Red Dot checklist: the diary of entering the competition

Many thoughts are circulating about Red Dot Design Award. However, it is obviously one of the most popular design competitions in the world. Arseniy Feshchenko, whose bird app won in two categories this year, breaks down the process of applying for Red Dot into simple step by step guide.

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6 days before submission

First thing first, you have ask yourself, why do you even need a Red Dot. The answer to this question is really important. Getting such an award requires a lot of effort, so you should understand why you are doing this or not do it at all.

For example, we wanted to test bird app on a global scale. We realized that its futuristic design fits well into the competition, but there was one big issue: the app was adapted for Kyiv only.

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54 days before deadline

If your answer to the question above is convincing enough, than it’s time to take action. Now you have to enable Sherlock mode and do a research: check out the history of award, recent years archive and articles about Ukrainian Red Dot winners.

In our bird case, the article about MacPaw Gemini experience of 2017 came in handy. Even though, Gemini is a Mac app, it gave us the overall understanding of the submission process.

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33 days before deadline

Instead of coming off as chill and self-sufficient, do ask more experienced professionals for advice. We consulted Banda and it helped a lot. That one hour meeting saved us millions of hours. Guys from Banda advised us to put the most of effort into videocase and app itself, not the description which is less relevant. Also we were advised to spend enough time on sound design of the video, use storytelling technique and translate all the Ukrainian inscriptions into English.

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30 days before deadline

There are three areas in which you can compete for a Red Dot: Product Design, Brands & Communications Design, Concept Design. Each nomination has categories and sub-categories.

– Can you the same project into different categories?

– Yes, you can.

Our bird was nominated in the area of Brands & Communications Design, category — Apps and User Interfaces, subcategory — Mobile User Interface.

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It turned out that submission deadlines depend on the categories. For example, while winners of Product Design nomination are being awarded, Brands & Communications application process might be at full pace.

Deadline also affects application fee. The earlier you apply, the smaller the fee. In our case the fees where the following: Early Bird (195€), Regular (215€), Latecomer (315€).

Unfortunately, we were too late and could only apply as latecomers with deadline 28 June 2019. Rumor has it you can still submit your project after the deadline, but we didn’t dare to try.

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20 days before deadline

After signing up at Red Dot website, you have to create a submission (the button is placed in the left panel of your personal account). Submissions for different categories should be created separately. After you do that, you have to add all the materials for the presentation (videocase, app, description) and, finally, submit your project for further consideration by the jury.

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15 days before deadline

Try to avoid any cyrillic symbols in your project. If your videocase cannot be easily translated, at least prepare some English subtitles. In fact, translation has a great influence on the perception of your project, its context and idea.

First trick. The jury must have access to English version of the app, however, bird is only available for Ukrainian users. That’s why we made English version specifically for Red Dot competition and downloaded it to TestFlight (beta-testing platform). In the application we refered to this beta-version, while Ukrainian version in Appstore remained the same.

Second trick. Besides static content, bird also has a lot of text ads. We decided to translate all of them on the go using Google Translate. Fortunately, it worked quite well for this purpose.

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3 days before deadline

Preparing a videocase is the hardest part of the submission process. It takes the longest to create and significantly affects the jury’s decision. According to the recommendations Banda gave us, we used storytelling technique.

Besides visual part, sound also plays an important role in setting the right mood. Red Dot organizers advise using only the music you have rights to use. So our final soundtrack was bought for 49$.

Videocase development took us 5 iterations:

2 days before deadline

Nobody reads the description, so this part took us the less time. The final text was written in one hour and just two iteration cycles. This is the easiest and the least important part of application process.

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In case you win the images you add to your presentation will be used in the yearbook: an annual printed and online catalogue of all the winner projects. You can check the examples of such images in the archive.We downloaded three images of different bird app screens. Later on we were asked by organizers to add a front-view image.

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2 hours before deadline

When all the fields are filled, videos and images downloaded and the app is ready, it’s time to finish the application. You can pay the application fee using Visa, Mastercard, American express or Paypal. Unfortunately, payments via bank transfer are not accepted.

Since bird was submitted at the last second, we had to pay the highest fee, which is 315 euro per each category. That’s it! All you have to do next is wait, it can take from several weeks up to a month to get your results. We received our two Red Dots in a month after the letter was sent.

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Competing for the Red Dot isn’t an easy ride. Besides solid design you’ll have to prepare a really good presentation. Therefore my main advice would be not to procrastinate. If you really want to compete, start working on your case as soon as possible. If you take one step at a time, a month should be enough to ace this task.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

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