Let’s go back to 1858.
A group of scholars created the first oxford English dictionary. It was a huge project and they needed help. So they asked for lots of volunteers to write about different topics according to their expertise and then they put it all together. The point is: relying on the crowd isn’t really a new-fangled idea. But it wasn’t until we all got connected that crowdsourcing came about because of the internet you can reach lots of people very quickly and you can direct and organize their work. It’s a way of solving problems and producing things by connecting online with people from all over the world.
Anyone can use crowdsourcing: Companies, governments, groups and individuals. They can use it to grow their organizations or support their causes.
There are 4 different ways crowdsourcing works: the first enables you to access a large online labor force and identify and select workers. Or you can post your work and let the workers find you. Crowdsourcing provides a platform for designers who wouldn’t otherwise be given a chance to showcase their talents. Another chance of using crowdsourcing in the process of developing ideas, where the Audience can engage in the production process and this can bring a lot of attention.
For the first time in the history of McDonald’s, in 2011 the fans in Germany were able to invent their own burgers and to promote them online via facebook and other social media. The best five burgers were sold in the restaurants throughout Germany. You could say it was a crowdsouced Burger. McDonald’s itself says it was the most successful campaign in Germany ever. They reached every forth German online user and decided to repeat the campaign in 2012.
The crowd creativity can be used to develop original art, media or content and companies can reach diverse and creative people for idea generation and problem solving.
But you have to keep in mind that many designers will participate in the competition and some people regret the loss of quality of the design on websites like 99designs.com or freelancer.com. I would propose to use crowdsourcing in design not for radical innovations because the designers that take part in the online competition do not know what exactly the soul of the company is and how can they create something extraordinary for something they do not exactly know?
But crowdsourcing can definitely be a chance to help connect designers to funders and investors. Connecting with large groups of people via internet to attach expertise, time, knowledge, and resources can help every designer to develop ideas and expand communities. Especially crowdfunding where you can raise capital from many individuals who belief in your idea, each making small donations that adds up to a lot can be seen as a great opportunity to help individuals develop their ideas. But I think you have to be very specific about the project that should be funded, otherwise it will lose attention and drown in the crowd.
The second way of crowdsourcing allows you to ask the crowd and find a solution to a problem. It can support communication and collaboration among distributed groups of people.
A third is when knowledge exists but you need help finding and organizing it and a fourth is when you need ideas from the crowd, opinion and feedback.
As you can see there are different ways you can use crowdsourcing and there are different things you can do with crowdsourcing. Using crowdsourcing in design is cheap, saves time and offers diversity but the quality of design suffers and companies miss out the dialogue with the designers who can’t truly provide for their needs. However, if you want a logo for a simple catalog for your company I think crowdsourcing’s benefits of usefulness and low costs outweigh the quality concerns. It is a good opportunity for small businesses with small resources and can be used as a kickstart.