Crowdsourcing and the Designer: Is It Worth It?

Crowdsourcing is a very big thing nowadays. Whether you’re crowdsourcing funds on Kickstarter or you’re farming out creative work – it’s everywhere.

In some cases, this can be a very good thing. In 2014 the cult TV show Veronica Mars got the big screen treatment and this was all down to crowdsourced funds from fans of the original show.

But when it comes to design, many believe that crowdsourcing is doing more harm than good, with many agencies and designers finding it hard to compete with the rock-bottom prices and volume of options these crowdsourcing sites can offer. The sad fact being that quality is pushed aside in favour of quantity and value for money.

More often than not, crowdsourcing design is presented to the designer as a competition. A group of around 30 designers will produce designs based on a brief from a business or individual, where the prize is essentially to get paid for their work.

From a business point of view, if you can get 30+ people to design your logo for you, then you pick the best one and get it for a fraction of what you’d pay an agency, or even a freelancer in some cases, then it’s a serious win.

But what about those other designers? And even the profession as a whole? Surely by participating in crowdsourcing of design, you’re devaluing yourself and your services as a designer? Assuming you’re not the one who wins the work, as with Highlander “there can be only one”, you’ve potentially wasted hours of your time for free. And for those lucky few who do achieve victory, is the prize really worth it?

Sure, if you look at 99designs as an example, their lowest competition prize is $299 – but when your chances of winning are only 3.33% why waste your time?