The Spec Trap: Sitepoint

The Spec Trap
by Terri Stone

Last week, Eric Adams wrote about his experiences using Sitepoint to solicit logo designs for a fledgling non-profit focused on suicide prevention. As I expected, there were some negative reactions from readers who are against work done on spec; that is, with no guarantee of pay.

I understand where these readers are coming from. Spec work may seem seductive when you’re having a slow month, but it’s important to understand its downsides. Even for people just starting out in design, spec work can be detrimental. Not only might you learn bad habits, but the clients you “win” will continue to expect you to work for little compensation after you’ve built up your portfolio. This same pitfall of diminished paycheck expectations applies to established designers, as well.

The drawbacks for clients may not be so obvious, but they do exist. The best resolutions of design challenges come from in-depth client-designer communication and research. Competition sites like Sitepoint don’t foster that approach.

Had I been in a similar situation, I would have looked for a designer whose work I respected and whose style meshed with the project’s creative brief. I then would have asked that designer if he or she would be willing to do the project pro bono. If the answer was no, I would have kept looking.

To take part in this spec/no-spec dialog, go to the voxbox.

Terri Stone, editor in chief

Spec work, anyone?

Spec work can damage your business, by David Airey

If you’re a designer, and you receive a request for speculative work, write or call the issuer. There’s a chance they may not even realise this practice is unethical.

… Earlier this year, Shayne Tilley published an article on, about ‘crowdsourcing’ in graphic design. The text revolves mainly around SitePoint, a website where people post requests for logo designs / t-shirt designs etc., but don’t pay any money until they receive a design they like, often from the lowest bidder.

It was interesting to read the discussion that followed in the article comments. A lot of designers seemed annoyed at the concept behind SitePoint. I’d be interested to know your opinion.

Thanks David. I’m also interested in reading the comments received.