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DesignContest – Workflow Innovation

Crowd sourcing. No phrase makes more designers cringe than crowd sourcing, except maybe “angry clients with pitchforks.” For whatever reason, the thought of competing with thousands of other users for gigs, clients, and projects is totally appealing, to us as well as most other designers we know. If you happened to grow up and work in an age when your book was still carried in a leather chap with handles, we have a feeling you don’t even know what crowd sourcing is. But is this how it should be? Should all of us creative types be so terrified of the idea of crowd sourcing? To be honest, not at all, and for one very good reason:

The site combines the best of a traditional design runoff with the best of crowd sourcing, producing an experience that’s simple, easy to learn, and potentially endlessly rewarding. If you’re still not sold on the concept, don’t worry: We’re going to dive into the matter directly, but before we do, we feel we owe the elders and ludites amongst us a quick explanation of the crowd sourcing concept itself.

What is Crowd Sourcing, Anyway?

To begin with, you may be wondering just what in the name of all things holy crowd sourcing actually is. (By the way, we’ve also seen it spelled “crowdsourcing” but to avoid any jargony turn-offs, we’re going to opt to spell it in phrase format. No matter the orthography, though, the idea behind the concept is relatively simple: In times gone past, you would hire a specialist to deal with your problems. Do you have a pipe that needs fixing? Hire a plumber. Have to buy a house? Get a realtor. Need a new logo for your business? Find, hire, and coax a graphic design firm into giving you what you want. But what if we took this idea of need-and-purchase and stretched it out over the entire Internet? What if it were possible to use a mountain of producers, instead of a single firm?

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Essentially, this is exactly what crowd sourcing does. The whole idea is that a business can access a crowd sourcing site, start the contest of its needs (logo design, website design, t-shirt design, banner design, etc.), and then accept bids and proposals from a sea of Internet-based designers. From this slush heap, the original purchaser can select the best deal, send out a single payment, and then receive the goods. This cuts out entirely the need for complex contracts, messy payments, and long waits at the firm. It’s a beautiful system, but makes it even more appealing.

How Does it Work?

By nature, works in the same format listed above, but with a few important distinctions. First and foremost, not just everyone can apply and begin posting on All contributing designers must first be pre-qualified for quality, ensuring that the proposals users acquire are professional and of the highest caliber. This is hardly a problem for you, we’re assuming, as we’d be willing to bet you create truly top-notch stuff on a regular basis. If you’re interested in joining, simply bring along a few choice portfolio pieces, and you’ll have no trouble at all.

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Also in direct contrast to other sites, does not work off of bids and proposals, but finished projects. The company in need posts a project and monetary reward. Then, designers create the project in its entirety, and submit the results. The company then selects the one they feel best fits their needs, and the designer is instantly thrown the reward money. In essence, takes crowd sourcing and turns it into a contest—it’s like that’s in the name somewhere, you know? And, of course, with each contest there’s only one winner. So what does that mean, you might be asking. If so, you’ve come to the right place:

What if I Don’t Win?

Sadly, not everyone wins all the time. In fact, it is but one lucky designer who happens to pump out the winning design. Thus, what happens to your submitted work when it doesn’t succeed? In essence, nothing! It’s yours to keep, and as the piece was not paid for, there’s no legal implications or issues. In a sense, it’s like you never even submitted it. However, there is an upside to all this, and it has to do with your portfolio.

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Every piece you create is worth something, even if it’s just as a showcase of your talents. Theoretically, every piece you submit on is a testimonial to your prowess, and as each unsuccessful bid is your property, why not throw it in your book? You’ll quickly flesh out your portfolio in no time, and best of all, you may find working on quickly stretches your creativity and limits in ways you never thought imaginable. Think of it as boot camp for your designs, creating stronger muscles, finished works, and honed skills.

What Else is Essential About

There are a few other important features worth noting about For example, the company manages a dedicated knowledge-base of design information for you to troll through, expanding your horizons with a better education. Likewise, there’s also a dedicated design forum used by other designers like you. It’s a great place to talk about contests or get feedback from your last project. Add to this superior moderation, a fully updated design blog, and the aforementioned pre-qualification, and you’re looking at a first-rate community of nothing but designers.

Overall, is an incredible way to hone your skills, expand your creativity, experience new projects, and potentially win a lot of money for your efforts. You never know what doors will open with the site, making it an indispensable tool in our eyes. If you haven’t been already, consider using for your next design project.

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