99designs: Pros and Cons for Clients and Designers

99designs pioneered the concept of design contests, where clients launch a project and designers submit multiple concepts, with only the winning designer getting paid. Is it a good way to get your logo or website designed, or find worthwhile clients as a freelancer?


Design Variety: Contests generate many potential design ideas, giving clients a wide range of options.
Specific Feedback: Clients can refine designs through feedback rounds, ensuring the end result aligns with their vision.
Designer Discovery: For clients, it's a way to discover new design talent they might not have found otherwise.


Speculative Work: Many designers put in effort with no guarantee of payment. This creates an ethical debate.
Potential for Client Misuse: Contest briefs can be vague, leading to designers wasting time on unsuitable concepts.
Focus on Price: May attract clients primarily seeking the cheapest design, undervaluing designer skill.
Communication Overhead: Contests with many entries can become overwhelming to manage for the client.

Who is 99designs Best For?

Clients Needing Exploration: Ideal if you lack a clear design in mind and want to see many iterations.
Budget-Focused Clients: The contest format can attract lower prices compared to hiring a designer directly.
Designers Starting Out: Can be a way to build a portfolio and gain experience by participating in contests.

Tips for Success on 99designs

Clients: Clear Briefs are Crucial: The better you define your needs, the more relevant designs you'll attract.
Designers: Choose Contests Wisely: Focus on well-defined projects with higher guaranteed payouts.
Build on the Platform: Even if you don't win, showcase your work to potentially gain direct clients through your 99designs profile.

The Verdict

99designs has a disruptive model within the design industry. It offers the potential for great results for both clients and designers but requires understanding its limitations and the importance of clear communication throughout the contest process.

Author: As