Lessons learned during our design contest


We’ve recently relaunched our site consolidating our 13 sites into one domain (antosch-and-lin.com). As part of this we’ve had a logo contest on 99designs. I’ve used 99designs before, but there are also other companies such as Crowdspring or Hatchwise.

I’ve actually invited my language users to take part. A couple of users took part, but there were two users telling me that they really dislike design contests. One even unsubscribed out of protest. One user forwarded me this website which in their own words “educates the public about spec work”, and is very critical of design contests.

One of the reasons they dislike design contests is that only the winner of the contest gets paid. There is also the problem of designers ripping off designs. The simple reason being that anybody can take part in these contests.

However if you have an open contest (as opposed to a “blind” contest), the designers will report ripped off designs to 99designs who then decide whether the design should be removed  from the contest. Another advantage of open design contest is that if you indicate you like a certain design by rating it highly the other designers will submit their own version of it. (which is however disliked understandably by some designers)

One designer came up with the idea of a bird logo which I liked. Then two others designers submitted a logo with an owl and another with a hummingbird, which won the contest. We’ve also had a lot of designers submitting logo designs with speech bubbles, but this concept was already used by other language learning companies.

The winner was partly decided by letting users vote  which logo they like most. 99designs offers a voting feature for this.

In total there were design submissions of over 100 designers which was unprecedented for me. A lot of designers are from Indonesia or  the Philippines. The winner of the hummingbird logo is from the Philippines.

PS: If you do a logo it’s best to avoid these generic logos or these.