The sales pitch on 99designs goes like this:
“We connect 56,816 passionate designers from around the globe with small businesses who need design projects completed. And, we do it in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.”
Disregarding the fallacy of the numbers game — looked at here by Steve Douglas — let’s focus on how spec work companies minimise client cost.
Consider that working on spec is a form of free work (i.e., the designer carries out a request in the hope of getting paid), and consider that people under 18 are covered by child labour laws, then is 99designs keeping costs down through the use of unpaid child designers?
Members of the site are as young as 11.
Children designers on design contest & crowdsourcing sites?
Update: 22 January 2010
I don’t see spec websites as competition, so I don’t share an opinion out of spite. It’s the shady practices that concern me. I’m all for kids wanting to experiment with design, and good on those who are proactive. Absolutely. But have you seen the comment threads on these contests? Rife with accusations, some real foul-mouthed snarks. They’re no place for a youngster to learn how great the design profession is. In fact, it’s a quick way to turn-off the future generation of designers rather than encourage them.