99designs is one of the most popular online design contest marketplaces. It relies on the concept of crowd sourcing to bring together a pool of designers from all over the world with small businesses in need of graphic design work.
If you need something designed, 99designs will probably work for you.
Project categories include logos & business cards, web design, banner ads, and even merchandise design for t-shirts and clothing.
99designs – How It Works
Lets say you want to get a logo designed for your new website. 99Designs offers 4 different pricing packages: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
The bronze package will cost you $299 and you can expect to get about 30 designs.
If you opt for the higher prize packages, you will of course get more designs to pick from.
Specific prices for each package vary, depending on the type of design work you’re looking for.
And if you don’t like one of the 4 packages, you can also name your price as well, although you can’t offer lower than the Bronze package.
Here are some of the basic benefits of 99designs no matter which package you choose:
- 100% money back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with any of the designs, then just cancel your contest and get your money back.
- A pool of more than 1 million designers and growing.
- Option to run a regular or guaranteed contest.
- Option to run a blind contest where no one gets to see the submissions other than you.
- Unlimited revisions.
And here a couple of examples of the types of winning designs you can expect when running a contest on the site.
Why Use 99designs?
Economical Way to Get Design Projects Accomplished. 99designs is definitely an invaluable site for anyone trying to start up their businesses. The site runs on crowdsourcing – designers compete to win your business.
The amount you will end up paying for the winning design will usually be cheaper compared to the amount you will be paying for hiring a professional designer, plus you get to see way more designs than you would from a single person.
Money-Back Guarantee. This feature is available if you opted for holding a regular contest. With any regular contest, if you do not like any of the submitted designs, you have the option not to choose choose one and you get your money back.
Easy To Use. The project creation area for contest holders is very intuitive and and easy to use. A wizard walks you through creating a detail design brief in a visual and friendly way so that even non-designers can easily describe their requirements.
Huge Pool of Quality Designers. Crowd sourcing is not crowd sourcing without a crowd. If there is one thing particularly impressive with 99designs, it is that you get a lot of designer participation.
99designs has a HUGE pool of actively participating designers, many who are quite good. In fact, a guaranteed prize contest can have close to 100 designs to pick from. This in itself beats paying one overpriced in-house designer.
Logo Store. Perhaps you don’t have time to run a logo design contest and you want a logo really quick. 99Designs also has a logo design store where you can purchase a pre-made logo design.
There are thousands of ready made logos available to choose from, all created by designers on 99Designs. All you need to do is pick your favorite logo and have that designer add your business name. Prices start at $299 for an exclusive rights logo.
Work 1-on-1 with your favorite designer. Starting a design contest not for you? You can still use 99designs and leverage their network of great designers to work with someone 1-on-1.
Browse through the portfolios of the best designers on 99designs, see their reviews and then request to work with your favorite one directly through the site.
Some inconsistent Quality of Submissions. Since 99designs attracts both amateur and professional designers alike, you may get submissions which aren’t the best. Still, you can easily filter out the bad submissions and focus on the good ones.
Here’s a 99designs tip: if you choose the Silver or Gold packages, you will definitely get more quality submissions.
Lack of relationship. One thing I’ve noticed when using 99designs is that you never really get to establish a relationship with the winner of your contest since you’re dealing with lots of different designers during the contest.
When the contest is over, you just get your final deliverables and that’s the last your hear from the person, who’s probably off winning a dozen other contests. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it is nice to find a designer you like and work long-term with them across multiple projects.
My 99designs Experience
To test out 99designs, I decided to host my own contest to come up with a new logo for one of my friend’s new sites.
Setting up my contest was very easy. I choose the Bronze package and filled out the design brief which let me describe what kind of logo I was looking for.
To get the best results, you should be as detailed as possible about what you want.
Once I was happy with my design brief, I launched the contest on the site.
2 weeks and 62 designs later, I was able to pick out a really good design for a logo that really fit the site.
Overall, my friend was really happy with the whole experience and decided to use 99designs again for some web design work.
I’ve had the opportunity to use 99designs for a few other projects, since then and here are a few things I learned from my 99designs experiences.
First, I can’t stress the importance of writing a good, clear design brief that has all your specific requirements listed.
If you don’t then you are going to spend a lot of time telling each designer your same requirements over and over again.
Most importantly though, you really need to be active during your contest.
Immediately after receive a new design, you need to be proactive and leave feedback good or bad. If the design is really bad, don’t be afraid to eliminate it (and the designer) so it doesn’t clutter up your view of things.
The faster you give feedback, the more revisions you will get for each particular design.
Which will result in you getting several designs that you are happy with.
Lastly, once you start seeing some designs you like, don’t forget to guarantee payment on your contest.
This has the added benefit of attracting more top designers to your contest because now they are guaranteed to get paid if you win. You should see a nice uptick in designs once you do this.
99Designs is definitely the largest crowdsourcing design platform out there, but it’s not the only one. There are several alternatives you can pick from including CrowdSpring and DesignCrowd which also offer similar services.
99Designs vs Crowdspring
Crowdspring is the main competitor to 99Designs. Both advertise that they are the #1 crowdsourcing marketplace. However 99designs is the definite market leader in terms of traffic and number of designers.
Price wise, 99designs has better pricing in general across the different categories. While the lowest price logo contest is $299 on both sites, a website design contest is $300 cheaper on 99designs ($599 vs $899) and $110 cheaper for t-shirt designs ($189 vs $299).
I have not personally used Crowdspring at all, but I have researched the reviews and it seems to follow the same basic model as 99designs.
There doesn’t seem to be any unique features of Crowdspring that would make me want to try them over 99designs. With these types of sites, I would prefer to stick with the one that has the most and best designers as I feel this will lead to the best results.
99Designs vs DesignCrowd
I recently had the opportunity to run a design contest on DesignCrowd to do a website redesign.
Where DesignCrowd tries to compete with 99designs is on price. For example if you look at starting a logo design contest on both sites, 99designs starts at $299 while DesignCrowd starts at $240.
DesignCrowd is also very aggressive with their email marketing so if you get on their email list, they will (fairly frequently) send out additional discount promotional offers you can take advantage of.
On the surface, this lower price sounds better for you the customer. But in my experience, this also has the effect of attracting a lower quality of designers to your contests.
The better designers aren’t going to participate because they are not going to get as paid as much for doing so.
I kind of saw this first-hand with my DesignCrowd contest as I saw lots of submitted designs that made no sense, didn’t meet my requirements or were just very sloppy looking.
In the end, my contest did generate a couple of designs I was happy with, but overall I felt that there is more potential to have a bad experience with DesignCrowd versus 99designs.
The big thing I personally like about 99designs is having a number of design choices to pick from. I like the ability to compare different designs, show them to other people, and figure out which is the best for me. You just don’t get that choice when going with a regular design company.
If you need a nice design for your business, 99designs is worth a try. You pay a certain amount of money to hold a contest, and you get your design project done.
Finding a good designer is hard, and if you don’t know one already, crowd-sourcing your design is definitely an excellent alternative.
There’s a plenty of quality designers on the site and with their money back guarantee, you don’t have much to lose by trying 99Designs out.