Thursday, 29 July 2010

The pros and cons of crowds

Mike and I decided to get a logo.  We realised that without one we couldn’t create sales collateral and that would hold us back.  Mike found a site called 99designs.  It’s a crowd-sourcing website that allows you to submit your design requirements and ‘prize’, and then individual designers submit their designs to win.

We submitted the requirement with a prize of $310, and we sat back and waited.  To our amazement, we quickly got designs to look at, and we thought they looked good.  We liked a blue design, gave it a star rating, and made requests for some changes.  This was a mistake.  By making it known that we liked a design, the other designers started to mimic the colour and style of the design we said we liked.  Before we knew it, all of the designs were turning blue. To stop this we asked for different colours and styles, but the designers simply followed our comments and didn’t innovate.

We wanted to get control again, so we went through each design and rated them against the four words we wanted the logo to communicate; modern, technology, secure, professional.  After we had rated each design we had a ‘winner’.

Neither of us was absolutely certain about our choice, so we thought we would ask the twittersphere to help.  We created a questionnaire on wufoo and sent it off to the twitter community.

Over 200 people viewed the survey and 17 people were kind enough to complete it.  From the feedback we received we knew the logo was no good.  It made us realise that just because we have personal tastes, doesn’t make us qualified to design a logo.  We needed a professional to understand us, know the context of our choices, and then design a logo iteratively by working with us.

We’ve learnt a valuable lesson about the power of the crowd.  It provides broad and varied perspectives and innovative suggestions and support.  It’s a perfect starting point when you need to make a decision.  However, when you need depth of thought and focus, the crowd can’t replace a small, close team that understands and learns through the process, together.

Excitement levels: OMG full time development from Monday!

A special thank you to @Davery1979, @fiftydigital, @mashupash, @specialad (and those who didn’t leave your names) for completing our questionnaire.  Your input has saved us from making a really, really poor decision.

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