• PrintMag

Crowd-Sourcing Design: The Last Frontier

The need for extremely smart design has increased as businesses go global and consumers become more design savvy – at least that is the theory. Graphic designers have also become more sophisticated when it comes to conceiving integrated strategies for business. More importantly, they have become integral and valued collaborators. Designers are sitting around the proverbial boardroom table – at least some of them.

But not at 99 Designs: Design Done Differently, which as its model lassos the work of 100 designers or so at a time for a “competition” following a mail-in brief, and presents 100 or so designs to a client so that one can be selected.

But what happens when you dine at an “all you can eat” restaurant? You still can only consume what your stomach will hold or your gluttonous behavior has consequence. That this smorgasbord of good, bad and indifferent work is “crowd-sourced” to provide more options probably makes it even more difficult discern good from bad. Never does a designer meet a client to discuss needs and wants. Since the designer’s intelligence is replaced by a critical mass, the client has no way of comprehending or appreciating the design process. It is as mundane as selecting clothes at a big box store.

Whether 99 Designs is good or bad for clients is irrelevant. It takes design a step or three down from being a profession to being a pure service. The process of crowd-sourcing creative talent and strategic skill is not the best way to get exemplary work. Competitions do not separate the chaff from the wheat – often its the other way around.

Of course, for some clients, there are supposed advantages, as these testimonials attest:

“When you hire one designer you’re stuck with their aesthetic and their concept. With 99designs, you get ideas from many different people.” “We have a designer, but he can’t do everything himself. [With 99designs] we got ten times the results for a fraction of the cost.”

Yet for most designers this is not good business, nor good design. See for yourself here.