Small Business Web Design: The Power of Crowdsourcing - Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff
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Get the Most Out of a Design Crowdsourcing Site

Like so many things, with crowdsourcing design what you put into it often dictates what you get out of it. If you provide designers with a vague project description, chances are you are going to wind up with designs that don’t capture what you were after.

If you want a specific color scheme, if you need a specific size, or if you have some other specific element you want, include that in your project description.

For example, Johnson's creative brief stated she was looking for an outdoorsy look complete with a bear. She also included key words and phrases that described Big Feet Pajama Company, because, she said, “the more information you give these people, the better designs you’re going to get.”

Jen Consalvo, the co-founder of Shiny Heart Ventures, who has used CrowdSpring for several design projects, including the logo for Shiny Maine Lobster, agreed.

“I think so much of it comes down to homework and planning,” she said. “Have a sense of what you want and particularly what you don’t want. For example, with Shiny Heart Ventures, we didn’t want a bright red heart in our logo. So be very explicit about those things: the description, the words, the energy, the feel that you want, but also look for visual examples of the design you want.”

For better results, Consalvo recommends that you find designers you like on crowdsourcing sites and invite them to participate in your competition -- a strategy that Globetrooper.com’s Sullivan also used.

And be sure to give designers very specific feedback on a regular basis, so they know if they are on the right track. Similarly, if you think a designer is just not getting it or isn’t right for your project, let him know (politely and professionally), so he doesn’t waste his time.

“The worst thing you can do is not give feedback, because you’re not going to get as many good designs,” said Harris. And if you are not comfortable being in charge of the design effort for your business, find someone who is.

Final Crowdsourcing Advice

Consalvo, Harris, Johnson and Sullivan are all happy with the results of their crowdsourcing contests -- and recommend the process to other small business owners.  They also agree that crowdsourcing might not be right for every small business owner, especially if the business owner doesn’t have the time or desire to work with multiple designers and give critical feedback.

Not sure if crowdsourcing is right for you? Follow Johnson's advice. "Start with a small project. See how you like it, and go from there.”

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to SmallBusinessComputing.com and writes a blog for and about small businesses.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on September 22, 2010
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