I’ve always been envious about people who can come up with great designs. Whether it be a logo, a website design or anything else.
An awesome design just hits you when you first see it. It establishes that critical positive first impression.
While I can work my way around Photoshop, I just don’t have those special design skills that will allow me to create anything close to what a professional designer can do.
That’s why over the years, I’ve been a big fan of using 99designs for a variety of projects. If you haven’t heard of them already, they are a crowdsourcing platform where you can start design contests and tap into their huge community of designers.
I’ve launched 3 different design contests with them, including one for the avatar on this blog, and another for the logo for Bloggerscope.
So what makes 99designs so great? Here are 5 reasons why I keep going with them for my design projects.
Variety of design concepts – The best part about using 99designs is that it gives me a bunch of choices to pick from. I’m the type of person that has a hard time picturing the kind of design I’m looking for at the start. I find it very helpful to be able to see several choices before making my ultimate decision.
For my avatar project, I got 41 different submissons. On my Bloggerscope logo contest I got 61 designs. Both these contests were Bronze level packages which is the lowest cost tiered contest.
Affordable – Getting design work done can be a super expensive proposition. Big companies pay 4 to 5 figures just for logo design. While, 99designs is not the cheapest place I’ve found to get design work done, the starting prices for their Bronze package is pretty reasonable. If you have a bigger budget, then you can also go with a bigger package to get more designs.
Easy to get Started – Launching your design contest is dead simple. The whole process walks you step-by-step through creating your design brief. If you know beforehand what you want, you can have your contest up and running in under 10 minutes.
No Hassle Payment and Design Transfer – Because you are going through a trusted intermediarry, you don’t have to deal with issues of payments or not getting your requested deliverables. This is good for both the customer and the designer. Once you’ve picked a winner for your contest, 99designs handles this whole process for you in a simple way.
Pre-made Logos – 99Designs also has thousands of pre-made logos created by members of their design community for sale. If you see one you like, you can just purchase it, modified with your company name. It costs $99 for a standard license and $299 for an exclusive license (meaning no one else can use it).
Money back guarantee – If for some reason, your design contest doesn’t get any design submissions that you are happy with, then you can always get a refund on your contest. This means there really isn’t much risk to starting one.
On the flip side, if during your contest you start seeing some designs you do like, don’t be hesitant to guarantee it. This will ensure that your contest has a winner, and it will attract even more designers to your contest.
How to Make Your Contest a Success
Having a successful design contest actually takes a lot of work.
You can’t just start your contest and then come back a week later and see what you have.
To get the best results from 99Designs, you really need to be active throughout the whole process. While it’s great that you are going to get a lot of designs to pick from, there will be some good designs and some bad ones that you have to sift through.
That’s just the nature of the site, as contests are open to all and you will inevitably get some less skilled designers submitting designs to your contest. Luckily, if they truly are terrible, you can either ignore them or block them from submitting any more designs to your contest.
Even the good design submissions will never be perfect. So it’s crucial that you leave good, constructive feedback in a timely manner. This will ensure you get at least a few designs that you are truly happy with.
Sure, it can actually become a bit time-consuming, but it can also be fun too!
99Designs vs the Competitions
Of course 99designs isn’t the only design crowdsourcing site out there. With it’s success, several other similar sites have sprung up, including Crowdspring, DesignCrowd, Design Contest, and 48 Hours Logo. Most of them are pretty similar to 99designs, although with out the same number of designers.
I actually had the opportunity to use Design Crowd to help me with the JustRetweet re-design. I felt it went really well, and Design Crowd does offer competitive pricing. If you want to read more about my experience, I did a review of Design Crowd over on the JustRetweet blog. My buddy Josh Kotsay also wrote a good post that talks about the pros and cons of other 99design alternatives.
There are so many reasons why you might need to come up with a new design for your business. Whether it’s for your next logo, website, or product, having an eye catching design is critical. It can be one of the first impressions you make on your visitors or buyers so it’s important to get it right.
If you already have a designer you know and love already, then by all means stick with them.
But for me, I love having the choice of several designs to pick from and it fits well with how I work. And that’s why I love using 99designs so much. Check them out, the next time you have some design work to be done.