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99designs.com: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Ayn Roberts, AVT 395

For a struggling design student who feels the twinges of creative defeat on a near daily basis, surfing the web for craptastic design has always been a comforting pastime of mine. You know when you find a design that reeks of such a foul stench of suck, that the only thing more grotesque about it, is seeing the price that some degenerate sap paid for it?

I welcome you to 99designs.com.

WAY COOL LOGO, BRO!!

Because a company with a weak identity will totally hook you up with some super rad designers!

Here’s how it works: Some half-wit with a small business gets the bright idea to place the future of their entire brand identity in a “design contest”, where a bunch of designers compete to “create the best POSSIBLE design to meet your needs”. They start by creating a brief that usually includes a personality profile and pitch about how WAY SUPER AWESOME their business is. They include the brand name, along with information about their target audience, in which most cases include the word “EVERYONE”.

Next, they set the budget, or how much they’re willing to pay for the design. Of course, 99designs.com is GRACIOUS enough to even provide an idea of what it should be! (Generally $100-$600- because designers love low ballpark figures pulled out of somebody’s ass). After this, the business gets to “work with designers”….if ‘working with designers’ means clicking a on a range of 1 to 4 star ratings, and having the ability to disqualify designs all together- then yes, “working with designers” most aptly describes this process.

The final step in this process is of course selecting the winning design and hopefully paying the designer for the full copyrights to the purchased work, because while 99designs.com ENCOURAGES systems of guaranteed payment- they don’t make it necessary .

WAY COOL MAN.

Of course to those that have been following this so far, you can now understand how 99designs.com is truly<garbage. Now when you read garbage in your head, I want you to pronounce as such: GAH-BEIGE – like a thick North Jersey accent. Why? Because it makes us sounds like grouchy over-critical old ladies, and that’s funny. And in visiting this site, it’s clear that the only way to get through this is by injecting a little humor in the situation.

The worst part about 99designs.com is that the contest doesn’t even have the one measly security of being a blind contest. Nope, because that would restrict the designer to only THIER original ideas- an open contest allows the creative freedom  to rip off ideas of the other designs and make small tweaks (hmm, let me take that globe and add a LENS FLARE. AW YEAH, NOW WE’RE COOKING!!!) Of course, the contest holder is only interested in the final product so they have the god-like role of blessing all that is unsavory in the hopes that bad designers ripping off bad designs will end in a glorious multi-million dollar making identity.

Yet I hope you see that behind my satiric humor lies a very troubled young designer. The contest holder forces themselves to believe that offering $315 will end in an amazing design created by an amazing design professional in the same breath that rookie designers forces themselves to believe that an open global contest will end in a stronger portfolio and a fair payment.

For both sides of this situation I give you a few words: Demand the best, by offering the best and NEVER sell yourself short for a short-term gain.

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