A rough process for facilitating an open source design project

Hey folks,

So I mentioned on a couple of community calls that I was asked recently ‘How I would facilitate an open-source design submission process’ specifically for a brand an identity project so that it was less like ‘Post’ and ‘Gather submissions’ and ‘Choose’ and more collaborative, open, a process informed and documented.

So I did a rough outline here:

I’d like to treat this like a working open doc but not sure how to best do that In Etherpad re. new additions so suggesting maybe new sections with dates and times, copy-pasting and making clear edits. You can give your section some kind of identifier that isn’t ya know, your name and is more anon.

Just stressing this is by no means an ‘official’ process. Mostly just things I’ve thought about while running various design things in OSS things! Could definitely be improved through open collab here :smiley:


Thanks for this useful doc!

The process you describe sounds somewhat like a “logo contest” in that multiple peoples’ submissions are requested on speculation. For gratis projects, this might be OK, but I’m concerned about the ethics of such a model for paid projects: I want to make sure that the designer is being fairly paid. (Particularly when I only have a fixed budget to work with, that isn’t terribly huge - definitely not enough to pay multiple designers a fair rate.) Do you have any thoughts on this?

I had “design-adjacent” grad schooling so I’ve had the “logo contests and other spec work = bad” drilled into me pretty firmly :slight_smile:

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You are absolutely correct! I missed out a whole part about how to pay the contributors that are part of the process and what they ‘sign up to do’ in order to receive payment :woman_facepalming:

Thank you for reminding me!! :bouquet:

I will do some work in the doc on that as I have thoughts: Basically, it’s not feasible to pay every design contribution the same amount but you could scale the patent dependant on what they do contribute and communicate that as part of the project going ‘out’ for contribution.

The current problem I see with designers doing OSS contributions is that ‘one designer wins’ currently and I want to see if there are more ways to have open collaboration between designers on these kinds of tasks.

That makes sense. Collaboration would be nice, though I’m not sure how well that fits in to existing design services models. Evaluating and valuing contributions is hard for sure. Even an interview process with portfolio, etc. is some sort of unpaid work, though it’s generic and at least somewhat reusable.

Might be easier when you have a community pot of money/contributions to be flexible with - in my current case, we have a project with community contributions, but also with substantial r&d investment from my employer, so I have a fixed dollar amount the Marketing folks would have spent on 99designs before I intervened.

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I love the ideas of a community co-ordinator, and open calls for community discussions! Both sound like extremely useful implementations in an open design process.

Personally, I don’t think we should even attempt to monetise an open design process, given the obvious difficulties, and the basic ideological clash(in my opinion), although there is a place for monetised work, especially given the capitalist context. The following describes the other attempt–a completely open and unpaid endeavour.

I’ve been looking into open source design (the concept) for a few months, and I’ve been comparing it to the open source development process. My thought is that the design process is facilitated by clarifying each step of the process, starting with the problem. The co-ordinator would be responsible for creating a discussion thread for the community to talk about the design issues they experience. Users can build on each others’ discussions and come to some sort of consensus about what it is that a (re)design will address. The next step would be suggested solutions for the problems identified in the previous step. Again, users can discuss, draw, prototype, and refine potential design solutions. If there is a dead-end, the co-ordinator could decid with the community’s help to have a rethink about the problem.

I think this process would stand in line with the open source development process. A clarity on each step of the project allows people to pick up and leave work as and when they are able, due to their other work. All kinds of people are then able to contribute and collaborate–someone translates my words into sketches, and another person creates a mockup on Inkscape, for example. Or someone continues the work I had to leave for whatever reason.

This is just an additional idea, relating to the material I’ve been absorbing: A git-like structure would enable the creation of several different topics and sub-topics, which can be linked together. Solutions likewise benefit from multiple inter-connected discussions, “forks”, “merges”, and “pull requests”–people can modify someone elses designs, adopt other designs into their own, or suggest improvements to other designs. Tags and other things would also come in handy, as already implemented in several open-source projects.

These are just some thoughts circling around my head, based on my web browsing and ideas about what open design would look like. A lot is based on Garth Braithwaite’s BlendConf talk “Designers Can Open Source”.

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A very similar discussion I stumbled on in the forums: A Hub for Design contributions - #6 by fanialivio

When I have the time I’ll be going through it again to understand its implementation, success, and possible advancements.