Design fun and games

Recently I’ve discovered crowdSPRING.com, the place where people looking for a new logo or a web site design (graphics only) offer a prize (usually between $200 and $1000) to whoever submits a design that they like the best. Typically, for a logo there might be over 100 entries. Methinks, this looks like fun, and started entering various projects that looked interesting.

Now if you Google crowdSpring you’ll come across a number of professional graphic designers who thoroughly hate this site (and others are appearing on the scene that do the same thing). As I understand it, the reasons for these assaults are various, but common is the notion that the people asking for the logo/web page design are not getting the best possible outcome for their money. Secondly, it takes away the opportunity for pro designers to start a relationship with clients to develop further. Let’s be honest, it takes away their business. They also say that it means a lot the designers who enter these competitions spending a lot of time putting together work for no reward – only 1 design wins it, the other 99 people are back to the drawing board.

My first reaction to these complaints was that it was just professionals moaning because they were loosing business to amateurs. However, having entered about 15 or so different design projects, I’m starting to see things a little differently. Now, I’ll admit right here and now that I’m not the greatest logo designer (though I’ve been pleased with my progress), and when I see some of the other entries I see there are some really great designers out there (so this is just about me moanng because I never win any of the projects). The average logo contest has a prize of about $200 or so, but a logo might only take an hour or two to develop (some less, some more). The web design projects have much greater prizes ($800+) but take a lot longer to develop.

So what’s up? Well you’d think that with 100 or more options to choose from the client would have ample choice for picking the best design, but here’s the rub: while in 99% of cases they do have a range of good designs to choose from, they often (in my opinion of course) pick the wrong design. I hear there’s a saying in graphic design circles that “the customer is never right”. This is were a relationship with a professional graphic designer is important, as this is the situation where the client can guide to designer as to what they want and the designer will generate options that are always  of a high standard and appropriate. Bad designs don’t get offered, and so can’t be picked on the basis of the client’s poor taste. Unfortunately, good design is not a democracy; really, designer knows best. If you don’t believe me, just look at all the home made power point presentations, shop signs, newsletters, web sites etc.. that polute the world. Now of course the entries in crowdspring are better than that, but there remains the poor judgement of clients with too many items on the menu.

So will I carry on entering these contests? Well I think I might admit defeat on the logo front? The competition is just too good. I think I’ll stick at the web designs a little. I’m better at that (stick to what you know), but it is a bigger gamble. Many hours of work, bigger prize, less competitors, more down the pan when they choose someone else (and I do think bad choices have been made in this category in the past).

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