When i came across the website 99designs.com that allows you to submit designs to 'real' briefs, I was amazed at the brilliance of the site, gasped in the thought of winning some money and getting a top notch portfolio. However...
1 Month on from joining i feel there are some seriously floored problems with this 'mass freelance' website. Sure you get to work on Dictionary.com logos and all sorts of other creative briefs, but you have to do so with 2000 other people.
These are the problems i find with the site.
1. Mass Submissions. As so many up and coming (and some damned awful) designers submit their work to this site you are faced with so much competition, your submission (as mine has been in the past) missed, wasted time.
2. Feedback. CH (Contest Holders) in theory should log onto the contest once a day and leave feedback for the designers to go away and improve their designs. This unfortunately doesn't happen, 9 times of of 10 (or 99 out of 100) the CH doesn't leave all the contestants feedback, so a design can never receive the full creative process. The designs that have been lucky enough to have feedback have an unfair advantage, sure if the design sucks, tell us.
3. No Stars. The rating system is based on 5 stars, 1 being poor, 5 being amazing etc, if you get 1 star you don't expect feedback as you know that its not what they are after, but most of the time lots of submissions don't even get the grace of a single rating.
4. Cheap. I think this website devalues the design process, leaving inexperienced designers to run wild with their brand. There is no time in 7 days or even the longer 2 week setting to get a feel and understanding of their brand, probably leaving for redesigns in the coming years.
5. Copy Cats. I'm not saying i'm a 'life changing' designer but i have found a trend of copy cat designs, i submitted a circle logo for one brief and got a 3 star rating, all other designs got 1 or 2 stars, sure enough after that rating a wealth of circle inspired designs got entered and rated highly. I didn't receive any feedback to improve my design that started this trend, so in effect i loose out.
6. Original Logo?. I think not, if sites like this do grow and grow and offer a cheap alternative logo, we can almost kiss goodbye to an original logo, time after time logos are being spotted and 'frauded' from keen designers, who like me hate people ripping of others ideas. There is no true development or research process, websites and new businesses will run into copyright issues, 'but i got this site designed on 99designs.com by 'user'' 'yeah so did i' terrible.
7. No real designs. Contest ends, didn't win, re-use the logo but just change the words. Pish Posh.
So all in all i think the website should do more to get the CH's to leave more feedback, and encourage research before accepting the logos.