I spent Tuesday writing up the OLPs project review. Its not over yet, but looking back its incredible to see just how fast the months have flown by since we kicked this project off back on August 7th (the day I first announced it internally). Its been full of tough choices, long nights, stressy meetings and decisions, and joyous ups when all was going well. Now its over and I have my rose tinted retrospective specs on it feels like it was a lot of fun. But I don’t think I would do it again anytime soon, none of us envisioned just how much work this was going to be :)
Anyway here is the full project review, its quite long i’ll warn you in advance.
Project Timeline: Aug 7th-Feb08
Core Project Team: Adam, Greg, Pete, Manuel, Ami (Extended: Jesse, Leah, rest of Brand & Comms)
Costs total: €19,650 (approx) not including winning logo development that will happen next, purely money costs so far.
Working Hours Total Estimated 550hrs (400hrs core team, 150hrs extended team)
a) Deliver an awesome new Spreadshirt logo. Result: In Progress
The key goal. I’m sure we’re going to make it!
b) >1500 submissions Result: Achieved - 2801 Submissions. 2000 registrations.
c) Av 2,000 uniques a day, 5,000 at finish Result: Achieved - 200,000 unique visitors. 3,000 a day average, 6,000 uniques at peak (about 3/4 in the project)
d) 25 Write-ups on sites with authority greater than 100 (technorati) Result: Achieved
Main Blog – olp.spreadshirt.net
37 Backlinks from Authority >100, 528 links on blogs/forums etc
Entries Blog – olp.spreadhirt.net/entries
5 backlinks from from Authority >100, 278 Links in total
Key Success Factors:
Strong co-operations amongst target groups particularly the new designers and professionalism kick of working with Computer Arts.
Self-management of platform. This allowed us to respond quickly to issues and tweak the platform on the run without waiting having to wait for free IT dept resources.
Simplicity of the platform. While it increased the amount of work we had to do, there were no barriers to taking part and commenting.
Having one central blogger/organizer. As with religious cults, a central charismatic leader is essential to quickly build a community ;)
Don’t wait for the fat lady. Traffic has plummeted since the contest ended. We should have started initiatives like the Losers Shirt weeks ago.
Don’t sit back once its working, keep promoting.
Plan the wrap-up much earlier to maximize interest in competition.
Get buy-in much earlier internally and from team.
Create an escalation plan incase its successful to ramp up the team. This time bad planning left us distracted from community tasks just sitting approving designs when the whole thing exploded.
Its not math. People are emotional about the choices, will get angry when their favourites aren’t picked. The whole process is extremely time consuming and challenging, much more preparation is required.
Areas for Improvement
The internal reaction to the project was not that positive to be begin with. We should have anticipated it, as it was similar to the reaction to the first OLP. It highlighted failings to get the key stakeholders involved and fully briefed on the reasons early enough. There was highish involvement by the end of the project but I still think some employees showed a reluctance to take part in a project which would have decreased had we got them sucked into it earlier.
We should have made sure everyone was in agreement in advance on the approach and the specifics of their role. Failure to do this led to disputes within the team, unclear role/task time breakdown. This wasted time, added frustration and generally lowered the moral of the team at various points (but nothing that unusual for a project like this).
We didn’t spend enough hours pro-actively contacting:
Sites that might have wanted to feature us
Giving updates to sites that did feature us
We could have achieved a lot more with this project if we had planned it a little better in advance, and got more resources to support the core tasks and free up other member of the team for promotion. While it worked in the end it was only because of the flexibility of the core team members and willingness to put the extra hours in.
Below are the things we tried that were different to the first OLP, or unique to this contest in general. After the review is a recommendation of how we would do it differently if we started something like this again (not planned :).
1. Getting internal involvement
Result: Poor - Mixed
At the start we should have briefed the teams earlier and let them shape the contest, perhaps having a champion for each department. Earlier involvement was needed to get greater buy-in and excitement about the project.
We didn’t do enough to get and keep everyone involved. One of the problems reported was that there was just too many logos coming in to keep up to date. By the end excitement to see who from the final few would win wasn’t as high as we expected. Perhaps their favourites being kicked in earlier rounds were a factor in this.
Future Initiatives: Kick off meeting with each department. Design your OLP contest. OLP champion in each department. Hire designer to develop staff ideas into final logos.
2. Splitting the prizes into 1,2,3 and Panel Awards
This has worked pretty well, it was a confusing message but the variety of prizes helped promote the contest in different circles.
I think most people still think only in terms of 1,2 and 3rd, but I think this idea has come into its own at the end of the contest. Those people who don’t win the big stuff might get an unexpected bonus and we get the chance to give prizes to the people that made the contest fun and helped others, but didn’t win a main prize.
Future Initiatives: Clearer brief on what would make you win each prize. Prizes designed to suck in other communities.
3. Pushing Exposure for the winner
Result = Good
This part worked brilliantly. I think the main reason it spread so well is because of the Computer Arts co-operation. In total over 45 countries had a submitter to the OLP. I think one of the main reasons were the prizes that money can’t buy. The Computer Arts, Computerlove and Spreadshirt features all added that. It showed that we were serious about the integrity of the designers.
Future Initiatives: More, more, more. PR with designers interviews, securing more spots for them to be featured. Buying advertising for them. Promoting them on Spreadshirt site and in newsletters etc etc
4. Having an expert panel.
Again this helped to promote the contest as we all pushed it, and each other in our channels. The downside of getting high profile people like this is that they all have time commitments which don’t always make it easy to get the level of involvement that you would like.
Future Initiatives: Agree clearer milestones. Have features written with each panel member before the start of the contest and use these occasionally throughout the contests duration. Pro-actively chase up more and then kick anyone who is lagging.
5. Not having Scoring
Not sure how much this helped or hinder. The aim of getting those that don’t speak English to use a scale in the comments didn’t work. So its hard to tell whether there were people who wanted to take part but couldn’t speaky the lingo. I think the comment count was pretty high and not having voting would have been a part of that.
Future Initiatives: Introduce scoring on weekly shortlist
6. Having a central prominent blogger
I think this is the quickest way to build a community. As I said before every religious group needs a nutty messiah. At the start your the magnet drawing people in, then you can get out the way and leave it to them. Everyone knew I was running the olp, the mails were very personal and it felt like we built a nice rapport with the designers.
Internally I guess it would have been better for this to be less a project of mine and more a project of the team.
Future Initiatives: Spend more time mailing designers that stopped showing up after the early weeks. Blog more often. Increase external presence in similar communities
7. Encouraging Collaboration
The platform wasn’t there and we didn’t do enough to push it. We actually had 5 design teams take part in the contest. This was a tougher nut to crack than we imagined. We added the team area and stuff, but they were after-thoughts. After publishing the vectors of the two winners we’ve only received one new version. I think designers by nature our not inclined to share glory easily. We didn’t have the right platform for collaboration.
Future Initiatives: Widen this. Invite people to redevelop submitted logos. Have the mashup week. Attach licensing options to submissions so people can see what could be redeveloped.
8. Weekly Model
This was a bold move and undoubtedly created extra work. Of the 2800 submissions I would guess that 800 were redevelopments of older entries. This meant a lot of noise in the entries area, time spent approving and more entries than you could comment if you had all the hours in the day to spare.
On the positive side it made the site seriously sticky. Every few days there was a reason to come back as we revealed shortlist and weekly winners. The community was strong and passionate and I think the weekly model was why. I wouldn’t recommend it for a contest that wasn’t new, and would exist for longer than 3mnths.
Future Initiatives: More open voting process. Not everyone votes count equal. Community voting on shortlist. Platform which automatically aggregates developments of old logos. Automatic gallery function like t-shirt talk collages so people can see easily all the logos coming in without getting arthritis from mouse scrolling.
If you read this far then thanks, I hope some of this was interesting :)
We’re tough critics of ourselves at Spreadshirt so if it feels a little negative thats why. I and the rest of the team are actually really delighted with how it went, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make plenty of mistakes.
What do you think? Does this match your experience? Anything we’re missing?