Mar 15, 2024

How to build a website like 99designs

99designs is an online platform that connects freelance designers with clients needing custom design work. Discover how to create a marketplace inspired by 99designs.

Introduction: Why build a website like 99designs

99designs has achieved remarkable success as an online marketplace for graphic design services by effectively leveraging the power of crowdsourcing. By connecting a global community of freelance designers with clients in need of design work, 99designs has created a dynamic and competitive platform where creativity and design solutions flourish. Clients can launch contests for their specific design needs, whether it's a logo, website, book cover, or any other graphic design work, and receive a variety of unique submissions from designers around the world. This model not only provides clients with a wide range of creative options but also offers designers, regardless of their location, the opportunity to showcase their talents, build their portfolios, and earn income. The success of 99designs is rooted in its ability to offer a win-win solution for both clients and designers, facilitated by an intuitive user interface, a robust support system, and a commitment to quality and satisfaction. This approach has not only democratized access to professional design services but has also fostered a vibrant and supportive community of creative professionals, contributing to the platform's growth and popularity in the competitive landscape of online marketplaces.

How does a website like 99designs work?

For buyers, 99designs offers a platform to access a global pool of creative talent for their design needs. Users post a brief detailing their project, and designers submit concepts. Buyers then review submissions, provide feedback, and ultimately select their favorite design, ensuring a customized and satisfactory outcome for their specific requirements.

For sellers, 99designs operates as a vibrant platform where graphic designers showcase their creativity to a global audience. They participate in contests or are directly hired by clients seeking custom designs. This competitive yet opportunity-rich environment allows them to build portfolios, receive feedback, and earn money by winning projects or through direct collaborations.

What is 99designs's business model?

99designs operates as an online marketplace that connects freelance graphic designers with clients in need of design services. Its business model is centered around crowdsourcing, where clients submit a design brief for projects such as logos, websites, book covers, and more. Designers from around the world then compete by submitting their designs based on the brief. The client reviews the submissions, provides feedback, and ultimately selects a winning design. 99designs earns revenue by taking a commission from the payment made to the designer. This model not only provides clients with a variety of design options but also offers designers, regardless of their location, the opportunity to showcase their work, improve their skills, and earn money. The platform supports various contest types and direct hires, catering to a wide range of design needs and budgets, making it a versatile solution for both clients and designers.

99designs operates as an online marketplace that connects freelance graphic designers with clients in need of design services, ranging from logo creation to website design. The platform makes money primarily through the fees it charges for its services. When a client posts a design contest, they pay a listing fee and set a prize amount for the designer whose submission they select. 99designs takes a percentage of this prize as a commission. Additionally, for projects where clients work directly with designers through the platform's "Projects" feature, 99designs charges a service fee. These fees vary depending on the package or service level chosen by the client, allowing 99designs to cater to a wide range of budgets while ensuring a steady revenue stream from the multitude of design projects facilitated through its platform.

Key features of 99designs

The most important functionality of a marketplace like 99designs, which connects clients with graphic designers, is its ability to facilitate effective and efficient interactions between clients seeking design solutions and designers offering their creative services. This encompasses several key functionalities:

  1. Project Brief Creation: Allowing clients to create detailed project briefs that clearly outline their design needs, preferences, and requirements. This is crucial for designers to understand the project scope and deliver designs that meet clients' expectations.

  2. Designer Discovery and Matching: Providing a platform for clients to discover and select from a wide range of designers based on their skills, portfolio, and ratings. An effective matching system can also suggest designers who are best suited for a particular project.

  3. Communication Tools: Offering robust communication tools for clients and designers to interact directly. This includes messaging systems, feedback tools, and revision requests to ensure clear, continuous communication throughout the design process.

  4. Payment and Escrow Services: Ensuring secure payment processing and holding funds in escrow until project milestones are met or the final design is approved. This builds trust between clients and designers, ensuring designers are paid for their work and clients are satisfied with the outcome.

  5. Intellectual Property Protection: Managing the transfer of intellectual property rights from designers to clients upon project completion and payment. This is essential for protecting the legal interests of both parties.

  6. Quality Control and Dispute Resolution: Implementing quality control measures to maintain high standards of design work and providing mechanisms for dispute resolution should disagreements arise between clients and designers.

  7. User Experience and Navigation: Offering an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes it easy for both clients and designers to navigate the platform, find what they're looking for, and complete transactions smoothly.

  8. Portfolio and Feedback Systems: Enabling designers to showcase their work and clients to leave feedback. This helps designers build their reputation on the platform and assists clients in making informed decisions when selecting designers.

In essence, the most important functionality of a marketplace like 99designs is to create a seamless, secure, and supportive environment that facilitates successful collaborations between clients and designers, ensuring high-quality design outcomes.

Building a platform like 99designs from scratch involves costs for design, development, project management, and quality assurance. The complexity of features such as contest creation, designer portfolios, payment processing, and messaging systems significantly influences the cost. For a basic version, development costs could range from $50,000 to $100,000, assuming you hire a mid-level development team. This estimate includes both front-end and back-end development but can vary based on the team's location, the technology stack, and the level of customization required. Additional costs for maintenance, marketing, and further development should also be considered for long-term sustainability.

How to create a successful alternative to 99designs

Identify gaps in the current market offerings of 99designs and other competitors. Conduct thorough market research to understand the needs and preferences of both designers and clients. Create a unique value proposition that clearly differentiates your platform from existing ones. Develop a user-friendly website and mobile app with an intuitive interface for both designers and clients. Implement a robust vetting process to ensure high-quality designers and design submissions. Offer competitive pricing models that are attractive to both clients and designers. Introduce innovative features, such as real-time collaboration tools or AI-driven design suggestions. Provide exceptional customer service and support for both designers and clients. Implement a flexible and fair payment system that protects both parties. Foster a community around your platform through forums, educational resources, and events. Incorporate feedback mechanisms to continuously improve the platform based on user input. Invest in marketing and partnerships to build brand awareness and attract users to the platform. Ensure the platform is scalable and can adapt to changing market demands and technology advancements. Prioritize security and privacy to protect users' information and intellectual property. Explore niche markets within the design industry to cater to specific needs and stand out. Offer additional services such as trademark registration or brand strategy consulting to add value. Monitor and adapt to trends in design and technology to keep the platform relevant and innovative.

Successful 99designs competitors

  1. DesignCrowd is a strong competitor to 99designs, offering a similar crowdsourcing platform for graphic design. Unlike 99designs, which has a more streamlined process for selecting designs, DesignCrowd provides a broader range of customization options for project briefs, allowing for more detailed requests. Both platforms cater to a global pool of designers, but DesignCrowd tends to emphasize more on flexibility and customization in the design process.

  2. Fiverr stands out as a versatile competitor by offering a wide array of creative services beyond just graphic design, including digital marketing, writing, video, and programming. While 99designs focuses on connecting clients with professional designers for contest-based or direct hire projects, Fiverr operates on a gig-based system, where clients browse and select services from freelancers' pre-defined packages. This model offers a quicker turnaround for smaller projects, making Fiverr a go-to for clients with diverse and immediate needs.

  3. Upwork provides a more comprehensive freelance platform compared to 99designs, covering a vast range of services from graphic design to web development and beyond. Unlike 99designs, which specializes in design contests, Upwork facilitates direct negotiations between clients and freelancers, offering both hourly and fixed-price contracts. This broader focus and flexible hiring model make Upwork suitable for long-term projects and ongoing work relationships, in contrast to the project-specific contests of 99designs.

  4. is another significant competitor, offering a wide variety of services similar to Upwork but with a competitive bidding system that can lead to lower prices. It hosts a massive number of freelancers across different fields, not just design, making it a one-stop-shop for many clients. However, 99designs maintains an edge in the quality and specialization of design work, appealing to clients specifically looking for high-quality graphic design services.

  5. Crowdspring is a direct competitor to 99designs in the niche of creative design contests, offering a similar platform where clients can receive multiple design submissions from artists around the world. Crowdspring differentiates itself with a strong focus on customer service and a slightly different pricing model, which can appeal to small businesses looking for more hands-on support. Both platforms are dedicated to providing a variety of design solutions, but Crowdspring tries to carve out its niche by emphasizing user experience and support.

Options to develop a website similar to 99designs

Creating a PeoplePerHour-style online marketplace from the ground up is a significant, costly endeavor. However, nowadays, there are numerous methods to construct a marketplace that don't necessitate a large budget.

The choice you should make depends on:

  • The functionalities you believe your marketplace requires
  • Your technical abilities (or abilities present in your team)
  • Your financial plan
  • The time you have available.

The various methods to create a marketplace include:

  • Utilizing WordPress and plugins
  • Constructing atop open-source software
  • Employing a mix of no-code instruments
  • Using a specialized no-code marketplace SaaS solution
  • Developing atop an API-based marketplace SaaS solution

Besides your limitations regarding skills and finances, you should also consider the pace of learning. Launching your PeoplePerHour-style platform swiftly means you begin to understand your audience rapidly. These insights assist you in crafting the type of platform that users prefer over any other existing solution.

Sharetribe’s marketplace software is designed with this cyclical learning process in mind.

Initially, we assist you in launching a platform akin to PeoplePerHour in one day without any programming. The construction phase is complimentary forever, and all the essential functionality is pre-configured.

Once you've launched, you discover what sorts of extra features and functionality your platform needs to cater to your audience. You might wish to alter the design and workflow entirely, incorporate numerous third-party services, or develop a mobile application. With Sharetribe, you can effortlessly custom-code all these modifications and much more, either on your own or with assistance from our Expert partners.

At Sharetribe, we’ve been crafting marketplaces for over a decade. Our knowledge and proficiency are at your service through our content resources, which you can access and utilize regardless of how you decide to construct your platform.

Best of fortune with your PeoplePerHour-style venture!

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