13 Best crowdsourcing platforms for product design
Whether you’re creating a 3D printing business or simply have a hint of an idea that could change the world, crowdsourcing platforms can help your business and your project virtually from start to finish: from growing your idea to getting your funding, from design to notoriety. Today, we give you a guide of the 13 best crowdsourcing platforms for product design – from idea to realization.
Afterward, all you’ll have to do is hop onto our website and 3D print your first prototype!
What is crowdsourcing?
The term “crowdsourcing” is a contraction of “crowd” and “outsourcing”, which appeared for the first time in 2006, when Jeff Howe published the article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” in Wired. This quote from the article describes very simply what crowdsourcing is and how it’s made possible by technological advances:
“Now the productive potential of millions of plugged-in enthusiasts is attracting the attention of old-line businesses, too. For the last decade or so, companies have been looking overseas, to India or China, for cheap labor. But now it doesn’t matter where the laborers are – they might be down the block, they might be in Indonesia – as long as they are connected to the network.
Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.”
What can crowdsourcing do?
The article talked about how stock photo sites like iStockphoto were revolutionizing the photography industry by reducing drastically the cost of an image, through the use of resources from “the crowd”: everyone who wanted to share a picture on the platform and allow for it to be sold at a low price. In the 3D printing and digital manufacturing industry, there is a very close neighbor to this kind of platforms: 3D files and 2D files market places, that allow you to find very cheap or even free designs that you can 3D print, laser cut, and redesign at will.
In his article, Jeff Howe gave other examples:
- the open source software movement showed that a crowd of passionate volunteer developers could create tools as efficient as the highly paid ones from Microsoft;
- Wikipedia showed that the wisdom of the crowd could create a comprehensive encyclopedia
Another obvious example of how projects can rely on the crowd to exist and thrive is crowdfunding: when a crowdfunding campaign is successful, it gives the project and company both its funding and its initial notoriety.
So, a community of strangers, connected by the internet and animated solely by their passion and enthusiasm, can provide, among many other things: performant software, high-quality images, comprehensive and sourced information, funds, and notoriety. What else can the crowd do? A lot!
Today we give you a list of a few crowdsourcing platforms that can help you with your product design: from growing an idea, to designing a 3D object, an image or a full product, and with every micro task in between!
The 3 best crowdsourcing platforms to make your idea grow
Idea Bounty helps you take your idea from the seed stage to the full-grown flower stage! You simply write a brief, and wait for ideas to come up from the community. Once again, you only pay for the best one.
OpenIdeo is a platform to help ideas grow: you can create discussions, get help on project ideas, and help others. It is mostly oriented towards “greater good ideas”, philanthropic projects. So if you’ve got an idea that can make the world better, you can turn to it!
Innocentive: This is another “problem solving” platform, to connect solution seekers and collective or individual think tanks. The “challenge solvers” come from many organizations, including businesses, academic institutions, and non-profit groups.
InnoCentive is gaining in participants, and reputation, and works with over 13 million freelancers.
The 4 best crowdsourcing platforms for graphic and product design
CrowdSpring lets you find designers for projects for as little as $7. You write down what you want and get submissions from the freelancers on the platform. All you have to do is pick your favorite, and you’ll only pay for that one. It is a great tool, in particular, if you’re not confident in the product design you already have, to come up with new ideas.
99Designs is an artistic platform, more focused on graphic design than product design (brand, logo, website, packaging…). You simply create a design brief on the platform, choose from one of the 4 packages that the platforms offers, and then your project is turned into a contest between more than 1 million professionals. You choose the winner, and they win the prize. You can provide feedback on the design you’ve chosen: unlimited revisions are part of every plan.
Cad Crowd will interest you even more, if you’re looking for 3D design and 3D printing ideas: it works with a similar system as the previous two, but focuses on CAD (Computer Aided Design) modelers. You run a contest, once again, but you can then choose to hire the winner in a more traditional way (paying by the hour for example).
On DesignCrowd you can find designers with various filters, like specialty (Blog, Facebook Page, Twitter Page, Banner Ad, Magazine, Landing Page…), country, earnings, percentage of jobs awarded, etc. Designers’ stats and performances are also rated, and their cost increasing with their quality.
The 5 best crowdsourcing platforms for everything in between:
Need some workers to further develop specific aspects of your project?
There are many platforms that offer a broader range of crowdsourced services, not focusing on ideas, product and graphic design. They will allow you to get freelance workers for various tasks, often small, one-time tasks. These can be useful at any stage of the product development, so they deserve to be looked at as well! I’ll give you a less detailed list of some of these crowdsourcing platforms:
- MicroWorkers: for micro-tasks, most of the time very simple and requiring just a few minutes of work each, like completing surveys, signing up for websites, or sometimes simply downloading files…
- Mechanical Turk or mTurk: this website is run by Amazon and allows for companies or entrepreneurs to ask for “Human Intelligence Tasks” (HITs). Once again, very simple tasks like answering surveys, commenting on blogs, rewriting, image labeling…
- crowdSPRING: sign up as a buyer and get over 100 entries for a single project.
- oDesk.com: this platform helps you find profiles as varied as web developers, software and development designers, information systems specialists, proficient translators, writers, and even administrative support members. The platform enables you to keep in touch with the talents you like, so that you can build a lasting relationship in spite of the freelancing.
- Elance: once again, a platform with a wide range of talents: mobile app designers, data scientists, content writers, SEO specialists… You can post a job and request interviews. You don’t have to pay before the job is completed, but there is a minimum of $20 for one project.
The 13th crowdsourcing platform: your platform
Whether it is through your own website, through a mailing ritual or through social media, it is possible that you have resources that you do not suspect in the community that has formed around you or your company! When it is appropriate, listen to your customers and followers, ask for feedback and suggestion, designs and ideas.
Here you go! With this list of crowdsourcing platform, you can go from idea to product almost without doing anything. All you’ll have to do next will be to hop onto our website and 3D print your first prototype (or maybe even your final product).
Good luck with your project!