DesignCrowd Review: Should you crowdsource your design?

Last year we reviewed 99Designs, a crowdsourced marketplace that I was a huge advocate of. In short, you pay a fixed price (prize pool) which designers compete for, the designer you select wins the prize pool. When designers compete, we win. Conversely, it provides an opportunity for designers to find work, and designers confident in their ability have an opportunity to score some nice prize pools.

Special Offer from DesignCrowd to LaunchAStartup readers: Save up to $75 on any design project on DesignCrowd. Offer ends in 72 hours. Use Coupon Code: DC75OFF. 

To summarize, some of the pros and cons of 99Designs were:

Pros

  • We received dozens of designs for as little as $300, since only the “winner” gets paid, designers are motivated to win.   
  • It took me over 12 hours for the LaunchAStartup logo (below), time I could have spent on other tasks. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that crowdsourcing your design will save you time and money. I knew exactly what I wanted, so I did this one myself. When dealing with clients, I use to point them to 99Designs because I can’t get inside there head. There’s almost no way I can know exactly what they want – even if they tell me. And I really don’t want to spend hours on revisions when I can focus on other higher ROI tasks.
  • Don’t like the submitted designs? There’s a 100% Money Back Guarantee

oDesk vs Elance - LaunchAStartup.com logo

Cons

  • It could be potentially cheaper to just hire an independent contractor, but you won’t get as many designs and may end up unhappy. 
  • Could take a few days for designs to start rolling in, if you’re in a time crunch look to running a larger contest to motivate more designers to submit a design.

Since 99Designs, another site has risen to prominence offering lower pricing packages – DesignCrowd.

DesignCrowd Review: When Marketplaces Compete, We Win.

On paper, DesignCrowd vs 99Designs as far as how it works, are very similar. Both offer design competitions, both offer 100% money back guarantees. But the thing that makes or break a marketplace, are the sellers. In this case, the designers. It’s the whole chicken and the egg conundrum, you can’t have one without the other. I’ve already mentioned when designers compete, we win. The same rings true for marketplaces, when they compete, we win.

Before we dive into the details of the project I ran on DesignCrowd, let’s take a quick look at a pricing comparison for the most popular service, logos. At one end of the spectrum we have 99Designs, who offer pricing packages as low as $300:

99Designs Logo Pricing

And DesignCrowd offers slightly lower pricing packages:

DesignCrowd Logo Pricing

At $240, DesignCrowd’s cheapest package is the most affordable for cash strapped SMB’s and startups. Remember that the better designers tend to chase after the larger prize pools. But today, we’re going to focus on the cheapest pricing package, as that’s the most popular option for cash strapped businesses I work with.

Crowdsourced Graphic Design: What could I do with $180?

I didn’t need a logo, I actually wanted a full page website background, possibly for LaunchAStartup, or another one of my projects… I haven’t quite decided yet. Nonetheless, the packages for “Graphic Design Contests” were actually cheaper, I selected the cheapest package ($180), which after a transaction fee totaled to $185.4o. Here’s what I asked for:

Our company is LaunchAStartup, and we need simple, clean looking full page background illustration for our new website.

We want something similar to [redacted].

– They use buildings from New York in their illustration to denote where they’re from, we’d like to accomplish the same with an illustration of the Las Vegas Strip. Perhaps even incorporate our Red Rock mountains if you think it works with the illustration (http://www.city-data.com/articles/images/img1761279.jpg)

– We would like a sunset gradient

– Our logo uses a rocket to denote growth (see attached), we would like to see that incorporated into the design (perhaps skyrocketing to the moon?)

– Leave a little room to add some content later, eg. video.

Final Result? I was ecstatic to get this design for $180:

LaunchAStartup

Note: I added the illustration of the Las Vegas strip on the hill.

The designer got it right the first try. I tried to squeeze in a few more details by offering feedback, but I ended up liking the original better where I could add my own flair to it. For what it’s worth, this was the feedback I offered to all designers:

Hi all,

I like what I’m seeing so far, I just updated the project to guarantee payment.

I’m probably leaning a little towards [seller name redacted] right now, though I like the Las Vegas Strip elements incorporated by [different seller name redacted], though I would like to see use of popular landmarks (like what you did with Paris).

If you guys need help figuring out which landmarks to use in the illustration, here are a few ideas, they’re listed in the order you would see them driving up the Las Vegas Strip:

Luxor – The pyramid shaped hotel located on the beginning (South) of the Strip.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Luxor_Hotel.jpg

http://www.lasvegastourism.com/Images1/luxor-las-vegas.jpg

Paris – A popular hotel featuring a replica of the Eiffel Tower

http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/nevada/las-vegas/paris-las-vegas/hotel

Bellagio – The fountains at Bellagio are a popular landmark

https://www.google.com/search?q=bellagio+fountains&num=100&es_sm=119&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=JDm4U9X0BcuHogSjloG4Aw&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg

The Quad/Linq Hotel – A popular landmark featuring the world’s highest observation wheel in the back:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0JZq2imxXfA/UAW1JBBcasI/AAAAAAAAAv8/MFT5G4ileO4/s1600/linq-rendering.jpg

Stratosphere – This popular hotel usually denotes the end (North) of the Las Vegas Strip:

http://www.vegas.com/slideshows/hotels/stratosphere/cr_Strato-1a-exterior-night.jpg

DesignCrowd Tips and How to Make the Most of DesignCrowd

  1. Motivate the Designers – Start a project and let a few designs roll in. If there are a few you like, there’s an option to guarantee payment. I feel like this is a huge motivator to designers knowing that you won’t utilize the money back guarantee, essentially wasting a designers time. Designers are much more apt to listen to your revision requests as well.
  2. Provide Feedback – More often that not, designers won’t get it 100% perfect the first try. If they’re close, provide them with the feedback they need.
  3. Invite, Invite, Invite – With tens of thousands of projects running on DesignCrowd, it’s easy for a designer to miss a project they could be interested in. That’s why it’s a good idea to invite dozens of designers to your project… and DesignCrowd’s search and filter tool is phenomenal. You can filter designers by the basics such as type of designer and country, but also feedback score, contests entered, contests won, win %, etc. I felt like it was Fantasy Football and I was sorting through stats to pick designers – loved it. Since my project was only for $180, I strategically invited designs from lower income countries as they’re more apt to play for a lower prize pool.

DesignCrowd vs 99Designs?

Honestly, with a feature set so similar it’s a toss up. But like I mentioned earlier, the designers are what make the marketplace. With both offering a 100% money back guarantee, I don’t think you could go wrong with either. And while DesignCrowd has a lower entry price point, more features, and I was happy with my last project, here’s why I’d still personally recommend 99Designs:

  • “Never trust a skinny chef” – You ever hear that phrase before? Similarly, I’m not very impressed with the design of DesignCrowd’s website. It could be my personal taste but I feel there current design was popular a good 5+ years ago. I think 99Designs has a much more professional, and modern design… not to mention a much more intuitive platform. And…
  • They created the market – 99Designs created the market, everyone else is a mere copy. People don’t ask for a facial tissue, they ask for a Kleenex. Similarly, the term “crowdsourcing” runs nearly synonymous with 99Designs.
  • Less Work – I didn’t have to invite designers on 99Designs, they just came. And I receive more designs. Granted, I paid less on DesignCrowd. Something to consider.

I feel DesignCrowd’s biggest competitive advantages is the lower price points on their packages – but it will draw less designers. But in the grand scheme of things, $60 isn’t enough to sway me from the current leader in the market – 99Designs. For more, read our post on making the most of 99Designs (and a little logo inspiration from popular logos!).

What are your thoughts on crowdsourced design? Do you have any experience with DesignCrowd or other competitors, we’d like to hear your review in the comments below! 

Related: After you have your logo, you should start to think about web design. We have two posts that could help you, How to Outsource Web Development and Breakdown of Web Development Costs

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29 Responses to “DesignCrowd Review: Should you crowdsource your design?”
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