An assortment of thoughts.  Mostly tech related.

Ad-hoc design jobs - Getting your logo in 5 easy steps.

People often get distracted by the minutiae when starting a new business.  Logos and business cards take up a disproportionately large amount of time that you should probably be spending on getting the first few dollars through the door.  Of course it's easy to say that, but the logo is important too - it's your badge, your brand and the first impression of your new venture. Getting the logo sorted can give you the significant boost you need to get your business started and off the ground.  The logo is a tangible thing you can point at and say "That's my business!". 

So how do you get a good logo designed? 

You've generally got the following choices:

Freelancer Contests are great for logo design

Freelancer Contests are great for logo design

  • Make something yourself - fine if you're a designer or have a mild creative side
  • Hire someone locally - if you know someone, I think his can be a great option. There's no substitute for being able to sit down and thrash out an idea and do those tangible things like point and talk, but it can be quite expensive. Especially for a good designer. 
  • Outsource on sites like, Elance, odesk and the like - here you post your job, along with a bit of a design brief.  Freelancers then bid n your job and often submit their respective portfolios for you to review their work, you choose one you like, award the job to them and you wait with fingers crossed, hoping they come up with something half decent.  I've done this a bunch of times for various ventures - with mixed results. 
  • Lastly you can run a contest - This is what I did recently and I highly recommend it.

A design contest - what happens there?

In my view and experience, the contest is the safest way to run an outsourced logo design job as you get to see what you're gonna get, before you hand over your cash.  Here's how it works:

Some of the logo designs submitted...

Some of the logo designs submitted...

  1. Firstly, you draw up a design brief - make this as detailed as possible.  Explain what the logo is for, what you want it to include, what you don't. Maybe which colours you like, as well as typefaces and styles. If you can, provide examples of logos you're impressed by and again, also mention what you don't like here too. Also explain whether you need to have your domain name included, or any other special text. A good designer interprets language and converts it to imagery, so use descriptive language as well as what emotions and feeling you want the logo to portray.
  2. You post up your contest, set a time frame as well as the prize money you're putting up for grabs. You normally end up posting the prize money up front, but this money is held in a kind of 'escrow' by the outsource company until the contest is complete and the prize is awarded.
  3. Once your contest has been submitted, it'll appear on the contest job board where designers can review your brief and respond to it in the form of a logo submission.  This is the best part of it.
  4. Review the submissions.  So as you've worked out, the main benefit of the contest route is that each person 'bidding' on your contest is actually submitting their logo proposal, so you get to see what it's gonna look like now, rather that taking that leap of faith in some of the other methods mentioned.  When submissions are received, you can reject them, grade them, send a message of feedback to the designer on what tweaks you'd like them to incorporate etc.  Revisit the contest regularly as you'll likely get a bunch of submissions. 
  5. Pick the one you're happy with, close the contest and award your prize. This process is automated at the end of the contest. You 'sign' a transfer 'document'  transferring ownership and then you wait for the files to be uploaded by the winner.  Download the logo files and off you go.

We recently went through this process for the new LeftFoot logo.   The process was painless and for our modest bounty we received nearly 60 entries.  Some were terrible, many were average, but a handful stood out. Here's the one we picked, which we're thrilled with:

This logo isn't final...The URL is wrong and we've since tweaked the toes...

This logo isn't final...The URL is wrong and we've since tweaked the toes...

...not bad for fifty bucks and a few days work.  If you offer a higher prize money, you'll get significantly more entries. a contest for your logo design, it's all I can recommend you do now.  The process went very smoothly and we got a result we were especially pleased with.  We went with, but a similar process exists on sites like 99Designs, DesignCrowd, LogoMyWay and more...

Building an app - where do we start?

The iOS App Store from Apple

The iOS App Store from Apple

The iOS App store has always held great appeal to me since it's inception back in July 2008. The stories of multi-thousand dollar pay days for ridiculous, gimmicky apps demonstrates how serious money can be made away from the serious side of life and business.  

A friend and I have been chatting over the last months, tossing around an idea for a new business - we started with an idea for a 'trading' website (which has grown and grown - almost out of control) and as of last week we've decided we're gonna build an app as an important, smaller first step towards our much bigger goal. 

Why an App? 

The reason for going with an app is several-fold:

  1. We both want to go through the process of building an app - so it's a learning exercise for each of us.
  2. The product needs to be portable.  Our product will be useful to people while they're out and about and so we need access to the geolocation and push notification features that iOS affords developers.
  3. We want a piece of the 'App Store' action(!)
  4. With an app, it's easier for us to 'see and define the edges' of this project, which we'll both be doing in our spare time.
  5. I want to have a series of digital products and apps are part of that strategy.
  6. It should be fun. 

      Now that's the Why - the bigger question is Where do we start?


      We're going to need to get some help with the developing - well, maybe more than some.  I'd absolutely LOVE to learn Objective-C and learn to code myself, but I don't have that kind of time, so we're going to have to acquire the skills in some other way.  The way I see it is that our options here are:

      1. Outsource the project to someone on Odesk, Freelancer or Elance - desirable due to low cost and no ongoing commitment, but could be challenging when it comes to needing updates and bug fixes done.  Also, in my experience communicating your needs and wants in one-off projects can be quite challenging and frustrating and you'll always forget something.
      2. Take on a developer as a co-founder - A valid option, but we're already a partnership and diluting the shares further isn't preferable. It'd add significant 'cost' to the project - especially if it takes off as we hope.
      3. Hire a full-time overseas developer  - Take advantage of geographic arbitrage and hire overseas.  The Philippines is really hot right now for virtual employees, but there's a whole stack of places with quality developer staff available at a fraction of the cost we'd incur here.  While morally challenging for some, outsourcing overseas is just the way business is done in 2013.

      I'm strongly learning toward option 3. 


      This we're confident we can take care of ourselves.  Social media, buying ads, blogging - we can take care of much of this. This is the least of our worries.

      Getting started

      There's lots to think about, but it's an exciting time too. The brainstorming, idea development, choosing a name, considering design and planning out a feature roadmap are all necessary parts and I'm excited to be underway.

      I'd be keen to hear your experiences developing.  Which development option did you choose? What lessons have you learned?  Please feel free to contribute a comment if you have something to share - I'd love to hear from you.