Posted by: rubberhawk | April 14, 2009

99 designs and online suggestion boxes

99designs.com is a site that makes use of crowdsourcing in order to put designers in contact with clients but in a very open, public and competitive forum. A client starts by uploading a brief to the site and starting a contest. Then designers can submit they’re proposals for solutions to the client who can review, comment and rate each one, even dismissing it. The idea of crowdsourcing is a new one, born out of the user-centric ideal of the web 2.0 boom. In layman’s terms the site is like putting a bucket labelled suggestions up somewhere and letting anyone and everyone hurl ideas at it, the aim being that on the law of averages, at least one good one will land in the bucket. In ways its similar to youtube in that huge amounts of content goes up on the site, but through a process of natural selection the best bits float to the surface somehow. For every good minute of content there’s at least an hour of rubbish there. The difference with 99designs being that only the contest holder has the final say.

Crowdsourcing is a good technique for small projects like a logo or quick redesign and that seems to be just what this site caters for. Every second contest is a logo or brand design. The site is an interesting idea with the potential to create a good online community that has its own reputation as a collective designer. Just as a designer lives on his own reputation or portfolio, this site will survive based on the reputation of its designers as a whole. It will be interesting how the site changes as its user base grows and changes. It may go the way of youtube with its steadily declining quality(partly due to copyright conflicts and its rising number of techno remixes).

Fundamentally the success of any web2.0 site lies in it’s userbase. Unfortunately this is the one aspect of a site that the creators have no control over. It seems to be the one true test of a modern site.

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