1-to-1 projects best practices

Finding a designer you love working with is what we strive to do here at 99designs. We created 1-to-1 Projects as a place to collaborate with designers, exchange payment and deliverables all in one convenient location.

Having everything in one place like this makes record keeping wonderfully simple: if you or your designer need to reference a prior agreement, like the due date for a deliverable, you only need to scroll up, rather than trying to remember which email thread or Skype conversation it was from.

Here are 5 tips to help ensure that you and your designer are on the same page. 

1. Outline all deliverables

Nobody likes to be overly formal, but it pays off to be as meticulous as possible when outlining a project with a designer. 

Outlining your project will:

• help yourself and your designer to easily go over pricing for the project 

• the designer will have a very clear idea of what is expected as final deliverables

If you're unsure what to ask for, and or how to outline what you need, you can always ask the designer to help you. 

2.  Agree to a timeline

Make sure you and your designer agree on deadlines before getting started.

This is probably the number one reason that relationships with designers can fall apart — not because the designer’s skills are lacking, but because he or she is not delivering work at the speed that you need.

Keep in mind that the designer may adjust his or her quote based on that: higher fees for quick turnarounds, lower fees for lengthier turnarounds.

If your designer thinks s/he cannot do a quality job in the timeframe requested, s/he may respectfully decline the job.

3. Set a payment structure

It is in your best interest to schedule payments at intervals throughout the project. This can be for individual deliverables or for specific time frames within the project. 

Oftentimes designers charge by the project. One common arrangement is to pay 50% of the fee up front to show the designer that you’re serious, with the agreement that you will pay the remaining 50% once the project is complete.

That method works great for relatively simple projects, but for more complex ones like a landing page, you may want to break up payment even further:

•  25% up front for conceptual work and wireframing

•  35% for drafts

•  40% for the finished product

This also makes it less painful for either party to back out, in case the relationship just isn’t working.

Charging by component (structure, font, illustration, icons) could be another option. Heck, if you’re amenable to it, you could even break up payments for each of these sub-components! Of course, there is something to be said for keeping things (relatively) simple …

Keep in mind that 99designs will hold the payment until you release it. This means that payment is transferred to 99designs and we keep it safe until you confirm satisfaction with the deliverables and opt to release it to the designer.

This protects both parties: in case either should for some reason disappear or break a written agreement, 99designs can help make sure that the funds are transferred to the deserving party.

Granted, the pay and hold option is less critical when you are already dividing payment into several intervals, so if you already have a strong relationship with your designer, you may agree to pay directly.

4.  Limit drafts and revisions for efficiency 

Here is something that you might not consider ahead of time, but your designer surely will: a landing page for $1000 (for example) may seem like a fair price for both parties, but if that page takes 1,000 drafts, then it might not be such a profitable use of your designer’s time, after all.

To avoid this circumstance, designers sometimes like to set a cap the number of drafts — say, at two or three after the basic wireframe is agreed upon.

Don’t be surprised to receive a hard cap, or for the designer to set an extra charge for further drafts after the cap is reached. 

This is also why it's important to make sure you have the right type of information collected for the designer prior to starting the project. 

5. 99designs is here to help

In the unlikely event, you find you have a disagreement with your designer that you cannot work out between yourselves, just holler for a 99designs admin by contacting support.  We’ll see if we can’t help to smooth things over.


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