How to Build a Virtual Design Team with 99designs

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Paying the designer and shaking hands

99designs is an on-demand marketplace where companies seek to find their dream design by running design contests (anything from business cards, to logos, to websites…I could go on). Many companies also use 99designs to curate their own on-call virtual design team. Think: The Avengers, but for teams of super-designers handpicked by you.

Projects” is useful for large or unexpected campaigns with tight deadlines, where agencies have the benefit of being able to access the best talent — quickly, easily, and securely. Let’s take a look at how that works exactly.

Step 1: Discovering Designers

Finding your dream designer (or dream team of designers) is the first step. Begin by navigating to /discover (link in the menu), where you’ll see an endless list of stunning designs. Your designer is here, somewhere. Let’s find them.

Discovering new designers

Next, click “Show Filters” (on the right-hand side) so that we can narrow our search a little bit — these filters are instrumental in refining the relevancy of your search result. We’re getting closer, our first designer isn’t too far away.

How to find a designer

Let’s see how smart these filters are:

  • Categories: choose which type of designs you need (you can choose anything from book covers to Facebook covers!)
  • Industries: many designers specialise in a certain industry (i.e. restaurants, technology, cosmetics and beauty, etc)
  • Search: add specific keywords to your search
  • Advanced: narrow your search even further by finding designers that speak a specific language, or specifically limit your options to Platinum designers, or those have won contests

Platinum designers are those that have been handpicked by 99designs. These are designers that have won numerous design contests and have demonstrated the highest caliber of conceptual thought and technical execution. Platinum designers go far beyond generic designs, and have a thorough understanding of typography, visual hierarchy, composition and colour, and use these skills to meet the client’s specific needs. These guys are like the Captain America’s of design teams.

Activating the search filters

When you’ve discovered a design that you like (you’ll probably find several, actually!), click on it to find out who the designer is. From here you can read about the story behind the design itself (the best designers talk about their work passionately, and with plenty of enthusiasm!) and also view the designer’s profile.

Viewing a designer's profile

You don’t need to be a detective to learn more about the designer — use the tabs on the left-hand side to see more of their work, what experience they have in certain fields, read reviews from previous clients, and finally, browse through the list of pre-made design packages that the designer offers. It’s really, really easy — and pleasantly transparent.

Viewing a designer's portfolio

Step 2: Building Your Virtual Design Team

When you think you’ve matched with the right designer, click the “Invite to work” button (on the right-hand side), where you’ll either be able to choose one of those pre-made packages, or discuss your custom needs. Alternatively, click the favourite icon (next to the designer’s name) to add them to your favourites, where you can then reach out at a later date.

You don’t need to use the same designer continuously, you can build your own super-squad of on-call designers (e.g. one designer who specialises in designing interfaces, another who creates stunning logos and illustrations, another that’s talented with typography, and even a reserve team in case some of your designers are totally booked up).

Inviting the designer to collaborate

Step 3: Collaborating with the Designer

When you’ve both agreed on the pricing and the designer fully understands the brief, the designer will then return with their initial concepts. This is all covered in the 99designs interface as well, where you (the client) can review the designs and offer feedback. This also establishes a level of accountability between you both — the arrangement is secure at all times.

Collaborating and giving feedback

Check out these four nerdy companies who used 99designs to find their dream logo, and learn how they ended up with their iconic designs by creating the best design brief.

Step 4: Shaking Hands

When you’re happy with the design(s), it’s time to release the payment in exchange for full ownership of the copyright and shake hands (although hopefully not for the last time!). Just click “Project Complete” and we’re done!

Paying the designer and shaking hands


99designs not only makes it painlessly easy to find, hire and collaborate with designers (saving you countless hours), but also to curate your own virtual design team. Having designers at your fingertips, where you only pay for what you need, when you need it, is a highly-effective way to cut costs while still maintaining close relationships with your designers.

Designers assemble!

99designs is offering SitePoint readers their best offer ever: get a logo, business card template, and a premium Business WordPress theme from just $299, and they’ll add a free PowerPack upgrade to help you reach even more designers. Go to 99designs to claim this offer.

Daniel SchwarzDaniel Schwarz
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Previously, design blog editor at Toptal and SitePoint. Now Daniel advocates for better UX design alongside industry leaders such as Adobe, InVision, Marvel, Wix, Net Magazine, LogRocket, CSS-Tricks, and more.

99designsdansdesign teamshiringproject managementremote work
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