Best 99Designs Alternatives: Assured Quality vs the Affordable Underdogs

By DigitalMerchant | Site Building


Businesses have many graphics design needs whose expertise may go beyond your limited Photoshop skills. We are talking of logo design or that catchy banner design you have been thinking about for your website.

Talking of websites, your business needs might be outgrowing that free WordPress template and is now begging for some fresh pop of color and layout via a professionally done web design. Other businesses may require packaging or advertising designs and all these projects can be a hassle for a business owner who needs the job done efficiently, professionally and fast.

Free graphics design resources online are a dime a dozen. You can use Canva, Pixl or Hipster Logo Generator to come up with design solutions for your business. However, when it comes to personalization of your brand with a good dose of professionalism, you will require a graphics designer. Now, graphics design services do not come cheap, but the services they render will make your website, blog or advertising pop and catch the attention of your audience.


Thanks to crowdsourcing websites like 99Designs, you really do not have to the go the whole 9 yards and hire a graphics designer directly or spend a fortune on a design agency. 99Designs is one of the largest online platforms that connect people to creative designers at an affordable fee.

The design contest platform enables you to crowdsource your business’s graphics design needs by starting a design content s, that pits the most creative professionally against each other for a reward. 99 design’s design contest process begins when you join the platform and submit a design request.

99Designs home page

Depending on how lucrative your reward is, you will, in turn, receive tons of design ideas from the marketplace, and all you have to do is sit back and choose what appeals to you the most.

You can run any kind of creative design contest at 99Designs, ranging from book cover designs to website logo designs or custom WordPress theme design. All you need to do is set a budget and study the design ideas, then settle on what works.

99Designs had a less publicized readymade store for logos, with tons of pre-made logos for all industries under the sun. You could have had your logo choices customized in terms of text and color to fit your business’s requirements too. The logo designs were affordable and gave blogs, websites or businesses instant credibility with their pixel-perfect nature. They, unfortunately, shut this logo store down, preferring to restructure their design contests prices, and refocusing them on unique design elements like bundled options.

99Designs has the highest brand awareness share in this market, with a team of over a million designers on one platform.99 Designs make the design contest launch very easy. It even gives you a logo gallery to help you establish your design preferences. This process assists a buyer who might find it hard to articulate their designs needs with words. It creates a visual image through proven samples.

99Designs: The good

  • The platform is affordable
    Graphics design costs tend to eat into a web design budget more any other cost, which is why most website or blog owners go for templates. However graphic design has a human element to it that turns abstract brands to visual magic, something computers are not very skilled at. Getting a custom look for a small business may be way out of budget but 99Designs bridges that gap by offering an alternative without too much of a hassle or expense.
  • Design choices
    99 Designs has a platform that offers a wide selection of designs for your choice. This eliminates the need for sifting through tons of resumes, to find a designer whose style you like.
  • Quick turnaround times
    Once your brief is submitted, you will have design choices within as little as 24 to 48 hours. They provide a unique viewing link to assist you to get feedback from business partners, friends or colleagues. The revision process is pretty fast and hassle-free too.
  • Guarantee
    99Designs holds your money in escrow until you have the final product. You will have no fear of scams or poor quality work, and it protects the designers from having to deal with shoddy or demanding clients. If you by any chance get poor design choices, 99 Designs will not require you to pay.

99Designs: The bad

  • Briefs
    Perhaps the most significant pain point of this platform is articulating complex symbolism or concepts in a design brief. A bad design brief rarely gets good design choices. Consider also that you have to communicate all your requirements including color choices, textures symbolism and general look in a brief to get good designs. Unfortunately, the large market has designers who know little of your native language. This process can be daunting and at times discouraging to the users.
  • Hard to build relationships
    their old school design contest idea tends to ruin the ability to forge relationships with designers you like.
  • The inflexibility of design contest time
    Your contest is allowed a 7-day run. If you need more choices, you will have to pay more. If you need shorter deadlines you have to pay more too.

99Designs prices


DesignCrowd runs on the same premise as 99Designs and is also a crowdsourced platform for design contests. Their contests though have flexible contest times, and you can choose a 2,5,10 or 15-day contest at no extra cost, unlike the standard 7 day contest time 99Designs allows.

DesignCrowd does not show their prices at the start of the design contest so you might feel like you going in a bit blind. With DesignCrowd the minimum amount required to set a design contest is $240 for a logo design contest and $340 for website design. This platform curiously adds a small transaction fee to launch a competition which is not common practice with other platforms.

DesignCrowd home page

The DesignCrowd platform also requires a design brief that should outline your expectations. It has fewer designers that 99 Designs but a designer list of 460k is still more than needed to give you stellar design results.

Once your design brief and contest is up, you will get loads of input for all types of graphic design ranging from postcards, T-shirt, mobile app, logo or web design. From the dozens of results submitted, you can then pick one that works for you. If you are unsatisfied with results, DesignCrowd has a money back guarantee to protect you.

DesignCrowd has an excellent customer support team, to help you meet your design objectives on the platform. Customers have mentioned that this team will at times extend the contest length to ensure that their clients get satisfactory results. DesignCrowd also allows you to invite designers to your project to ensure that misses your contest.

This platform has a filter tool that enables you to filter designers for your project by designer type or country, feedback scores, contests won or entered, or percentage wins. You can easily use these stats to pick the kind of designers you prefer to work with depending on your budget level.

The 99Design website has a very modern, upbeat look to it when compared to DesignCrowd’s platform, and their platform is more intuitive too. DesignCrowd though has a lower entry price point but works better with its designer invitation. On 99Designs, you will still get stellar results by just posing your contest.

DesignCrowd: The Good

  • Fantastic support to help you meet your design objectives
  • Great designers with excellent attention to detail
  • More affordable and flexible with contest length than 99 Designs
  • Money back guarantee if unsatisfied with the contest results
  • Has an invite feature to invite your favorite designer to your contest
  • Has an excellent filter feature as well to help you work with your preferred designers.

DesignCrowd: The Bad

  • Hidden costs
  • An additional transaction fee for contests
  • Very aggressive email promotions
  • Fewer designers and contests on its platform when compared to 99Designs

DesignCrowd Prices


Unlike 99Designs or DesignCrowd, Fiverr provides user-generated content to clients. Liken it to a social media site where clients patronize gigs as listed by the sellers. On Fiverr, you can view gigs of any kind job from prank jobs or lawn mowing, but as the platform has matured, more professions like article writing, digital marketing or graphics design have taken precedence on the site.

Fiverr aims to undercut industry costs by enabling freelancers to eliminate the middle man, by working directly with their clients. Fiverr generally refers to the platform’s minimum prices for a gig, which is $5.

Fiverr home page

Needless to say in Fiverr you could find yourself paying lower rates for your graphics design jobs. Fiverr though being a jack of all trades of may not offer you the kind of professionalism niche graphic design websites will offer.

On Fiverr, the price of a gig largely depends on the seller, and since the market is open and very competitive, a designer will often list the lowest possible costs to land a gig quickly. The website itself encourages low-cost prices so you are bound to find lower prices on Fiverr than can be found on 99Designs.

On Fiverr, it is essential to study the price of gigs better because the lowest prices often offer bare-bones services. All other vital essentials are tagged as additional costs. For example, essential items like vector files to your design or copyright of designs might require more costs to attain.

You might also be required to pay extra for features like additional revisions or png file formats for a logo set on a transparent background for your website. So eventually costs that looked originally cheap might end up adding up to a hundred at the end of the job.

Fiverr does not have as many graphics designers listed on their website as does 99Designs or DesignCrowd. It is possible that you will get more artistic styles on these niche platforms than you will find them on Fiverr. The search function of 99Designs is designed explicitly with the designer search in mind.

In Fiverr the search criteria caters to a multitude of disciplines and mostly to prices and product descriptions. It will be easier, therefore, to set up a job on graphic design niche sites than it is to search, outline the job specifications and set it up on Fiverr.

Fiverr though focuses on many interdisciplinary projects so you could have all your business’s needs taken care of all under one platform.

Fiverr: The Good

  • You could land yourself an excellent service provider, who will cater to a wide variety of your business needs beyond graphics design
  • Affordable services
  • It is easier to forge working relationships with your preferred graphics designer on this platform

Fiverr: The Bad

  • There is the danger of place orders on inactive gigs which make the turnaround longer and tie up your money in the process.
  • You could settle for an inexperienced seller or one with an exaggerated portfolio of their skills.
  • Not as many graphics designers as other platforms
  • You have to study the details of the gigs to avoid hidden costs.

99Designs vs. DesignCrowd vs. Fiverr comparison table

NicheGraphics designGraphics designMixed
Working mechanismContest + a design briefContest + plus a design brief

Invite your preferred designers to your contest
Find + hire a freelancer

Post a request and await offers
CostsFlat rates dependent on the length of contestsFlat rates dependent on the length of contestsFreelancers set the prices of the gig.
Graphics designers available on the platform +1,000,000 + 460,000+7,000

The Final Word

99Designs definitely has the largest pool of graphic designer and online reviewers, and you are destined to get top-notch quality from this platform. DesignCrowd is more flexible in terms of contest days, more affordable and is more versatile, allowing you to invite designers to your contest. Fiverr, on the other hand, could be affordable but the designer pool here is way smaller. It is also a jack of all trades.

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I blog about the tools I use every day because everyone hates hype-mongers. Don't be a hype-monger.

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