Now that we’ve learned about crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, I find that they are very important options to take into consideration when designing a product. The “crowd” in those words makes these options unique and gives them a higher value, because it makes you realise that you need a lot of people when designing a product. That doesn’t mean that working alone is not possible, but collective input does result in greater achievements, whether the services or goods were to be tangible or not.
I’ve talked a lot about crowdsourcing in one of my blogs and I really like the idea of it and found it to be very beneficial. Crowdsourcing can be done for different motives such as inquiring or propagating ideas. I realised that this were very important for Solidaridad, because in order for them to develop their employees’ branding strategy amid the workforce, crowdsourcing is essential. We also have to try to maximise the knowledge exchange within Solidaridad, thus crowdsourcing is definitely the way to go. Our group must make crowdsourcing accessible by customizing their social intranet platform, thus the knowledge exchange would become higher. It is very important in this case to have all the employees aware of everything going on within the workforce and this is where crowdsourcing plays a big role and will allow for everyone’s creativity, inquiries and ideas to be shared and that’s how the spread of knowledge nurtures.
Crowdsourcing isn’t only essential for Solidaridad, but also for us as a group as I’ve mentioned in my blogs. We as a group made a Facebook Group where we informed each other of important notices, shared ideas and posted inquiries. It was important for us as a group to communicate and make use of crowdsourcing on a social platform, so that we can propagate our ideas to help us with our challenge for Solidaridad.
Even though crowdfunding isn’t important for our specific challenge; it is still a crucial factor when designing. Phone Bloks (http://www.phonebloks.com/) for example is an innovative idea that was spread all over Facebook as an idea of a phone that lasts. In their case, they made use of crowdspeaking and what was really left was the crowdfunding. That’s when you realise that the only thing that is stopping you from producing your product, is money, and that’s were crowdfunding becomes the next step. However, you still need to make use of crowdsourcing in order to have crowdfunding, and this is another way of using crowdsourcing; to get funds. You need to spread your ideas, have your supporters and get them to pay to support you.
I’ve had some experience with fundraising for charities in my previous school, which is the same idea as crowdfunding. I’ve always done it in groups for global issues such as one of my project’s aim which was cancer awareness. The renowned cancer hospital in Egypt called 57357 was solely based on donations and we wanted to help by fundraising within our school community. We sent e-mails to everyone in the school including the parents with our goals for our cancer awareness project which was to raise a certain amount of money to be donated.
So how can crowdsourcing and crowdfunding help designers? Crowdsourcing will definitely help them create a community that is built on trust, thus a high reputation. It will allow them to receive feedback from the community as well as opinions on their ideas. It will also help them interact with other designers and that will bring in more ideas and creativity. As for crowdfunding, it will allow designers to get money faster and from people that they know will support their ideas and will probably buy the product as well, so in turn that would give the designer and the client mutual benefits. Crowdfunding is definitely an easier approach than loans from banks which is very hard these days especially when we are in an economic crisis.
However, there are certain disadvantages as well to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. I can’t think of many disadvantages, since I find these to be great options for designers, but sometimes designers don’t like the “crowd” in sourcing! Some people prefer to work on their own and rely on simple marketing strategies such as primary research and secondary research to be able to pitch their product. Yet again, crowdsourcing can be unsuccessful if you don’t have enough people to contribute to your project and that’s when you have to make sure that you have marketed your idea in the correct place according to your target audience. I think the worst thing about crowdsourcing is that people don’t get motivated to share their ideas or contribute to it, because they just don’t see what they will get out of it. Incentives can be a solution, but that is not possible when your next logical step would be crowdfunding. From my experience with crowdfunding, I think a main limiting factor was our lack in crowdsourcing. Many people didn’t know about our fundraising project and so many people didn’t contribute!
Therefore, I concluded that it is most important to develop a community first before crowdfunding. Crowdfunding may take longer than simply getting loans from banks, but if designers have established a good sense of crowdsourcing and formed a community that has the same vision, I believe that crowdfunding would then be the easiest step for designers.