Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Spec Work.

Should you work for free?

DLB favorite Jessica Hische presents a flowchart to help you respond to spec work requests.

Jessica Hische: Should you work for free?
An excerpt from the chart.

TLDR: Should you work for free? No, unless it is for your Mom.

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NickJan 19, 2011

Sunlight Labs Contest, Spec Work

The Sunlight Foundation's new contest sounds good at first blush, but we might want to think again.

Design for America...on Spec?

Artists, web developers and data visualization geniuses, here’s a chance to strut your stuff, serve your country and win some serious money in the process.

Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides tools to make government data more transparent, has announced a new contest called Design for America. Billed as a "design and data visualization extravaganza," Sunlight is encouraging the public to create and publish data visualizations that help make complex government data easier for people to digest and interact with.

There are several different categories open for submission, including: visualizations of data that shows how the stimulus money is being spent, visualizations showing how a bill becomes a law, a redesign of a .gov website, and a redesign of any government form. Top prize in each category is a cool $5,000.


Sound good to you? Sounds like another classic pitch for spec work to me.

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PaulApr 16, 2010

Four Design Links: October 22, 2009

We're not trendy, but we are well-read. You can be, too: Four Design Links is trolling the interwebs so you don't have to.

1. Is Spec Work Ever Okay?

Threadless Website

Threadless is a popular t-shirt company who crowdsources its designs from user submissions. Chosen designs are awarded $2,500 with bonuses for reprints and a shot at a larger prize in a yearly "best-of" competition. But of course, the company might make a hundred times that in sales, which has led some to accuse it of basing its business on spec work.

Jake Nickell, CEO of Threadless, doesn't argue that he uses spec work, but he disagrees that what his company does is a bad thing. His argument is that Threadless submissions 1. Allow designers to keep their copyrights 2. Are an open process with no specifications (no brief) 3. Pay quite a bit. Most importantly, he says, people who submit to Threadless do it for enjoyment and not for the money.

I'm torn. On one hand, it doesn't answer the critics of spec work which argue for professional engagement-- that design is serious business which is not something to be farmed out on the cheap to amateurs. On the other, people who aren't designers like to make things and Threadless actually seems to give them a fair shake. I'm not sure what the breakdown is ethically. But if you're going to solicit spec work, I suppose there's a sea of people out there doing worse.

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NickOct 22, 2009

Four Design Links: October 1, 2009

Happy Thursday. Happy October! Happy Anniversary!! Time for Four Design Links. This week features stories about advertising and data. Dig in!

1. Unilever's "Crowdsourcing" Outted as High-Tech Spec

Unilever, which encompasses dozens of popular brands such as Lipton, Bertolli, and Slim-Fast, fired the ad agency representing Peperami (British Slim Jims) and replaced it with what it calls a crowdsourcing solution.

But while most crowdsourcing involves leveraging the collective intelligence of a group for mutual benefit, Unilever marketed the call for ad ideas to professional ad agencies only. Moreover, they are offering a $10,000 bounty to the winning idea. Sound familiar? It's the classic spec work pitch.

Peperami packaging
They should crowdsource a packaging designer, too....

Advertising Age called them on it:

Crowdsourcing at its core is about mass collaboration. Unilever's move, on the other hand, is nothing of the sort. Unilever is looking for no collaboration here. What it is looking for is to get lots of high-quality creative ideas at a significantly lower price. End of story.

UPDATE: There appears to be a whole section on NO!SPEC regarding unethical crowdsourcing practices!

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NickOct 1, 2009

Four Design Trends: June 11, 2009

After the positive response from the last batch, this week we continue with four more links. Catch up on some stories that just might help you with your next design or client meeting.

1. The 50 dollar logo experiment

50 dollar logo experiment -- FAIL

Should professional designers be worried about crowdsourced spec design sites? Jim Walls spent $50 to find out.

His verdict: professionals have nothing to fear.

The "designers" he hired a.) failed to take into account his obvious pun (or perhaps did not speak English), and b.) never finished the job. You get what you pay for, I guess.

2. Pointing fingers at Wired

If for some reason you have not caught wind of this article on the possible demise of Wired magazine, you might want to check it out. The irony is thick: how could a magazine about the future fail to predict or respond to the impact of the Internet on its business?

The comments are the real meat of the piece. Past and present Wired editors, bloggers, print writers, ad buyers, and lookers-on debate what went wrong and what might save the day. Highly recommended if you're interested in the future of journalism and hearing the many, many sides of the story from informed parties.

3. "Apple is creating an ecosystem of the kind of customers I don’t want"

Garrett Murray believes that Apple's long and opaque approval process for iPhone application support hurts both users and developers. The ratings interface makes it difficult for developers to respond directly to complaints through the Apps Store. Furthermore, they have no idea when or if fixes will be approved. Murray says angry users are more likely to rate software than satisfied ones, resulting in lower overall ratings which can hurt sales.

As a user, I have found it hard to shop the Apps Store for this very reason. It's interesting to consider whether Apple's attempts to control quality may have in fact broken the user experience on another level.

4. Changing search trends say: invest in brands

Chas Edwards, chief revenue officer at Digg, offers this analysis of recent marketing data:

What's happening? "Total traffic going to websites via paid search ads is decreasing relative to traffic via unpaid, organic search listings."

The explanation? As users have gained experience searching, queries are getting longer, thus undermining the effectiveness of most ad buys which use only a few words.

What to do? “As we claw our way up from the bottom, expect that the recovery in online advertising will be driven by faster growth in brand-building activities over cost-per-click and other direct-response programs.”

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NickJun 11, 2009