Some of you might have noticed that we launched a new contest category yesterday – 99designs is now accepting design briefs for Twitter background images!

With Twitter now having broken into the mainstream through celebrities such as Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, more and more people are looking to customize their twitter backgrounds so that they stand out from the crowd.

That’s where 99designs comes in. From just $149 (including a contest prize of $100) you’ll get yourself a huge variety of custom designed twitter background images to choose from, all personally tailored to your specific requirements. Want an enhanced bio on the left? Your company logo at the top? Launch your own design contest and let our community of designers know what you need through your brief.

For designers, make sure you check out the contest to design SitePoint’s official twitter background – the winning design will be viewed by SitePoint’s 30,000+ followers, so this is a fantastic opportunity to stake your claim as one of the best!

Make sure you get in quick though, this contest has been fast tracked and only runs for another 2 days…


One of the big goals that we had for last week’s major launch was to improve the way in which Guaranteed Contests are completed.

For the most part, Guaranteed Contests draw greater commitment from both customers and designers, resulting in a lively contest that produces a fantastic result. In a small number of cases however, our customers (for whatever reason) don’t award a winner and the contest drags on well beyond the 7 days. We understand the frustration this causes for the designers that worked so hard on their entries, so going forward, we will be taking a more active role in reminding, encouraging and assisting our customers to pick a winner and complete their contest.

Failing this, any Guaranteed Contests that are still left unresolved will be locked and (two weeks later) the prize money will then be evenly distributed to all designers who entered the contest (providing they have at least one win under their belt). We know it’s not an ideal result for everyone, however we think this is the best way to reward those that took the time and effort to put an entry in.

For designers that entered Guaranteed Contests launched prior to April 21st and are still waiting for customers to choose a winner – rest assured that we haven’t forgotten about you! Our support team will be actively contacting each of these customers to assist them in concluding these contests under the normal process, as this is ultimately the best result for all concerned. We will be letting them know that they have only 7 days to pick a winner – any contests still unresolved after this time will be locked and the prize will be evenly distributed to the designers as described above.

Thanks again for your patience and please bear with us a little longer as we go about closing the loop on unresolved contests!

We’re excited to announce some major changes to way 99designs works…

Key points:

  • All fees including the prize money will be paid for in advance by all customers.
  • 99designs will handle all prize payments to designers.
  • We will offer a 100% money back guarantee to all customers.
  • Guaranteed prize contests have been vastly improved.

The Details

Since the early days of 99designs we tossed around the idea of taking full payment upfront for all contests and passing the prize money onto the winning designers. It seemed like a pipe dream when we first starting discussing this back in 2006, but we are pleased to announce that from this point forward all contests on 99designs will be prepaid. That means there will be no such thing as contests that are paid for after they are won — 99designs will be handling all prize payments to designers from now on.

We will also be offering a 100% money back guarantee on all contests that haven’t opted to have a guaranteed prize, and all contests up to the point where the designer hasn’t yet been awarded the prize and paid out. That will go a long way towards giving our customers peace of mind.

The thinking behind these decisions

The thinking that lead up to this was essentially finding an answer to two essential questions:

1. How can we minimize the risk of entering contests for designers?

2. How can we minimize the risk of running contests for customers?

We tossed around many ideas, but at the end of the day the answers were straight forward… The only way to reassure our design community that most customers are serious about finding and paying for a design is to require them to pay the full price of the contest (prize and fees) upfront. And on the flip side the only way to reassure  our customers that most design contests end with a great result was to offer them a 100% money back guarantee for anything less. It makes logical sense, but let’s delve a little deeper into the money back guarantee…

Our philosophy behind the 100% money back guarantee

We thought long and hard about this, and  the more we thought about it the more we came to the conclusion that if the customer isn’t satisfied, neither are we.  And neither should our designers be satisfied either.  It’s up to both of us to deliver value to 99designs customers – that’s the only way to build lasting relationships with customers. We decided that for this to work we had to be in the same boat as our designers. So in other words what’s good for our designers is good for 99designs.

If a customer requests a refund we will invest time with the customer and we will try to  find a way to get them a result.  Failing that we will issue a refund. We don’t make any money from contests that have been refunded and neither do our designers – we’re in the same boat.  All refunded contests will be locked down so no new designs can be entered, and all existing designs will be made invisible to the public. The fact that a refund has been made will be reflected in the customers profile. We’d encourage designers to think carefully about entering contests where customers have a history of refunding. At the end of the day 99designs is an open marketplace, customers are responsible for their own behavior and designers choose which contests they enter.

So, what does this mean for Guaranteed Contests?

We can hear you asking now “how about guaranteed prizes”. Rest assured they haven’t been removed, in fact they have been vastly improved.  Customers can still guarantee a contest after it’s launched if certain conditions are satisfied, but in doing so they forfeit their right to claim our 100% money back guarantee. A guaranteed contest is essentially a promise from the customer that they will award the prize, and we will back those promises. That means we will  put our hand on our heart and say to all designers that the prize will be distributed wherever a contest is marked as ‘guaranteed’.

Other improvements worth a mention

In addition to prepaid contests, the 100% money back guarantee, and guaranteed prize contest enhancements, we have also launched a number of new features around the site, the most comprehensive being the completely redesigned design handover process. It’s never been easier to exchange final design files, assign the copyright to the customer, and receive full payment (no more waiting for the 7 days).  From now on all prize payments will be credited to the designers 99designs account as soon as the customer approves the design files, and from there the designer can request a cash withdrawal at any time.

We hope you like the new changes. If you have any questions, shoot?

Update: Completion of Existing Guaranteed Contests

We are aware that a small minority of our existing Guaranteed Contests (launched prior to yesterday’s release) have ended, run beyond 7 days and are still yet to be concluded. Our support team will be actively contacting each of these customers over the next few days to assist them in concluding these contests, as this is ultimately the best result for all concerned.

For any existing Guaranteed Contests that are still not concluded in 30 days time, we will be backdating the new policy of distributing the prize money evenly to all designers who entered the contest (providing they have at least one win under their belt). We appreciate your patience with this and agree that no one wins when contests are left to drag on unresolved.

Taking a wider perspective, we’re also planning to provide more active support to customers to ensure that they have all the tools they need to manage a contest towards a great result. This may include better guidance on areas such as writing a clear brief, providing regular constructive feedback and concluding the design handover process efficiently. As always, thanks for your continued feedback and stay tuned for more news to come!

MoneyBookers Delay

April 6, 2009

We have been having some serious troubles with MoneyBookers. Initially they lost a significant deposit from us and took over two weeks to find it, now they have locked our account until we provide them with documentation. We sent through the documentation as soon as it was requested and have been waiting for nearly 4 days now.

Suffice to say we aren’t happy with MoneyBookers. I have been calling them daily to try and resolve the issue and the people they have answering their phones are unfortunately one step removed from anyone who can actually do anything to help, and those people always seem to be out of the office. I’m hoping we will have the issue resolved in 24 hours and outstanding payments paid, but at this stage I can’t make promises.

We’re so sorry about the delay guys and we are doing everything we can. We are happy to let anyone who has been affected by this issue change their payout to either PayPal or Western Union with no additional fees from us. Get in touch with us at