slick new contest launch interface

May 19, 2009

Today we launched a redesign of the “launch a contest” interface to make it cleaner, more attractive and even easier to use. We think you’ll agree it looks a lot better.

Contest types are now grouped into 5 overarching categories as detailed below:

business card or stationary

web page -uncoded web page design
twitter background

print design – brochures, newsletters, etc…
advertising materials – banners, billboards

buttons, icons and avatars
other – design not fitting into any other category

t-shirts or clothing

Additionally, we simplified the design brief fields to make it easier for contest holders to communicate their requirements to the designers.

We have also developed pricing packages to help clarify expectations and guide contest holders when they are choosing a prize amount. The packages levels are grouped as:

  • Budget
  • Standard
  • Premium
  • Custom

The pricing of each level varies on the contest type…for example the budget package in a logo contest is set at $195 whereas the the budget package for web page contest is $495. To help the contest holder decide on which package is right for them…we provide guidance as to how many design submissions each package will attract on average. For example, a budget logo package can expect around 40 submissions while a budget web page package can expect around 21 entries. The custom package allows contest holders to enter any prize amount of their choosing so long as it is above our prize minimums.

Which brings us to the final bit of news…we have reached another milestone. We have now awarded over $5 million dollars to our design community, with millions more coming from direct follow on work as a result of the relationships formed at 99designs.

It is our hope that improvements we launched today will help improve user experience and help quickly drive us through the next $5 million.

The 99designs Team

30 Responses to “slick new contest launch interface”

  1. LKirk Says:

    Since this update, I can no longer view contest briefs, they are blank. I see the brief in the HTML code, so it is there, but it is not displaying on the internet anymore.

    Anyone else having this issue? Very strange!

  2. LKirk Says:

    Since this update, I can no longer view contest briefs, they are blank. I see the brief in the HTML code, so it is there, but it is not displaying on the internet anymore.

    Anyone else having this issue? Very strange!

  3. seablu Says:

    Yes I cannot see the brief either since yesterday.

    As far as the new package levels my question would be if they choose these levels knowing they will not receive tons of entries will they still be allowed to get a refund. It seems it could waste everyone’s time if regardless they can just cancel the contest after choosing a lower level just to see what would happen. I know this is the chance a designer takes when submitting to a low prize contest but what would be the point of even having a lower prize option? I guess I am just confused as to the prepaid and guarantee thing when so many contest still back out in the end. Things were going well when the majority of contests were guaranteed. what happened?

  4. Perlico Says:

    Was just about to launch a new contest until i saw more pointless updates and price increases. I have two contest running at the moment and then i’m finished with 99 designs

    For the last two years this website has been great. However the last couple of weeks there has been so many updates and changes and extra charges and its just becoming ridiculous.

    and 10% prize handling fee? If i have a prize for $1000, you charge $100. Thats just punishing contest holders who put up good prizes. doesnt make sense.

    Thats all i have to say.

  5. Matt Says:

    Cool, now lets redesign the rest of the site and get rid of the eye-popping annoying orange that is so ugly all over the place. (who designed that anyways?)

  6. #everyone: We’ve fixed the ‘blank’ brief issue. The bug was limited to IE7 users only. Please accept our apologies. If you noticed the issue in IE8, you were probably viewing our site in IE8 Compatibility Mode (which is basically IE7).

  7. seablu Says:

    One more thing… When you are telling the CH how many entries he can expect to see depending on the prize amount you should be telling them how many entries he can expect to see with his amount of participation. If there is no participation and the prize is not guaranteed then the chances of him backing out is greater than one who is in it to win it and gives the feedback needed to get the design he is looking for. These are the contests I enter (lots of participation) I don’t base it on the prize amount whatsoever.

  8. cquence Says:

    Ok, but I don’t think CH will get 21 unique entries for budget package. Probably about 3 good entries by good designers, and the rest of it will be crap by kids, which I’m tired to see already.

    You handed everything to CH, not saying you’re helping them. 100% money back guarantee? OK. Can’t write decent brief and don’t care? OK! Don’t want to comment on the designs, helping designers and rate entries with stars? We still give you money back.

    What about the designers?

    You even created new policy, stating that CH can’t guarantee a contest without having 10 entries. Well done and very thoughtful! Sheesh.

  9. Simon Says:

    Hi guys
    First off let me say I am having a lot of fun with your website. Though I have a huge BUT to add to the fun.

    It seems to me a lot of our designs – a lot of the time and effort that is being put into these “competitions” are being wasted in ill considered briefs.

    Adding to this is 99Designs good intention to “ease the flow” with making these ‘competitions’ work.

    Now its all good… though here is the BUTT. You are going to seriously start loosing designers here if you persist in allowing clients (your clients) to ‘give a brief’ and then 1 day prior to its completion, a decision is made to “extend”, based on the “fantastic results”

    Now if this guy is getting ‘fantastic results’ you should not be extending, rather requesting a “short list” as they do in any typical ad agency pitch.

    I don’t wish to teach you how to “suck eggs” though the way you are handling your suppliers ie designers; needs to be re-considered… it is transparently lacking consideration.

    A line should be drawn at 50 submissions, thereafter extensions are forbidden. And creating a short-list is an added cost to your client… after all, us designers also pay in time, for every extension and if it happens ‘short list’ adds to a design’s cost.


  10. serdar Says:

    Pricing packages: this is clever and useful!

  11. serdar Says:

    Quoting from Perlico above:
    “and 10% prize handling fee? If i have a prize for $1000, you charge $100. Thats just punishing contest holders who put up good prizes. doesnt make sense.”

    Is this right? What is the reasoning behind it?

  12. Perlico Says:

    On another note, When you try to set up a contest in the ‘Other’ category, it says starting from $149 but when you go to start it it says $195.

  13. LukeSF Says:

    I really don’t know if these updates are for good or for bad… but from a designer point of view, I observe in my rss feed an obvious trend to a decreased amount of new contests coming daily… I guess that’s a ring for 99designs staff to listen to…

  14. Jason Aiken Says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Thanks for your feedback and participation at 99designs.

    It is greatly appreciated and we do take your suggestions and opinions to heart.

    In a nutshell…we are trying to continually increase the value we provide to both designers and contest holders.

    I just want to address a couple of points…

    1) Contest Holder participation – We are committed to driving up contest holder participation…in terms of engaging the designers in feedback, in terms of providing sufficient information in the contest brief and ultimately…in the number of contests that are being run on the site.

    We understand this is critical and in everyone’s best interest. We are trying to improve the resources we have available to contest holders to help set the right expectations for their participation.

    Concurrently we are working on improvements to our site and our methods that will help increase participation as well.

    2) The 100% money back guarantee – we feel that we need to provide an exceptional customer experience. A money back guarantee helps reduce uncertainty on the contest holder side…just as having a prepaid contest helps reduce uncertainty on the designer side.

    Believe me…we are committed to ensuring the policy is not abused. So long as we get the customer experience right…nobody will be worried about a refund.

    3) Prepaid vs Guaranteed – All contests on 99designs are prepaid but not necessarily guaranteed.

    If a contest holder guarantees a winner that means they are forfeiting their right to a refund and “guarantee” that they will award the prize in the contest.

    A guarantee ultimately comes down to an issue of trust. Any contest holder who has successfully held a guaranteed contest in the past can guarantee their contest right away. They have proven to be trustworthy.

    Requiring contest holders who have not yet held a successful guaranteed contest to first have their contest be in a healthy state with at least 10 submissions prior to being eligible to guarantee it…is just a way for the contest holder to establish their trustworthiness.

    4) The Pricing Packages – The idea behind the pricing packages was simply to help guide contest holders when they are deciding on a prize level by setting expectations on how many submissions a contest at a certain prize level receives on average.

    We absolutely agree that the number of submissions is not solely based on prize amount…contest holder participation and design brief clarity is critical.

    As stated above…we are committed to making sure contest holders understand their role in the design process.

    OK…sorry for the super long post.

    Again…we just want to thank everybody for their participation on 99designs.

    We truly appreciate it and are listening to your feedback.

    Cheers and good luck!


  15. cquence Says:

    I really don’t understand why do you suddenly need to establish their trustworthiness in this way in order to let them to guarantee the contest? What was broken when guaranteeing was easier and better?

    As long as you give them money back guarantee with no questions asked, you can’t force them to give feedback if they know they’ll get the money back so easily, and you can’t do anything to make sure the policy is not abused. What you did by making these changes is that you simply changed the perception and value of designers time and work, and obviously you can see the consequences now and you will see them. You provided NO customer experience more exceptional than it was earlier. It was better for everyone. What customer experience you are talking about? CHs are coming with money and don’t get any good entries, because designers don’t want to waste their time, devaluated by your new policies. And now you are trying to fix everything in wrong ways, like making guaranteeing harder, which will do absolutely no good.

    What you have to do is to make it so that CHs will be motivated to guarantee their contests and will have right to do it easily. I think it’s not gonna fly any other way. And if you will keep money back, no questions asked guarantee it’s not gonna fly either.

  16. cquence Says:

    With you new PACKAGES (which I think are BAD idea now, because your estimates are basically a lie as I clearly see now) and guarantees you are deluding your customer, making him believe that designers are cheap and willing to run around and do work in advance just because CH have the money (nope, “prepaid” does not reduce uncertainty on the designers side as I’m sure you can or will see, with money back guarantee it doesn’t mean NO-THING). If that’s customer experience you are talking about, then yeah, keep doing what you’re doing.

  17. Kelly Says:

    “Requiring contest holders who have not yet held a successful guaranteed contest to first have their contest be in a healthy state with at least 10 submissions prior to being eligible to guarantee it…is just a way for the contest holder to establish their trustworthiness.”

    I strongly disagree with this statement. Why should the contest holder have to prove their trustworthiness? By agreeing to give up their rights to a refund (guaranteeing), they are the ones with the most to lose.

    I heartily suggest you guys take a stroll through the current contests and you will see that the quality of submissions has been greatly reduced over the past several weeks due to the fact that there are fewer guaranteed contests. New contest holders can’t guarantee their contests so the top designers aren’t entering. If the first 10 designs submitted are rubbish, what motivation is there to guarantee the contest? The contest holder is left with the impression that there are no good designs to be had on 99Designs. It can only go downhill from here.

  18. Kelly Says:

    To put it another way, I think you have it backwards. New contest holders should be allowed to guarantee their contests up front. They have the most to prove to the designers because they are new. Once a contest holder has held several contests and earned the trust of the designers, then they will be more likely to get submissions even if their contests aren’t guaranteed.

  19. Suku Says:

    Just going through all the contests, it is sooo obvious how everyone is stealing everyone else’s design ideas. As a designer, I think that is just outrageous.

    Maybe if 99designs re-thought their interface again. it might just make it better.

    For example:

    . ONLY contest holder can view all the submitted designs.

    . Each designer can see HIS submitted designs ONLY.

    . At end of contest, the winning design may be displayed.

    . Last contest holder activity date and time shown to each contestant to know if the contest holder is seriously following up his contest.

    . A display to show number of submitted designs vs rated designs.

    I could come up with a lot more ideas. These are just a few, in an attempt to urge 99designs to become much more effective.

    “99designs was started by designers for designers.” So please look at this all from the view point of a designer. I say all this only with the intention to make this a better place to work at.

    Thank you

  20. I just used 99 for the first time this week and found it to be a truly useful service, however, the 10% listing fee is simply egregious. Paying $39 to list + something extra for promotion is acceptable, put adding an additional 10% is simply wrong.

    It does, on the other hand, open up this idea for others to come and replicate without these absurd fees. Please let the rest of us know if competitors popup.

    In the meantime, I do hope that 99D listens to these posts and rectifies the situation shortly.

  21. Paul Annesley Says:

    Joshua: thanks for the feedback. On listening – we always have and always will :)

    In the past, we charged just the $39 listing fee, and left it up to the contest holder and the winning designer to sort out the prize money. Sounds good in theory, but the contest holders and designers asked us to handle the money transfer on their behalf.

    The reality is, there’s a lot of costs and risks involved in moving money from A to B and ensuring that it reaches designers spread far and wide across the globe. This is what the 10% covers – just.

  22. seablu Says:

    If 99d made it better for the good designers to submit more entries then it may be worth the extra 10%. Keeping the copycats at bay is another big point that needs to be rectified very soon. For some reason they always seem to be the ones that win every time. Go Figure! A tiny thumbnail for everyone to view would be work well.

  23. Joshua Lippiner Says:


    Thanks for the reply. Don’t get me wrong, I think 99D is a FANTASTIC site. However, when I have to spend over $300 on a $200 logo, something is just wrong.

    As for the 10% fee to manage the transaction, why does that burden have to be shouldered entirely by the CH? It would seem that the individual who is going to RECEIVE the funds should at least have to pay for this fantastic service.

    Unless I am missing something the designer actually pays nothing for thousands of dollars in opportunity, which is simply unfair.

    Another option would be to make the “handling” service optional for the CH or Designer. So when I create a contest I can choose to have 99D manage the transaction for me for an additional 5% and designers will see a fun icon that lets them know this is a 99D managed transaction, so they should expect a 5% handling fee as well. They should be willing to pay it as it ensures reliability of payment. Technically a designer could even elect to ONLY participate in these type of transactions if they want, making it easier to filter through them.

    Ive got a bunch of websites that need some 99D work. Just waiting to see where you guys net out!



  24. seablu Says:

    The designers are actually out of so much time & effort it is ridiculous. Why would a designer pay for something he may not ever receive? The CH’s get such a deal even w/the 10% how many concepts of logos or whatever do you think $150 – $250 (average prize amount) is worth? $25 isn’t much more… I do think contests would go so much better with more protection for the designers not charging them.

  25. Joshua Lippiner Says:

    “Why would a designer pay for something he may not ever receive? ”

    Not exactly sure we are on the same page here. Splitting the 5% would only occur:

    1 – If 99D is managing the transaction, so the designer is guaranteed to get the money since it’s been pre-paid by the CH

    2 – The designer only pays the 5% IF they win, not for submitting designs. It’s actually not a direct payment either as it’s merely deducted from the contest price, the same way a real estate broker takes their commission from the SELLER, not the BUYER.

    There will obviously be friction over this as designers think the CH should pay for everything, but please remember that without CH there is no 99D. There have already been postings about a significant drop in contests.

    I am merely proposing something more equitable that really changes nothing for designers, except the cost of 5% of the proceeds.

  26. seablu Says:

    I’m merely pointing out my side as well. Without the designers willing to “volunteer” their services there would be no 99D either so your argument doesn’t carry very well. What I am saying is after contributing to multiple contests and then maybe just maybe winning one doesn’t make any of these designers rich or even making a partial living. Why would that be fair to a designer to pay/win less for a Ch who is getting a hell of a deal anyway? It sounds like you may just be speaking for the cheap CH’s who always want something for nothing. A great majority of CH’s don’t even carry through their end. I think if anything a good CH one who has awarded multiple prizes should get a discount. The designers should be paid more not charged if you ask me. There are so many other ways this process could run to make it better for everyone. I will be one designer sitting out until real changes are made and I can tell you being charged 5% will not make me want to enter any contests at all… But this is just my opinion.

  27. Joshua Lippiner Says:

    Of course your view would be that the designer should be paid more and mine is that the CH should be paid less – that is my point – it should be an equitable split IF there is a guaranteed prize AND ONLY if there is a guaranteed prize.

    It is completely your prerogative to participate in those contests or any for that matter. You might think that 99D is cheap but that is only from a designer’s perspective.

    The fact is that with all of 99D’s fees it gets to be quite expensive for the CH given the fact that most contests are sub-$1000 in nature.

    I am not trying to be cheap, I love the concept of 99D, I’m just trying to be fair.

    Paul from 99D clearly stated that they enacted the 10% fee due to the management issues of paying both parties. Given this is the case and there is STILL a $39 listing fee for the CH only, why should both parties not bear the burden since the burden exists to manage something for both parties?

  28. LukeSF Says:

    Hmmm… I havent’t requested my funds for a while and maybe things have greatly changed, but last time I requested my money from 99D I paid kinda 25$ for the service plus the Western Union charge (since it was the only available service at that moment) So seems we pay as well, or now these 10% from CH cover all expenses and I pay nothing? Have to check when have funds from last contest in my balance…

  29. BombardierBob Says:

    After the latest updates on here and changes find it taking longer to load up the contest pages then before. Seems like it’s lagging and I am on DSL with the highest speed I can get.

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