99designs originated from a friendly competition between a group of designers on the Sitepoint forum. By 2008, 99designs had formed as a unique design marketplace, and now sees connections formed between tens of thousands of small businesses and an international community of designers that has now topped one million.
It's hard to deny both the depth and breadth of services that 99designs has to offer anyone in need of quality, affordable design work. Do you need a logo designed for your company? What about a business card, app design, poster or T-shirt? All of the obvious options are covered at 99designs, plus many less obvious ones. Furthermore, with more than one million designers represented on the site, you can expect true quality in the ideas that you get back - dependent in part on the price that you pay. All of the projects are subject to minimum prices (detailed below), which - while a possible inconvenience for those seeking truly bottom-of-the-market pricing - does help to keep the professional standard of design high.
There are, however, downsides, such as the inability to plunge further into a designer's background - you get the suggested design from them, and that's pretty much it. You aren't able to look over the designer's CV or peruse their wider portfolio. However, the sheer simplicity of such a system may be refreshing for some people who really do just want a cheap, decent quality design without feeling the need to get bogged down in the judgement of past reputations.
Those requesting design services are asked to outline their brief for the project via 99designs' simple online system, with designers then submitting ideas, from which the requester can choose. Various design packages are available, ranging from Bronze and Silver to Gold and Platinum, with the higher-priced packages attracting more designers to a contest.
The process of actually requesting a design online is very quick and simple, and doesn't require a high level of design-specific expertise - if you ask for a logo design, for example, you will be directed to a page with a series of suggested styles so that you can give the designers an idea of the general 'look' that you would prefer. You can then specify aspects of your brand's style that you would like the designers to explore. Are you seeking something classic and mature, for example, or modern and youthful? You can even suggest colours that you would like the designers to explore, along with any other, more specific details.
+ Huge range of potential projects and designs
+ Quick and easy process
+ Receive ideas from designers based around the world
- No deeper relationships with designers
- Minimum prices restrict freedom to name own prices
- Not able to speak to designers in person
99designs is an excellent no-nonsense portal for requesting a wide range of design work and receiving ideas from others. The more than 1,000,000 designers represented on the site help to ensure a high standard of work, so why not sign up today to see what the fuss is all about?