Tips: Crowdsourcing a design project

August 7, 2009

I am often asked for tips on how to run a design project on While we do have a great article in our help section on how to run a successful project, I thought I would provide some insight straight from one of our clients – Stacey Tipton Reiman of
HomeSchoolSpanish Design by amir u3

Stacey used 99designs to get an awesome design for the user interface of her Spanish Teaching software. Using these tips, she was able to attract over 150 submissions from 30 different designers to her design project.

Here are the top things she did to ensure great results:

  • Give clear guidelines with examples
  • Actively participate in the project forum
  • Don’t just wait! Invite designers that catch your eye from other active projects
  • Be specific in your feedback about what you do or don’t like about each design
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage designers to do better

On feedback Stacey said:

“In your feedback try to give them something positive. The way I see it every designer has the potential to win. I thought that every person who entered my project was worthy of my respect and my effort…and so I tried to give feedback to every entry…not just looking at…do I like this entry or will this entry work or not but… how can this entry work or how can this designer work for me.”

If this sounds easy…that’s because it is. It’s really about engaging the designer, giving them clear direction and then encouraging them along the way. The more specific you are about what you are looking for and what criteria you will be judging the designs by, the better results you will get.


13 Responses to “Tips: Crowdsourcing a design project”

  1. Gandecruz Says:

    speak of the devil :D… it’s really helpful if the ch guideline improved. such as: not encouraging designer to try and copy other designer’s unique work/concept. furthermore, make sure that the choosen winning design isn’t contest winner in the past by other contest holder. lately, it seems this issue hasn’t bothered anyone, even it took place in front of our eyes..

  2. locomango! Says:

    It’s great when contest holders give thorough feedback. What helps me in designing are:
    1. Examples of logos/designs that you love and represent the style that you’re looking for.
    2. Being aware of where you’ll be using your design. In the case of logos, ask yourself questions such as “Will i want this embroidered on a shirt?” “What products will this be printed on?” “What are my competitors doing so that I an stand out?” I find these questions very helpful when considering a logo design. These can help define the style of the logo greatly!


  3. Yeah23 Says:

    ”it’s really helpful if the ch guideline improved. such as: not encouraging designer to try and copy other designer’s unique work/concept. . . ”

    I Agree

  4. It is nice to know about the tips on to start a design project but for me a design project should know first the needs of the users and the target market as well. Actively participate in the project forum is one tips and for it is effective because through forums you can know the best tips from the famous designers

  5. Aaron Says:

    Nowhere did it say us Americans who use your site will be billed an International Transaction Fee for using our credit cards by our banks. You make it seem like we’re buying from a US company, in American dollars – with designers around the world competing, instead of from a foreign company. It’s borderline trickery what you use when listing your prices. And if you are charging in dollars, it should be in AU dollars, not American dollars, since our banks consider this an overseas transaction.

    When more people realize that they’re going to be hit with a 3-5% charge by their banks because of this, you’re going to be losing lots of business here in the States.

  6. SmartDeisgns Says:

    As a CH, in order to get the best results you desire, is through clear detailed communication of what really impresses you.

    Even though the contest brief is a bit limited in allowing you to provide good quality detail, you can still express further details via contests discussion forum.

    My suggestion to improve this would be for 99design’s team to put some good thought into how to improve the contest brief to enable the CH to really express themselves on what’s going to produce a win.

    We find that because we are too limited in the brief we have to spend a lot more time expressing ourselves after we have started getting designs. So improving this will certainly save time for everybody.


  7. Ollie Says:

    I’ve seen a lot of contest prizes for $X95. I don’t really understand offering $295 for instance instead of $300. That is sales psychology you use when you want someone to BUY something. If some designers only consider contests of $300 and up, that $5 just lost you how many designers? Also you now place lower when sorting by prize amt than all the $300 contests and even further below all those who are smart enough to offer say $305.

    Just curious about the reasoning behind this strategy.

  8. Hey – whats up. Thanks a bunch for the blog. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but i think i’m getting lost!. Google lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the great information. I will be coming back in a few days to see if there is any more info.

  9. What’s up?. Thanks for the blog. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be popping back over in a couple of days to see if there is updated posts.

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