About the Contest
A few months back, Ning held a theme design contest to jumpstart submissions to their upcoming theme marketplace where users would be able to purchase themes to use on their own personal networks. The contest, sponsored by Typekit, was to be judged by world-class designers in the industry (shown below) on creativity and typography. There were some great prizes involved as well — $10k for first and $1k + 27″ Apple Cinema Display for 2nd and 3rd. Furthermore, all finalists were invited to New York to meet and have dinner with Ning and the judges which would be an invaluable experience on its own.
No Speculative Work
Besides the great prizes and a chance to meet some of the industry’s finest, Ning also ensured the participants that all copyrights would be retained by its designer and that the designers would also be able to monetize their work through the upcoming theme marketplace.
I’ve worked with the Ning platform many times in the past and was already familiar with its grid and structure.
I skimmed through my text file of project ideas (which I usually use for personal projects on my free time) and found one that I thought would work well as a Ning theme. I’ve been wanting to create something vinyl-inspired for awhile and thought this would be a good time. I found some great images to work with through sxc.hu and started putting together a layout. Since Ning was partnering with Typekit, the Typekit library of web fonts was available to use at our disposal. I kept this in mind while building the design.
Below is a screenshot of “Vinyl”.
After finishing this design, there were a few days left before the deadline. The terms specified that any number of entries could be submitted by participants. I had another idea for a bakery theme and figured I’d use the few days to bring the idea to fruition.
Below is a screenshot of “Kreem”.
The Winners and New York
The winners were announced on May 10, 2011 and I was very excited to see that my bakery-inspired theme “Kreem” was selected for first prize. Fellow winners included Rory McCawl and Brandon Falkowski. Mario Benites was selected as the honorary mention.
We all flew out to New York to meet with Ning and the judges. It was a fantastic experience overall. Below is a picture we all took after drinks and dinner.
Big thanks to Shali Nguyen and the Ning crew for organizing the event and the judges who took time off to join us!