aquent site redesign-spec work

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  • seffis0

    Matt, what's threatening to people isn't the mere fact that things like this exist. There are many examples out there -- companies that charge you $75 for 12 options for a logo, people overseas that promise quality work for only $10 an hour, and contests like this -- and they've been around as long as the industry. This isn't a new trend.

    What's threatening is that a global organization that purports to support design and marketing professionals would take such an approach for redesigning one of its primary marketing vehicles. It is a slap in the face to the design community from a company that we thought (at least somewhat) had our backs.

    And preventing people from seeking cheaper design solutions is not the objective here – they don't need any help with that.

    • DING...we have a winner!sintaxera
    • Well said seffisukit
    • seffis - that expression "slap in the face" has been used a lot here. our intention was not to insult or degrade anyone. I'm sorry that's what this feels like.Aquentminister
    • sorry that's what it feels like.Aquentminister
    • nicely said seffis! Matt, clearly you didn't think it through.GammaRay
  • Aquentminister0

    um, i've been on this forum all day and I've actually been representing the Aquent brand in design forums (like AIGA conferences, etc.) for 10 years. I have not once here or there said that design is overvalued or anything like that. All we did was run an experiment and the "shitting" has been taken care of by the community.

    I'm here. I'm engaging. I'm listening. I'm responding. I thought that was what the new world was all about.

    In retrospect, do I think it was a good idea to launch this contest the way we did? No. Do I think that contests like this "devalue the profession"? No, I don't anymore than I think online job boards and social media sites devalue recruiting.

    Is the playing field changing? Yes. Does it make us work harder to demonstrate to our clients and talent that there is value in working with a staffing firm as opposed to using the numerous resources at their disposal for finding talent or finding jobs? Yes. Do we lose ground in spite of our efforts? Sometimes, we do.

    I keep coming back to this. People perceive design contests, the sites that run them, and the companies that use them as an attack on their livelihood. I see them as an emerging challenge that may actually have appropriate uses.

    Remember, people saw the desktop publishing revolution in the same way (as has been mentioned on this forum). Desktop publishing didn't kill design or the profession anymore than crowd-sourcing or outsourcing, for that matter, will. It will change it.

    The question is, how can the profession work with and within this changing environment?

    • Yikes dude, you are seriously clueless. I feel bad for you.GammaRay
    • There's no way in hell that quality designers have to compete financially with those bottom of the barrel contestsIggyboo
    • Further more it's insulting to assume that we should. You pay for what you get. business people don't get it at all.Iggyboo
    • excuse me business people that endorse buying artwork off of contests don't get it.Iggyboo
    • I am amazed you have a business thinking like that. Shocking.roundabout
    • You have been working for Aquent 10 years and still don't get what the design community is all about. If I were one of your supervisors reading this postings, I would have given you a pink slip. Unfreakingbelievable...rowermart
  • johndiggity0

    you seemed to have missed the point. the "people" that perceive design contests, the sites that run them, and the companies that use them as an attack on their livelihood are the people you should be listening to, because these are the same people that come in to meet your recruiters and the same people that you send off to your clients to meet their needs.

    what your words on this board, and actions by posting a web design contest say, much like you say above is that you (aquent) don't care about these concerns. your personal opinions aside, regardless of how you personally feel about the use of contests, you are an ambassador for the aquent brand, posting on a forum populated by designers who, along being the company's chief source of income, are also among the most brand savvy consumers in the world, and you are here to say that we our opinions are wrong?

    i think the more appropriate question here is how any brand manager at aquent has allowed this to happen, and how they have allowed you to continue posting on the internet after you put up that contest page.

    as someone who has worked with aquent in the past, and was actually going to call my local office monday to find some freelancers for a project, i have decided no to do business with a company that does not share the same values i do as a designer. i urge others to do the same.

    • John - I'm sorry that you perceive my statements as a way of showing that I don't care about the concerns addressed here. If I didn't care, why would I still be here?Aquentminister
    • here. If I didn't care, why would I keep wading into it?Aquentminister
    • ego? saving face? you tell us.johndiggity
    • Yeah, it's a lot of trying to dig yourself out of a hole. You're in too deep dude.GammaRay
  • monkeyshine0

    So, Matt...are you saying that Aquent's position is to squarely disagree with AIGA's position on this type of spec work/contest/call it what you will?

  • ukit0

    Matt, it's hardly an inevitable new reality that needs to be adapted to. Not every buzzword invented by a marketing guy somewhere is necessarily the next big trend, or even a good idea. In fact, as far as I can tell, your choice to have them redesign your homepage is by far their highest profile contest to date. At the same time you are apologizing and saying it was a bad idea, you are giving them their biggest win ever in terms of exposure (designing your homepage).

  • sintaxera0

    Look, I think it's great that you have stuck around and are posting on these forums. I know we are a tough crowd, but we are very defensive of design. We love this, we live this... this isn't an "experiment" to us. This is our career, our liveleyhood, and we do not enjoy it being demeaned in such a way.

    When you say "Does it make us work harder to demonstrate to our clients and talent that there is value in working with a staffing firm as opposed to using the numerous resources at their disposal for finding talent or finding jobs? Yes." Well, doesn't Aquent promoting a contest like this hurt/negate your argument when you yourselves are using the very resources you're trying to convince your clients NOT to use?

    Why not look through all the portfolios of the people working with Aquent and pick from the creme of the crop, hire them the proper way, and show just how talented the people you promote are? It would be a great promotional tool for Aquent ..."Look at the talented people we have and the great work they do!" ...instead, what you're saying is "We didn't think enough of our own talent for this project, so we had a contest where we helped promote the idea that design is almost worthless." Now, I'm sure that's not what you intended to say, but that's certainly what the design community is hearing.

  • johndiggity0

    this is all besides the point that design by contest will fail to generate any type of viable solution, because there is no dialog between the designer and the client, and therefor, no problem to be solved. it's all eyecandy and shooting in the dark.

    for a poster, maybe this type of thing is okay, but for something with such utility as a website, i cannot see this ending with a successful solution. but again, i'm just a designer. what do i know?

    • ...the design brief is a short paragraph long.monkeyshine
    • just for the record, the 99Designs platform fully allows for such dialogue.Aquentminister
    • Oh, well, then THAT makes it all better now. Open communication...stri... people along even more.GammaRay
  • matt310

    everything that company does is shady. I met with them once and it was complete bullshit. They go more on who you know then what you know.

  • Aquentminister0

    I have withdrawn the contest rather than continue to antagonize a community of people we have worked with for 20 years. This obviously hit a very sensitive nerve and I apologize to anyone who felt "slapped in the face" by our decision to run a contest like this. As I've mentioned, that was certainly not my intention or the intention of anyone else at Aquent.

    I continue to believe that the web offers a lot of possibilities for design, collaboration, and ideation. I also believe that it is drastically changing the way design is used and consumed. These changes pose challenges to the design profession as they do to every other profession (including that of staffing and recruiting). I do not believe that insistence on a shared set of values or ethical standards vis-a-vis the practice of design is the best way to meet these challenges.

    I do believe that an open and respectful discussion of the complex issues surrounding the strange and sometimes troublesome coupling of creativity and commerce, along with practical experiments that test and explore the boundaries of what is possible, acceptable, and best, is.

    • thank you. the questions you raise would be great for a panel at a design conference. :)monkeyshine
    • Thanks for thanking me and for hearing my questions as worth consideringAquentminister
    • What's "ideation"?cannonball
  • utopian10

    Design is Dead®

  • ukit0

    Matt, thank you. I think you made the right choice here. As sintaxera said, I appreciate the fact that you made the effort to engage with the community and listen to us.

    • you're welcome.Aquentminister
    • Yup, even I commend you for sticking with it and having the balls to respond. Thank you.GammaRay
  • seffis0

    Wow. Did all of this happen within 12 hours?

    This has definitely been one of the more interesting dialogues I've participated in on here. Matt, I appreciate and respect your hanging in there through all of the pointed postings and calls for your head on a platter. We are a passionate bunch and are quick to react.

    And you're right, the marketplace is definitely changing and we all have to adapt to survive and thrive within it. I wonder if responses might have been different had your contest been posted in a private area (i.e., Aquent's site) instead of on a site devoted specifically to these kinds of contests. What if the prize had been $10,000 instead of $500? While I think that specific examples like 99designs are on the negative side of the spectrum, are there ways to accomplish these kinds of things well? We frequently see calls for entries and competitions within architecture and other creative fields – what's the differentiating factor there?

    I also agree with you that "insistence on a shared set of values or ethical standards" is also not the answer. We should all maintain our own views of what is right for each of us. For example, not only will my company refuse to do work on speculation, we generally won't respond to RFPs sent to us by people we don't know. I think there would be a lot of unemployed designers if every company were required to adopt the same policy.

    While I think withdrawing this particular contest was a prudent choice (I'll stay away from right/wrong), it has certainly brought some important issues forward. And yes, this is a great design panel discussion!

  • lorac770

    Thanks, Matt.

  • dog_opus0

    You guys definitely made the right choice. Design is truly dead if we allow it to be robbed of the integrity, character, and respect that so many worked hard to bring to it.

  • sintaxera0

    Matt, I really do think you made the right decision on this one. A lot of us obviously do not view these contests in the same light that you do, but I feel safe assuming that Aquent had no ill intent by starting the contest. It was a good move to confront the angry mob head on and not shy away from the criticism, and an even better move to cancel the contest. Thanks for listening to the community and ultimately making the right choice.

    I could go on and on, but I think I'll just let it end here....

  • MrDinky0

    Aquent's equity is the designers on the roll call who works its clients.

    1. why not hire someone with in Aquent's list?
    2. as information proliferation increases, the clients will go to these contest routes rather than hiring Aquent.

    i think i am too late now

  • GammaRay0

    Matt, would love to see a case study written up once you guys hire out a real firm or freelancer to do the job the right way...if written the right way it could really make Aquent look good...

    "We tried an experiment...what works better, design contests or the talented, tested, honored designers on staff for Aquent? on to find out..." etc, etc.

    • I think you're on to something, GammaRay. I'm still sorting out the lessons learned. MattAquentminister
  • ignaciogggg0

    I did this awesome design for Aquent, I want to win this! the website looks awesome! What you think?…

  • jevad0

    Absolutely disgusted by this. Pulling the 'contest' was the right move - but you are going to have to do some serious damage control, and a lot of work to re-instill the community's trust.

  • jevad0

    ps 100!