4 Reasons Why I Will Never Use Crowdsourced Designs

Steve Fogg —  November 15, 2013 — 11 Comments

Crowdsourced_designs

I don’t usually post opinion blogs like this, but in this case I’m making an exception. Blogger, Michael Hyatt recently penned a blog post titled ’4 Reasons You Should Consider Crowdsourced Design for Your Next Big Project’. Here is why I respectfully disagree with Michael. 

But before I dive in I want to say I really appreciate what Michael writes on his blog and in his podcasts and book ‘Platform’. Heck I’ve bought I don’t know how many copies for myself and those I think will get something out of it. I respect him and value his insights. So before everyone gets uppity and think this is a rant. It isn’t. The point of this blog post isn’t ‘an open letter to Mike Hyatt’ or anything like that.

Get the drift?

Now as I’ve said, I don’t agree with Michael on this hot topic. But I do want the tone to be respectful. Here’s why I will never use crowdsourced design:

1. They will never really understand who you are and what you do

Treating design as a commodity means that you are trading on price, not on knowledge and insight. A good designer will invest time understanding your church/non-profit/business, even if you provide them with a detailed creative brief. Often the best creative solution comes out of the face to face moments, not the written word. Once a designer truly gets the client, their product, service and the benefit to the clients audiences the results can be spectacular.

2. If you want monkeys, pay peanuts

Does anyone really think they will get exceptional design from people who are so desperate for work that they will work for free? Good or even great designers have a real value (not perceived) and are usually self-employed or work for a firm. Why? Because they are good at what they do. If all you are after is someone who knows the latest trend in InDesign or Photoshop be my guest. You will get the mediocre outcome you are paying so little for.

3. Being paid shouldn’t be a lottery win

I wouldn’t work for free, why should I expect others to?

The fashion houses are finally working this out. They now understand that they need to pay their workers in Bangladesh and the sub continent decent wages and provide fair conditions than they have in the past. Consumers want people to treated fairly and respectfully. By basically auctioning off your design work where you are getting people to bid for work it is worse than how these workers in the sub continent are treated. They all at least get paid.

4. Your goal is to make a profit so why can’t the designer?

Seriously. Life is hard enough. For many people in the last 5 years scratching out a living has been hard enough. To then take it to another level and say that you only get paid if you are the lottery winner is just wrong.  You are in business to make money. The more you pay people the less you earn, it’s a dog eat dog world I know. That’s capitalism for you. But as Christians I thought we are supposed to give someone an honest days pay for their toil, no matter where they come in? The reason why industry bodies are writing out codes of ethics isn’t to protect a business model, but to ensure people can earn a reasonable living.

Your turn

I realise that this will stir up a debate on both sides of the fence. I understand that market forces are changing the economics of designers pay and conditions.

I understand that if people don’t want to be involved, then they don’t have to be.

That said. What do you think?

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11 responses to 4 Reasons Why I Will Never Use Crowdsourced Designs

  1. Like you, I get heaps of value from Michael Hyatt’s blog and books; and like you I fundamentally disagree with him on this (i.e I agree with you). I wrote a long piece about the topic a few years back on my Posterous site, but you’ve pretty much summed it up.

  2. I haven’t come to a firm conclusion on the issue, but for me it doesn’t quite sit right. In a lot of fields it would be normal to ask for a proposal (here the equivalent might be a rough sketch of ideas?) but it doesn’t seem fair to be asking anyone to do the full project with only minuscule chance of pay. It’s frustrating to see work on such sites that has evidentially had a fair bit of work put into it but has no realistic chance of winning.

    A common argument I see for these sites is it gives artists the chance to gain exposure. This may be true for music video creation contests or similar where the finished project can have credits. It hardly seems to be a reasonable argument for things like logos which carry no attribution.

  3. Yes! We duked it out with Rick Warren over this in 2009 on Church Marketing Sucks. I think crowdsourcing can be a big temptation for cash-strapped churches, but it’s not a good way to go.

    After seeing your post on Facebook I started writing a follow up. Hopefully we’ll get it up next week.

    Thanks!

  4. Great post Steve.
    I agree wholeheartedly that crowdsourcing isn’t the way to go. I’ve been in this game for over 23 years, lecture in design and just know that placing a project out to bid may get a result, but is it the right result or the best result.

    I say no.

    Reason one:
    Designers that usually live and work in the crowdsource space ( I mean no disrespect) are not there because they are super pumped to be a designer and must do as much work as they can, maybe after hours. They are there because they don’t have the best skills, are usually from the “cut and paste” mindset, struggle to be original and can’t stand on their own two feet. Yep I went there.

    A designer who has skill, is understanding, has the right heart, is a problem solver, has passion and drive, don’t need to get noticed and work through a crowd source, they will get noticed, they are good.
    So why would you not be getting the best to work on your project.

    Reason two
    “Let’s get spiritual” ( reminds me of a song from the 80′s ). From a church POV. We aren’t selling stuff, we aren’t promoting a home gym.. We are in a position to influence and change culture, bringing the reality of God to someone’s world.
    You need a strategy, a plan, a vision and a invested asset… A designer that has your vision stuck on the wall stuck over their desk. You need a designer who is “in order” who can take your vision, and under a creative Holy Spirit mantle … Create that thing.

    You won’t get that from a crowdsource.

  5. Great post Steve.
    I agree wholeheartedly that crowdsourcing isn’t the way to go. I’ve been in this game for over 23 years, lecture in design and just know that placing a project out to bid may get a result, but is it the right result or the best result.

    I say no.

    Reason one:
    Designers that usually live and work in the crowdsource space ( I mean no disrespect) are not there because they are super pumped to be a designer and must do as much work as they can, maybe after hours. They are there because they don’t have the best skills, are usually from the “cut and paste” mindset, struggle to be original and can’t stand on their own two feet. Yep I went there.

    A designer who has skill, is understanding, has the right heart, is a problem solver, has passion and drive, don’t need to get noticed and work through a crowd source, they will get noticed, they are good.
    So why would you not be getting the best to work on your project.

    Reason two
    “Let’s get spiritual” ( reminds me of a song from the 80′s ). From a church POV. We aren’t selling stuff, we aren’t promoting a home gym.. We are in a position to influence and change culture, bringing the reality of God to someone’s world.
    You need a strategy, a plan, a vision and a invested asset… A designer that has your vision stuck on the wall stuck over their desk. You need a designer who is “in order” who can take your vision, and under a creative Holy Spirit mantle … Create that thing.

    You won’t get that from a crowdsource.

  6. Thanks again for addressing this issue, Steve. A new Church Marketing Sucks post on the topic went up today.

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