Summer Milestone 5 AngelaRichmondFuller Macro Requester Review
These documents should give you a clear idea of the process a novice requester posting a task on Freelancer. I've included lots of screenshots of the process along with issues/problems and suggestions for things for us to consider. Please keep in mind when you read through the documents that I did all of this whilst also trying to look after my kids - lots is disjointed.
I've outlined the step-by-step process with screenshots, problems and suggestions.
- A document outlining the process for a novice requester trying to get a macro task completed. Freelancer business card design process 
- This is the "task Chat" that goes along with that "Freelancer business design card process" document above. As you can see, a pre-populated template would go a long way to clarifying a task from the outset, reduce the amount of time to-ing and for-ing and set expectations. Task chat between requester and worker. 
Please refer to the URL above to view the screenshots of my experience using Freelancer.com.au to get some business cards designed that will put the comments below into context.
Problem: The requester is initially prompted to enter some skills that relate to the project. This system assumes that the requester knows all of the skills/knowledge that a worker needs in order to complete the task which is often not the case. There is no option to see examples of other similar work to get an idea what to include here so the requester must know him/herself. There is no pre-filled template option however, it does offer “skill suggestions” in the pop up list to the right of the blank. Problem: Some of the tags are things that a requester may never even have heard of such as cakePHP, boonex dolphin, PhoneGap etc. As a requester it makes me nervous seeing all these things – I end up spending lots of time researching what they are.
Suggestion: on our crowdsourcing platform offer definitions and examples of types of task that each tag would be relevant for. For example, illustrator and graphic design for business cards, Balsamiq and _____ for website wireframing (and allow for a clickthrough to define what wireframing is). Suggestion 2: there is so much jargon that it would be useful to have functionality where people can click a word to get a definition. Perhaps offer a tiny question mark when you hover over a word that indicates if there’s a definition available. This would go a long way to educating both requesters (and workers for that matter) what skills/knowledge might be required for task completion. For me, as a requester, if I was to want a task completed such as a website built or an app built, then seeing what role Balsamiq, HTML, Webflow, etc. etc. may play to get to the end product would be useful. How many “average Joes” know about prototyping/wireframing/iterating” for websites? A bit of education here will go a long way. This holds true for new workers who may like to “train up” to take on new types of tasks.
Problem: Once you fill in the 2 blanks for the first part of the task completion form, a pop up is revealed offering you to create a design contest seen in the screenshot below. The requester is asked to describe the project in detail. The box is blank. To complete it is time-consuming and difficult to know what to put for a newbie. Solution: Offer a pre-populated template with suggested milestones here. The suggested milestones could then be adjusted to meet the needs of both the worker and requester.
Problem: I felt insecure in what I wrote out for my project as I have little idea if this is the type of detailed info the worker might want/need. I had a look at some other Business Card tasks in the “browse completed task” section but many were vague and I wasn’t able to glean that much info. Suggestion: pre-populated tasks with suggested milestones for the requester to initially tweak when writing the details for the project. These can later be amended again after discussion/consultation/negotiation between worker and requester. Suggestion: provide suggested milestones linked to details of the parts of the task to be completed along with suggested timeframe and suggested percentage of the final amount linked to each milestone.
Problem: You can upload relevant files for the project to the task post. I previously had a logo task done on freelancer for me. I was given lots of different file types. I wasn’t sure what what types (png, jpg, pdf, ai, eps) I should include. I choose to add .png files only and then tell the worker later that I have other file types. Suggestion: have the system suggest what file types might be useful for certain task. ___ for business cards, RAW for wedding photo photoshopping/lightrooming, etc. (I love making up new words!!) Suggestions: allow thumbnail view and click through view of the files uploaded to the task outline. Freelancer doesn’t allow it.
Suggestion: With deciding the budget and pricing as seeing in the screenshot above. More information could be provided as to the pros and cons of paying a fixed price vs by the hour. Question: How does the fixed price vs hourly price affect the milestone payments? It can be a percentage of the total amount if the worker is being paid hourly.
Suggestion: Give more advice on how much to set for the budget. It took me ages to figure out what sort of price one might expect to pay to get business cards designed. On Freelancer, it appeared to range from $10-40 with the average being about $16.
Problem: Many of the “upgrades” for the tasks are not immediately apparent.
Situation: Different requesters want different functionality for different task types. Suggestion: Allow for the following functionality: 1. Requester use the suggested milestone content/timeframe/payment suggested by the system for the task type 2. Requesters (who are likely the ones with more experiences) able to over-ride the suggested milestone content/timeframe/payment and offer their own suggestions prior to posting the task. 3. Allow requesters to amend the milestone content/timeframe/payment after discussion/consultation/negotiation with worker. 4. Ensure there is a method/way for a worker to add suggestions/comments to the milestones and parts of the task should they choose to. And allow a way for the requester to either accept, reject or amend those suggestions/comments in order to set the task going.
Situation: The page then changed to my dashboard where first I was informed that “Your project Design some Business Cards has been sent to our staff to be reviewed. The process takes only a few minutes and you will be informed once the project's status is updated”. Suggestion: ensure that that information about the process is also given to the requester before he/she clicks the “post project now” button.
I was notified of my task being posted. Then came the list of “recommended” workers along with their bids and timeframes. Suggestion: it may have been useful for requester to be able to set timeframe and milestones (with suggested dates for seeing completed work and being able to provide feedback) earlier if it’s a more complicated task. Suggestion: for the task, the requester should have the option initially of saying if the task is urgent, not urgent etc and be able to press a “pause” button if things come up where you’re no longer able to be online for some reason like sickness or kid-relate-problems.
Problem: the worker was able to initially suggest a milestone but the requester can only accept or reject it but not make suggestions. Also, there is no timeframe suggestion. Solution: allow for the requester to comment and send back to worker for accepting or rejecting.
Problem: the requester often looks for the quickest, easiest solution. I looked through the bid and to be honest with you, I was short on time and just decided to go for the requester with the highest rating, who luckily for me, also happened to be one of the cheaper ones…. Suggestion: although “vitamin designs” offer was low, I would have been happy to pay quite a bit more. Perhaps workers could post a range instead? To me, it seems as though the workers are short-changing themselves from the outset. Freelancer does provide the option at the end of the task to “tip” the worker so for those with a heavy conscience about paying so little can pay more at the end. NOTE: I could also see the portfolio of work as I scrolled down the page. I liked the look and so was about to award the task to VitaminDesigns and then some info on the pop up made me change my mind. See the attachment for details. That made me go back to try to figure out how I could accept a worker’s bid without being charged the additional money. Not sure that there was a way, but anyway, it made me look through each workers bids and profile’s more carefully. I noticed an interested feature – that one of the workers had posted their bid in Russian. See the screenshot below. If I was a Russian native speaker, I could see this as being a big plus! This platform appears to support workers and requesters of other languages. Suggestions: Ensure our platform enables the use of a variety of languages for task completion.
Issues: Because I was now running short on time, I selected this worker who said he could do it in 1-2 hours. But then I looked at his portfolio and realised that his style did not suit my style.
After some careful consideration, more than anything else, the portfolio is the key thing that makes me decide who I should go with! So, I went back to VitaminDesign. Ok at this point I wanted to make my final decision and award the task to a worker but I had to go collect my kids from school. I would hate to think that a worker is now sitting there, maybe even changing their own plans, to get this work done. Suggestion: Allow for the requester to send a message to all the workers who bid to let them know how long they think it will take for them to make a decision on selection. I was at least able to have a quick chat with the one I’d chosen even though I didn’t accept the bid yet – I didn’t want her/him to start on the task without more discussion or the setting of a milestone. Suggestion: Allow a requester to accept a bid but put a “hold” on it to keep the worker from starting on it straight away. The worker can also have the option to accept or reject the hold.
Suggestion: allow the requester to set a cap on the number of workers who bid on the task. It’s a lot of work going through all the bids – time consuming. There may be an issue with this as only the ones who immediately snap up the task will be able to bid…. Not sure what to suggest here. Any advice?
Ok at this point I wanted to make my decision and award the task to a worker but I had to go collect my kids from school. I would hate to think that a worker is now sitting there, maybe even changing their own plans, to get this work done.
Suggestion: Allow for the requester to send a message to all the workers who bid to let them know how long they think it will take for them to make a decision.
Issue: After scrolling down to look through the portfolio I noticed somethings I had never noticed on Freelancer before: 1. Below the portfolio is where previous reviews of this worker are displayed. 2. Below the reviews is a place for the worker posts their CV 3. Below the CV is where the badges awarded to the worker are listed Suggestions: improve the UI and allow for thumbnail snapshots of each of these in a side panel above the fold.
Suggestion: Include information about the workers top skills and levels of proficiencies in various language in a better place on the screen. It’s placed where the chat box pops up so it ends up being covered.
1 hour after I posted my task there were 30 workers bidding to do the work. Some of the workers had added their own milestones. Most workers bidding propose 1 milestone – full payment on completion.
The worker named petar8 suggested 2 milestones – described as Before $5 and End $15. No other details. Here the milestone suggestions are generated by the worker, presumably because they’ve done it that way on other similar tasks. Suggestion: prepopulate the Milestone template including ideas mentioned before. And then allow it to be amended by both worker and requester.
Problem: I’m just thinking about the situation of there now being 30 workers who have submitted bids. That’s a lot of effort and I’m surprised at the number. Is this the same situation requesters have on Odesk? Can we or would we want to put a cap on the number of bids so workers don’t end up wasting time submitting and requesters don’t waste time trawling through the submissions?
At the end, when I went to release the funds into Freelancer for the total amount of the task I was given the option of paying a “Non-disclosure agreement” optional additional fee of $22 which almost doubled the price of the original task. This was a new feature that I’d not come across before. I thought that everyone got this security by using the site. Now that it’s an optional extra, it makes me wonder about my previous tasks. Solution: Provide information on the option (and any payment required) for the Non-disclosure agreement to both the requester and worker at the outset. Of course, more discussion needs to be had by our research project participants on this feature.
Problem: It allowed me to set a milestone but there was only a limited amount of characters allowed in the box to describe it. Amended to a shorter description
Problem: it wasn’t immediately apparent that if I reject their initial suggested milestone that I can go on and suggest my own milestones. Suggestion: provide info on milestone creation
Problem: The worker wanted full payment before we even began but I negotiated being able to set 2 milestones. Solution: enable the amendment of milestones.
Problem: at my end none of the milestones ended up changing from “Awaiting acceptance” by the worker to “approve”. It took quite a while for our requested changes to the milestones to appear amended on the system, causing both the worker and me frustration.
Problem: Then there was quite a lot of discussion about what exactly the worker needed from me to be able to design the business cards including the dimensions. Also, I found out then the types of files that would be needed. It took quite a while for me to get those together and send them through. Seeing this information in advance would have saved a lot of time in this stage of the task completion. Problem: Setting the milestones, chatting about the specific details of the task and releasing the funds for milestones 1 and 2 took 2.5 hrs which was much longer than I had expected. I hadn’t realised the time it would take. What I’d like to know as a requester is “Is this a typical amount of time?”
The next step will be for me to give feedback, see the final copies and then release the funds for the last milestone. I’ll let you know how it goes.