Every so often, a technological innovation comes along which pushes society ahead in a new, unforeseen direction. The development of the Internet has probably been the most significant development of this generation, opening up all sorts of avenues for organization and communication which were impossible before.
One of the new possibilities unleashed by the Internet age is the power of crowdsourcing. Now entrepreneurs and companies can put calls out to networks of thousands of people, opening up access to an almost limitless array of skills and experiences, spread across the globe.
It’s exciting technology. While there will always be a place for the conventional role of the contracted designer, design challenges has opened up a whole range of new possibilities for entrepreneurs. Over 85% of the Best Global Brands have taken advantage of crowdsourcing over the past decade.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 of the most significant advantages of crowdsourcing design and product development services for entrepreneurs.
1. The Power of Collaboration
The primary advantage of crowdsourcing is that it unleashes the power of collaboration on a scale that would have been unthinkable just 15 or 20 years ago. Crowdsourcing leverages the unparalleled networking capacities of the Internet, allowing entrepreneurs to put a call out to thousands of designers to help solve a specific problem.
Even the world’s largest design firms won’t be able to supply a design team consisting of hundreds or even thousands of members. With crowdsourcing, though, not only do you get the benefits of input from a vast skill pool and from a superlatively diverse set of problem solvers, but you get an opportunity for all this collective brain power to work together collaboratively.
In crowdsourced design campaigns, designers can bounce ideas off one another, find inspiration in the ideas of others, and come up with innovative solutions to problems through an active dialogue with other participants in the process. With contributors coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and with different skills, novel design solutions can be proposed that might not ever have been thought of by a conventional design team. And it can all happen fast.
This cross-discipline talent pool is one of the most interesting aspects of the emerging crowdsourcing paradigm. A tough engineering problem might just benefit from the insights of an experienced architect, or vice-versa. With crowdsourcing, those kinds of collaborative connections are easy.
Not only do crowdsourced design competitions give an entrepreneur access to a diverse assortment of skills and experiences, but it also tends to produce a wide range of solutions to the design problem. This allows the entrepreneur to select from a collection of different approaches the solution which they find most appealing.
This provides a level of flexibility and creates the possibility for spontaneity that exceeds what you typically get from a conventional design firm. This can be especially valuable for startups with a limited budget to spend on design. With one crowdsourced design contest, you can receive dozens of unique entries. This can help inspire you to take your product design in a new direction by exposing you to several different approaches, and it also gives you exposure to several proposals.
The more precise the client can be in describing the needs of their project when they launch their crowdsourcing campaign, the better able designers will be to submit solutions that meet and exceed the client’s design expectations. But, that said, there’s always going to be enough room for creativity so that each designer can take their proposal in a distinct direction. This opens up all sorts of paths for the entrepreneur to choose from, without having to be financially committed to any of them. You never know where you’ll end up!
3. Cost Effectiveness
Many startups simply don’t have the resources to hire professional design firms. A professional graphic design team can do incredible work, but it can easily cost thousands of dollars for a new logo design. That might be great for more established firms, but most startups won’t have that sort of funding available for designing a logo.
That’s not to say that logo design isn’t important — it’s super important! But there’s only so much money to go around, and startups are often running with very narrow margins. Crowdsourcing is a great alternative. With a crowdsourced design contest, a startup can set their prize amount at a level appropriate to their financial situation.
The higher the prize set for a contest, the more submissions one can expect. Higher prizes also tend to produce higher quality submissions — designers do want to be paid for their work, after all. That said, the flexibility of crowdsourcing allows entrepreneurs and startups to set prize amounts that work for them.
If you can afford higher prizes, great — you’ll probably have a wonderfully successful campaign with a variety of high-caliber submissions competing for that coveted first place prize. But it’s also great for those cash-strapped startups with limited resources, who can still get their foot in the door and solicit design services by offering the best prize they can afford. This opens up the field to more people and lowers the barriers to entry that keep smaller firms from getting the design services they need for the CAD projects to really shine.
4. Doing More With a Smaller Team
Another advantage along similar lines is the reduced overheads made possible by crowdsourcing technologies. This can be a great advantage both for tight-margined startups as well as more established firms with streamlined organizations.
Crowdsourcing allows companies access to a full range of design services without having to keep salaried positions. Perhaps you need occasional graphic design or drafting services. With crowdsourcing, you can have access to those skill sets even if you aren’t able to keep them on the payroll. This can really streamline a company’s organizational structure, and allows you to accomplish more with less.
Crowdsourcing can also be a great resource for meeting rush deadlines or for accommodating the needs of big projects. This can be beneficial to firms of all sizes. It’s always a bummer to have to turn down a lucrative contract because your already swamped team wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline. With crowdsourcing, you can outsource some of that workload, dispersing it amongst the online community. Your firm meets their deadlines, your customers are happy, and as an added bonus you can build connections with outside designers that you may want to call upon again in the future.
Crowdsourcing allows you to pay-as-you-go, for services you need specifically. This is a game changer for startups that can’t afford to pay for downtime or hire many full-time staffers, and it grants more flexibility for established firms.
5. A Platform for Entrepreneurs and Startups
A wonderful thing about crowdsourcing is that it provides entrepreneurs and startups with a platform for reaching out to a broader community of designers, developers, and problem solvers. This can be a tremendous resource to smaller firms and new businesses without established networks or the funding for conventional design services.
Through crowdsourcing websites like Cad Crowd, entrepreneurs can take their problems to a much wider community and access advice, solutions, and services they might not otherwise have had any way of getting. Crowdsourcing, like crowdfunding, allows startups to reach out to the wider community in a way that would be unimaginable before the Internet.
If you’re interested in leveraging the power of crowdsourcing technology, consider posting a design contest on Cad Crowd! Take a look at our contest pages to see previous crowdsourced design competitions. When you’re ready, you can launch your own contest. Set the prize, review submissions, and pick the winners!