of your idea doesn't lie in the idea itself, but in the fact that so many others have ruined it for you. For that reason, I don't think you'll generate enough interest.

    You're essentially asking the community at large to design/develop something for you for free, in hopes that you will choose their entry and pay for it. At that point, the work is already mostly done.

    I see where your head's at, and many of the regulars on this forum will as well, but that won't be enough to overcome the problems with your proposal.
    I really appreciate that feedback. What if we made the requirements really easy? We do not expect the site to be done but just to get an idea of the layout. No pages have to be indexed when they are making it. What we really want to see is the ideas about the look/layout. Is there a simulation program that people can use to construct a sample home page without actually having to make the website? Would it be easier if we just asked for a home page design?

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    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Yes, that would make it easier to get submissions if you explain about a "look" of a site layout, as in the home page and not a real working website.

    But how would you advertise for such a thing?

    What if you only get 4 people that submit an idea?


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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    Yes, that would make it easier to get submissions if you explain about a "look" of a site layout, as in the home page and not a real working website.

    But how would you advertise for such a thing?

    What if you only get 4 people that submit an idea?
    We are going to have a page on our website that outlines the full terms and conditions. Even if it's just 4 people, we will pick one from that pool (providing there is one of sufficient merit). Do you personally know of any programs that we could guide entrants to that would enable them to design a sample home page? Or any other ways we could get people to easily communicate the look and layout they intend for the website?

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    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    They would need to create the sample page themselves, however they normally do it. If they are site designers, then they would already know that. If they are not site designers, you should not allow them to submit. Would you have your car mechanic remove your gall bladder?


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    I too think it's a good idea in principle, but not sure how many designers would put in time to even create a homepage with the chances of getting selected pretty slim (if you get a lot of entries). I would just get the word out there, and hire the best designer (after looking at their work).

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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    People have covered the design part of your idea, so I don't need to go into that.

    There is a part that's missing, however, and this is where a code warrior like me comes into play...the development. Not "front-end web development"...actual, real programming. I suspect that no one's explained the difference, so here it is in an oversimplified phrase: web design is about how things look and feel, whereas web development is about how things function.

    In your particular case, you want a search engine and you want to be able to index pages related to spinal cord injuries. Sounds simple, right? It's not. Here's a breakdown of a few of the considerations:

    - being able to find SCI-related pages (and how they'd be determined)...are they submitted manually or are they intended to be found via some form of automation?
    - if automation is involved, then you're looking at how to index the pages, how to deal with people not knowing how to generate HTML, whether or not they're relevant to your topic based on common words and phrases (e.g. scoliosis, stenosis..not sure if they're two of the ones that apply to your organization, but they're what comes to mind).
    - whether you want to rank the pages or just list them alphabetically
    - how you categorize them
    - how you allow for additions/updates/deletions

    This is a mouthful for an experienced developer, and there aren't that many of us out there. Designers? Tons. Go outside, find your closest urban major intersection, throw a rock, and you'll probably knock half a dozen of them out cold. Developers are much more difficult to find, and unfortunately you won't be able to find any through a contest. You have to talk to them, explain what you want, have them explain it back to you in their own words and indicating comprehension of your ideas, and then you may have a shot.
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