Crowdsourcing: The Pros and Cons

Vodori’s Strategy and Creative teams contest the merits of crowdsourcing.

Truth be told, our Strategy Director complimented crowdsourcing, nearly exploding the  design team’s collective head. Like the culminating scenes of “You Got Served,” our courageous Art Director fends off his foe for a hearty debate over crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing: You Get What You Pay For

By Rob DeMento, Director, Business Strategy

Consider first the Vodori design team and their product. They focus on every last detail (and by detail I mean pixel) to ensure our deliverables meet client brand expectations. They are careful, thoughtful, and-might I say-strategic about their product. They are trained professionals. Their process is highly consultative, and it requires a defensible viewpoint and client/Vodori teamwork.

Contrast the first scenario with Joe, a photoshop tinkerer (*note: not a designer) who is a janitor by day, crowdsourcing creative marketplace community member by night. crowdSPRING is an example of said creative marketplace. As a crowdSPRING customer, I submit a design request (e.g., new logo), name my price and timeline, and the crowdSPRING community submits designs. I provide feedback along the way for refinement. When time’s up, I choose the winner. (Community members range from Joe to design professionals.)

The product in each scenario is different.

Crowdsourcing has a market

Now consider a third (and most important) party to this conundrum – Bob, the owner of a startup landscaping company. Bob:

  • Can’t afford a freelance designer.
  • Hasn’t given thought to his company’s “branding guidelines”; he wants a “good logo” for the trucks.
  • Has no idea what is possible in terms of design.
  • Doesn’t know where to find a “good” designer.

So in Bob’s case, a design marketplace makes sense. Bob names his price and selects his favorite. He gets the decal printed, slaps it on the truck, and he’s good to go. But when the process is over, that’s all he gets.

Crowdsourced designs are vastly different from a professional design. Different customer. Different product. Different experience. But that doesn’t make crowdsourcing wrong. Instead I would suggest that “you get way you pay for” and “there is a time and place for everything.”

p.s. – Congratulations to the crowdSPRING team for their win in the Chicago Innovation Awards. (Vodori was a finalist for our Pepper product.)


Lost in the Crowd

By David Stinnette, Art Director

Let me just start by saying this has been one of the most difficult things I have ever written. It’s easy to be on the side of the small-business owner and the aspiring moonlight designer (just claim budget and naivety). But trying to defend your profession against seemingly low price points and “healthy competition” by crowdsourcing sites without sounding like a holier-than-thou jerk, is not so easy. That being said please read the following from the perspective of a person who is more passionate than jerk.

*Note: This is not an exhaustive list of the pitfalls of crowdsourcing; just surface-level frustrations

You know that guy on the train who sells Versace shades? Those aren’t real

The same goes for crowdsourced design. The quality, thought and dedication to the craft of design is not present when utilizing crowdsourced designs. Hundreds of people scrambling to output as much as they can is not a formula for quality.

Plus, you can get a far superior product for just a few dollars more with a professional freelance designer–seriously. A mid-level freelancer rate in Chicago is about $50/hr. For a logo design you are looking at about $900 – $1200. Most logos on crowdsourcing sites are going for $750 – $1000.

crowdSPRINGs “World’s Best Creative Team” does not include Don Draper

Because Don Draper needs to feed his family (and his addictions). Most crowdsourcing sites would like you, the consumer, to believe that every person fighting tooth-and-nail for your business is a professional in their field. That is anything but the truth, and the proof is in the math. No professional designer could survive off of their crowdsourced income. If they’re really good and win one project out of every ten submitted to, their income amounts to about $5/hr.

If you want to be a legit designer, quit crowdsourcing

Working on real designs for real clients instead of sitting at home discovering what the difference between Gaussian blur and Motion blur are in Photoshop is exciting, understood. However, if you want to be taken seriously amongst your peers and your clients, and you want your mom to be proud that you have a real job drawing pictures that actually pays the rent: stop crowdsourcing. Professionals–no matter what profession-don’t work for free and neither should you. If you think your work is good enough that someone should pay you for it, start freelancing. You’ll make more money, your newfound confidence will bring you respect from clients and peers, and your mom will be proud of you.

Crowdsourcing benefits (speed, “low” price, convenience) are all smoke and mirrors and in reality benefit no one involved. The consumer is left with an inferior product they were told was professionally made. The aspiring designer is left poor and feeling second-rate.

All I ask is that the next time you are looking for a designer for a small project, consider freelancers before you go running to the crowds. Don’t know where to look? Try or You will be glad you did.

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