99designs Review: Taking Graphic Design to the Next Level

99designs Review: Taking Graphic Design to the Next Level
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99designs Review: In Depth

This site is a type of crowdfunding. Such a thing means that the creator will post an idea and will get dozens of concepts in return. Of course, this does not happen for free. Both the company and the freelancer have to pay a fee to use the platform and really get value. The higher the price of the project, the more people will be interested in working. So, let’s see in this review how 99designs is of help to both contractors and bosses.

Key Features

Within graphic design, this page allows people to carry out many tasks. Let’s examine in detail all of the aspects they cover. And how they can help designers in their efforts.

  • Logos and branding
  • Design for web and mobile apps
  • Clothing and merch
  • Ads for business
  • Illustrations

99designs Review: Background Information

99designs history

The company was launched in 2008. It started in Melbourne, Australia. And today, it expanded all over the world. 4 designers realized that they were using platforms that could improve. That is why they decided to craft a new site. There, designers can connect with clients who need their freelance services.

In the first years, only a few people would enter the page and sign up. But today, the community is huge. Thousands of freelancers and clients use 99designs to do business. It has expanded so much that it even opened offices in the USA. Also, they have been buying competitors, like a company from Germany that had a similar niche.

Key Features in Details

99designs has a service for everyone. From web design to book covers, anyone who needs graphics and illustrations can find it here. So, let’s take a look at the different features and options into play.

How 99designs Works

This company was thought to offer contests very often. But how does this work? In short, a company or client has to submit an idea or a brief. Then, other designers and agencies will see the request and will start working. These people will try to follow the main idea and satisfy the client. Also, the request has to include a budget that calls the attention of these pros.

Some of the things that can include a contest are WordPress themes, logos, ads, banners, and more. Anything can be requested. Over some days, the owner of the contest will receive ideas and concepts. And then comes the time to choose from them. The “winner” is the one who gets paid.

There are some other things to consider. First, to post a contest, the company has to pay for a package. Below are the costs, but they go from $500 to $2000 dollars. So, those who truly need designs will be the ones who use the website. Yet, this fee helps clients see the value in what professionals do. And makes sure they always get what they want and need.

The Brief Proposal: Easy Process

In the part of the client, proposing a brief is not quick and simple. Instead, they will have to invest some time. But this will pay off in the end. Because these owners will make sure that the final project is to their test. If the person decides to post a “blind” contest, this means that other designers will not be able to see the things others post. Let’s see the steps to take, then.

  1. The first thing to do is to select a plan and pay for that.
  2. Then, owners need to fill in a lot of data about the company. And about the design, they want to get.
  3. Within 24-48 hours, the answers will start arriving. And the buyer will have the chance to take a look at them and see if there is any of them they like.
  4. It’s also possible to invite specific designers to the contest. In case the buyers have worked with them before, it’s a good option.

Finally, the one who started the brief has one week to decide what he or she wants. They cannot close it without choosing a winner. And it’s a great alternative for those who need a logo, for example. But are not sure of what to do or what they want. So, this can give them very creative ideas for a low price.

Contact the Right Professional: Very Fast

Choose the designer to work with based on how good their work is or on their reviews. If this is not enough, the platform itself suggests a few options based on the brief that was presented. Make sure to choose the right person to work with, as there is no coming back. Once the decision has been made, that is the person that is going to complete the work and receive the payment.

Once this has been decided and everything is clear, the designer can start working. When he presents the final version, the client can suggest a few changes or ask him to do a few details differently. But remember, the designer has the power to decide when the project is finished. They are professionals. And so, when they believe that a job is done, it is done. And there are no refunds. So, if one is not happy with the result, the only thing he can do is leave a bad review.

Contest or Not? Tough Decision

When one already knows what he wants and who he wants for the project, everything is simple. Just contact them, tell them how the final result should be, and let them do their thing. But if this is not the case, there are more options.

Running a contest is ideal for those who only have a vague idea of what they are looking for. In this way, they present whatever they have and let the experts come up with different proposals. They will adjust to what the client wants but adding their own flare. In this way, the customer will have many options to choose from.

99designs Plans & Pricing

99designs plans & pricing new

As stated above, the creator of the post has to pay a fee to the platform to be able to do it. The fee will vary according to the plan they choose. Each pack is named after precious metal. And each one of them adapts to the different needs of the people who hire them. Let’s take a look at those in detail.

Bronze

The Bronze option is meant for medium-sized companies. Or even for individuals who are looking to get design solutions for their companies. Or for their websites. This is because the pricing is not that elevated when compared to the rest of the plans.

PROS:

  • Custom logo designs
  • Just a week’s deadline
  • 90% satisfaction
  • Refunds available
  • Full copyrights for the logos
CONS:

  • No access to premium freelancers

Silver

What varies the most in the silver package is the price and the number of concepts. It is just a bit more expensive than the previous one. But the number of designs people can get is almost double. So, it might be worth the chance in case the owner is looking for inspiration. Or truly wants to set up a contest.

PROS:

  • Refund guarantee for a full year
  • Personalized chat in case of issues
  • The big number of designs
  • Quick attention
  • Good value for money
CONS:

  • Still no access to top designers

Gold

The Gold plan is meant for big firms. Or for those who can afford to pay the high price of the post. The idea is to take care of clients who need immediate attention. And who wants to get a lot of options for the cash they are spending. And it is the first package that attracts the top professionals working on the platform.

PROS:

  • Priority support in case of issues
  • 24/7 attention
  • Tight privacy policy
  • Access to top-notch designers
  • Very quick service
CONS:

  • Almost no difference with the previous package

Platinum

The last alternative is reserved for premium clients. These can either afford to spend more than $1300 in the products. Or they truly need a lot of designs by dedicated pros. In any case, this option contains everything 99designs has to offer.

PROS:

  • Very fast solutions
  • Web design, ads, logos, and other products
  • Only the best pros are allowed to participate
  • Quick refunds
  • Personalized support
CONS:

  • Very expensive

Logo & Identity Packs

  • Logo and business card: $499
  • Logo and hosted website: $599
  • Logo and social media: $399
  • Logo and brand guide: $429
  • Logo design: $300
  • Business card: $169
  • Stationery: $219

Web & App Design

  • Squarespace design: $54
  • Webpage design: $599
  • Webpage redesign: $599
  • Blog: $599
  • WordPress Theme: $599
  • Form: $349
  • Icon:$219
  • App Icon: $199
  • App Design: $599

Business & Advertising

  • Postcard flyer: $199
  • Leaflet: $199
  • Direct mail: $199
  • Poster: $199
  • Album cover: $299
  • Infographic: $599
  • Brochure: $299
  • Booklet: $299
  • Pamphlet: $299

Clothing & Merchandise

  • T-shirt: $199
  • Jersey: $199
  • Hoodie: $199
  • Merchandise: $199
  • Bag: $199
  • Hat and cap: $199
  • Mug: $189
  • Sticker: $189
  • Other: $199

Art & Illustration

  • Graphics: $299
  • Business illustration: $299
  • Website: $299
  • Book: $299
  • Pattern: $299
  • Invitation: $199
  • Greeting Card: $199
  • Tattoo: $299

Packaging & Label

  • Product: $349
  • Food: $349
  • Retail: $349
  • Cosmetics: $349
  • Product label: $299
  • Food label: $299
  • Beverage label: $299
  • Beer label: $299

Book & Magazine

  • Book cover: $299
  • Interior book design: $299
  • Ebook cover: $199
  • Magazine cover: $299
  • Book layout $299
  • Other: $299

Price & Key Features Comparisons Table

Apart from different prices, each plan contains its own specs and perks. Let’s analyze them below in the form of a chart. This will make it easier for a future buyer to choose the plan that suits them best.

BronzeSilverGoldPlatinum
Price$299$499$899$1,299
N° of concepts306060$60
Full copyrightYesYesYesYes
Top designersNoNoNoYes
Priority supportNoNoYesYes
Personalized managerNoNoNoYes
Money-back guaranteeYesYesYesYes
Free design consultationsNoNoYesYes
24/7 attentionNoYesYesYes

Terms and Conditions

On this page, 99designs states how the system works and what it is that each party has to do. Some stipulations are the same for designers and clients, but some of them are different. Make sure to have this clear before doing anything on the platform that may break these terms. Here, there is some very important info regarding how the payment works. For example, if the client does not choose a design as the winner, he will not have the cashback. Instead, it will be divided among the participants in the form of cash or credits.

Privacy Policy

In this section of the website, 99designs states under which circumstances it gathers its users’ info and what it does with it. They claim that every time a user creates an account on the platform, that info is kept. This happens equally for freelancers and clients. But there is no need to worry. All this info is used exclusively by this company. It is not sold to anyone. They only make use of it to tailor their different marketing campaigns for every person.

Refund Policy

99designs has a very tight refund policy. In order to be able to get the money back, both the client and the designer have to agree that the design is faulty and not what the client wanted. So, unless the freelancer agrees that his work was not good, there is going to be no refund.

Customer Support

99designs’ support team is available at all times to answer queries. Fortunately, they adapt to their users’ needs and offer a wide variety of channels. The response times vary from one to the other, but they usually do not take too long to answer.

Telephone

This provider offers the option to answer questions through a call to pretty much any country it works in. In the case of the United States, people can call at 1 800 513 1678 and have a representative solve their doubts. They are available 24/7 for this.

Email

99designs responds to all types of queries and solves any kind of problems that are sent to the email address [email protected] They usually take between 1 and 2 working days to answer. The good thing is that the team usually gets it right the first time.

Online Chat

Those who want to open a ticket and discuss it with the representative on the spot can do so by clicking on the “Help” bubble. It can be found on the lower-left corner of the screen on almost any page.

Support Center

This page contains pretty much all the information available about the most common problems that may arise when using this platform. There are articles about how contests work or in which cases one can get a refund, for example. This is a great resource to check out before contacting the team when something happens.

Quality of Service

Most clients seem satisfied with the service they got. In terms of concepts, they always get very creative ones. And they get to choose the ones they like the most before paying for the design. Instead, workers might not be so satisfied with the way the platform goes. In particular, senior designers do not want to work for free. So, the only ones who benefit from the projects are the winners.

Customer Types

Good design can boost pretty much any business. Whether they are just a freelancer who is new to his field or a large multinational looking to expand to new markets, having a good designer can make the difference when attracting new clients.

Who is 99designs Best For

Is 99designs really the best alternative out there? The answer is: it depends. There are different needs, requirements, budgets, and types of public out there. Let’s share what each client might find in 2020, depending on what they are really looking for.

Small Business

This platform will be an excellent option for startups that are just getting into the business and do not even have a logo yet. In case one only has a vague idea of what he wants, he can set up a contest and receive proposals from lots of designers.

Large Enterprises

Big companies need help from freelance designers all the time, as new things come up constantly. They can benefit from this platform, then, as some of the best talents is there. Just post a brief and contact one of the top-rated freelancers so that they can start working on the project.

Medium Business

These companies are in the process of enlarging. And when this is happening, new designs are needed at all times. Depending on the degree of expertise, one can run a contest to benefit from the experience of expert designers or just pick the one that seems best based on his profile.

Freelancers

Getting oneself out there for clients can be difficult. The more professional one looks, the more chances he has of being hired. So, getting a designer to create a logo or a website can be the key to growing one’s client base.

99designs Pros & Cons

Tons of options for graphic design exist today. So why use 99designs to hire a pro instead of using a traditional method? Below, readers can find the pros and cons of using this platform to buy this type of service.

  • A lot of concepts for clients to choose from.
  • Relatively cheap if the person is looking for an integral design.
  • The time of response is fast and thriving.
  • Those paying for premium plans will be working with top-notch pros.
  • The money-back-guarantee protects the buyer.
  • The platform might leave designers without earning a cent.
  • It can be hard to follow the briefs at times.

Top 6 Best 99designs Alternatives

As can be imagined, this is not the only platform out there. There are dozens of other apps and tools that share the same similarities. In this list, readers can find the best services for 2020 when it comes to graphic design.

1. DesignCrowd

DesignCrowd

This is a website for the general design. It does not charge the designers who decide to work on their platform. But they will ask for a fee from companies. And they will also charge an amount from the total earnings.

2. Wix Logo Maker

Wix Logo Maker

As the name shows, Wix focuses mainly on logos. It will give companies at least 8 concepts for them to choose from. And they will keep the right to use them for commerce. And for personal reasons. The plan also includes web design.

3. Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands offers a cheap service for those in need of a logo. The idea is to give owners the tools they need to produce a top-notch image. The most expensive plan, for example, includes perks related to social media and scheduling.

4. Looka

Looka

Looka is quite affordable for the services they provide. In short, they have options for web design. And templates to modify so they are cheaper. The platform only connects the owner with just one professional. And lets them do their business alone.

5. Tongal

Tongal

Tongal is one of the most secretive platforms on the list. They do not disclose their prices. Only those interested in knowing and sending an email will know about them. The same happens with the hiring process; there are no details on the site.

6. DesignContest

DesignContest

This is a premium site for those who want to pay for quality services. That is why the price is so high. Still, it is very safe for clients as it allows for refunds. Plus, the number of concepts that the owner is allowed to get is high. So, they will have more creativity for the design.

Competitors Pricing Table

All these sites for design are similar in their features. But this does not mean they offer exactly the same. For instance, the plans are for packaging design; it’s not the price for everything. Let’s examine those perks below.

99 designsDesign CrowdWix Logo MakerTailor BrandsLooka PlatformTongal PlatformDesign Contest
Free planYesNoNoNoNoNoNo
Price$299$129$100$4$20Custom$395
RefundableYesNoNoNoNoNoYes
Full CopyrightYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Premium designersNoNoNoNoNoYesYes
Priority supportNoNoNoNoNoYesNo
Personalized attentionNoYesNoNoNoYesNo
N° of concepts5010811Custom10
Templates to personalizeYesYesYesNoNoYesNo
Online StorageNoNoYesNoNoNoYes

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 99designs Good for Designers?

It depends on the type of designer. For example, those who are just starting out might find a great opportunity here. They will be able to start competing with others. Plus, if the project is not blind, they will be able to see what other pros design for the same brief. So, it can be a true learning experience. And they will be making some money.

Why Is 99designs Bad?

Though the platform provides decent services, it also has some drawbacks. Especially for the designer. Let’s see why. When a client posts a contest, he or she expects a lot of ideas and concepts back. But this person will only choose one in the end. What happens to all the other ones who didn’t win? They worked for free. While this might be good to build up a portfolio, it’s not nice for a senior designer. Or for the industry.

Is 99designs Free for Designers?

Yes, it is free. Freelancers don’t have to pay anything to sign up. But the provider will charge a fee after starting to work with the first client. For example, $100 will deduct from the first $500 that a client pays. And then, other fees will apply. Those who belong to the top-rated scheme will only pay 5%. While the entry-level designers will have to pay 15% of their income.

How Do You Get Paid on 99designs?

Those who decide to work on the platform can choose from some payment methods. After completing a project, it takes up to 10 working days to get released. And the options available are Payoneer and Paypal. The first one has low fees, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to get the money. Usually 24 to 48 hours, so it’s quite convenient. Paypal, on the other hand, has conversion rates. Plus a usual fee of 5%. Yet, it’s easier to connect that account with a bank.

Forget About Non-Creative Concepts

All in all, 99designs is a pro in the field. It has been active for more than a decade with success. And it has been beneficial for those in need of graphics. But also to senior and junior professionals in need of more projects. Clients just need to be aware of the cost of posting a contest. Still, they are worth the money and the time. The concepts will help the agency to be creative and unique at all times.

Published: June 26, 2020 | Updated: July 16, 2020
Linda Andress

Linda Andress

Linda’s passion is turning ideas into a successful copy. She has worked for more than eight years in the publishing industry, providing unique and varied writings. She has experience in successfully implementing PR strategies and organization, including events and meetings (congresses, industry symposiums, and training workshops). When she’s not working, she’s reading (probably 3-4 books at a time), shopping for hours in bookstores and comic book stores, playing video games or volleyball, or spending time with her family, including her two dogs, Mickey and Pete.

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