Do crowdsourced design contests work? You be the judge – and win!October 4th, 2010 by Ville Miettinen
A few weeks ago we discussed the use of crowdsourcing in design contests. Writing this blog – and reading the feedback we received in response to it – got us thinking. Why not try it out for ourselves? After all, we wanted to design a Microtask T-shirt, and crowdsourcing has made running design competitions easier than ever before.
Crowdsourcing the shirt on my back
Because we focused on 99Designs in this earlier post, it was a natural choice to run the competition. Having said this, based on our initial research, Crowdspring, designoutpost, designcrowd, MycroBurst, designcontest, and redesignme all seem to offer a great service as well.
This decision out of the way, the first step is to create the challenge, decide on a prize and provide a design brief.
As we had a clear vision of what we wanted, we were able to provide competitors with very detailed, specific instructions relating to things like colors. We also gave them various images of our brand identity and some background information about Microtask. We offered a prize of US$300.
From beginning to end, the process was fascinating.
For a start, 99Designs offers an extremely professional, well-oiled service. Creating the challenge, pre-payment and the other practical details could not have been easier. We were most impressed.
Unfortunately, from this point, things did not run quite as smoothly.
Distributing work: no easy task
As a person who commented on our earlier blog pointed out, the process does not end with the posting of the competition. You do not just “sit back and relax.” A lot of feedback and additional guidance is also required.
For us, this mainly involved either re-stating aspects of the initial instructions (over and over and over again), or encouraging competitors to come up with something more creative than simply collages of the images that we had given them.
By the close of the competition we had received 130 designs from about 40 artists. This was considerably more than 99Designs promised. The downside was that the far majority of these were either terrible – in that they completely ignored the design brief – or almost identical to the few designs which were actually decent.
Despite this, overall we are happy with the winning design, pictured above, and are not about to chase 99Designs for its money-back guarantee.
Taking what we have learned, we believe that next time – with a bit of luck – the process could be even more successful. For example we would make the instructions extremely clear and as short as possible, taking into account that the designers do not seem to spend too much time reading them. We might also experiment with a competition where the designers cannot see each other’s work.
At this point, however, what we would really like to know is: What do you think of the design? Do you think it is worth $300? Have you had any experience with crowdsourcing creative work? Do you have any ideas how we could do it better next time? Finally, can you think of any way that the Microtask system could distribute creative work in a more efficient way?
Please post your thoughts as comments. The best five will win… you guessed it… a one-way ticket to Finland! Ok, not really. You’ll win the highly original, crowdsourced, newer than new, Microtask T-shirt! (Which we expect you to wear EVERY single time you leave the house, regardless of whether you actually like it).
For a better look at the t-shirt, click HERE.