The team has well and truly been buzzing along this past week and we’re excited to announce the following new features.

Profiles have been refreshed with usability and personalization in mind, paving the way for several improvements (both now and in the future). We’ve brought your personal information up-front, given your contests and designs the limelight and collected your statistics together for at-a-glance viewing. Watch this space!

We’re also pleased to say we’ve heard you loud and clear, and … Folios are here! Simply click the new “Add to Folio” button on one of your designs to get started. In addition to your new folio page, you will also notice we highlight four of your most recent folio designs on your profile page.

An important aspect of folios is the ability to easily share them. To make this as pleasant an experience as possible we’ve introduced Personalized URLs. You can claim your own personal URL from your new profile page, but be quick!

As always, we’d love to know what you think.

I am pleased to announce a major new feature and our first step towards automating payment handling: design handover.

Previously, designers and contest holders negotiated the exchange of final design files and payments themselves when a contest ended. Now, after a contest holder has declared a winner, the contest holder and designer will see a gold button in the contest area that says “design handover”. This will guide the designer and contest holder through the process of exchanging payment and uploading and downloading the final design files.

Another issue we have addressed in this feature, is the addition of a formal copyright transfer agreement. As part of the exchange, both users agree to a copyright transfer that we store electronically for future reference (a copy of the design is stored with the signed agreement in our repository). This agreement makes clear that the handover of rights to the image occurs only when payment is received.

Welcome Aboard, Adam!

August 6, 2008

Just a quick post to welcome aboard our new recruit, Adam Schilling! Adam will be our User Interface Ninja (that’s the technical description). The next few weeks should see some exciting new features that we have been planning.

During the development of the “pre-payment” feature you have all been waiting for, we have had a good chance to look over what different payment methods designers and contest holders use and the pros and cons of each. The following payment methods will be offered and endorsed by 99designs:

If offered in your country, PayPal is by far the best option. They have low transaction fees and great fraud protection for all parties. Accounts can be linked to banks and credit cards easily.

Payments can be made to a variety of countries, and can be made from a PayPal account. This is great for contest holders who already have a PayPal account but need to make a payment to somewhere like Bosnia or the Philippines.

Like Xoom, Money Bookers offers payment to a wide variety of countries. The transaction fees are also quite low. Payments cannot be reversed, but they can be tracked and customer support seems to be quite responsive.

We have decided to NOT offer Western Union or MoneyGram. These services are often associated with fraudsters and money laundering, have extremely high fees when compared to other services and in almost all cases requires payment in cash at a physical location.

What payment method is your preference? How do you feel about the removal of Western Union as a supported option for payment?

Update: We have decided to still offer Western Union payments and are looking at the addition of Payoneer.

Re: Private comments between the designer and the contest holder.

We’re thinking about making comments between the contest holder and the designer private. We’ll still have public comments on the main contest page, but when you click off to the designer specific page, unless you’re the contest holder or that particular designer, you won’t be able to read the feedback. 

Pros: May help cut down designers feeding of other designers work.

Cons: Goes against the whole idea of getting the best result for the client.

What do you think?  Comment below, or see what others are saying on our uservoice.