You just finished designing the most brilliant website anyone has ever seen, making sure everything was on point, from the use of negative space to its navigational structure. You might even be wondering if you should submit your design to a design awards site.
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no — there are many factors to consider when deciding whether you try for the coveted design awards. Here are six of them.
1. Cost to Enter
There is often a fee to enter an awards contest. Take the time to study how much it costs to enter and weigh that cost against the potential exposure and benefits. Will potentially winning the award afford you with networking opportunities or help you reach prospective clients? When you’re just getting your design business off the ground, cash flow can be an issue, so you also need to consider if a contest is the best use of your money or not.
Consider Entering: Awwwards is one site that holds regular design contests for many categories. The cost to enter is relatively inexpensive, starting at $55. If you have a little more to spend, $165 gets you an entry submission and a listing in the directory, which could help you attract new clients who see your name.
2. Possibility of Recognition
Design work isn’t easy. A beautiful design is typically the culmination of many hours of sweat and tears as you work to achieve the perfect balance for a client. While designers love their clients, not all clients are complimentary, which is where awards can fill the gap. Submitting your designs to a jury of peers and getting feedback can give you a boost and encourage you to keep creating better and better designs.
Be aware, however, that you might also get some strong feedback you don’t like. If not winning will discourage you, you might want to avoid contests for a bit. On the other hand, you can use that feedback to grow and improve as a designer.
Consider Entering: A’Design Award and Competition offers an opportunity to submit your work and get a scorecard filled with helpful feedback. You can then decide if you want to nominate that design for a possible award. The ability to get feedback and grow as a designer is invaluable.
3. Stand Out From the Crowd
There are 266,300 graphic designers in the United States, not to mention all the competition from around the globe. You need to show potential clients why you are the designer they should work with. One way to do this is by listing the awards and accolades you’ve received. However, you can’t win awards if you don’t compete for them.
Consider Entering: CSS Design Awards has rolling entry deadlines, meaning it is always open for submissions to Website of the Day or Website of the Month. The fee for solo designers is $44 for entry into seven categories. A panel of industry experts and public members who have several of upvotes will review your work. One interesting component is that solo designers are listed alongside big agencies, giving you significant exposure to potential clients, as well as agencies that might be looking to outsource work.
4. Reach a Global Market
By the year 2021, global e-commerce is expected to reach $4.5 trillion per year. If you want to grow your business, you must consider the market as a global opportunity. More than half of people say they’ve done business with someone overseas in the last six months. But, reaching a global market isn’t always as easy as you might imagine. You have to know where to find those audience members. A design award is one option, as people from all over the world enter and look to see who won the award.
Consider Entering: If you’re looking to enter a global competition, D & AD Awards is a good one to consider. The awards are run by a non-profit, which means your entry fee goes to keeping the organization running. Many categories are offered, including book design, graphic design and even film advertising crafts. Each group has judges who are experts in that industry. Costs to enter vary from year to year.
5. Find and Hire Talent
Perhaps you’d like to grow your own design agency and bring on talented young hires who can complement your own work in design. If you are an expert in UX design, you might want to add a video expert, for example. Winning a design contest can help you attract young talent who otherwise might not have heard of your agency.
Consider Entering: One award site that draws visitors from all over the world is CSS Winner. Submissions are a mere $9, and you have the opportunity to become Site of the Day or Site of the Month and have your profile added to the site. This allows others to see what your specialties are and get a first-hand look at your best designs.
To Enter or Not to Enter
Only you can decide if entering a design awards contest is potentially beneficial to you as a designer. Your focus should always be on creating the best designs possible for your clients. However, getting a few accolades along the way and attracting the attention of other companies is a smart move for a designer who wants to grow their business.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.