Six years ago almost to the day, I launched this blog. I had no idea what I was doing, I barely understood what the term “blog” even meant, but I knew I had something to share so I signed up to the blogging platform WordPress, (which wasn’t much harder than creating a MySpace page), chose a basic design template I liked and dove in head first. My high school friends and I gave it a name while swinging our legs on the kitchen counters, grazing from the fridge. They had always called me Nessy, both agreed I was messy, but I hoped that because I was half French, something chic would have to come out of it all. Six months later, I found myself living in Paris, temporarily living off other people, but I’d met a very nice French boy who thought my silly little blog had potential.
Six years later, that French boy turns out to have been right. His name is Alex by the way, and you can read more about him (and myself) on our About page. But hang on, I’m going too fast. Let’s go back to realising when the blog had potential. I’d written an article exploring the sapeurs, a subculture of extraordinarily dressed dandies from the Congo and it went viral on Reddit.com. After that, more articles started picking up some traction thanks to catchy headlines, intriguing featured photos and a community on Facebook taking interest in my interests. Suddenly a lot more people than just my family & friends were reading and it was at this point that we realised I’d outgrown my very basic (and very free) WordPress template design. We were going to make our very own, self-hosted website. Alex had experience in coding, I had experience in … well, making mood boards of visuals I liked, but neither of us were designers.
So if you’ve clicked on this article and read this far, I’m guessing it’s probably because you’d like some advice on where to begin to find a good designer, whether it’s for a blog, for a business card logo or anything that requires some graphic design. You could ask friends if they know a good designer, you could type “good website designer” in Google’s search bar, but the problem with this is that once you’ve agreed to hire a designer you think you like, you’re pretty much stuck with them and the designs they come up with. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to have a lot of room to brainstorm before you cough up any cash.
If you didn’t know MessyNessyChic in its early days, here’s a little look at its evolution over the years ↓
Vol. 1 (starting to get serious):
Vol. 2 (Graduated from blogging high school):
Today, we’ve launched our third re-design in six years, and we did it using the same service we used for “Volume 1” six years ago– 99 Designs. (Queue heavenly choir music).
Imagine being that kid in a candy store, except the candy store is filled with design proposals that people have brainstormed for your website, according to the styles you like– for free. The 99 Designs process is like holding a competition or an auction and you only pay up if you fall head over heels for a winning design you’ve hand-picked from a wide variety of mock-ups for your project.
First, you create a brief, which is where you describe your project, your style, your favourite colours or even your favourite band’s album covers– think of it like making a mood board.
Stuff from my mood board:
You can upload a vintage postcard you found on a road trip or reference the typography from the opening credits of a movie– anything that you think will help the 99 Designs community of more than 100K designers to understand your vision…
You can cheat a little by looking at the example of my design brief I made for our new re-design here.
Still with me?
Once you’re sure you’ve created the perfect mood board, it’s time to pick a budget for your design competition prize. Remember, if you don’t like any of the designs submitted, you don’t have to pay a dime and you can go back to the drawing board or just forget the whole thing. The budget you choose will reflect on how many designers decide to compete for your affection. The better the reward, the more incentive a designer will have to spend their free time mocking-up a good design.
If you’ve got a small budget, you can expect up to 30 different good design proposals. If you’ve got money to burn, you expect around 50 high quality designs to choose from, created by some of the industry’s top artists. Whether you’re looking for a design for your website, your logo, or even just your next tattoo, you can get an idea of how much prize money you should offer here.
And then comes the really fun part. Designs start flowing in around the clock, of all shapes and sizes– big, small, fun, silly, gorgeous and not so gorgeous– but somewhere in there, I guarantee you’ll find some ideas you like.
Here are some of the first logo designs we received…
Submitted by Urban Creative
Submitted by Space Invader
↑ One of the first ideas submitted by our winning designer Scott.
You can start rating the submissions straight away so the community knows who’s hitting the mark and so they can get a better idea of what is and isn’t working for you. When you’ve narrowed it down to just a few favourites, you can spend some time going back and forth with the designers and get closer to a potential winning look.
After 7 days, it’s time to choose the winner of your design contest who will receive the prize money. By this time, my favourite designer in the competition had already submitted three completely different logo ideas to choose from and made lots of tweaks to the strongest design at my request.
The winning logo design for MessyNessyChic by Scott.
Whenever I get asked the question, “do you know a good website designer?”, my answer will always be 99 Designs. It’s just hands-down the most enjoyable, stress-free and economical way to go about it.
Of course, a beautiful design doesn’t guarantee my website will always run 100% smoothly, so please do point out any glitches you might notice during the transition period. Take a look around and we hope on the whole you find it easier to use and enjoy our new digs. What do you think of the final result?