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99Designs: One Of The Best Web Apps I’ve Ever Used

I’m on the Web all the time — I estimate I’ve looked at more than 50,000 Web sites in my lifetime

When one of them stands out, I like to spread the word.

99Designs is one such Web site.

99Designs solves a common problem in an unusual way: it allows you to submit your design requirements to their audience of designers who compete to win your project (or “contest” as they call it).

I tested them out for a logo I needed for a personality type site I do in my spare time. It hasn’t launched yet but it’s going to be called “TopTypes.”

Since real-life examples are more useful, I took screen shots of the experience I had running a design contest on 99Designs for the TopTypes logo I needed.

Step 1: Pick What You Want Designed

You can choose from such categories as:

  • Logos (that’s what I chose)
  • Web Design
  • Stationary
  • T-Shirt Design
  • Other

Step 2: Fill Out A Design Brief

99Designs asks you to fill out a simple design brief with items such as type of logos, values you want to communicate, colors you like, etc.

The design brief you fill out is quick and easy.

Step 3: Pick The Amount Of Money You Agree To Award The Winning Design

The price options (for logos) were $295, $495 or $695.

I chose $295 – -the higher the amount you choose, the higher the number of submissions you will receive.

Note: The standard duration of the “contest” — as 99Designs calls these — is 7 days. You can do a rush job if you pay them (e.g. an extra $79 to make it a one-day contest or $59 for 2 days and $39 for 3 days).

Step 4: Designers Begin Submitting Designs

Because I chose the 7-day contest, I had to wait a couple of days for the first logo submissions to come in, but then they came in fast and furious.

I received dozens of logo submissions within 72 hours.

Step 5: Give Feedback To The Designers (Live)

I then started making “General Comments” to the designers to tell the designers what I thought of the direction they were were heading in.

Step 6: Rate The Designs

I then began giving a 1 to 5 rating to the submissions.

Note: everyone on 99Designs can see the ratings (unless you choose a private contest) so people know who’s in the lead for winning the contest.

I ended up having 110 logo submissions over the week-long contest (many of these were iterations from the same designer — I’d estimate I had about 20 different designers who submitted logos).

While rating the submissions, you are able to comment privately to the designer.

Note: I subsequently ran a logo contest (for $695) on 99Designs and

Step 6.5 Picking “Finalists”

[somehow I missed this the first time I used 99Designs]

Once your Qualifying Round ends, you are notified by 99Designs and then have 4 days to select  up to 6 finalists who advance to the final round in which you are seeing their submissions and giving them more ratings/feedback.

The final round lasts for 3 days (or 5 day period if you are running a web page design or app design contest).

Step 7: Pick The Winning Design

Then you pick the winner. 99Designs gives you 2 weeks after the contest ends to pick the winner…though you can pick it immediately if you prefer.

I picked this logo as the winning design from the artist who goes by "dipz."

Step 8: The “Hand-Over” Process

You then transfer copyright (both you and the winning designer have to agree).

And then the designer uploads the file of the winning creative work to 99Designs, and you the “Contest Owner” downloads the file.

Designer dipz gave me a bunch of files of the logo to download.

99Designs forwards most of the money to the winning designer and keeps a commission for itself of $39 plus 15% of the contest).

As an entrepreneur, this entire design process was very smooth, fun and gave me solid results at a reasonable cost.

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