Chicago is a booming city with a robust pool of developers—web developers, software developers, application developers. We’ve got them all. (Chicago even hosted DrupalCon this year.) So we are pleased to see our government agencies taking notice and utilizing the city’s developer resources by challenging them to “build apps that solve problems and improve services in Metro Chicago” with the Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois Competition.

While our Chicago web design firm focuses on user-centered design, we'd like to give kudos to the City of Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Cook County, and the State of Illinois for taking a user-centered approach to government and working to build useful tools for Metro Chicago. Bravo! Now, while we're pleased to see Chicago building useful apps, there are some pros and cons to the competition method, also known as crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has become very popular, even as a tool to leverage as part of a marketing strategy. But even with the possibility of benefiting from the talent that fills Chicago, in the end, there is just less creative control of the end product. Instead of choosing one dedicated team that builds a relationship with you, learns your business needs, and provides a customized solution to your problem, you end up hoping someone in the crowd finds the right idea.

But what if none of the entries solves your problem? During the two month entry period, how do you feel about sitting in the dark, unable to truly guide the direction your solutions are headed? And what do you say to all the unselected artists and programmers who put in dozens of hours creating an app for you and get nothing in return for their hard work? However risky their methods, we are still very excited to see Chicago focusing on technology! At Sandstorm we do custom quality work, gathering requirements to make certain that the end product meets the clients’ specific needs. Let us know what your needs are!

Karen Boehl

Sign up for FREE webinars, original UX research, and trends: