For web designers and developers looking to take on new projects, the Internet offers a great number of online resources that can help them find work. Though the competition for jobs is fierce (and on a few of the sites below, that competition is the whole point), whether you’re looking for a full-time career, a contract project, some quick freelance work, or something else, the web offers designers and developers a wealth of job opportunities — if you know where to look.
Take a look at the 15 services we’ve compiled in the list below. Any one of them could help you find your next project or boss. Have you used any of these services or had success with any of them? Let us know in the comments.
1. Job Boards
Job boards are the most traditional way of finding work, and in the past few years, industry-specific job boards have begun to supplant traditional, general classifieds on the web as one of the best ways to find gigs. Many offer freelance options as well as full-time positions.
- Freelance Switch’s Job Board – Freelance Switch offers up jobs for creative freelancers in categories like design, development, illustration and writing. Flipping the script a bit compared to most job boards, postings for employers are free, but applicants must subscribe for $7/month in order to get full access to job details. The idea is that the fee will result in a higher quality applicant pool and thus, higher quality job postings.
- Krop – Krop is searchable by keyword (so you can look up just freelance options) and sharable if you see a vacancy worth shouting about. An impressive list of employers have used Krop over its 10-year history, mostly because the site attracts top-tier creative talent.
- Coroflot – Also used by some of the largest companies in the world, Coroflot is a great place to find both freelance and full-time design employment. Other related creative jobs are also posted on the site.
- Smashing Jobs – Aptly named, this job board is run by super popular web designer resource site Smashing Magazine, and includes both freelance and full-time job opportunities for designers and developers.
- AuthenticJobs – There are categories for both contract and freelance work on Authentic Jobs, which offers it own-branded URL shortener if you want to tweet out vacancies
- Behance JobList – Design and creative network Behance offers a job list that attracts quality opportunities in a wide range of creative fields including web design, advertising, and marketing. Job applications can also be automatically linked to your Behance portfolio (see below).
- The AIGA – The AIGA differentiates its offerings with categories for internships and pro bono work and categories for a broader range of design fields, including advertising and architecture. Because of the AIGA name it tends to attract mostly very high quality employers.
- Mashable’s job board – Though our focus is social media, the Mashable job board is used for a wide variety of web-related creative jobs, including design and development. It offers filters to make it easier to narrow down content to just what you are looking for.
2. Let Employers Find You
Rather than explicitly seeking out and applying for jobs, the services below allow you to post your portfolio and help clients find you.
- Sortfolio – A product of 37signals, Sortfolio offers the most simple scheme to connect clients with designers: an online database of designers ranging from big firms to freelancers. Designers can add themselves for free (or upgrade to a Pro account which gets them a bigger, better listing) and clients can hit up the site to browse by city and budget to find their next designer. 37signals also offers a traditional job board for design and development work.
- Coroflot, Krop and Behance – In addition to the traditional job boards mentioned earlier in this post, Coroflot, Krop and Behance all also gives designers the opportunity to post samples of their work in an online database of creatives. Clients can then search for a designer that is a good fit for their open job or project.
- Upstack – Currently in beta, Upstack works a bit differently than the other sites on this part of our list. Designers do post their portfolio on the site, but they also have to express interest in project briefs from clients in order to get chosen for a job. That makes Upstack sort of a combination job board / portfolio site.
3. Design Contest Sites
The following sites use the concept of contests to match designers and clients. Generally, it works like this: a client posts a brief detailing what they want, designers then post designs based on that brief and iterate based on the client’s feedback. In the end, the client selects a “winner,” who is rewarded with a (usually monetary) prize.
There is a good deal of debate in design communities over whether design sites are good for designers or exploitative. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, they appear to be here to stay, and many designers do find value in them (either as a way to make money, a way to gain experience working with real clients, a way to fill in the gaps between jobs, or as a way to potentially meet new clients).
- 99designs – Originally part of the SitePoint forums, 99designs is one of the largest and oldest design contest sites and charges clients $39 to launch a project. The site has run over 40,000 contests and has awarded greater than $10 million in prizes since its inception.
- crowdSPRING – crowdSPRING works on the same basis as the rest of the sites in this list, and charges a client $39 to post a brief. It is one of the largest contests sites on the web, with over 50,000 creative professionals signed up. That’s good news for clients because it means that most projects get an average of 100-plus entries. The good news for designers is that clients pay up front, crowdSPRING suggests minimum budgets for design work, and it’s the client that foots the bill for the 15% commission, not the designer.
- DesignOutpost – One of the oldest design contest sites, DesignOutpost is part of the wider “Outpost” network of contest-based freelance sites and takes a 10% cut. It doesn’t offer a modern interface like 99designs or crowdSPRING, instead relying on a “forum” system, which is how many design contest sites started. However, there are plenty of web-related projects available for those that register.
- DesignContest.net – Another of the original contest-based sites, DesignContest.net has been around since 2003 and specializes in logo design (though web, print, and illustration projects can be found as well).
- DesignCrowd – Formerly known as DesignBay, this site charges clients $30 to post a new project. As a designer you can browse the design contests in the “web design” category, pick projects you’d like to have a crack at, and set a small “participation ‘base’ payment” before you submit a design. Once the client picks the favored design, if you’re the design contest winner, DesignCrowd will pay you your fee via PayPal, minus a 10% commission.
- Hatchwise – Though heavily focused toward logo design, Hatchwise also has a few general web design contests as well, so it is worth checking out no matter what type of design you specialize in.