In the run-up to the 2010 general election in UK, there have been a few high-profile instances of political parties asking their supporters for ideas. Specifically, Labour and the Liberal Democrats invited theirs to submit ideas for campaign posters, while the Conservatives asked the public for suggestions on how to respond to the Budget.
I was delighted to see all this in the news because it is evidence of how the concept of crowdsourcing has spread since its recent online revival. What Labour and the Liberal Democrats did was essentially a design contest, where the parties posted the specification of their design needs and their supporters submitted their designs, with the winning designs appearing on billboards.
This is what happens in 99designs and Crowdspring, the leading design contest sites. Here, businesses post their design needs and designers enter their designs to the contest. The business can then choose their favourite and release the guaranteed fee to the successful designer.
The online design contest format has become very popular in the USA, though other countries have yet to catch on fully. We at Bit Zesty have also done our bit to help – as we recently built a multilingual crowdsourcing platform.
Crowdsourcing receives a fair amount of criticism from some quarters and, as a BBC blogger pointed out, its usefulness in a political context has yet to be proven. However, it can work very well in the right context. Businesses have a choice of solutions for their projects; the service providers make a profit; and talented designers who have the skills but not necessarily the experience or credentials get the chance to be paid for their work and build their portfolio.
Our view is that the design competition is just the beginning for online crowdsourcing and the full potential has barely been realised. As we continue to see developments in the internet and the global economy, more businesses may start to consider harnessing the power of the public and demand will increase for a wider range of crowdsourced products, from writing and music to film and photography.