aquent site redesign-spec work

  • Started
  • Last post
  • 173 Responses
  • AngArtist0

    "Take a stab at redesigning their homepage?" So they are going to make a handful of designers spend hours on a design knowing that they may not get paid for their hard work? And then Aquent gets a lot of comps to choose from for free. And if there is one that they like, they are only out a measly $500. How nice. Makes me sick. Aquent should be ashamed. I'm sorry, but Matt Grant's BS is only to make him feel better. There is nothing good about what they are doing.

  • ukit0

    Here is what else he had to say:

    Ian - I appreciate your passion on this subject but respectfully disagree with you for two reasons.

    First of all, I question the equation of this, or any contest, with spec work. No one has to enter if they don't want to and, frankly, there is the potential for everyone involved to be compensated either by winning the prize or via feedback on their design work, which I have been providing, or by coming to the attention of Aquent's recruiters.

    Second of all, I question the AIGA et al's opposition to spec work. Many AIGA members have been emailing me the same position statement about spec work, all of which include the line: "We encourage you to reconsider holding this contest, and instead issue a Request For Proposals from qualified design professionals."

    Have you ever worked on or submitted an RFP? Do you realize how much effort (time, energy, and money) goes into that? Do you realize how little the "losers" in these competitions are compensated? RFPs ARE spec work (and, given the number of hoops you have to jump through and the nature of the information you are asked to provide, can even be worse).

    I think the only legitimate argument against this contest is the one made in that No-Spec post you included: Contests are not a good way to get good design. This may in fact be true, though there is the chance (and the odds probably aren't as bad as the lottery's) that something good might come of it.

    Anxious to hear your response. I have some other thoughts that I'll post on my blog.


    • funny how he's concerned about 'time/energy' for an RFP... but will waste countless manhours of other's time on this contest.monNom
    • ...this contestmonNom
    • RFP's dont cost money if you know what you're doing.epete22
  • monkeyshine0

    I just posted a response to his comments. His comments about RFPs are just lame. And that he questions AIGA's position on spec work? This makes me feel that if AIGA doesn't step up I'll cancel my membership.

    • Well done, I like what you wroteukit
    • You do know AIGA rarely pays for their redesigns do you?Meeklo
  • Iggyboo0

    I posted : " By Aquent actively participating in running a design contest on a site that makes a business off of spec work being sold; aren't you positioning Aquent to profit off of spec work and actually taking a stance to approve of Spec work in general?

    I think request for proposals genuinely are different than spec work, mainly because larger entities ( IE businesses entire studios ) take the risk of competing for RFP's. Of course there are plenty of freelancer's that compete for RFP's as well but that's all for business that's much greater than sum's of $500 dollars or less. That's like 1 or 2 billable VP hour(s) on the job btw. and generally higher up's write these briefs or at least have their hand in them.

    I dunno I thought better of Aquent I thought you guys protected designers prior to this and that's what your company lose when designer's see you competing on these sites; An active change in their perception of your organization regardless of your businesses actual stance."

  • monkeyshine0

    Seriously, the more I think about this and the glib tone of Aquent's response, makes my blood boil. I think every designer should pressure AIGA to put the screws to Aquent. Aquent needs AIGA more than AIGA needs them.

  • epete220


  • monNom0

    who's going to be the first person to insert an anus into their comp?

  • akrokdesign0

    aquent can't even confirm appointments as they are dumb fucks.

  • GammaRay0

    I agree 100% with everything here (as far as Aquent being in the wrong on this) but we're coming at it from a flawed angle...

    Aquent never was and never will be "about the designers"'s all about making money...that's all they've ever been and all they ever will be. We're treating it as if they used to be some giant advocate for our cause and now they've gone against everything they were ever about. They only sponsor AIGA to appear to be on our look good. It's like big oil sponsoring Earth Day so people forget that they're part of what's polluting our environment..."Oh, well, they sponsor Earth Day so they can't be that bad...maybe I had oil wrong all along." Same logic.

    Aquent has employees who's sole job is to scour the design job boards and nab up anything and everything they can before individual designers (or other staffing firms) get a chance. If you're an individual designer looking on your own for work you don't realize it but you're viewing far fewer jobs then you would be if Aquent wasn't beating you to the punch...also, they staff creative departments exclusively for some pretty big corporations. I know at one time you couldn't get a job in Gillette's creative department unless you went through Aquent because they staffed the entire thing.

    If you land a job through them and get paid $30 an hour they will actually be charging the client $45 an hour...$15 dollars an hour, every hour you work for that client, when, essentially, their job began and ended once you started for that client. Sure they have payroll costs, etc and the recruiters have to get paid too but, seriously, $15/hr on top of what I'm getting when I'm now the one doing all of the work? Also, let's not even get in to what they charge if the client wants to hire you away from Aquent...that is a VERY large sum.

    • Actually from what I've seen it usually DOUBLE what you make that they take.lorac77
    • I agree with you. They sell talent at the lowest rate possible so they can get the client and take 50% of what you earn. Nowadays, they don't pay more than $30 regardless of talent, experience or skills.rowermart
  • lorac770

    I want to know what the "affiliation" is between the two. It seems as if the two have very different perspectives on design ethics and should not be affiliated just for the sake of promoting each other if Aquent doesnt have respect for the AIGA's stance on protecting their designers. Besides, Aquent is too lazy to coordinate a discount to AIGA members who are Aquent talent, even though Ive mentioned this several times in the past. So much for an affiliation...

  • ukit0's rather ironic that Aquent has several AIGA videos posted on their site dedicated to recognizing the "value of design" as well as "design ethics."

  • epete220

    i hate all these creative recruiting agencies popping up. They all suck. they are all shady and they all lie.

  • SoulFly0

    This person Matthew now has to put a "spin" on the whole thing.
    I bet there were so many Aquent workers whispering to themselves "What is this guy doing?" before he created this fiasco.

  • Aquentminister0

    Are design contests an existential threat to the design profession?

    • Hi,
      Thanks for engaging in the debate. Yes they are. I'll explain in a post below.
    • yes. next time you need your car fixed, have a contest to see which mechanic does the best job. I'll bet that'll work out well for you.sintaxera
  • bigtrick0

    complaint email sent to aquent.

  • bigtrick0

    There are 13 submissions so far to the contest. Let's say that at the end of the contest, there will be 60 submissions. Let's further say that each submitter spent 5 hours working on his/her work. So, in total, 300 hours will have been spent on designing this mockup. Aquent will then pay out $500 in total for this work. The one designer that "wins" gets decent compensation - $100/hr worth. The 59 designers who did not win, wasted 5 hours each of their time.

    Essentially, these spec contests are a tremendous waste of resources. *295 hours* of design time will have gone up in smoke. That is equivalent to one designer working 60-hour weeks for almost 5 weeks straight. Every contest ensures that design work goes to waste.

    Another way to look at the numbers: if designers had to compete in these contests to earn money, and they had a "win" rate of 1 in every 60 contests, spending 5 hours of work on each contest entry, they would earn $500 for every 300 hours spent working - a pay rate of $1.67 an hour. They would clearly be better off working at McD's where they can earn five times as much.

    I hope that helps.

    • bigtrick - I think the key point her is: "if designers had to compete in these contests" - do you really think that contests will eclipse traditional paths to design? Are you also opposed to outsourcing design to India or Malaysia?Aquentminister
  • ukit0

    I wrote the following:

    Matthew -

    Design contests on their own are not a threat to the profession, but sites like 99designs certainly are. Sites like these push a model where everything is spec work-based, and in doing so they devalue the price of good design.

    I don't think anyone would be offended if you had simply offered a contest on your own site, although it might seem somewhat incongruous coming from a company that supposedly has access to thousands of the best creative professionals. However, the use of 99designs certainly seems to be an endorsement, explicit or implicit, of their business model and practices, and I think that is what people find so offensive. Not only that, but the fact that you put a $500 price tag on designing the homepage of a major company, at a time when many of us are pushing hard to convince clients of the value of our services.

    For those of us who work hard as freelancers in this industry, the devaluation of design is obviously a huge threat to our ability to earn a decent living. Aquent's use of a website that is so diametrically opposed to those interests, is I think what has surprised and angered so many people.

    You can bet that discussion of this will continue on QBN and other design bulletin boards. I would hope that you would reconsider the value of having this contest given that it may affect the view that many have of Aquent and what they are doing.

  • bigtrick0

    In the end though, Aquentminister is just a savvy businessman - he is just trying to get the most done for as little money as possible, which is what he is paid for. The suckers here are the ones who entered the contest. *They* deserve our attention much more than Aquent. Hopefully all of them are design neophytes who do not yet realize what they are doing to their own industry - cutting their own legs out from underneath them.


  • ukit0

    But is he savvy bigtrick? Before this happened I had a somewhat positive view of Aquent. Now, I certainly don't. I'm not sure it's such a brilliant move to jump out there are do something that undercuts your brand and public image, among the people that your business depends on.

    Not to mention the fact that they may not even get a decent homepage design out of it when all is said and done.

    • yeah i guess you're right ;)
    • there is a good chance that we will not get a usable design from the contest. i think that there are a lot of problems with the approachAquentminister
    • this approach, but, like I said, we were experimenting. I, for one, am learning a valuable lesson from this whole conversationAquentminister
  • OSFA0

    I sincerely don't see anything wrong with it, in fact, I am in the process of building a site similar to the one in question, but not for designers...I'm doing it for doctors and lawyers. I still can't come up with a name for it, but once I find the 'winner' I'll pay him $500 to sue this fucktard....

    • "99 Lawsuits?"ukit
    • nah...needs to be more dramatic...OSFA
    • 99 dramatic lawsuits?monNom
    • that is the second time in a month that I have heard the expression "fucktard" - strangeAquentminister
    • Haha @ osfaslappy