Thursday, February 13, 2014

Crowdsourcing Graphic Design

 Courtesy Vjeran Lisjak
Image courtesy Vjeran Lisjak
If you're looking for great graphic design, crowdsourcing is a wonderful option. Leveraging the collective talents of creative cloud-based designers will give you dozens of designs to choose from. The more traditional route involves an arduous search through scores of graphic design outfits and individual designers and, whether you plump for an outfit or an individual, you'll be lucky if you get to choose between more than three designs. What's more, if you don't like any of them, tough luck! You'll have to 'persuade' the designer to try again, or start your search from scratch. Either way, you'll be spending additional time and money with no guarantee of the desired results. Recently, after finding ourselves once again in this familiar situation, we decided to try our luck with, and we're very glad we did.

99designs work with hundreds and thousands of designers around the world to implement a wide range of graphic projects—logos, websites, infographics, book designs and more. You can describe the scope of your project and provide guidance for what you are looking for and then sit back and enjoy the most amazing realizations of your idea as they come through to you literally within hours. Keep the momentum going by providing suggestions on how to tweak designs to fit your vision. Finally, when you've selected the winning design, you award the project fee to the designer and collect your files. You get the benefit of working with multiple designers while only having to pay for one. And the whole process can be completed in just a few days.

We've discovered several things you can do to ensure that the very best talent is working on your project. For starters, raising the reward a few points above the recommended price will attract the better designers, and for a small fee 99designs will promote your project within the designer community. Secondly, take a look at the top projects in your category and if you see designers whose work you particularly like or who've won the most awards in previous contests, message them and invite them to join your project. Finally, as a way of encouraging the widest variety of ideas during the initial stages, we keep designs hidden from other designers. Once we've zeroed in on the best one, we put all the designs on view with comments explaining what we like about them and why. This intensifies the competition and encourages some incredible final designs.

There are many other crowdsourcing design sites:,, to name but a few. Experience has taught us that even if you are lucky enough to find a competent designer to work with, nothing beats the creativity of the crowd. You can use crowdsourcing to collect ideas and then have your designer expand and refine the best of the bunch. We will talk about other things that could be crowdsourced in the upcoming posts.

One final point: what if you are absolutely unable to even visualize your idea? Image block. Not to worry, it happens to all of us now and then, especially when searching for that catchy stock photo for the blog post. A great way to kick start your imagination is to type a few words into Google Images and see what comes up. It's free and it can get you thinking about where to take it next.

Rachel, Dan, & Dmitry

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