Tips for using 99Designs.com for website, logo, and graphic design contest
If you are looking for a website or logo and are picky or not sure what you are looking for then 99Designs.com contest might be right for you. You post a ‘contest’ where people can submit logos and website designs to you and you pick the one you like. If you don’t like any then you would get your money back.
The contest cost have risen recently and while hiring a professional designer might cost less now, what you get is choices. Another thing to keep in mind is that you get to give direction and get what you want but it does require some time to communicate with the designers.
Here are 10 tips for you to get the most out of your contest:
- Contact Designers
The higher your reward is the most submissions you will get. However in both of my contest which was at different tier prizes most of the top designs were from designers I invited. If your award is the lowest one it is important for you to invite many designers.
The best I find is to give them a compliment. Pick designers that you like and tell them which designs you like and why. Don’t waste time with designers you do not like.
See below for my list of top designers.
- Provide full supporting documents
Provide as much supporting documents as you can to help the designers. If a designer ask for something, attach it publicly so everyone can see.
Here’s a list of what you should provide:
- logo – both with transparent and dark colour background
- other design elements such as brush strokes or icons
- company brochure, posters, or business cards
- images of similar designs you like
- website that you like (if you are designing a website)
- mood board (if you use an agency before or a designer, they might have created you a mood board which is a collage of images to create the ‘mood’ of your design)
- Write full details in your description
Remember to write as much detail as you can on the direction you want but keep your mind open for better solutions.
- Provide timely feedback
Designers are like humans (because they are actually humans!), they can lose interest quickly and lose the ideas in their mind. Keep them motivated and ideas fresh in their mind. They might need 4-5 revisions before you get what you like so the sooner you provide feedback the more revisions you can get before the contest ends.
- Tell them what you like
The best way to avoid wasting time is to communicate what you like publicly. When you respond directly to the designer people can’t see so you might need to tell each designer over and over again. The best way is to post reviews on the main area so all the designers can see.
- Guarantee your prize
Guaranteeing your prize will build confidence from the designers and get you more submissions. I recommend you doing this as soon as you know you will go with a particular designer. The design does not need to be perfect, usually the designer is more than eager to provide changes to make you happy.The sooner you guarantee your prize the more time you will have with motivated designers. That’s why it’s important to provide as much feedback at the beginning as possible so you’ll get a design you like and guarantee sooner.
- Sort out the details as soon as you can
Think about your whole project.
It is expensive and time consuming to organize these contests so likely you would like your winning designer to more work in the future. If not then you should consider this, finding a good designer is hard and providing a consistent theme for your brand is important. I would recommend you sort out the pricing and other details as soon as you feel that the designer is right for you. For example tell him what you need, ask him about his skills, and what prices does he charges. That way you will feel confident in investing your time in coaching him along.It is also important to make sure the communication styles match. Make sure he responds quickly and answers your question clearly. For me I look for response within 24 hours and that each point I brought up is addressed. If you find that some of your points are missed or if they do not understand you, this could be a red flag. Communication could also be your issue too, if you see that many designers are not understanding you then it’s probably you and not them.The worst is if you find someone you like then realize that you guys can’t come to terms with designing additional pages to your site. As well as before you select the winner you have the negotiating advantage.
- Show them what you want
Pick sites you like and explain why
Graphic designers are visual people it is a easier to communicate with them in pictures then in words. Before you start your contest discover what you like and compile it. You can send them links to your favourite sites. But I recommend that you browse through template sites, it has a larger variety; you can browse a lot quicker; and you’ll eliminate those dreaded moments when you think, what site should I go to now.
When you attach the templates, note what you like about it such as the colours, how clean it is, the layout, the cool icons etc. It is important to have a direction first and show only consistent ideas. Don’t pick one that is nice clean and conservative with blue and also pick a funky one with red and orange and add it. Only pick the ones where you can envision that being your site.
- Don’t forget to remind them-If you forget, they will too
If there are designers that made a version or couple of revisions and did not finish don’t be afraid to remind them. Also if there are designers who promised to submit a contest but have not done so, do not hesitate to remind them but most likely if they haven’t been active in making a design your reminder will not help.
- Prepare for the busy last 24 hours
You can expect a lot of things happening around the last 24 hours
I suggest you book some time in your calendar for the last 24hours, that’s when a lot of things happen. This is crunch time and many of your designers are making final changes for you, it’s important that you are available to give feedback and accept revisions. While your designers can be from anywhere in the world you don’t need to be there for the whole 24 hours, just make sure you check in throughout the day. In additional many designers do not want their designs copied so they won’t release it till the last day.
With this in mind I suggest you start your contest on Tuesday so that the last 24 hours fall on Monday. This is good for you because you will be in the office (if you have an office). As well as the designers can work on Monday to finalize it, Monday is more likely chance that they are free then on Sunday. Also recommend starting your contest earlier in the week as people get more busy later on.
- After the deadline
The deadline is over but the contest is not. You can still communicate with the designers and get them to email you designs but don’t use this as an excuse for not communicating and providing feedbacks during the contest. If you are getting a website remember to ask them for the rate of designing additional pages. Maybe they would even offer to do it for free, if your prize is high enough so they win. I was in a situation where I chose a design because he offered to do the additional pages for free.
These are the tips I have for making your 99designs.com contest a success. Please provide your feedback and come visit often as I will be adding more tips from my experiences.
Couple of other sites you might want to check out is LogoSnap which provides free logos and charge $99 for a custom logo. Or HatchWise which provides same service as 99Designs but some say has higher quality submissions.