Design studios, ad agencies and printing companies and, of course, web developers often make the decision to outsource their clients’ graphic design work. The most common way to do this is to use freelance designers or third party design studios. Often times, after making this decision, the actual outsourcing doesn’t go so well. Typically, this difficulty can be linked back to one of two common problems (outlined below in more detail) with using freelance designers: availability and limited style. These problematic experiences can end up making outsourcing more expensive and time-consuming than it’s worth.
Enter DesignCrowd.com’s graphic design outsourcing service. This site attempts to solve the above problems by giving web designers/agencies the ability to use a big pool of designers (10,000+) collectively as their virtual team. It is an innovative solution that appears to go a long way to fixing the challenges of design outsourcing.
So let’s look at the 2 common problems and how DesignCrowd tries to fix them…
Problem 1 – Availability
How often have you wanted some designs overnight but been told Dave (your designer) has a lot of other work on and can’t get to it until next week? It happens all the time! Your freelancer has limited capacity. You can solve this by trying to find other good freelancers but it takes time to do this and it is inefficient to manage a pool of disparate freelance resources (call #1 freelancer, not available; then call #2 freelancer, not available; then call #3 freelancer and so on).
Problem 2 – Limited style range
You might assume that because your freelancer did a great job on the accountant landing page design and that he will do a great job creating a home page design for your indie rock band. No necessarily! You might even think “he did a great job on our logo, therefore I will offer him this landing page design work”. Big mistake! Designers often have specialties and ‘their own style’. Again, the common workaround for this is to have a network / list of freelancers or studios that you pick and choose from when you need outsource. Not ideal – now it’s getting complex because you’re juggling availability of your suppliers and their skillets!
The silver bullet? Wholesale crowdsourcing
DesignCrowd.com is an online marketplace for graphic design that has over 10,000 registered designers (who seem to be mostly from the USA, Canada and Australia). DesignCrowd lets you post projects on their site and rather than getting quotes back and then choosing one freelancer or studio to outsource to (like on elance.com) they invite all available designers within their pool of 10,000+ to respond via an “open brief” or design contest. Sure, there are other design contest sites out there but the difference here is a) most ‘contest sites’ are setup for small businesses to use directly and b) most contest sites are avoided by designers as being only ‘spec work’. DesignCrowd’s platform can be ‘white labeled’ (branded) by design studios as their own and the workflow and system has basically been setup with web developers, agencies and studios in mind. DesignCrowd has also modified the contest model so that multiple competing designers can all get paid. Unlike other ‘contest sites’ that are often criticized as offering purely speculative (spec) work – DesignCrowd contests pay $20 payments to designers that work on projects even if their designs aren’t selected. DesignCrowd also allows 1-to-1 designer projects.
As an example, here’s how it would work if you wanted to get a logo design from DesignCrowd for your own client:
- Post a brief on DesignCrowd to put it out to the collective cloud / crowd of logo designers
- Watch as designers from the community create logo designs and upload them to the site
- Share all of these logos (or a select few) with your client (as your own) through a fully customizable PDF or web portal
- Main designer gets paid for their design, while many of the other designers get $20 payments
Benefits of this for an agency / web developer include:
- Always available – the nature of the projects mean if you’re in North America and you post your project tonight, by the morning you will have designs from freelance designers Australia and India
- Every style – with 10,000 designers you can be sure “someone will have the style we need”
- More efficient – there’s no need to get quotes (so you don’t need to shop around or spend time hand picking the person from a list).
- No complacency – because the suppliers need to submit designs
In summary, DesignCrowd goes a long way to solving the 2 problems with traditional graphic design outsourcing.