It’s become something of a hot debate in graphic design circles in recent times; is crowdsourcing a good thing, or is it damaging to the industry as a whole? Many websites have appeared offering access to designers – and other freelancers – and businesses see this as an affordable method of saving money while getting the job done. Designers, on the other hand, see it as a problem as it has increased competition. Crowdsourcing will save you money, without a doubt, but is it money well saved? Let’s have a closer look at what it’s all about.
Crowdsourcing is a method of hiring cost-effective labour; at least, that is what it promises to do. Sometimes the job will be paid for; others will be run as a contest. The latter, in which companies ask for entries to a design competition, for example, are a major bone of contention among the design industry. Some contests offer a prize, while others provide no compensation at all, just publicity. The problem is that, in the case of a contest, even where there is compensation, the losers will not earn a penny. It’s clear to see that this is far from a professional approach in graphic design terms.
Cheap Work Outsourced
It’s best to think of the crowdsourcing approach as the downmarket cafe in relation to an upmarket restaurant; you would not expect the best food from the former, so you shouldn’t expect top quality work from the crowdsourcing experience. The company that goes down this route is looking for a quick result and cheap – or free – design work. Is this really going to result in the sort of logo or branding that entices customers to you? It won’t; it will bring some in, but in the long run your business could suffer.
Success or Saving Money?
It is a fact that you will never get top quality work from the crowdsourcing route; a great design partnership involves a professional who understands the entire needs of the company involved, what they are aiming for, who their customers are, and what the logo needs to say. This isn’t achievable with a remote crowdsourcing route; there is no opportunity for shared ideas, and no real understanding of the company requirement. The money you save will be welcome, but the resulting artwork will most likely be below-par.
Plagiarism and Crowdsourcing
This is one of the biggest problems with the crowdsourcing route; there are many examples of companies using logos that turn out to be rip-offs from others, and this can lead to legal implications that may be damaging. The opposite is true when working with professionals, who will endeavour to provide you with an original, unique and usable logo that says what it needs to about your brand. Be careful not to buy another’s reworked logo.
Low Pay =Low Grade
Crowdsourcing works on the premise of saving money; some of the work comes from ‘design factories’ that pay a pittance, and in this industry it is certainly true that you get what you pay for. Low pay means low quality work; after all, nobody is going to put too much effort in for pennies. By engaging the services of a professional you are ensuring that your brand gets the attention it deserves and needs, rather than saving money for no real benefit.
So, is crowdsourcing a worthwhile consideration? For some it could be, but the danger is that the artist cannot possibly understand precisely what you need in the way a close working professional designer can. There are stories galore of people turning to the crowdsourcing route as it appeared to offer great value, only to have to resort to a professional to have everything done again, as the result was so poor. Working with a professional is the best way to go as it guarantees you are getting the benefit of expertise and experience; use crowdsourcing if you wish, but remember you will get results commensurate with what you are paying.