Crowdsourcing and 99designs


Whilst in Los Angeles I was told to check out something called “crowd sourcing” by my good friend and fellow Brit Andrew Lock

At first it sounded like something from a rock concert, but today I am going to share my first experience with you, and also will be showing you the new logo for

What is Crowd Sourcing?

Essentially it is the art of having a specific task done by many different people, and then you choose the best one.

Why is it Useful?

Crowd sourcing let’s you see the vision and skills of many different people BEFORE you pay. Also, whilst you may get 20+ different versions, you only pay for the one that you like the most. So it dramatically reduces the chance of failure.

My Experience with 99designs

I used recently because I wanted a new header image for this blog. As you can see here I got over 30 entries.

The Cost

I paid approx $39 to list the contest, and I paid $129 to the winner. So all in all I got a new header image and logo for well under $200. Not bad at all in my opinion.

Yes, I could have gotten one for less than $100 if I had asked around, but there is the key issue…. “ONE”. What if I didn’t like it?

With crowd sourcing you get to spread the risk around, and like any good investment, that is key.

The Winning Design

In the end there were 5 or 6 I really liked. Which were narrowed down to three. But the eventual winner was this design which will be added to the blog soon.

I am happy with this header, but truth be told, it wasn’t my personal number one choice, but a lot of my friends, contacts and you the readers voted for it… so for once, I went with the majority. I do like it though, and have made plans for future versions of this to be released (halloween, Christmas etc…)


Overall I thought the experience was great. I was so happy with their efforts that I intend to promote all of the designers on here in a future post for FREE. Something that could be worth thousands of dollars in publicity for some of them.

I think the power of a crowd is unbeatable, and I am racking my brains trying to think of ways we can use this for some fun.

So don’t be a loner… join the crowd.


  • heeyo

    Happy to work with you mate. Hopefully next time i’ll be the winner! :P

    enjoy your design

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  • Thomas Gray

    Quite a cool idea. I might use that for a logo I have coming up that I need to be designed..

    But I like your final choice of header.

    Works well with the site.

    Go dean :P

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  • jt

    I think regular use of “crowd” ideas could
    be very disheartening to many.
    The reasons for this view is the efforts of
    many are discarded, i.e. wasted. The price
    for your success (in this instance) is paid
    for by the many losers, much like a lottery.
    Good for the instigator, not the players.

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  • Paul Annesley

    Great to hear you enjoyed the contest.

    Congratulations to bvivant – I think that’s about the best blog header I’ve ever seen!

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  • http://www, Doc Jakson

    It looks great Dean…not my number 1 choice but it fits the bill…

    all the best,

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  • Dean Hunt

    JT – I appreciate your point, and in no way am I a spokesmen for 99designs… but I can safely say that none of the designers had guns to their heads. So they entered into it wilfully.

    I also have been told that many of the designers used to do this sort of thing as a hobby, and now they have a chance of getting paid and making a name for themselves.

    That said, yes, I am glad I am on this side of the fence.

    Also, I have been contacted by the 99designs owner, and am trying to arrange an interview, so we can put these questions to him directly.


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  • Chris

    Thaks for sharing. I am in the process of deciding to change the look of my site and was not sure the direction I wanted to go. I LOVE the idea of getting a “crowd” to create different options for me to decide on. I will be using this service very soon!


    P.S. I love the new header!

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  • piggly wiggly

    us bunnies at big marketing are very happy with the design. we typically just mount humans to show them we are the boss bunny but if killing a few helps…..

    piggly wiggly wabbit

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  • Kevin I

    Killer bunnies! Not bad. I like the idea of crowd sourcing, more choice, very cool.

    But whilst? Upsie daisy! We typically use while these days.

    Just messin’ with ya!

    Nice experiment – good luck with the great new logo.

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  • heeyo

    @ jt
    yeah it sucks if you lose, but I feel it provides me with some experience :)

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  • sandy

    Who came out with this great idea of crowd sourcing? I wish we knew about this when we needed a logo, not that I don’t like ours now. This idea is fantastic for the consumers, not sure about the designers though.

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  • Virpi

    Congrats for giving this special type of outsourcing a fantastic name – “crowdsourcing” !

    I got to know about this type of project bidding from Armand Morin. He demonstrated it with a logo design project on stage here in Singapore. For the bidder it’s an excellent way to get in contact with a designer who delivers designs best for the bidder’s (or his audience’s) taste, and not get stuck with a designer that has difficulties to understand the characteristics of the project.


    PS. About your new header graphics – I hope that you are content with it. I didn’t vote for it because the “bleeding corpses” in it make me feel nausea…

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  • Jase

    Great design, too bad i was traveling a lot and did not get a chance to vote on it, but i like that one, it looks just right for your site.


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  • Suzanne

    As a graphic designer, I resent the word contest when asking that designers work for free so that you can choose a design you like. The proper way to hire a service provider is to research portfolios, choose a designer and then actually pay them to work for you. This “crowdsourcing” or “contest” is simply a fancy name for freeloaders looking for free work from designers.

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  • Wendi


    I have to agree with Suzanne. Do you realize that if you receive 1000 entries, each taking 2 hours to design (sometimes more)-you have basically received 1 man year for free. I do not see how offering the designers “Ad Space” on your web site could possibly come close to compensation for one year for an employee in the Western world. And here in lies the problem–all of us in the Western world think we are getting such a deal by buying from economies of lesser scale. What we are actually doing is shooting ourselves in the foot. If I hired a marketing consultant from Bulgaria–I’m sure I’d get a price slightly around that of a Starbuck’s hourly employee–much less than you charge, I am sure. Think about it.

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  • Dean Hunt


    1,000 submissions?

    I am guessing you have done zero research… the most i have ever had is 28

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  • Keith Glover

    I tried 99designs and at first it seamed nice…I won the very first contest I entered…rock on!, right?
    Well not so much. After doing designs for 99 Designs over the past few weeks I have had this experience:
    You submit a design with no guarantee of payment (ok so im not going to put “my all” into the design) The people get you to do all this work revising your submission, “Can you change this colour, change this font” (Still no payment) Then they can decide not to award anyone the design and they get their money back! What a scam! Erin Gordon with Kim Law Advisors of San Francisco, California ( Got me to work on their logo and provide 3 different revisions, and she got 2 other designers in the same contest to do the same. Erin lets the contest close then after almost a week she decides not to award the contest to anyone and gets her money back. Thats Lawyers for you I guess, scamming the little guys trying to make a buck. I have no recourse to go after them even if they do use the logo I created for them. I do NOT recommend designer use this site. For the people looking for designs, well you may have a large advantage over your designers using 99designs but its not really a good reflection of what is available to you in the design community. Paying bargain prices get you bargain designs. You know that … garbage in … garbage out!

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  • Calvin @ entrepreneurship


    I think the header looks great, and I really like your idea of changing the header for holidays. Are you going to crowd source those headers too? I think for under $200, it’s affordable. Great idea!
    .-= Calvin @ entrepreneurship´s last blog ..Finding Innovation Inspiration =-.

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  • Stiv

    surely there are such projects now like

    Also I have seen plenty going above 200. Anyway most of the designers there are amateurs and even the few pros there will give up after 10 fails to win the prize … just it is not profitable.

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