Category Changes

March 3, 2008

With the upcoming launch of the new design, we are changing things a bit in relation to categories. Basically we are looking to simplify things for Contest Holders and to re-enforce the purpose of the site: design.

The categories we have settled on are:

  • Logos
  • Buttons or Icons
  • Web Pages
  • T-Shirt or Clothing
  • Business Stationary
  • Other

The notable removals are Flash and Coded Templates. Basically we are getting rid of the non-design categories, or at least the design categories that require coding or markup. What we are trying to emphasize is that we are a community of designers, not flash programmers or web developers. Graphic design can be represented with a screen shot, and can be assessed on a visual basis, whereas coding activities can’t, and this is reflected by the volume of complaints and disputes we handle in these categories currently.

We are investigating a number of options for converting web page designs to markup, such as services like or, or perhaps offering a marketplace for members to bid for this sort of work.

45 Responses to “Category Changes”

  1. Steve Says:

    Bleh, I liked the coded section.

    However, I like the idea of bidding for it as long as there aren’t a bunch of people that bid like $10 and do a bad job.

  2. Nadia P Says:

    Good changes overall, However, (personal opinion of course)

    I believe that the coders amongst us who take pride in their markup ability and have been part of the community for quite some time, should be the first to be given the opportunity to bid on the markup services, rather than the companies mentioned above.

    Nothing against them, but just because we (generally speaking) do not advertise as heavily as they do, does not mean that there are no designers/coders here who can compete with their services.

    I have a couple of ideas on how to possibly determine the quality of coding ability, but won’t publish unless you guys want some ideas :-)


  3. Nadia P Says:

    After thinking about this, I’m not sure that bidding for these coding jobs is any different than having them go to the marketplace and hiring a coder, where again, quality is not guaranteed. This is where an ‘approved coders list’ should come into play.

    I do agree with Steve though that allowing bidding at ridiculously low prices will only devalue the quality of the services that can be provided by experienced coders.

    Low prices will bring out the inexperienced coders and you will end up with the same issues you say you currently experience.

    PS: Hopefully the minimum prize money allocations will also be overhauled. They are currently way too low – particularly in the web design section.

  4. liam Says:

    I think it’s a great move. Having read this at first I was annoyed. Even though I’m not a coder myself I thought it was wrong of you to think that you shouldn’t focus on coders in this community.

    However, this is actually a good move for coders. Especially those who are talented coders, but might not be too great at design. It opens up a lot more oppurtunities for people.

    I agree that there should be some control over the bids, just like you have with prize money.

    Nice move though.

  5. technov5 Says:

    I like the overall idea, but removing the coder section might effect the people who can also code, as a part of their work will be taken away resulting in less income.

    And adding companies that you mentioned will further make it worse.

    And adding a marketplace for bidding might result in the problems of portfolio rights as the coder will also like to add the site to his portfolio.

    The best idea I think is the ‘approved coders list’ as mentioned by Nadia P.

  6. technov5 Says:

    And if you agree to use the ‘approved coder list’ you can give an option to the contest holders which will allow them to limit only the designers who can code also to submit entry.

  7. john Says:

    Please don’t affiliate with any of the large services. The problem is that it pushes out a great deal of great people (xhtml/css coders) who probably depend on this site for a lot of their revenue. Set up a separate section on the sitepoint marketplace for coding, let people handle it in the traditional manner there.

    Good changes though, there’s been a few competitions I haven’t entered here due to them requiring working with a scripts template engine.

  8. Mark Says:

    I like the idea of having a flat fee per page of markup and an approved coders list to choose from.

  9. nita gale Says:

    I totally disagree. The problems I have seen with the site is although a lot of what is submitted is good, beautiful even, it remains a theory or concept having limited practicality when coding times come around.

    To me a good web designer is by nature also a good coder. Sepearting the two promotes a division that shouldn’t exist to begin.

    In fact, a good web designer shouldn’t be just fantastic at illsutrator, photoshop etc. They should have a working understanding of IA, UI, SEO, CSS as well. After all, these are not portfolio pieces they are meant to work.

  10. Dawson Says:

    If it ain’t broken don’t fix it..
    I really don’t think you should remove it.

  11. Nadia P Says:

    [quoted: a lot of what is submitted is good, beautiful even, it remains a theory or concept having limited practicality when coding times come around.[/quote]

    Totally agree.. a lot of the designers who submit some great entries, just have no idea whether the design will translate well when being coded – that’s because they’ve never had to markup these designs.

    That’s the main reason why I prefer to design and code my own submissions. Being a designer/coder, I always make sure that what I design can be marked up cleanly requiring no hacks and the finished project will be validated and be cross browser compatible. Many here just don’t realise that this is just as important as a ‘beautiful design’ :-)

  12. blnk Says:

    i think a more important issue, and i know its a bit off topic but i dont know where else to put it, is dealing with dead or abandoned contest.

    it just seems like a lot more contests are being abandoned since the site moved away from sitepoint, and i thought it had been promised that with 99designs, a new system would be put in place to secure payments

    apart from that i agree with nita gale. you cant design a bridge if you dont know if it will stand… and i like the idea of this being a web design site instead of just a design site

  13. Pilot Warpig Says:

    Can you add a new category: Digital illustration?

  14. pitrih Says:

    i also think you should not remove coded design section,
    and agree with Dawson, Nadia P. and some other people here that good designers code their own designs.

    Please don’t remove this category

  15. Thanks for the feedback, both for and against!

    Firstly, my apologies for the belated reply, Paul and myself have been locked away working on the next major 99designs release.

    Nadia, I completely agree with you when you say that beautiful code is as important as beautiful design when it comes to the web, unfortunately the vast majority of designers aren’t really on the same page. You should see the support requests from CHs who ended up with HTML exported from graphics packages. The problem with coded templates is that assessing what is high quality code is not something that a lot of Contest Holders can do.

    It was a hard decision to remove the coded category for this reason, but the fact of the matter is that what the category was for was unclear and hard to police. The positive response to the idea of a “markup service” staffed by a list of approved coders has been a strong sign to me that we have made the right decision and that this is something that is worth doing properly, rather than just settling for the ad-hoc approach we had earlier.

    At present I am thinking of a system where Contest Holders can pay to have designs marked up by a group of “approved coders” who have got on the approved list by submitting a portfolio of markup/css. We would have to have a system in place to ensure high quality, perhaps via a moderation system. I think a fixed price per page would work, paid to us, and then from us to the coders on hand-over.

  16. Nadia P Says:

    Thanks for responding Lachlan.
    [quote]You should see the support requests from CHs who ended up with HTML exported from graphics packages.[/quote]

    I was afraid that may be happening after seeing some of the coded examples I’ve seen posted here :-(

    I agree that the system you are thinking of is probably the best way to go forward on this. I guess we’ll know more once the new 99designs system is completely in place :-)

  17. Studio_C Says:

    if an administrator logs on to this blog can you please email me so you can assist me in logging in … been trying to get help from 99designs foe three days

    sry for invading this thread but i can’t seem to get ahold of any of the administrators


  18. Studio_C: Yes, we have been trying to get help to you for weeks. Your email server is misconfigured and is blocking our emails. I suggest you sign up for a gmail account and email support from that, or email us at our gmail account,

  19. Cody Baker Says:

    Lachlan: I wanted to suggest exactly that. Essentially, a directory of high-quality coders to pick from. I would definitely be signing into that assuming a good price was set for a per page/site rate.

  20. demonhale Says:

    However I noticed that On the Web Pages Design section, CH expect designs to be delivered coded rather than just the design image templates.

    And in the past a “Designed and COded” template have a high contest prize as opposed to uncoded design. Now it seems the offer is for uncoded design, but the CH is expecting a coded delivery. I hope 99design sends out a notice that Web Page design area is supposed to uncoded unless explicitly stated…

  21. BombardierBob Says:

    I like the plans on the changes but would love to see a system set up to send an email to host to remind them of their contests ending and a couple days later after it has ended as a lot of contests are going on weeks with no winner or sign of the host being on. I can say from my own list over 75% are ended and over a week old with no winner. Something needs to be changed and added to contact them. ~Bob

  22. Nadia P Says:

    @demonhale – if you see such a contest, please ask the question of the contest holder.

    Make sure that you know what the contest requirements are before submitting a design. I try and check most web design contests, (you may have probably seen my posts in the comments area), but I can’t be around all the time and may miss some of them :-) We also need to make sure that the prize they offer meets the contest guidelines… many are trying to get far more for what they are willing to pay for the contest.

  23. vw53a Says:

    I still don’t fully get the idea behind “uncoded” webpages.
    It looks to me like wanting to buy a new car and then settle for a clay mockup.

    And, okay, some people may want an inspirational picture after which to design the page layout. But why would it (often) need to be a psd-file. In this case one should be able to use a jpg, gif, png, or hell even a bmp?

  24. MorfeoDesign Says:

    (Perhaps we`re posting this note two times as something weird happens everytime we want to submit, if so, forgive us and only read it once)

    We are in complete disagreement with this decision.

    Firstly, if your aim is to create a community of designers, you should start by eliminating users and not categories.
    How many times have we seen entries at Logo Design that seemed a font catalogue instead of a designed logo? How many times have we seen entries at Web Design that seemed to have been done in Paint by a ten-year-old kid? How many times have we seen entries stolen from TemplateMonster (we know that you get rid of that kind of users when they are reported)? or entries with gradients and transparencies totally inapplicable when coding a template?
    To code a good website, a designer is needed. To develop a good design, a coder -or at least, coding skills- are needed. A good website designer has to have in mind coding and functionality aspects when designing. The same way a good graphic ddesigner must have printing knowledge when doing his work.

    If the possibility you are handling to replace the Coded Website Design category is to set a list of approved coders, apt to do a high quality job… why don`t you just restrict the entrance to this kind of contests? You could do this by making a list of approved designers/coders who would be able to submit their entries.

    If you eliminate the coded category, you would be eliminating for a lot of people like us (web developers, designers/coders) the possibility to get jobs, or incomes, or clients from allover the world.

    Our last three won contests are coded. Yo can see them here:

    When delivering the template, we also show the client how does it look and work on a real internet environment. The CH is then able to verify the product performance in different browsers (such as ie6, ie7, firefox, etc). Therefore, the CH as well as ourselves make sure that the final result is the one desired from the begining: a high quality product.

    Basically, what we want is to keep on being chosen because of the way we work and not because of a low price competition.

    We hope to have given valid alternatives to solve your problem, and we also hope that you reconsider your decision.

    Daniel & Eugenia

  25. Jdprgm Says:

    I am not happy at all about this decision. I am both a talented coder and designer which has always given me an upper hand in being able to compete in the coded template section. This will take that away and really not make me to happy about Sitepoint err 99 design.

  26. Nadia P Says:

    @Jdprgm – I think that’s the point though – you say you are a talented coder (haven’t seen your work so can’t comment :-), but others are not and don’t care what type of code they produce and hand onto the client. Some of the coding I’ve seen is just the slice/dice/code you get from a graphics program – which anyone can do, but proves unworkable/fragile in the ‘real world’.

    How is the contest holder to know who is a good coder and who is a bad one? Admittedly a lot of CH’s probably don’t know good from bad until the site fails in various browsers and by that time it’s too late.

    I too have taken part in the coded section up to a point, but in all honesty, the prize money that CHs offered for both design/coding just wasn’t what it should have been.

    As long as this is set up so that ‘quality coders’ only participate in the bidding for the coding process then I’m all for it – as long as the bidding starts at a reasonable rate – no-one should have to compete against $10 p/hr rates – which is completely unrealistic for quality work :-)

  27. Sean E Says:

    Removing coded sections are absolutely a step in the wrong direction. Having been in design, publishing and advertising for 15 years, you’re removing a set of designers that have the unique and valuable ability to provide truly integrated design (print, online, multimedia) to the benefit of those that may still be solid designers but never had the motivation or need to move beyond print. I don’t see anywhere on your site the fact that you are responsible for the quality of work or follow up with contest participants.

    For those that claim the prize money was not enough for coded work…well, you get what you pay for and web designers and flash designers that don’t see a big enough prize amount can simply choose not to enter. It is a self-policing, self-correcting model.

    I think you should reconsider.

  28. BombardierBob Says:

    I can understand why coders feel they way they do as I
    myself am a coder but I have to agree fully with
    99designs as this is their site and they for one don’t
    have the time or capitol to invest in people to check
    and double check codes all day. 99 designs is about
    designs and nothing more so get use to the new way or
    move on as we all are not owners or rulers of this
    domain and should remember that. Be glad that there is
    a place like this in the first place.

    I can’t wait to see them tackle other issues such as
    hosts abandons contests or hosts running several
    contests and leaving them hang for weeks. This was a
    plague of Sitepoint and it still is to this very day.
    There should be some accountability to the host and a
    means to contact them to remind them of the contest
    being ended and further reminders of the fact.


  29. Nadia P Says:

    it’s not a matter of 99designs employing anyone to check code all day – it’s a matter of getting a group of coders whose coding practises can be verified and only they can bid for the coding contests.

    As for abandonment, hopefully that will cease (or at least diminish) once the escrow service is up and running.

  30. demonhale Says:

    Thank You Nadia… I think this new upgrade is surprisingly better. Also I agree with BombardierBob on the CH issues. I think it’s better that the CH gets the guidelines as well…

  31. Jdprgm Says:

    @ Nadia P – After thinking about it some more I do actually like the idea of a section to bid on the coding work as long as you have a system to verify the quality of the work. I don’t think it would be to hard or time consuming to have something that just checks to make sure someone who claims to know how to code isn’t just slicing it in photoshop and such. You could make it so that like under a persons profile they have a little verified coder emblem and only those people can bid. I think that would be excellent actually.

  32. Steve Says:

    I already posted, but I’ve noticed a lot of web design contests that are still asking for coded designs, it’s just a mess now.

    I think you need to keep the coded section.

  33. Nadia P Says:

    Good point Steve, yes there are quite a few people adding coding to their requirements – some ask straight out and some quite ambiguously :-)

    However, I try and check out all the new contests as they are announced, and point out in the comments section that the coding category is no longer available, and that they should check out the ‘looking for hire section’ over at SitePoint (at least for now).

    With excellent follow up by Nonie (admin staff) when needed, the contest holder usually changes the requirements to ‘design only’.

  34. blnk Says:

    i think the system was perfect before. you had a section that specificaly told CH that their site was to be coded, and another one where it was just for design… and they seemed to understand it.

    but now the website design section is just a mess. you guys might have removed the coding section, but you havent done a great job at explaining to new CH that these are just designs (i dont think any of them read the development blog, so how else would they know). most people dont get the difference between web design and web development/coding… they think its the same thing and now with more reason since its not separated.

    its as if you havent really removed the coding section, you just merged it with the uncoded.

  35. Dan Grossman Says:

    I agree that it is a strange, and for now, a bad move.

    Go down your street and talk to your neighbors. Ask any of them if, were they to hire a web designer, if they’d expect a website back or just a picture of a website. Coding is part of what the client expects from web design. Having a separate forum for design without coding makes sense, but removing the “normal” option just leaves “normal” customers confused.

    It’s also no good for 99designs growth. You’ve got the very first category listed on the homepage of the site showing 0 listings. Looks like a dying service instead of a growing one.

  36. Dean Collins Says:

    Well this sucks!!!!!!

    I was just about to place two competitions for coded web sites.

    WTF have you done – grow the stones and go back and add a coded section again.

    Just because you dont code. WTF am I supposed to do with a noncoded site?

    I’m not a coder – how do i take the design implemented and build it into a website.

    Awaiting your response.

    Dean Collins

  37. Dean Collins Says:

    I just posted this comment on the last competition I ran. i know I already commented here but I’m pissed as this has caused me major issues this morning.

    BTW anyone else who thinks it stinks they have removed the CSS bidding on this site please post your complaints here

    I was jst about to post two new competitions for you guys to bid on and have just realised the owners of this site are preventing me from doing this.

    WTF is with this??

    If you dont want to bid on CSS work then thats fine dont and only submit in the design only section – but this dictatorial decision is crazy.

    Until this is changed I’m not going to be able to offer you guys more work and I cant believe only 33 people have complained about it so far.

    I mean what am I supposed to do with a pretty design – it’s like getting something halfbuilt and expecting “some user assembly required – if I could do it myself you wouldn’t be making money out of me in the first place”.

  38. Etechstudios Says:

    I go with the fact that there should be more prize money on offer, which would bring in high quality coders,to check authenticity of a coder, thy can show some of there previous work which could be checked against w3c standards.
    The coded section should be there.

  39. LJK Says:

    Hi –
    Yes, I hadn’t checked this blog in awhile and was quite surprised to see the Coded category had been removed.

    I’m even more surprised that more serious issues [as re-iterated by Bob, here] haven’t been dealt with…

    With all of the pre-change polls and queries done before 99 designs was born I can’t believe that this issue wasn’t brought up then & dealt with beforehand: if it really was a serious problem, that is.

    Coding is my strong suit; sorry it’s not going to be a viable option, anymore. [Heavy sigh here.]

  40. Nadia P Says:

    As per Lachlans post way up the list:

    “At present I am thinking of a system where Contest Holders can pay to have designs marked up by a group of “approved coders” who have got on the approved list by submitting a portfolio of markup/css. We would have to have a system in place to ensure high quality, perhaps via a moderation system. I think a fixed price per page would work, paid to us, and then from us to the coders on hand-over.”

    That sounds like a ‘coding section’ will be re-introduced at some point.

    Most contest holders (and from what I’ve seen – a lot of designers too) have no idea what ‘coding to standards’ means, but I’m sure they would be the first to complain should their coded project not work in most browsers…. people need to be educated, but more importantly, willing to pay for quality work.

    If this takes on the form of a separate contest category, so be it.

    LJK – coding is my strong suit also, but I wasn’t willing to pit myself against someone willing to work for $pittance per page. Firstly you had to win the contest before you end up coding the design. If this new category comes to fruition, then you wouldn’t need to even enter the design portion, you would only enter for the coding portion only. How this would be run and whether it works, none of us will know until it gets off the ground. I sincerely hope it does :-)

  41. Dean Collins Says:

    Nadia for someone who says she has no official capacity here you seem to be writing a lot of the rules and know whats going on but when i complain in private messages to you your response is to absolve yourself of all responsibility.

    Regarding workign for a pitance, this is where you and i disagree – your assumtion is someone who codes for a living cant do it for $10 an hour……

    the whole point of outsourcing is moving a none location dependant process to a place that it can be done for $10 an hour.

    I think there is an ulterior reason that this section has been shut down by the australian organisers.

    it would be like saying only western designers can now submit work.

    I know that the last contest I held the guy was in the USA but before that one was in Hungary and one in Bulgaria.

    I’m sure now that I cant post any more contests here that they are not appreciating this rule change and are missing the income that I was able to provide.

    I will not post another contest here until this rule is changed back.

    Dean Collins

  42. Nadia P Says:

    Quoting Dean:
    “Nadia for someone who says she has no official capacity here you seem to be writing a lot of the rules and know whats going on but when i complain in private messages to you your response is to absolve yourself of all responsibility.”

    Dean, how the heck am I writing the rules? All I write here are my own personal opinions, I can’t speak on behalf of 99designs, I am not an employee of the company.

    It is only from feedback from both designers and contest holders through this blog, that 99designs can move forward.

    Yes, you complained to me via PM about the abolition of that particular category and I suggested on a couple of occasions, that you visit the “Looking for Hire” section at Sitepoint (gave you the link). I’m sure you’ll find someone willing to work for whatever you want to pay.

    My advice to you was also to ensure that you be careful and ensure that the quality of coding you receive is up to scratch. However, if you are not a coder (which you admitted to) you would not know whether it was good or bad. A question: Who would you hold responsible if you received the files and found that the site didn’t work as expected?

    If I were in your shoes, I would try and find a coder that you can work with on an ongoing basis then this problem would not arise for you in the future.

    Quoting Dean: “I think there is an ulterior reason that this section has been shut down by the australian organisers. it would be like saying only western designers can now submit work.”

    That’s rubbish – it wouldn’t matter where the coder came from, if you read Lachlans’ post again, the main criteria would be that they coded to web standards …

  43. demonhale Says:

    Actually, I aired the same problem too earlier on the post. At least as a designer and coder, I automatically assume and ask the CH if the contest is design and coded since the conception of this new 99designs process. But on the CH side, I feel the concerns of not being able to let your designers know that the contest is for a well-designed then well-coded contest.

  44. BombardierBob Says:

    Ok I seen and heard enough of this from both sides. Look after thinking on this it is a bad move to set it up for only listed coders as who truly th ones to judge a coder skills? Sorry but this then becomes heavy handed to one side and a slap to all other coders out there. I think the section should be back and have it written in the rules that the host has the right to chose to pay or not if the coding doesn’t work. It wasn’t site points position to say what is a good coding in the past then it should not be present. Host and Coders beware, no site the works no money.

  45. Thanks for the feedback guys. It certainly looks like we are going to bring back coded contests in the future. In the meantime its fine to run coded contests in the design category, but be very clear about this in the brief. I would recommend offering a secondary prize for the coding so that you can get entries from designers who aren’t coders. Rest assured that we are working to make this easier, right after the new site is launched and pre-payment of prizes is implemented! (expect the former very soon).

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