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February 17, 2012 / maloney90

How crowdsourcing affects the designer-client relationship

Designers for the most part need clients, in the simplest of terms they provide designers with work and they pay us. Designers and clients should see each other as equals working together towards a mutual goal. It is through this partnership based on equality that designer and client can work together more effectively and through mutual respect, honesty and frank discussing in meetings they can produce worthwhile work, as designer Misha Black put it “when the client and designer are in sympathy, they can together produce better work than that of which either alone would be capable of.” (Shaughnessy, A. 2010:89) The designer-client relationship is critical to the design process; through meetings with the clients and discussing and understanding their needs the designer is then in a better position to create work which will meet or exceed the needs of the client.

Figure 6: A typical brief on a crowdsourcing website

When a business decides to crowdsource a project they lose the client-designer relationship. When it comes to crowdsourcing all a client does is fill in a creative brief to tell the designers what they require and then wait for the designs to be submitted. With crowdsourcing no dialogue takes place between the designers and clients, communication is only one way from the client to the designers through the creative brief they post online. This is counter-productive for the designer as they have only a small piece of information to work from for them to come up with solutions and they are unable to ask the client for any additional information that could be useful to them. With the designer unable to communicate with anyone regarding designs or concepts their designs will suffer and the whole process becomes “frustrating, highly impersonal, and ultimately disappointing.” (Redding, D. 2011)

Businesses who use crowdsourcing don’t always come out unscathed. As there is little communication the client needs to make sure their creative brief is as clear and expansive as possible so they can be sure they get what they require. But not all clients know what they need, they may want a logo but they don’t know how the want it to appear or they’re unable to communicate what they want into their creative brief in which case they’re left with a large selection of work they don’t like which they still have to pick and pay for. There is also the danger of choosing a logo that has been plagiarized and you run the risk of being subject to copyright claims. (Douglas, S. 2010)

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