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Design Competition Sites

Has anyone had any experience using them?

8:16 am on Sep 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm looking to build a basic website for a friend - I can handle the database and functionality - however I'm not good at design.

Someone recently mentioned that you can use forums or sites where you can paste the specification (in my case a rough handwritten layout) and put up a "prize" money. Designers then do designs, and you select the design you most like (the winner gets the money).

Has anyone used any of these sites before? Is there sites that are more popular than others for this kind of thing?

I'm looking to see if its worth trying out.

9:11 am on Sept 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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As a designer, my first question would be this: Do they value their business? If so I'd tell them to really think how they invest their money. I have little faith in competition based service selection.

Here are some of the reasons:

1. Design process

A good design project consists of stages that allow the designer and client to form a partnership. The designer builds up a picture of the clients needs by asking the right questions. Questions that a client may not have thought to put into a spec. This is a fundamental part of all successful design. It answers the right questions. In short, I have yet to see a well drafted design brief on a competition site, and as a result the 'competition master' will often feel the criteria have not been properly met.

2. Designing to win

I liken design competitions to this analogy:

Ask 500 building contractors to build a wall, offer them a prize for the best one - choose the nicest wall and we'll pay them $000's. It's not a big wall, won't take them long...

In other words, I think I know what the contractors would say if you offered this model for selection... Speculative work in design is a contentious subject at the best of times, but when the competition casts such a wide a net the resulting 'walls' are unlikely to stand up to a battering.

3. Quality

Is what you see, what you get? Does the design have structure? Is it really good typography? Will it hold a users concentration? Is it presented in a way that pushes focus on most important content? Is it made with the build in mind?

All too often the design might meet the spec on first impression, but the nuts and bolts of the design have been neglected. Logo's are a prime example of this. There are hundreds of entries, that if chosen, would be so hard to manage it's untrue. Colour, format and scalability for example. There are constraints and factors that a client does not need to know, but needs to understand. A designer worth his/her salt will explain this to their client, demonstrating how it will work in the real world.

4. Experience

If there is no governance over the people who enter, you may find yourself working with an inexperienced hobbyist. Maybe one who doesn't understand the concept of deadlines, who uses incorrect tools/formatting and has no experience of working with developers. Would it not be better to forge a relationship with a good designer/design studio? One you can trust, who's business it is to design and develop sites every day? One who truly understands the medium and has the folio to prove it.

5. Budget

You get what you pay for. I truly, 100%, believe this. It's rare to find quality on competition sites like this. The designers who are good enough, are working on briefs for clients who understand that there's the right way to do it, and that is not for peanuts. Now I'm not saying that you are going to offer peanuts, but these sites do tend to attract monkeys.


My best advice, find some good (local) designers, with good folios and a good reputation and ask them to show their credentials and to produce a quote for the work. You can then forge a relationship with them, like you might a car mechanic, plumber or architect.

11:37 am on Sept 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi Limbo, I fully agree with you and we use top agencies to do designs that get the quality and usability spot on.

However this is a different type of thing - a site I'm do as a favour for a friend (I need to learn to say "no" better!) - the key aim for me is to get it done without using too much of my time or costing me much.

My plan was to buy a cheap web template for it and adapt it - but that would take more of my time than I'd like it to (as I have a page layout aleady in mind and would need to mess around with css etc).

4:50 am on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for sharing this information Information and would trying using this tips as to do a design competition sites

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