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Crowdsourcing - A Job Description Breach

One of my greatest pet peeves that manifests the most visible frustration from me is when job description boundaries go unobserved, specifically MY job description boundary.

As an in-house designer, when I walk down the hall to an accounting office and find a co-worker “conceptualizing” an event t-shirt “design” by fumbling around on a t-shirt “design” site where they apply Microsoft default type to a shirt and call it day, I fume. 

“Don’t mind me, I’m just over here creating beautiful and functional designs with 4 years of experience under my belt. It’s not like I’m at your beck and call from 8:30am to 5:00pm to take care of these EXACT types of projects!”

Unnoticed. Disrespected. Undervalued. Slapped in the face.

That’s how I felt when I left that office.

This was all my mulling over when I started to put myself in the shoes of an in-house designer for a company that’s calling for a logo design contest. Because it’s the most recent, I currently have the HuffingtonPost in mind.

“For the next week or so, we’ll be accepting your proposed designs for a new HuffPost Politics logo. Once we have a good group together, we’ll put them all up for a vote, which will inform the final pick. If yours wins, your icon will be used to represent this channel all over the interwebs — with credit to you, of course.”

Let’s break this down.

First off, they are confused as to whether they want a logo or an icon. The contest sounds like it’s wanting of an icon, however, they use the term logo and icon interchangeably.


Secondly, they are (as any company calling for crowdsourcing) unaware of the gravity of any design that will ultimately reflect their branding. Design is not throwing pretty elements together in Photoshop. Design is strategy, therefore design is research; design is the energy and time it takes to get to know the company fully in order to embody who they are in a 32 x 32 pixel space (still assuming they want an icon).

This is not a task for someone who simply “knows their way around Photoshop or other design programs and has a cool idea for a logo that screams ‘awesome politics coverage’” (paraphrase)

Thirdly, and the one I want to emphasize, is the undervaluing of the 30 designers they already have working for them. It is an injustice to the people you employ, for essentially, you are outsourcing their expertise to amateurs who will not be paid for their time and will likely produce a design not even a quarter as decent and/or usable as those who’ve spent time steeped in the inter-workings of the company and its culture. 

In doing this, you compromise the morale, integrity and trust within your team. If these in-house designers for HuffPost are truly masters of their craft, then they did not sign on to just make things pretty; they did not resolve to uphold the mindless brand strategy of creating things that “scream awesome politics coverage”.

This is a job description breach - it’s trivializing to your employees, unprincipled in practice and overall bad form for your company.

I’d be out of there if it were me.

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