What there is to love about 99designs!
Ok, the cat is out of the bag, I am launching another site that will be focused entirely on wellness. Actually, it will bridge the gap between mainstream medicine (allopathic) and functional (holistic) medicine. I am super excited about what I have been learning and know it will help solve a lot of cases that seemingly have no diagnosis. You can read more about functional medicine here.
For my new logo, I decided to use 99designs again as I had such a good experience with the logo design for this site. Not to mention, 99designs sent me a special offer to get a free $99 upgrade to have my contest highlighted which is well worth the money. In a nutshell for those of you who don’t know about 99designs, the site allows you to launch a design contest where graphic designers from around the world can submit designs. What is best is that it is completely risk free for you. If you don’t like any of the designs, you can walk away. But that is not the purpose of the contest. For why I chose 99designs the first time, you can read my post on logo design 101.
By using the free upgrade to have my contest highlighted and blasted out to the 99 design community, I received 377 designs from 52 designers in 7 days! This was opposed to 77 designs from 16 designers in 7 days in the logo contest for expat doctor mom. I know it only takes one design but the options were amazing.
New features to 99 designs
Since my first logo contest back in 2010, there were some great new features added to the site. The contest now has a first round which lasts 4 days opposed to one continual round for 7days. Be sure to pick 4 days you are available to frequently respond and give feedback to comments. With 377 designs and my submission of 319 comments it was a lot of work but worth it. After 4 days, you can select up to 6 designers to proceed into the final round.
The second feature which served me extremely well was a tab called “watchers”. It allows designers to watch your contest to determine if they wanted to enter. It also allows you as the contest holder to see who is watching and to preview these designers’ folios. Then if you like what you see, you can “invite” a designer into your contest. You can send a standardized message but I always said something about the designer which made me choose them. I only invited in 2 designers but these two designers contributed my top 2 favorite designs. With one being by “Alicia” who won the contest and whose design appears at the top and the other being sunshine 7. You can see her logo design here. Overall “watchers” was my favorite new feature 99designs has implemented!
Another way to find designers you might like is to browse other contests. There are varying prices for the contests with logo design beginning at $299, browse in the same price range of contests. If you see someone’s designs you like invite them in. You might be glad you did.
A poll feature was also added which makes it quite simple to conduct a poll of the favored design amongst your friends and contacts either using Social Media (Facebook) or via email. You choose your favorite designs and then are given a link to the poll which you post on FB or email to your friends.
Tips for soliciting more designs
I would have to say having your contest highlight by paying for an upgrade is well worth the money spent. When a design is submitted, you should rank it or at least give feedback to let the designer know whether they are on the right track. Why not steer them in the right direction so they give you designs that match your style?
I had a look through some of the other contests and noted that many contest holders did not give feedback or rate the designs. I had many designers comment that they appreciated the feedback. So, it sounds like it is not the norm for the designers to get a lot of feedback in a contest. My rule of thumb in life is to treat everyone with respect. It goes a long way. If they took the time to submit a design, then acknowledge this in some way even if it is to say “You are way off track.”
Guarantee a prize as soon as you see a logo that you love. If you don’t guarantee a contest you can walk away from it risk free. But the purpose is to get a winning design. Guaranteeing a prize allows the designers to know you are serious. Wouldn’t you want to submit work to a contest that has the potential to pay? By the 2nd day, I had a design I knew I could choose so I guaranteed my contest. That is when even more designs came flooding in.
Sometimes you may not know how to steer a designer. Maybe their style is not consistent with what you are looking for: say so. But more often than not only a small suggestion is needed. There were some designers that didn’t read my requirements for a design and submitted designs that were all red, green or yellow when I said no primary colors. I started eliminating those immediately and stopped providing as much feedback. It only takes them a few minutes to read your information.
The only thing I would do differently is not rate the way I did. I used the stars as 1 being the lowest rating and 5 being the highest and potential contender. But if you hover, over 1 star it reads “shows potential” There is a big difference between a 1 star rating and has potential. I think this may have contributed to designers continuing to submit similar designs that I only liked modestly. I caught on to the difference in the way I was rating and left a comment so that all the designers could see that I was rating on a pure 1-5 scale.
Tips for running a good contest
Read 99designs tips on running a good contest before you launch in their help section. Start with how to write a good design brief which is essential.
Know what your target audience and mission.
Have an idea of what you what your design to look like even if it is simply to have a classy design or a whimsical design.
Show respect to the designers; give feedback and rate when appropriate.
Re-rate the designs daily: drop stars and or eliminate designs to help you weed out designs you wouldn’t use. You would be surprised how your mind may changes from day to day.
Run a poll if you are having difficulty choosing a design. I did this as well as posted my top 2 designs on my personal FB page. The response of my professional girlfriends overwhelmingly favored the design I chose.
I will continue to use 99designs for as long as they are around.
Have you ever used 99designs? Or had any experience in guiding a designer.