99Designs Review: Is 99Designs Worth It?

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99Designs Review: Is 99Designs Worth It?

Whether you are starting a new business or want to overhaul an existing one, you will definitely need guidance and designers to give your imagination a shape. Offering the world a service that has been in demand since the beginning of time, 99designs has certainly put a unique and efficient spin on the entire design industry landscape – for designers as well as businesses. 

But, before you spend your hard-earned money on designing a logo or a new product packaging, it is advisable to spend some time conducting a thorough research on what online design platforms like 99designs have to offer. This article will reveal if 99designs is really worth your time and money.

A Quick Peek into 99designs’ World

You can think of a design – any design format, for any use – and 99designs can be your go-to solution. The range of design solutions offered by designers on 99designs covers a quick fix for your logo design, business cards, or t-shirt design, as well as complicated illustrations, web designs, and product packaging designs. The platform is known for its value proposition as it acts like a bridge connecting designers and clients or businesses in need of a design solution. Nevertheless, it has a different model than your regular freelancing approaches, and that is where it gets interesting. 

It’s come a long way

Having worked with multiple design platforms over the years, it’s only fair to say that some have come a long way. 99designs is one of them- just a couple of years ago it seemed like 99% of the designs you would get were trash (sorry- there was no better way to call it).

The platform started at solving a very simple demand- startups that had no money still needed a logo. So unless you had a designer friend, you had a problem. They filled that void successfully.

Since then they have grown to an incredible proportion, here are some stats:

99Designs boasts over:

  • 1.2 Million designers
  • 46,000 designs per day (= 1.4 million designs per month)
  • $3.5 million payout to the designers per month

How does 99designs work actually?

The design process on 99designs involves three steps – Brief, Connect and Collaborate.

  • Brief: The first step in the design process starts by you creating a design brief. The design brief is where you explain how you want your design to finally appear. The brief involves you explaining your preferred shapes and styles along with color palette and other visual elements to the designers. Loaded with an intuitive ‘brief creation process,’ 99designs ensures that you include all the right elements while filling up your design brief form.
  • Connect:  The next step in the design process involves you hiring a designer or creating a design contest. A design contest involves multiple designers submitting their unique ideas to you. After going through the ideas, you get to choose your favorite.
  • Collaborate: Once you pick the designer, you get to work with her as long as you are not satisfied with the design. Once you finalize the design, you get production ready files in the stipulated time.

 There are two ways in which 99designs works:

1. Hire a designer
2. Run a design/logo contest

Hire a designer: Do you have a big project in your mind? Are you clear about the kind of style and designs you want for your brand? If the answer is yes to any of these two questions, then you should definitely hire a designer.

99designs has vetted quality designers with expertise in over 90 skill sets who can bring your imaginations to life. You can start hiring a designer by viewing their portfolios and requesting quotes.

Run a design/logo contest: A design contest, simply put, is a competition where designers battle it out to create the best designs according to your design brief.

There are three important steps you need to follow if you are to create a successful design contest.

1. A proper design brief with all necessary details.
2. The cash prize involved in the contest.
3. Begin the contest.

Once you start the contest, designers from all around the world will begin submitting their ideas. 

The contest plays out in the following four stages:

  1. 4 days of qualifying round: This is where you can expect designers to submit their work. However, it may take a few days before designs begin to come in. Since good designs take time, you can ask for a free extension by contacting the support team at 99designs.
  2. Shortlisting: This is the stage where you get to pick your top 6 designers who would move into the final round. You begin to play a more active role from this round in the sense that your involvement with the six finalists increases.
  3. 3 days of final round: You continue to work with the selected designers and refine the designs in this round. However, no new designers can enter at this stage. Once you perfect the designs, you pick the winner of the contest.
  4. Handover: Once you announce the winner of the contest, you award him with the prize money. This is followed by the designer uploading the production ready files for you.

The video explains how 99designs works.

The discussion on spec work / crowdsourcing design:

No matter what people will tell you, spec work is as old as the design industry itself, small agencies, large agencies, and freelancers, almost all, on occasion, do ‘spec work’ or a ‘free creative pitch’ as it’s sometimes referred to. Historically it came from the advertising agency that would put together a creative pitch to then win a huge contract, and nowadays in the design industry you can end up pitching for just the project itself.

Essentially this means that creative work has been devalued, as clients expect more for less.

The biggest difference between traditional spec work is that an agency or freelancer would typically compete against 3-6 competitors for the job, giving them a 33% – 16% chance.

With the introduction of 99Designs into the market, they kept the same model as above, but with 3 main differences:

  1. There is no limited number of designers that can compete, leaving the designer with a 1% or 2% statistical chance of winning
  2. In a 99Designs (standard) contest, all designers can see each other’s work. What happens is that when a client gives 1 design a decent score, other designers (who had nothing to do with this initial idea) flock towards the same concept. In reality the designer with the idea loses his advantage.
  3. The amount per design in a traditional pitch is multiples higher than with 99Designs. Based on the figures above, the price per design is 2.5$.

The largest issue we see is the last one. With a cost per design of 2.5$ it helps explain the complaint from multiple clients that they got a ton of designs, but only very few good ones.

How to order a logo design from 99 designs

The briefing process:

One thing 99Designs has really nailed down is the briefing process- they have made it dead simple to start a project:

Step 1 – Select designs you like

You select which designs you like form an elaborate list. This helps the designers ‘get on the right foot’ as it provides some inspiration & feel for what you might be going for.

Step 2 – Enter email

Enter your email- worthwhile to do, in order to save your progress- but you can skip this step if you don’t feel like receiving emails yet.

Step 3 – Adjust the style

Based on the images you selected they show you what they think your style is, you can adjust it in this step.

Step 4 – Select colors

Select the colors you would like your design to feature.

Step 5 – The brief

The brief- now we get to the important stuff:

  • Language: They would like to know which language you want to make your brief in. Our recommendation would be to always select English, as otherwise you’re likely to limit the number of designers significantly.
  • Name of your logo
  • Enter a slogan if you have one
  • Write about your company & the target audience
  • Select your industry
  • Select if you want an upgrade package (logo & website, logo & business card & letterhead, envelope & facebook cover)
  • Other- literally anything else you would like to tell the designers
  • Upload any inspiration or sketches (or anything else) you feel might help the designers.

Step 6 – Select your package

Ok- here it gets complicated.

You have a choice between bronze, silver, gold & platinum.

The difference between:

  • Bronze ($299) – The basic package
  • Silver ($499): Basically just a ‘larger designer prize’, which will likely attract more designers
  • Gold ($799): Different level of designers (Mid & top level only)
  • Platinum($1,299): Different level of designers (top level only), prioritised support, dedicated manager

Our opinion: Which logo design package is best?

In our opinion the sweet spot is the ‘Gold’ package, as you do want the better quality designers, as otherwise chances are you become target practice for inexperienced designers. The downside (yes, we say downside) is that they expect you will receive 90 designs with a gold package. The amount of work to eliminate, provide feedback & review 90 designs, is an immense job, even for someone with experience in the field.

  • Select the title for your project
  • Promote your contest upsell…

Yes- you read that right, you have to pay to get designers to notice your contest…

  • Prices are as follows:
    • Twitter ($99)
    • Feature ($79)
    • Highlight ($19)
    • Blog ($19)
    • Powerpack- (feature+highlight+blog) ($99)

Although it goes against our nature to pay for something that should be included, we do recommend buying the ‘Feature’ option at $79 to make sure the ‘good’ designers actually notice your project.

  • Guaranteed

If you select this option you’re saying you would like to forfeit your money back guarantee.

We don’t advise doing it, as then there is no way back.

  • Private contest- $59

This keeps your project private from google and lets the designers agree to a level of confidentiality (NDA). We do recommend this, as you generally don’t want your website to be featured in google search results right next to a page of 99designs showing who made what & how much you paid for it. If you’re not bothered by the idea- great, then you can save yourself $59.

  • Duration

You can select to have a speedier delivery.

3 days = $39
2 days = $59
24 hours = $79

In our opinion, we understand you might be under time pressure in certain cases, but we fail to see the advantage of shortening the timespan of the contest, as you will receive less work from less designers, with less time spent on it, for more money. So our recommendation is the ‘standard 7 days’

Step 7 – Sign up

Ok, it’s time to sign up now, enter your email & pick a password. Don’t forget to agree to the terms & conditions (and read them like we all do….)

Step 8 – Your details

You get to see a summary of your order- in our case it’s $937

  • Fill in your contact details
  • Fill in their questionnaire

Step 9 – Payment

You can select to pay with credit card or PayPal

99designs blind contest

What is a blind contest?

A blind contest refers to those contests in which designers only get to see their entries. Though a designer gets to see the star ratings of each design entered in the contest, they do not get to see what the others have actually designed.

This is how designs appear if one designer wishes to see what other designers have created.

How blind contests at 99designs works

Apart from App Mobile and Website design contests, which go blind right from the beginning, you at least need to have one regular design contest run at 99designs to launch a blind contest. Due to the sensitive nature of App Mobile and Website design, the contest goes blind at launch.

A normal contest will help you understand how designers work and present their ideas, which is why a normal design contest is preferable before launching a blind contest.

Once you select the blind contest feature, it cannot be removed during the course of the contest – at least in the first three stages of the competition.  

A suggestion from our side is the following, we would strongly suggest contacting customer service to make your project a ‘blind contest’, as otherwise designers can see each other’s work, which can lead to them copying the designs that got positive feedback.

The start of the project

Once the project starts, the interface feels quite intuitive- it’s easy to navigate the page & give feedback to the designers.

Within the first few hours you’re likely to start receiving designs,

Our advice- try to communicate with decent designs / designers as soon as possible before the clutter starts to settle in & give star ratings to all of them (even if it’s just for yourself to keep track).

The time frame

We have often heard people say, “Time is money!” Well in all honesty, it truly is!  Whether you are a startup or an established business, time truly is one of the most important factors that contribute to your overall success. 99designs ensures that a client gets nothing but the best in a limited period of time.

We already know 99designs has 2 ways to make things happen – you can either hire a designer or run a design contest.

If you intend to start a big project and are clear about what you want, you probably have hired a designer from 99designs. Depending on the size of your project, the timing and the pricings are decided. However, it is a completely different ballgame if you have opted to run a design contest.

A design contest has several rounds with varying time frame – let’s take a quick look:

The qualifying round lasts for 4 days with designers from all over the world submitting their ideas and designs to you.

The next round is the selection round where you select up to 6 finalists to go into the final round. This round lasts for 4 days.

The final round lasts for 3 days where you are closely involved with the designers in perfecting and correcting the designs.

The next round lasts for 14 days where you decide a final winner. You may select multiple winners if you want more than one design. You even get to run a poll if you are unsure about the winner.

The next round involves designers transferring the production-ready files along with the full copyright to you. This round lasts for 5 days.

If you feel that the regular design contest is taking up too much time, you can opt for something called the “fast-tracked contest.” Instead of 7 days, a fast-tracked contest may last for just 1, 2 or 3 days.

There are no qualifying or final rounds nor is there a revision period in a fast-tracked contest. Designers quickly submit their designs once they receive the design brief following which you immediately declare a winner.

For more information on how fast-tracked contests work, click on the link below:

https://support.99designs.com/hc/en-us/articles/204760805-What-is-a-fast-tracked-contest-and-what-s-involved-

How long do design contests take and what is involved?

To summarize what we’ve mentioned above, a design contest is divided into the following stages:

  • 4 days of the designs stage
  • 3 days of the final round
  • A 14-day third stage to pick a winner, and
  • A 5-day window to handover the files

Now that you know how long a design contest runs, you have several questions popping up in your mind. Yes, we’ll answer them all!

1. What if you need more time?

Creativity takes time, especially when you are looking to innovate something that properly aligns with your brand. 99designs let you extend the contest round between 1 – 5 days. All you are required to do is simply select the ‘Extend’ function from the contest menu.

2. What happens if you don’t pick a winner after 14 days?

In case your contest is guaranteed, the prize money is liable to be distributed among all the designers who were still a part of the contest when it ended. In case your design contest was not a guaranteed one, the competition is liable to be locked. A locked contest can only be unlocked by contacting 99designs support team.

3. Can you provide further feedback/request changes during the ‘pick a winner’ or the ‘handover stage’?

Designers are not obligated to accept such requests after a winning design is declared. However, designers do make minimal changes on request for free. If you are still looking to make detailed changes, designers may oblige you for a reasonable cost.

4. What is the best day to start a project?  Are designers less active during the weekend?

Like all things creative, it is a process that takes time and hard work.  Though it is impossible to measure creativity and how an individual creator works out his creation, it is a good idea to begin work during the week as opposed to starting something on the weekend.

Read more: How to design the ideal week to balance your priorities

5. Where are designers in 99designs from?

With over 1.2 million registered designers, 99designs can truly boast of having a strong network of designers from all over the globe.

6. How can you communicate with a designer? Can you email a designer?

No! To protect both you and the designer, 99designs does not allow communicating with a designer through emails. However, 99designs has its own communications system in place. You can send messages directly on the 99designs platform, both privately and publicly. 

99designs pricing plan

99designs has several plans and packages with varying price tags. Depending on the plan or the kind of work you want done, a price is set. Most projects at 99designs range from $299 to $2500.

A logo design basic plan is priced at $299 and can go up to $1,299. Again, logo and brand identity pack, which includes logo, business card, letterhead, envelope and Facebook cover, is priced at US $599.

Given below are the prices for the most popular design contests:

  • Logo Design: $299-$1,299
  • Web Page Design: $599-$2499
  • WordPress Design: $599-$2499

There are several design contests under several design categories, but they all come under four base price plans; namely, bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The gold and platinum packages attract top designers from the world plus get you more designs to choose from.

Given below are the four price plans for Web Page Design:

Apart from the above, 99designs has several add-ons, some of which are as follows:

  • Feature your contest: 99designs lets you feature your contest at the top of the list for an additional payment of $79. Featuring a contest at the top provides more visibility and as a result a client receives 40% more designs, according to 99designs.
  • Highlight your contest: This is another interesting add-on that 99designs provides. Highlighting your contest in orange not only helps your competition stand out, it also helps you in receiving15% more designs. Highlighting your contest will cost you an additional $19.
  •  Promote your contest through 99designs blog: Promoting your contest through 99designs’ blog is a good idea since more designers will get to see your contest. According to an estimate by 99designs, over 10,000 designers get to see a contest when it is promoted through 99designs blogs. This add-on feature costs $19.
  •  Feature, highlight, and promote your contest: You can choose any of the above as a single add-on to go with your contest or you could choose the three together. Choosing the three together ensures greater visibility which would result in you receiving a greater number of designs. You can buy this package for as low as $99 and save $18.
  •  Hire a creative consultant: This is a super interesting add-on provided by 99designs. You can hire a personal consultant who could offer you valuable advice and guide you in making informed decisions. This add-on feature costs $129.
  • Complete design contests faster: This add-on feature lets you finish a contest within 1, 2 or 3 days. If you intend to finish a contest in a day, all you are required to do is make a payment of $79. Similarly, you only have to make a payment of $59 to finish a contest in 2 days. $39 is what you have to pay if you intend to wrap-up a contest in 3 days.

How much commission does 99Designs earn / take?

99designs generates its revenue based on an age-old business model—commission. There are two ways by which 99designs collects its commissions: contests and projects.

  • Contests: Depending on the kind of contest you select, 99designs draws a commission. Simply put, there are four different price categories to choose from, namely bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Upon selecting the price and design categories, anything between 5% to 40% commission is levied. A designer only gets to see the prize amount and never the commission.

According to Calvin Emerson, design expert at 99designs, “On 99designs, designers only see the prize amount they’re competing for in a contest. It’s never a surprise when they’re paid out—that said, different price contests (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) have a scaled fee percentage because at higher levels, our support and account management teams are involved in helping clients get their designs done.” (https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-do-99Designs-and-Designs-net-take-from-a-designers-commission-and-can-designers-contest-the-percentage-Why)

  • One-to-one projects: A designer has more freedom in a one-to-one project in terms of setting the price. Once a client agrees on a price set by the designer, he is required to pay an additional 10% as a commission to 99designs.

How do designers get paid?

There are two ways by which designers can make money on 99designs. The first way a designer can make money is by entering a design contest. As a designer, you can begin designing after receiving the client brief. If the client likes your design, you will have to go through several rounds (explained above).

After winning the contest, you will enter the Design Handover stage. In this stage, you transfer the copyright and upload the original files. Once the clients receive the files and the copyright, 99designs will release the prize amount to your account in the form of 99designs “earnings” or “credits.”

You can ‘Request a payout’ on receiving the 99designs using one of their payment providers—Payoneer or PayPal.

The second method a designer can earn revenue on 99designs is by offering or accepting a one-to-one project. Designers have the liberty of setting up a payment on the one-to-one project. However, both the client and the designer have to pay a platform fee.

A platform fee is a cost that both client and the designer have to bear to “secure payment holds, dispute resolution, community curation, anti-fraud measures, payment processing, educational resources and the ongoing development of the platform.” (https://support.99designs.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022206031-What-is-a-platform-fee-

A client has to pay a fixed 5% platform fee to use the one-to-one service. Similarly, a designer has to pay the platform fee depending upon his expertise.

Becoming a Designer on 99designs

With the world getting more advanced by the day in terms of creativity and career, becoming a freelance designer is a promising job option for people with a knack for design. However, aligning yourself and your design career with crowdsourcing platforms such as DesignHill, Crowdsourcing, DesignBro, and 99designs certainly brings an exploration ring to the same. Not only do you become a member of an established community, but you also grow your client base extraordinarily. 

While it is free to register and start freelancing on 99designs, the fees and rewards vary  per design type. Furthermore, as you start working with a client, you as a designer are required to pay Client Introduction Fees worth $100 which includes marketing, SEO, and advertising your work. This fee can be waived off once you become a finalist in a design contest. Moreover, with every assigned project, designers pay project fees per their level: 

  • Top-level designers pay a 5% platform fee.
  • Medium-level designers pay a 10% platform fee.
  • Entry-level designers pay a 15% platform fee. 

Your profile level will be determined by the platform as you start submitting your designs. Also, keeping a gap of 6 months from the previous level-review application, you could apply for a level review and get notified of the decision in a few days. 

Although 1-to-1 projects work perfectly for designers, the 99designs contest is where you get a true opportunity to shine. For instance, if you submit your design for a Guaranteed Contest, the winning design will receive the payment even if the client does not pay. Moreover, for each project (be it a contest or a 1-to-1 project) the platform charges clients beforehand to ensure that all designers get paid for their work. In the case of multiple winners for a contest, some designers are confused that their prize will be split with others. However, that is not the case. Upon winning a contest, each designer is paid in full. All your earnings can be withdrawn through Payoneer or PayPal. 

In addition to financial benefits, your privacy is ensured by 99designs as all the designs can be withdrawn upon request and in case a contest is not active for any reason, the design stays hidden from everyone. 

Pros

Get hundreds of designs at a fixed price

With over 1.4 million registered designers, 99designs is truly the largest creative marketplace. When you run a design contest on 99designs, you can be sure of one thing – hundreds of submissions in a single contest. Running a design contest on the largest creative platform, especially if you are unable to explain your ideas to a graphic designer, is a fantastic idea.

Design contests at 99designs are planned in a way that you never have to pay a dime extra. Prices for design contests are fixed and based on the plan you pick, you receive submissions.

 Refund policy: 100 percent money-back guarantee

Yes, that is absolutely true! 99designs offers “a 100% money-back guarantee within 60 days of payment on all contests.”

However, there are three major exceptions to the money-back guarantee:

Although 99designs boasts a ‘100% money back guarantee’, in order to get this, you have to get on the phone with a call center. Nobody likes call centers- so we assume it’s just to make the process more difficult. But that being said it’s nice to know you’re not running a (major) risk.

Intuitive brief creation process

99designs’ unique brief creation process allows you to present your ideas in a systematic way to designers. Unlike other similar platforms, 99designs does not leave anything to chance. The intuitive brief creation process is an extremely useful tool for a person with no design ideas. The questions that 99designs asks during the process makes it easier for both designers and the client to come up with interesting design ideas.

Blind Contest

As explained above, blind contests can really prove fruitful if you are looking for unique designs. These kinds of contests help you find great designs that have not been inspired by other designs.

Fast tracked contests

These kinds of contests are best for those looking to finish a contest in a shorter span of time, albeit for a few dollars extra.

A fast tracked contest generally lasts for 1, 2 or 3 days.

In addition to the fast tracked contests, the general turnaround time at 99designs is exceptional. You are likely to start receiving designs within 24 to 48 hours of submitting your brief.

Affordability

While it is true that you can teach a computer to build a great website through software tools like WordPress and WordPress Themes, graphic designs remain a whole new ballgame altogether.

Big companies can afford to spend a fortune to develop their brand image but the same cannot be said about small businesses and startups with limited amounts of money.  99designs ensures small brands and startups get the visibility they deserve without having to break the bank. Affordability without compromising on the quality of work is the mantra of 99designs.

Cons

Experts only available in premium plans

Yes, you again heard that right! The only way you are going to get experts to work on your project is by buying premium plans. This, for many, is a very infuriating feature on 99designs.

Buying gold or platinum plans not only ensures attention from expert designers, it also has additional features such as getting more design concepts, dedicated managers, and prioritized support. These features are unavailable in bronze or silver plans.

Not filling out proper details during their simple onboarding process could also lead you to lose expert designers.

Unavoidable communication barrier

A client/agency relationship is vital for the growth of a brand. In fact, when you hire a single graphic designer, you build a relationship which is more than you filling up a brief. In a client/agency relationship your needs are understood at a deeper level; and as a result of which, a powerful brand story with great designs are created.

This relationship may be extremely difficult to recreate when running a design contest.

Another problem which adds to the unavoidable communication barrier is the designer’s geographical location. When you run a design concept, you may expect designer’s from all over the world to respond. This can sometimes make it extremely difficult to convey your idea in its entirety due to the difference in cultures and mannerisms.

Expect similar designs if you are not running a blind contest

Be it a logo design or a web page design, running a blind contest is always advisable. While it is true that you may receive hundreds of designs during a design contest, it is equally true that you may receive several similar looking designs.

All designers, during a contest, get to see what other designers have submitted – a default feature on 99designs. This results in a lot of freelancers submitting similar designs with very little variations.

Designer dissatisfaction

A client or a customer may be as happy as Larry to get hundreds of submissions, but the same cannot be said for designers. Designers at 99designs are well aware of the fact that their designs might not always be on the winning side. That said, designers are human beings and continuous rejections could lead to a designer becoming dissatisfied.

Customer support

There are three ways through which you could connect to 99designs customer support, namely Email Support, Live Chat Support, and Phone Support.

  • Email Support: You are required to raise a ticket to receive information from a customer support executive. Follow the link to raise a ticket: https://support.99designs.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
  • Live Chat Support: The chat “bubble” visible in the lower-left corner of virtually every 99designs page will allow you to connect with their customer support.
  • Phone Support: 99designs provides strong phone support in countries, including the US, the UK, Denmark, Australia and other European and American countries.

Usage rights

Concept Originality Policy

The ‘Concept Originality Policy’ of 99designs states, “The basic tenets of the 99designs community are honesty, originality, and respect. Do not copy other designers’ works. Understand that some similarity is to be expected.”

According to the concept, every designer must create unique designs. That said, similarities can be expected, such as “using flowers for a flower shop.”

The policy further lays out that if a dispute arises, it should be settled amicably or it shall result in the account getting suspended or forever closed. – https://support.99designs.com/hc/en-us/articles/204109569-Concept-Originality-Policy

Copyright/IP guidelines:

99designs has a strong policy in place in regards to intellectual property rights. Not only does 99designs ensure that designers’ intellectual property rights are protected, but it also sets the seal on designs that contest holders can legally use.

According to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (USA) and Copyright Act (Australia), if a takedown notice is filed, the content in question will immediately be removed from contest or entry – https://support.99designs.com/hc/en-us/articles/204761615-Copyright-IP-Guidelines

Can you award multiple winners to use their designs?

If you like more than one design in a contest, you can choose to buy them. 99designs allows you to choose and award more than one design. The additional cost will reflect on your contest page.

99designs complaints

While it is true that 99designs is one of the best design crowdsourcing platforms out there, the online giant is not without its share of bad reviews from both designers and clients.

From designers alleging stolen logos to lack of communication being reported between the customers and the designer, 99designs is faced with multiple challenges. A designer on Reddit writes, “There are a lot of stolen logos, recycled ones, and use of stock images.”

“Some customers wait for 50, 70 or 100 designs, stop the contest, take your work and probably ask a guy to vectorize it.” – https://www.reddit.com/r/graphic_design/comments/8i19i9/my_99designs_experience/

Another designer writes, “99designs boasts on their site that a project of $299 receives over 30 designs. Problem is that 1/3 approximately is commission. Therefore, $200 at 30 designs = $6.6 that’s what you are getting paid per design, assuming an average win rate, and no cancellations… My suggestions if you get accepted to designbro.com there the maths works better.” – https://www.reddit.com/user/JanSchieberg/

An article published in Truly Deeply mentions, “Those who have been led to believe their branding should cost $500 and be completed in 2 weeks without ever sitting face-to face with their designer are often unhappy with their result.” The article further analyzes problems faced by clients and designers along with evaluating the argument between price vs. value.

An unhappy customer writes, “The quality of designers leaves much to be desired. I paid for a more expensive design package and got very few non-original designs. I would have gotten a better result hiring someone off of any number of other websites.” – https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.99designs.com

99designs Alternatives

While it is true that 99designs is the largest creative marketplace and provides amazing design solutions, there are other alternatives that provide similar services at a fraction of the price.

Some great alternatives to 99designs are:

  1. Fiverr
  2. DesignBro
  3. DesignHill
  4. DesignCrowd
  5. Crowdspring

Is 99designs worth it?

Whether you are a startup or an established business, 99design has something for each one. One of the coolest things about 99design is it offers great designs at affordable prices.

So, is 99designs worth it? Yes it definitely is! While it is true it has its drawbacks but once you look at the larger picture, you realize that you get more than what you bargained for.

Our Advice

It’s really easy to start a project on 99designs, the website works well, and the support works. However, expect to receive a large number of designs, of which most are (really) not what you are looking for. Many of them will have been created in a very short period of time to maximise the designer’s chance of earning money.

99designs is not cheap when you want to do it ‘right’ (Gold package + Featured project + Private), and similarly, don’t do it as a ‘side project’ as you will need to put in a lot of time.

We have given 99designs 4/5 stars in our comparison with competitors, which gives it a good second place for it’s logo design contest service, just under DesignBro, which is our recommendation for this category.

  • Package selected
  • Only pro designers
  • Private or blind contests
    This means designers cant see each other’s work - it leads to less copying and more creativity. Some sites allow it, and others have it as a standard. Our advice? Make sure your contest is blind!
  • Estimated # of designs
    Remember 1 good design is better than 20 mediocre ones
  • Quality of designs
    We launched different contests with all platforms, and sat down with a team of design experts to judge the quality. This was our score.
99Designs
"Lots of designs"
$799Logo Design
  • gold package
  • (only on gold pack)
    Only on the Gold Package & up better designers are offered
  • (but not first project)
    They only allow a blind competition once you have worked with 99Designs before
  • 90
    We felt a little overwhelmed by the number of designs that were presented, and were slightly dissapointed by the number of decent quality designs
DesignBro
"Great quality"
Our Choice
$479Logo Design
  • 10 designs
  • 10+
    You can eliminate designs you don't like, which means that that spot 'opens up' again for other designers. We ended up getting 15 designs for the same price.
Designcrowd
"too many"
$429Logo Design
  • their popular package
  • (extra $150)
    Yet another upsell...
  • 90
    We felt a little overwhelmed by the number of designs that were presented, and were slightly dissapointed by the number of decent quality designs
Crowdspring
"ok- service"
$499Logo Design
  • gold package
  • (extra $199)
    Yet another upsell...
  • (extra $49)
  • 50
Designhill
"getting there"
$599Logo Design
  • executive package
  • 60

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