Part of my whole book writing project was to set up a webpage. This means first of all designing the webpage and secondly, implementing or programming the design in html browser code.
Using 99designs.com feels like walking into a hall with more than 100 designers ready to listen to your design request and transform it into art.
Here’s how it works:
99designs gathers many designers on one platform. A customer initiates a contest for a design. It can be for a book cover, webpage, business card, illustration, brochure, logo, etc. For this the customer needs to decide on a fee for the winning design (a percentage of this fee goes to 99designs as well) and write a cover letter to describe your design request. The first round lasts 6 days and is open for all designers to submit their drafts, but you, as the customer, can already now start giving first feedback to iteratively improve new designs.
If you don’t like any of the initial designs, you can step away from your contest and get your money back. If you do proceed into the final round, you are guaranteeing that there will be a winner amongst finalists you selected. The final round takes 5 days, after which your finalists can’t enter new designs anymore, and the ball is in your court to choose a winner. You have 2 weeks to decide, but you will probably know already by then which one is your favourite.
When I did my contest I “guaranteed a winner“ as soon as I realised there were very good drafts coming in and I was quite sure I would choose one of them. You can select this option at any point during your contest, and this will improve the quality of responses from the designers, and it’s likely you will get more good designs than otherwise.
There are three things that I found important in this process:
1. Cover letter
Make sure you take your time and write it properly. A good designer can provide a very good starting point already from your first description. Tell them who is your audience (age, gender, profession, etc.), what do you want the audience to do once they are on your page (read the blog, become a member, buy your product etc.), what colours do you want to have on your page, which colours you definitely want to avoid, name webpages you like a well as don’t like and explain why. Tell them what you want your viewers to think and feel when looking at your webpage. A good designer will know how to convert your wishes into a psd file.
This, of course, depends on your budget, but remember that a larger fee brings in more designs for your review. You might not think that the design is so important (“it is the content that matters!”) but think about this: the first thing your viewers will experience is the design of your webpage. They will take approximately 3 seconds to decide if they want to stay or not, and in case of “not” they won’t see your great content anyway. Even once you are (hopefully) being promoted by your established viewers and new visitors want to read the content, make sure your webpage looks professional.
Give your designers feedback as soon as you start receiving first drafts. For two main reasons: first, you will see how well you harmonise with a designer and how well they adapt to your needs and requests, and secondly, it will speed up the process of receiving your final version. Please keep one thing in mind: the majority of designers are artists and their design is a form of art, so I would really suggest you give your feedback in a positive way.
Finally, there are many other webpages where one can buy already designed webpages and some of them can be easily customized , but for me it was really important that my webpage is unique and that it reflects my wishes with no compromise.