“#1” Is a Bold Claim to Make
Designhill is an Indian tech startup that launched in 2014, with some big competition already in place (see: Fiverr). Since then, they’ve built up a community of over 70,000 designers which, while not the biggest out there, is respectable enough.
But is it enough to make Designhill “#1”? Well, that’s subjective.
The site is available in quite a few languages, with one important caveat: the translation is all powered by Google. I checked out the Spanish translation, and it confirmed my suspicions: the site should be usable enough, but the translations are not exactly refined, as is typical of machine-powered translation. Our robot overlords are coming, but they’ll have to learn to conjugate verbs first.
Supported languages include: Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Your logo text can presumably be in any language that can be typed into a plain text field.
In addition to logos, you can hire people for just about any kind of graphic design you can imagine: from T-shirts to LinkedIn profile cover images. But is Designhill the right provider for you? Let’s find out.
This review is part of my mission to get a new and improved logo for Website Planet. To find the best logo I can get, I’m testing all the biggest logo design services.
Tons of Choices, and Just Enough Features
Designhill is, like so many of these services, community based. This means there’s a strong emphasis on community features, competition, and social interaction. (For my fellow slightly asocial nerds out there, you don’t have to talk to that many people… but talking to people is sort of an important part of the design process.) It also means that the quality of the logos you have to choose from may vary wildly, if you decide to run a contest.
And that’s what’s on offer here: contests, as well as the ability to hire designers one on one.
The contests are reasonably simple in theory: you give them a brief, and the designs come pouring in. You can pay extra to have your contest featured, you can pay extra to have more highly-rated designers funneled to your contest, and you can pay extra for just about anything else Designhill can think of.
You can hire individual designers directly from their profiles, where you can see their past work and testimonials/reviews. There are also designer ratings, of course, as well as a number of relevant statistics, such as the number of contests they’ve won, how many people are following their work, etc.
Whether you’re working with designers one-on-one or running a contest, you can always get in touch with them. You can try messaging them directly or leaving comments on the designs they’ve made for you.
Contests only run for five days, at least on the cheapest plan. After that, the actual delivery timeline for the logo is up to you and the designer you’ve chosen. Apparently, you can get unlimited revisions, so long as they are small revisions, and aligned with the winning logo’s original design. Even then, if you keep a designer tied up for months with many small revisions, without paying them extra, they might ask for some more money. Frankly, so would I.
The large number of designers means you’ll get a wide variety of designs. Designers can also submit multiple designs, so many will create a few, in the hope that you’ll pick one of theirs. There doesn’t seem to be a maximum number of designs per contest, but on the cheapest plan, designers can only submit 4 different logos each.
Hypothetically, you could get 4 logos times 70,000 designers. Realistically, you don’t want to.
Available file formats include: JPG, lossless formats like PNG and BMP (now there’s a blast from the past), application formats for Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator PSD, EPS for cross-application infinitely-scalable images, and GIF… for some reason. You can also specify another format of your choosing, though there’s no guarantee every designer will be able to provide the format you request.
(If you’re not sure what any of that means, check out our article that explains some of the basics of image formats.)
Lastly, it should be noted that Designhill provides just about every other kind of design service: websites, T-shirts, tattoos (I’m planning to get one on my shoulder that just says “404.” Web nerd joke.), stationery, brochures, vehicle wraps, and pretty much anything else.
Even on the Cheapest Plans, You Can Get Loads of Design Options
I’ll be discussing this more below in the section on my personal experiences with the service, but the “expected number of designs” listed on the pricing page is perhaps more of a minimum number. We did pay extra for our contest to be featured, but I never expected to get over a hundred designs (and counting, as I write this). The designer community here may be smaller than on other sites, but they are prolific.
You Can Incentivize Designers to Join Your Contest
So, let’s say you have decided to run a contest, but you’ve found a designer on the site that you really like. You can extend a “Friendly Invite” to the contest, which presumably lets them know that if they participate in the contest, they can expect better chances of winning. But if you really want them to participate, you can pay a little extra to extend a “Paid Invite”. It costs a little more, but the chance of quality submissions goes up, too.
You Can Keep Your Logo Project Private
Want to keep your competition from seeing your new logo before it’s ready? Want to keep the press from knowing about your new product launch before it even has a logo? Want to give your video-game-streaming niece a logo as a present? Want to give me one? (I’m kidding. I don’t have the energy to stream, and I am not telling you all my gamer handle.)
It costs a bit extra, but you can buy privacy and an NDA if you need one.
You Can Get a Free Consultation
If you’re not sure exactly which services you want, and aren’t sure where to start, you could always get a free consultation. Now let’s be clear, the consultants are most likely also salespeople, and will almost definitely try to upsell you. Even so, they can be a source of useful information about the site, which—though it is not particularly difficult to use—is large, and has a bit of a learning curve.
My Experience With Designhill
As previously mentioned, we’re looking for a new logo for Website Planet, and I’m testing all the major sites to see who can provide the best logo possible.
We got the cheapest contest package, paid extra for top designers to be attracted to our project, and paid extra for it to be featured. The package says to expect around 20 designs. Three days in, I had 141 designs to sort through. I decided that was enough, because I wanted to finish this review within the next month or so, at the latest. Here are just a few of them:
The one on the top right actually made it into the semifinals.
The UI makes it fairly easy to rate each logo, and encourages you to provide specific feedback.
I. Did. Not. No way. Not with that many entries.
Filtering and organizing the entries can actually become rather tedious, to the point that you might find yourself eliminating all entries from specific designers just to simplify things for yourself. And when you do that, the page refreshes, and you go back to “page one”. It’s one of the few flaws I’ve found in the UI.
The fastest way to get to the good stuff is to just… not provide feedback. Instead, make use of that “Add to Favorites” button that’s at the bottom of the entry. Once you’ve filled up your list of favorites, it’s a lot easier to narrow them down. I managed to narrow 141 entries down to 18. Not so bad, right?
Now, I could have asked for refinements to any or all of them, but I don’t have the time to run 18 simultaneous logo projects right now. By considering Website’s Planet’s needs (the logo needs to look good at small sizes, for example) and overall aesthetic, 18 logos became 7, and 7 became 4. These 4:
They’re all good concepts, and I just plain liked them. The first felt rather clever to me. The second was delightfully retro, and the third had a rocket. A rocket. The fourth also felt kinda clever. Most importantly, they could all meet the needs of Website Planet as a site, and shouldn’t disappoint my superiors.
After some soul searching, I finally made my decision the way almost all decisions are ultimately made: I chose the coolest one. I chose the one with the rocket, because I am still five years old, and desperately hope to be a space astronaut one day when I grow up, with a cool space suit, and space lasers. In space. Congratulations, Somani.
Who said serious logos can’t be also be seriously fun?
Next was the review and handover process. Revision time! Just as I was about to message Somani to ask for revisions, they sent me a message asking me if there were any revisions I wanted to make.
Mostly, I was worried that the rocket would lose too much detail at very small sizes, so I asked for two revisions: one version where the rocket just doesn’t have a “window”, and another where the rocket was simply bigger.
On the one hand, my inner five-year-old demanded to have the window back. On the other hand, the smaller rocket lines up better with the vertical lines at the bottom of the logo mark. I then asked Somani if they’d mind if we went with adapted branding. In this case, that means two sets of logo marks: one with a proportionally larger rocket for use at small sizes, and the original logo mark for use at medium-to-large sizes.
They agreed, sent the files, and I released the payment. That was that, and the whole process, from choosing a winner to handoff, only took about three hours. Of course, it helped that I work late, so we were both awake at the same time. Once I selected a winner, the process was smooth and simple enough.
Ease of use
There’s a Learning Curve, But It’s not Steep
A site of this size, and with this number of features, is never going to be the easiest site to use. More functionality = more complexity, kind of like those convoluted Pirates of the Caribbean movies (AKA, every movie after the first). Fortunately, there’s generally always a next step, a way forward. Well, there are often a few possible next steps, but they’re made reasonably clear and obvious, and the decision is left to you.
They Provide Ongoing Guidance
Other sites ( see our review of DesignCrowd ) might provide only enough guidance to get you to part with your cash, and then dump you into a sea of features. Designhill, on the other hand, includes an explanation with just about every feature.
And then, once you have a contest up and running, they tell you how to further refine your brief, how to get the most out of your interactions with designers, and more. It might feel like hand-holding to some people, but with a UI this expansive, I’m okay with some hand-holding.
You Can Save Your Contests Before Going Live
And here comes my obligatory mention of what I think is an obligatory feature: the ability to “save” a contest or project while you work on putting together a brief, getting the money together, or what-have-you. So far, every logo design service I have reviewed has this feature, and if I ever find one that doesn’t, they’re going to lose a whole point from their “Ease of Use” score.
You Can Put Your Logo on Business Cards and Clothes
Want to get your logo put on a business card, a T-shirt, or on the side of Elon Musk’s next rocket? Well, they can’t do the rocket thing, but those other things are definitely options. The custom printing service seems focused on cards and clothes at the moment.
In general, it’s not that hard to get started. You need to sign up for a free account to search through designers (the content doesn’t seem to be restricted – however, the “browse” link just isn’t there unless you sign in), but you can find their past work and reviews easily enough. Once you start working with them, they’re easy to get in touch with.
The initial brief isn’t a complex thing: you choose what sort of design you need (e.g. a logo design), choose your business’ category from the list, type in your basic brief, and upload any reference images you want to use. Once the contest is underway, you can answer a series of questions to further refine your requirements.
Contests are fairly easy to manage. You can set up polls to have your friends vote for their favorite logos, and there are rating and sorting tools to help you narrow down your choices. You can even remove logos from the running entirely. These tools are much appreciated, for the simple reason that you can get lots of logos to choose from all at once. I just wish there were some proper “batch processing” tools to help you rate/reject entries at larger volumes.
Support Is Competent and Readily Available
There’s not a whole lot more to say in general terms. The people who I interacted with answered my questions promptly and helpfully, and I have no real complaints to speak of.
This is impressive, because, as Marge Simpson once said, “It’s easy to criticize.”
And as Homer Simpson replied, it’s “Fun, too.”
In addition to the support agents (who are representing them well), Designhill has a knowledge base/help center with advice for both customers and designers, that has most of what you’ll need to know. As is somewhat typical of my experience so far, Google will help you find the right information faster than the knowledge base will, but it’s hard to compete with the almighty Google algorithm.
Lastly, they do have a blog that shares design-related insights, if you’re looking for that sort of thing. If you’re new to the world of design, it might be a good idea to browse through it to help you figure out exactly what you need and want.
The direct methods of support include a ticket system, phone support, live chat, and you can always email them directly. I did not try emailing them directly, and I had to ask in the live chat for the support email address, as I did not find it on the site.
The phone support line is a U.S. number only, and is available between the hours of 9am – 6pm EST, Monday through Friday. If you call on the weekend, or during any national holiday, you’ll have to leave a message. I did have a little trouble connecting and staying connected at first, but I was calling via Skype from Mexico, so the problem could have been anywhere on my end or theirs.
I asked them to explain my bill to me, and received a very helpful, detailed breakdown of the charges in question. The representative may have repeated themselves a couple of times, but that’s often necessary in customer service.
The Ticket System
I left a ticket asking where I could find my bill on the site, in case I lost the email with the invoice. They got back to me in less than three hours with the answer.
The live chat system, in contrast to the phone support line, runs 24/7. I asked them what usage rights you get, and if you have to pay extra for commercial usage rights (you don’t). I had to wait a few minutes in a queue, but it really was only a few minutes, as there was no one “in front” of me. If you run into a longer queue, you have the option to leave a message, and they can email or phone you back.
When looking at the prices for these community-based logo design services, I always find myself thinking of the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands you might otherwise pay to a well-known designer or agency. While other services are a bit cheaper than Designhill, I can’t help but feel that DesignHill’s prices are fair for the sheer number of options you can get. The tradeoff, of course, is that a lot of these options won’t be all that good.
Still, I believe the prices to be reasonable. If you agree, the payment options include MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and apparently Payoneer support is coming as well.
The cheapest plan comes with an expected 20 logo options, and the most expensive comes with 80. As previously mentioned, those numbers can definitely vary.
The cheapest plan allows each designer to only submit four logo options, while the others allow for unlimited submissions. After that, you basically just get access to more highly-rated designers and promotion of your contest on external channels like social media and the Designhill newsletter.
The most expensive plan gets one “free” Paid Invite that you can send to the designer of your choice.
There are no free logo samples (there is too much potential for the designers’ hard work to be abused, I think), and no cheaper plan for non-commercial use.
As previously mentioned, there is no set limit on revisions beyond what your designer is willing to do, and your own common sense. If you exceed the limits of common sense (Hey, it happens. I don’t judge.), you can always pay the designer extra to apologize, and to keep getting revisions.
All plans come with a 100% money-back guarantee, as long as you meet certain conditions:
- You don’t sign up for a “Guaranteed contest”, which guarantees that you will pick a winner, so someone will get the money. You can see how these contests would be more attractive to designers, but they preclude refunds.
- You request your refund within 60 days.
- You haven’t picked a winner.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention that you can download a PDF version of every invoice Designhill sends you. I thought that was pretty useful.
As with most of these services (so far), you get all rights, commercial and otherwise. Use the logo how you like. Put it anywhere you like. In fact, put it everywhere your marketing department will allow.
Maybe consult your lawyers before putting it on other people’s walls.
Maybe don’t let anyone tattoo it on themselves for money. That’s tacky.
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- English (4)
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I’m not sure where all of these 5 star reviews are coming from. I’m sure these people were offered some incentive to post a positive review. This company did not disclose their design operations are in India so there is a 13 hour time difference and constant miscommunication between me and the designer. This business model is set up for failure and when I tried to communicate this with customer service, they provided me with automated responses and no solutions. BUYER BEWARE!
Not at all recommending, after I spend about 10 minutes to create a logo, then in the final step finally asking me to create login to see the final output, it should have ask this login before creating the logo, so annoying and, very unprofessional.
AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
DO NOT CONSIDER USING THIS SERVICE - Reaching out to support is a nightmare, they charge you extra without cause, etc. I am currently fighting with them to let me have the files I HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR, and they are recommending I HIRE the designer again to have him upload them (because he didnt before the previous contest ended)Terrible, awful people I would 1000000% recommend NOT USING DESIGNHILL
I am out their design fee plus… I am out their design fee plus installation $2800.00 of graphics they designed. I now have to pay $2800.00 for re-installation of new design that I had to pay a different firm to re-design. They admitted the files were bad but offered 15% off their fee. Not to mention I have been paying on a van for (4) months that is still not ready and has not been assigned due to their mistake. Their support is joke numerous times we tried to contact them or designer contact them but no response. What a joke. Stay far away from this company. There should be an option for negative stars I would be on that side