In a nutshell, 99designs works by holding design contests and posting them on the site along with corresponding award money. Designers from all over the world submit their designs for the contest. When the contest ends, a winner (or more depending on the contest) will be chosen. The winning designer will go to the design handover to exchange rights and ownership, and the designer will then submit the required files. The prize money will be awarded after the design is accepted and approved or automatically released after five days.
As a crowd source design site, 99designs is one of the best in terms of designer and customer benefits. For the customers (or the people holding the design contests), more option is made available to a variety of designs. The contest holder would find their ideal design more accurately if a lot of design option is present. But before starting a contest at 99designs, it is important to know the pros and cons as a customer.
- More options – As more designers join your contest, more design options will be made available to choose from. Ratings and design feedbacks help designers in making designs that meet your expectations. This entire process allows for more satisfying even exciting experience for the customer to choose the winning design.
- Cheap – Compared to hiring a professional, cost for designs are comparatively low. This is beneficial if the customer is on a very limited budget or is on a limited time schedule. It is natural to expect a poor to average quality of design especially if the award prize is low. But some professionals do join 99design contest, others join contest based on the design requirement, but most join because of the award money.
- Money back guarantee – In the event where the contest holder does not like any of the submitted design or decides to stop a design contest, a refund option is available. This makes the contest holder feel more secure about starting a contest knowing there is always a reset button.
- What you pay is what you get – This is not always true in all cases, but most designers prefer a contest with higher prize money. Probably since contests with more prize money are prioritized and are placed on top of the list of the design category. Contests with the least prize money are usually left on the last page or listed last. In this case, if you start a contest with about 75$-100$ prize money, expect lesser designers.
By the way it looks, customers have less to concern about when starting a contest at 99designs. A tip for contest holders is to guarantee a design contest; this means a winner will be picked at the end of the contest. This will attract more designers to join your contest. But before guaranteeing a contest, make sure to at least have a prospect design that needs only a little polishing; since guaranteed contests cannot be refunded.
For designers, 99designs is an excellent way to practice design skills or build a portfolio. They also have a good project management system in which designers can watch contests and is informed by email notification about recent activities within. Here are the pros and cons for the designers
- Wide variety of payment options – After winning a contest, you will be given four options in which you can get your money. They currently offer PayPal, AlertPay, Moneybookers, and Western Union as payment methods. Western union is very convenient for those designers that do not have bank account. You’ll need at least $50 in your account to request payout.
- Start a career – Designers is exposed to different people around the world; there’s also a comment section where designers can give opinion as the contest goes on. This is a great opportunity to create connections with other designers and potential customers as well. If a contest holder loves your design, he will most likely to contact you to join his next project.
- Win $$$ – The lowest contest prize so far is $75; most are for stationary design contest. Even so, it is money you deserve if you win a contest. The highest paying design contest is the web design section, contest prize could get as high as $3,000, but expect the competition will not be a walk in the park. After winning a design contest, you will go to the design handover where transfer of rights and ownership will be made. Prize money will be automatically release after a week or shorter if the contest holder accepts and approves the design you uploaded.
- Build portfolio – The site keeps records of all of your winnings, found on your profile page. Your profile page can serve as your portfolio which you can share with anyone or to a company when you are applying for a job. Private contests however will not be published on your portfolio.
- Unpaid efforts – Sadly there is very little appreciation received after loosing a contest. If a designer has invested much of his time and effort into a project but ends up loosing at the end, he/she will most likely feel disappointment especially if higher ratings have been given to the design.
An advice – It is always best to be patient when joining a design contest, having positive comments and higher rating do not always guarantee a win especially if other designers are having the same ratings. Remember, it is not all about the money; if you loose a contest, just keep trying. You still gained experience and had the chance to hone your skills. It is best not to expect a win, even for highly rated designs
- Payment process takes too long – After being informed of the win, designers submit their design and have to wait one week for the prize money to be released and transferred into the designers 99design account. Then the designer would have to wait at least 3 days to transfer to Paypal or 10 days to cash out through western union.
Overall, 99designs is a good site. They have good service for customers and designers; they pay within the said time period for the type of payment. They currently busy doing updates to improve customer and designer relationships, and designer security and conveniece.