3 tips to get cheaper and better cover designs with 99designs

99designs is a website where you can create a profile, create a contest and have designers create your design.


We have been using this service for some years now and have gathered some experience, that we are now sharing with you. So, here is a few suggestions / advice when using 99designs.com

1. Get the brief right from the start

When creating a contest on 99designs, you create a brief (that’s the name they have given the job description). Here you describe what you want and upload pictures for inspiration or use in the design.

I usually count on using 2 hours to do the brief, since the time spend here is saved many times later on. The first few times I ran contests on 99designs, I did the description somewhat fast and with a lot of internal terms and in general the explanation was too flawed. A few hours after I started the contest, the designers started asking questions and I had to explain what I actually meant. So i learned that I could probably set up a contest for a new cover design in 10 minutes, but that would mean that I needed to spend a lot of time later on post-developing the brief / explaining and furthermore. Furthermore, the designers might not even participate if they didn’t get the idea from the first look at the contest.

2. Feedback trumps price

This is quite a claim, but in my experience, you can get quite good results with a low priced contest, if you just give fast and constructive feedback to the designers that submit designs or ask questions. If the contest is made open (opposed to a closed contest), designers can see each others designs + feedback and learn from them / get inspired. This is good for the contest holder (CH) since you can then guide all designers with feedback to one.

3. Don’t ask for too much

After a few successful contests, I started to add elements to include in the final package, for the winning design. I demanded that the winner would deliver several different files and so on. But that backfired! The result was that only the desperate amateur designers with lots of time on their hands participated and I ended up cancelling 2 contests in a row, before returning to a more realistic expectation of the outcome. So, what I learned from this is that 99designs is about getting the right design (almost on the idea basis) – and first after that is in place, you can ask the designer to do different versions, 3D cover images etc.