10 Recommendations on how to use Graphic Design Competition Sites

Are you looking for a logo, business cards, stationery, or website design? One of the most effective ways to get it done is to go to a graphic design competition site such as 99designs, DesignCrowd, CrowdSpring, or Guerra Creativa.

However just signing up on these sites is not enough to get a great result. You have to do some work too. Here are 9 steps to getting the outcome you want from using a graphic design competition site.

1. Know what you are looking for
Thank hard about what you do and don’t want. That becomes clearer when you can respond to specific ideas, however the more you know beforehand, the easier it is. In particular for logo designs, you need to be clear on what identity and ideas are associated with your company.

2. Pay a fair price
Always offer more than the average fee. Unless you get good designers to be attracted to the competition, you won’t get good results. However you don’t have to pay the highest fee on offer. If you can make the project interesting and the competition process engaging, you will still get good designers involved.

3. Provide detailed feedback
The more feedback you give, the more quality submissions you will get. Creative people don’t work well in a void, and good feedback on designs gets a great response. Thank people for their submissions and efforts, and be respectful.

4. Focus on the good designers
You can usually instantaneously from a submission whether a designer is competent. It is good to give feedback to all initially, even if it is just to point out to all what is wrong with it. However from the many designers competing, you can clearly see early on which have the capabilities to win. Give them detailed feedback and encouragement. Remember they have many competitions to choose from, and you want them to be putting energy into yours.

5. Use the star rating system and withdraw entries
When you have many entries it is difficult to provide individual comments on every entry. Earlier in the competition providing detailed feedback both encourages designers, and gives them a better idea of what I was looking for. Later on, it is more important simply to indicate what I did and didn’t like. It takes a moment to give a star rating to give very useful feedback to designers. If it’s clear that designs or designers will never get there, just withdraw them – that’s clear feedback.

6. Take advantage of designers riffing off each other
The best entries will emerge from general comments you offer and specific feedback on each entry, allowing designers to see clearly what you are looking for. These suggestions and ideas to designers are followed by other designers. Designers might not like this, but it is great for a client who can see multiple designers. Most of the services now allow clients to reward more than one designer if they have contributed to the end result.

7. Get multiple opinions as you consider submissions
It can get overwhelming once you’ve looked at over 100 logos, and it’s important to get multiple perspectives on what’s on offer. Get opinions and suggestions from your team, friends, anyone who is walking by. What is being designed will be seen by many people, so you want many opinions.

8. Always select a winner
While it is possible on these services not to select a winner, don’t do it. I thought that there was a fair chance that I wouldn’t get what I wanted, but I was definitely going to pay whoever provided the best submission. It’s not fair on the designers if you don’t select a winner, and you won’t get any submissions if you use the service again later. You can usually guarantee that you will pay, which means you are more likely to get the best designers participating.

9. Consider getting the winner to work on it more
If you have a clear winner from the competition, you might still want to try a few variations on the ideas. Offer to pay the winner a small amount extra to work through some other possibilities, to make sure you have the best version of the design.

10. Use competition platforms to find designers for other work
Competition platforms can be great for defined high-visibility projects such as logos, business cards, or flyers. But often it is easier to work with a single designer. One of the best reasons to use a competition platform is to find great designers you can work with on other projects. You can invite them to work for you directly or through a services marketplace such as or Odesk, or some of the competition platforms are establishing ways to work with single designers.

  • Alec Lynch | DesignCrowd

    Hi Ross,

    Good article.

    I would add:

    11. Focus each project on one design task. You get a better result if you post a project for a 'logo design' rather than a project for 'logo design + website + flyer'. Some designers will specialise in a particular type of design and minimizing the complexity of each project maximises the response you'll get.

    12. Invite designers to work on your project. Designers respond well to personal invites. Browse designer directories (like and invite designers with portfolios that you like.

    13. Guarantee your budget. Most sites allow you to guarantee your budget and commit to the process. This will attract more designers and higher quality designers to your project.

    14. Get feedback. Share designs with your friends, colleagues and particularly customers. Selecting the best design is as important as getting a good response.

    15. Check for originality. Before selecting a winner run the design through a free service like

    Alec Lynch
    DesignCrowd |

  • Ross Dawson

    Hey Alec,

    Thanks for the additional points – really useful for those posting design competitions!

    Inviting the right designers can add a lot. I hadn't seen TinEye – most handy :-)

  • Pingback: The plain truth about logo design contests | The Logo Factor Design Blog()

  • andrezx

    How is “6. Take advantage of designers riffing off each other” a tip? It sounds very dishonest and unethical. Shows what kind of person you are… I guess you feel stealing is right too.

  • Domain Registration

    Agree with you Andrezx .. Its quite unethical and theft.

  • ciapi

    Stay away from I just started a competition there and got ABSOLUTELY NO DESIGNS. Waste of time and money. Once I contacted them to have it cancelled and refunded, there was no response. Scam!

  • Color Separation Services

    9 steps to getting the outcome if you want from using a graphic design competition site
    Know what you are looking for
    Pay a fair price
    Provide detailed feedback
    Focus on the good designers
    Use the star rating system and withdraw entries
    Take advantage of designers riffing off each other
    Get multiple opinions as you consider submissions
    Always select a winner
    Consider getting the winner to work on it more
    Consider getting the winner to work on it more

  • Mindroots


    Nice Post ‘

    Thanks for sharing

  • Dale Miller

    @rossdawson:twitter to see the entire universe of graphic design competition sites and make the right decision which one to use, check out

  • ebook

    These 10 recommendations looks good and effective to me; perhaps many graphic designers know about these things, in designing it’s really important to have guidelines and inspiration to make one beautiful design.

  • Guest

    Probably because you had no information in your brief + non guaranteed project.. 

  • Guest

    Thanks for the tips! 

    Im thinking about starting a contest on Does anyone have experience with them? 

  • DB

    For designers, DesignCrowd is a big waste of time and effort. Companies generally pay small amounts of money to get you to work on spec, and they make huge demands on you (which most are not going to do for 200 bucks). If they would pay at least $1000 UPFRONT, then we may jump though a few hoops. But not for a contest that pays chump change if you win (and IF you do get paid at all). I spend hours submitting designs, and only got negative feedback (or none at all) from people who obviously have NO artistic sense at all. Avoid this site!

  • Nate Ru

    Usually if a project owner will not not guarantee payment to one of the numerous talented designers, offers the minimum payment allowed, or has high demands for little money…then yes, the project owner will get no responses…same as in the ‘real agency world’.

    But feel free to go to an an agency and spend thousands vs. a couple hundred.

  • Lola

    I agree DesignCrowd is a fraud, some projects say they last a certain days then it is way past it’s due date and it says they are still considering your submission which always end up in the same not interested or canceled or some crap. I think sites like this just want to torture Designers and valuable artists whose time is precious and just devalue them it’s like telling 10 great surgeons to fight over whose gonna do one patients nose job and then just canceling their offers it’s ridiculous and I don’t see the purpose of it! The only thing I got from there was tons of invitations to do projects and I saw other designers work which they had submitted and it was very inspiring but still they didn’t succeed I think no one does I would love to find out what’s the catch behind fraudulent sites like those!

  • alexandradugan

    Design crowd is horrible!!! My logo looks like it was made in Microsoft word.

  • Anil Thapa

    there are lot of talented designers in DC. May be your project budget was low and non guaranteed

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