Design Contests Are Detrimental to the Industry

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There are an increasing number of sites offering contests for graphic design services from logo designs and branding systems to print design to full service websites. In theory it sounds like a good idea from a client’s perspective: you get a good website or logo for cheap and the added benefit of many different takes for the same project, right?

Wrong. Let me tell you why:

A. You’re not hiring designers. The “Designers” on these sites offering up their versions are not professionals. Now I’m not saying there aren’t people who create real designs for real clients, but there is a prevalence of hobbyists and “part-time designers” meaning you’re getting amateur work.

B. You’ll get poor work. Now there is the slight chance you could get decent, not appalling work, but chances are, you won’t. The work you will get from these types of contests isn’t good. You won’t stand a chance at building a good brand or successful website from any of the designs you would get.

C. You’ll end up paying more in the end. Maybe not right away and I don’t mean to that designer. The costs of poor design are more than just monetary. For one thing, poor design usually translates to customers that your product or service is cheap and therefor will break or won’t work therefor meaning a loss of revenue and no brand loyalty. The other side is that eventually you will have to pay more to design something worthwhile and rebuilding a site that doesn’t work right is ALWAYS more expensive than doing right the first time.

So now that we’ve established that design contests are bad for clients and for the work, let me explain why they’re bad for the graphic design industry:

A. The value of our work is diminished. Simply put in business terms, if you can get a product for cheaper, it will seem more appealing. But you’re a good designer and will give them better work, right? Well, tell that to the client who says, “Well I can get it for $250 over on this site, so thanks, but no thanks.” This attitude diminishes the value of our work and sets clients expectations much lower than what they should be.

B. They are submission based and there’s no promise of being paid. What I mean by that is this: in the 20+ or so submissions, yours will be only one submission of many and for all the work you’ll put in, there’s only a small chance you’ll be picked and get paid. There is also a prevalence of people starting contests, getting submissions and saying, “None of these are what I was looking for” meaning no one gets paid. Obviously, that’s bad.

C. Plagiarism. This is by far one of the worst pieces of the entire puzzle. Imagine you working long and hard on a logo for a company, having it approved and you’re paid what you’re worth only to see a crowd-sourced logo as some cheap knock-off of your design. It happens far too often on these sites and there is no policing nor feeling of responsibility on the part of these so-called “designers.”

My advice to you is this: if you are a client, do yourself and favor and support the industry, spend the extra money and get what you pay for. If you are a designer, steer very clear of these sites and encourage others to do the same.

More information

Positive Space-sitepoint-contests-an-update

(read the comments on this one, kudos designers): Licensartcom-logo-design-competition/

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