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We Used 99designs For Logos: Here’s Our Review

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What is it like to use 99designs? We’re going to go through the process of creating a design contest from start to finish to show you what the entire experience is like, so you can decide for yourself if 99designs is for you. For this 99designs review, we’re going to follow all instructions given and document each step of our journey for you to see below.

For this test project, we’re going to submit a contest for Owner’s Mag logo to see if 99designs can interpret a better logo for us. Chances of me getting this approved and having the CEO change the logo is practically 0, but this will be a fun project that everyone in our office can contribute feedback to.

1. Creating our design project

We went ahead and searched “Logo” and went through the process of creating the logo project. When selecting the business category, surprisingly there’s nothing related to digital publication, news, or publisher there. We went ahead and chose “Internet” as our category.

2. Choosing a name

Now it’s time to name our project. We’re going to call this one “Owner’s Mag Logo Design”. Not sure if I’ll ever get the approval to change the logo, but it’ll be a fun project that everyone at the office can give inputs on.

3. Types of logo

Logos come in all different shapes, themes, and types. They can be just a word logo, icons, abstract, or something unique with a mascot. Here’s where you can tell the 99designers what type of logo you want.

4. Choosing a style

I like this section a lot. Sometimes it’s difficult to actually describe what you want. Here, you can browse through a long list of logo designs that cover a wide spectrum of styling. Select the ones that best fit your taste and it’ll give the 99designers a better idea of what you want.

I went ahead and chose a few text-focused logo, since Owner’s Mag is a text-only logo. The selected examples in the screenshot above aren’t the ones I chose.

5. Brand Style Meter

I’ll be honest, this section is a bit weird for me. On this page, 99design asked me to explain the style I want using different sliding scales. There’s more than the 3 listed in the image above. I personally had a hard time deciding if Owner’s mag logo should be “Classic” or “Modern”, “Mature” or “Youthful”. Femine vs Masculine I can work with. But the other categories aren’t intuitive for me.

6. Choosing Colors

Now it’s time to pick our color preferences. I stuck with “Reds”.

7. Writing project brief

Filling out the project brief didn’t take too long. The questions were straight forward and all makes sense. It is odd that the project brief itself is this far down the process.

8. Choose your package

So far, we haven’t paid 99designs anything. Now it’s time for us to pick a tier for our plan. Although the Logo starts at $299, that’s actually for the Bronze tier. The higher tier you go, the more submissions and higher quality the work will be. Or at least that’s what 99designs promise.

For this, we chose the Silver $499 plan. We’ll be expecting about 60 designs to be submitted with this package.

9. Add-ons

In addition to the $499 we’re paying for the Silver tier, 99designs will upsell us for a few things. Some of these I think makes sense, others I felt should be included in the price I’m paying.

Personal Creative Consultant ($129) actually looks like customer support to me. I’m not a designer, of course I will need some help through this process. I felt like this should’ve already been included in the price instead of being a $129 add-on.

Guaranteed doesn’t cost anything. But it will null your money-back guarantee. This ensures the designer WILL get paid if they make it to the final round. Because of 99designs’ pay structure, this makes your project much more appealing to designers and more will likely submit drafts if you opt out of their guarantee.

Private ($59), this came as a shocker. I didn’t know this would even be public. Why my project is even open to the public in the first place is beyond me. This doesn’t feel right. Paying $59 just so 99designs keep my designs private seems like a scare tactic for me to cough up more money. Not a fan.

Duration lets you pay a bit more for faster delivery. For this, I feel the prices are fair and it’s typical to pay more for expedited work anyway. You can pay $39 for 3 day instead of 4 day delivery, $59 for 2 days, and $79 for 1 day.

9. Complete! Now we wait…

I opted to not purchase any add-ons for this review. Once paid, we’re redirected to 99designs’ dashboard where we can see the estimated timeline for the project. From today, it’ll take about 4 days for all of the designs to be submitted. Each day some designers will submit their work and on the final day, the round will be closed and we have 4 days to pick finalists.

The Designs Are In!

First off, very disappointed that we only received 17 designs instead of the promised 60. I contacted 99designs support about the issue and they claim that they don’t guarantee “60”, even though their pricing tiers clearly listed “Expect ~60 designs”.

Maybe the 17 designs we received are good? I’ll let you be the judge of that before we give our verdict.

Here are the 17 designs that 99designers submitted to us after 4 days.

What does our office think?

We passed the designs around our office to get some initial thoughts. Most thought the designs were random and not aligned with any of the directions given. Some look templated. Others look like they just slap a random icon in front of the text and call it a logo.

Overall, none of us were impressed by the results thus far. We eventually picked #6 to give feedback just to move the process along, not because we love the design. We felt let down that only 17 versions were submitted since 99designs promised we’d get around 60 designs to choose from.

We submitted our revisions and now wait for our designer to spin something back to us.

4 days later…

We received new versions of logo #6 within about 3-4 days. Personally I wasn’t happy with the new versions, but I shared the new designs with the office. You can probably guess how we all felt about the new drafts. Results…were disappointing and not what we had suggested. At this point, we didn’t feel compelled to give any further instructions or move the project to the final round.

We’re not happy

We decided not to continue the project given we’re not happy with any of the drafts so far. Even revisions were still so far off what we would even accept. I understand graphic design is subjective, and that sometimes you just have a difficult client. I assure you, we’re not that difficult and was looking for a very simple logo.

It was hard for us to justify even moving to the final round given the designers barely followed our directions. We specifically asked them to design the logo using our RED, and some of them ignored it completely. We asked them to NOT use any icons and just keep it text-based, yet there were logos with random icons.

Getting a Refund

Our experience could be a unique case and your experience could be much more pleasant. We eventually asked for a refund and was met with another obstacle. You can’t get a refund on the website, they request a call to speak to you to “verify” your identity before releasing your refund.

This is an annoying step clearly put in place just to discourage refunds. I oblige and got on a call with a representative. The rep was understanding and didn’t try too hard to sell me, which I appreciated. Our refund was promptly processed afterward.

Final Verdict

Our experience with 99designs has been mixed. I like how intuitive the website is and how easy it was to get your logo project started. The biggest let down were the number of submissions we received (17 instead of the promised 60) and the quality of each design. You can judge for yourself. Looking at the logos submitted, I didn’t feel like we got even intermediate level designers. These just felt rushed, patched together, and overall unpolished work.

Giving revision was difficult because most of the designs were so far off base. I didn’t know where to start, except tell the designer to re-read my project brief and start over.

Overall, it wasn’t the best experience for us. We would’ve gladly paid an agency or a freelancer the same amount and get more dedicated care and attention to produce 2-3 good logos instead of 17 poorly design random logos.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR

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Last year put entrepreneurs and business owners through the ringer. Those with small businesses were faced with a whole new set of unique challenges. Many people were forced into a career change and some elected to go into business for themselves. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur: Congratulations! You made it through last year. Whether your business spent 2020 playing defense or you were able to thrive, the new year is a great excuse to take a look at your business and see where you can improve. Here are the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

1.    Mondays are for Planning

When you are in business for yourself, there is always the feeling that you could be doing something more. Perhaps, you could be optimizing your time better. Make Monday mornings your time to map out your work week. Give yourself 1-2 hours with your planner. Schedule your meetings, work time, and account for travel and lunch breaks. Having your schedule written down makes it easier to adhere to it and you won’t have that feeling that you forgot something.

2.    Keep Your Workspace Organized

Whether your workspace is an office in your home or a storefront, you can always benefit from organization. A clutter free desk is optimal for productivity. Invest in a filing cabinet. Vacuuming and sweeping are often overlooked. Organize the wires that run off your desk from your laptop, monitor, charger, lamp, and tools.

3.    Keep Business Hours

Yes, there is always more work to be done. But at the same time, there is always tomorrow. Resolve to assign business hours and stick to them. You will find that when you allow yourself the time to fully clock off, you will be more productive when you clock in.

4.    Improve Your Social Media Game

It can seem trivial to post and share on Facebook and other social media, but this could not be further from the truth. Engaging in your community through the internet is the biggest way to get your business out there. You don’t necessarily have to hire a social media manager. Programs like HootSuite help you manage your posts across all platforms. Just engage more. Try and post something once a day whether it’s a picture of your latest project or a special. Like and follow your competitors. Like and follow people who follow them.

5.    Tighten Your Spending

The beginning of the year is a great chance to look at the books. The budget is often something we consider when we make a purchase, but don’t often look back on the macro level. Do you subscribe to a graphic design agency? Perhaps a cheaper alternative has come along. Have your vendors slowly been increasing their prices? Take the time to look under the hood.

6.    Learn Something New

You have spent some time minimizing your steps and running your business the most efficient way you know how. Now it’s time to learn about other ways to improve your business. Take a field trip to the competitor’s store down the road. Look on their website. What’s a good business magazine to subscribe to? Look up your local community college’s class catalog.

7.    Check in with Your Customers

Customers rule your business. Not only are they your source of income, but they also hold the keys to how you can improve your business. Check in with past customers to see how they enjoyed your services. There may be opportunities for repeat business. Perhaps, they were unsatisfied by something, but haven’t spoken up. Constructive criticism is… well, constructive.

8.    Read Your Mission Statement

You don’t have a mission statement? Make one. Your mission statement is your north star. It helps keep you on track with your goals. If you do have one, take the time to meditate on it. Has your business strayed from what you set out to be? Perhaps you have evolved beyond it. Take the time to realign and adjust either your work or your goals.

9.    Exercise

For the truly dedicated, work can take precedence over everything else. If you’re deadline driven, nothing will get in your way. This attitude is essential in the short run but can be problematic in the long term. Make a point to take care of yourself outside of your business. Eat right, go for a run or walk. Clear your mind. Afterall, you are the head of your company. You want to be firing on all cylinders.

10. Journal

Just as important as organizing your days in the beginning, you should also keep a journal at the end of the day. Set aside time to record the things you accomplished, and things you are hoping to accomplish. What did you learn today? Did you come across any problems? How did you resolve them? Journaling gives us the chance to reflect on the things that we ignored or overlooked.

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Stocks and 2020: A Love Story

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With 2020 finally in our rearview mirror, some investors in the stock market are licking their wounds – hoping that 2021 offers some relief. Many business owners are now watching from the sidelines as their companies did not make it through the year. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have radically affected our economy and how the world does business. While industries like travel and entertainment have taking a beating on the market, some companies have been able to thrive. Here are some of 2020’s most successful businesses on the stock market.

FedEx (FDX)

Unsurprisingly, the dramatic lifestyle changes that the world faced last year has paved the way for a successful FedEx in 2020. While foot traffic at storefronts went down, people took to the internet to do their shopping, and FedEx was there to deliver.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $152.42
  • March 2020: $90.39
  • Stock at end of 2020: $262.20

Moderna (MRNA)

Moderna is one of the drug development companies to create a vaccine for COVID-19. Developing a vaccine in a fraction of the time it would normally take, the company has seen success in both development and value. It saw nearly 600% growth.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $18.70
  • March 2020: $21.30
  • Stock at end of 2020: $104.77

Amazon (AMZN)

Amazon is another business that is seemingly pandemic proof. The lockdowns were devastating for the mom-and-pop shops, but Jeff Bezos only small more success for his online shopping juggernaut.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $1,874.97
  • March 2020: $1,874
  • Stock at end of 2020: $3,259.93

Zoom (ZM)

As millions across the world adapted to working at home, Zoom became a household name. Companies used Zoom to conference with their employees and clients. Friends and families used Zoom to stay in touch when they weren’t allowed to leave the house.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $67.28
  • March 2020: $107.47
  • Stock at end of 2020: $337.32

Netflix (NFLX)

Last year, movie theaters and gyms were closed. Sporting events and concerts were cancelled. In some places, it was even prohibited to go for a walk in the park. When looking for some entertainment and a break from the doom and gloom of the news, households all around turned to Netflix.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $325.90
  • March 2020: $332.83
  • Stock at end of 2020: $540.73

Tesla (TSLA)

Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, Tesla has seen amazing success in 2020. With 830% growth from the beginning of the year, Tesla became one of the top ten most valuable businesses in the world.

  • Stock at start of 2020: $84.90
  • March 2020: $72.24
  • Stock at end of 2020: $705.67

Even with vaccine distribution well underway, the world is not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 and the lockdowns will leave a lasting impression. And the market will adapt. With businesses adjusting to incorporate a permanent work-from-home model, some think Zoom maybe worth a long-term investment. But what will Netflix and FedEx look like as the world opens up again?

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7 Crucial Trends in Graphic Design Technology You Should Know About

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The value and need for the services of graphic designers are of pressing importance nowadays. Any business or company will know how crucial great graphic design work is to its brand and marketing strategies. And it’s no secret that technology geared towards improving the graphic design process has risen in the past few years. With emerging technologies in graphic design and a whole global talent pool at anyone’s disposal, there is absolutely no excuse for a company not to get a graphic designer.

As trends change and industries adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of creative work, one must know where graphic design is going in the next few years. Whether you’re a graphic designer yourself or you hire graphic designers, it’s important to put one’s ear on the ground and listen to the rumbles of the digital industry and marketing world. 

Here are some seven crucial trends that graphic designers, marketers, and business owners should get a vibe of in 2021 and beyond.

1. Artificial Intelligence in Graphic Design

Artificial intelligence is on an inevitable rise and is changing the way we do business. In 2015, only 10% of businesses used some form of artificial intelligence in their operations. Only four years later, that number rose to 37%, a 270% jump in such a short amount of time.

New technology in graphic design is moving towards making use of artificial intelligence in the design process. AI companies are venturing towards developing systems that use the massive online repositories of fonts, icons, and colors to develop algorithms that will produce sleek design work for companies. 

But for graphic designers afraid of the day that robots will take over their jobs, there is little to worry about as artificial intelligence in graphic design looks to augment and not replace human designers.

2. The Rise of Non-Adobe Graphic Design Software

It’s hard to imagine that there was once a time that Adobe held a near-monopoly on the graphic design software industry. Tools like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, and Illustrator seemed to be the only viable options for editing graphics and making various collaterals and materials. But today, there are more options available to designers. 

Tools like Sketchapp, Pixlr, and Vectr are great alternatives to Adobe Suite products. Designers can also now use cloud-based design software Canva, which starts with a free plan. To check out all the available graphic design software available, check out this graphic design software guide by CompareCamp.

3. Increased Demand for Landing Page Design Software

Nowadays, people who run online businesses will have some form of landing or sales page to promote their products. A landing page is one long-form web page that sells one or a few products with a compelling storyline or sales script. 

Building websites previously needed fluency in HTML and CSS to happen. But today, various landing page design services are available online.

Services like Leadpages, Convertkit, Instapage, Shogun, and Kajabi allow people to create websites with a drag and drop interface and practically zero code work. These services also provide various landing page layouts that have proven conversion history with other users.

4. On-Demand Graphic Design Services

Another rising trend in the field of graphic design is the surge of on-demand graphic design services, a business model that gives customers access to a team of graphic designers whenever they need them. This model contrasts with the more traditional method of hiring a freelance graphic designer. 

With on-demand graphic design companies, clients get a hold of a graphic design agency and ask the company to link them with a designer when needed. Compared to hiring a freelance designer, getting an on-demand graphic design service can provide certain benefits, including instant availability and a wider variation of styles. Of course, there is still a place for freelance graphic designers, but on-demand graphic services prove to be a good alternative to companies who don’t need a high volume of graphics for their business. 

One good example of a company that provides on-demand design services is Penji, which offers entrepreneurs and small businesses access to a graphic designer who can create unlimited designs for as low as $399 a month.

5. Infographics Templates and Builders

In the last few years, infographics have taken the internet by storm. Nowadays, even B2B marketing places a big premium on infographics, with 65% of B2B marketers using some form of an infographic to promote a product or service.

But anyone who wants to keep up with graphic design trends should know that there is now an extensive collection of infographics templates and infographic-generating online services available online. Now, graphic designers don’t have to start from scratch when making infographics, saving a lot of time and resources. Online tools like Piktochart and Venngage are great examples of such services.

6. Computer Systems Design

As high as the demand for graphic designers is today, the industry is hitting a tipping point. Experts say that the number of available graphic design jobs will decrease by 4% in the next few years. But even as the overall market for designers falls, there’s a subset of graphic designers that disproportionately goes against the flow.

As the number of needed designers in print and traditional media poises itself for a drop, there will be an increase in needed graphic designers in computer systems design. In fact, a report shows that there will be a 20% increase in computer systems graphic designers from 2016 to 2026.

7. Smarter Revision Software

One of the most tedious parts of the graphic design workflow is dealing with revisions. Designers have dealt with the seemingly never-ending back and forth of revisions and comments. A good chunk of the refurbishing of designs often happens because of a lack of communication between clients and designers, especially when communicating online. 

As innovators look to address that need, some have become better at improving the revision process with graphic design technologies. A good example of such tools includes Wipster, Filestage, Usersnap, and Skitch.

Where Graphic Design is Heading Towards in 2021

The year is coming to a close pretty soon, and we’ll be welcoming another new year before we know it. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time professionals in the creative space and business, in general, should start looking towards graphic design trends 2021 predictions. Like every other year, graphic design trends have changed immensely as people seek more novel ways to communicate messages. 

But just as important for graphic designers and clients to know are the various technology trends shaping the way designers operate and work. Much has changed in little time as more services that help with the creative process pop out. Yet even as more and more softwares becomes available, creatives will be happy to know that the future looks bright for graphic designers everywhere as many of today’s tools look to streamline the creation process and allow artists to work smarter and more effectively. 

Of course, that is if graphic designers stay with the times and continue watching over the horizon for the next tool that will provide them with hacks to improve their design processes. For anyone ready to adapt to the latest trend in graphic design and try new tools and processes, there can be a whole new world of possibilities and growth in the field of creative work.

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