Stas Aer wasn't initially my favourite designer, but he kept coming up with creative visuals and by the time I ran a poll he was by far the leading designer as rated by friends and colleagues. At the end it was very clear who had the top design and Stas Aer's concept really stood out. Throughout the process he was responsive and listened very carefully to comments and input. His designs were pretty interesting because he actually took time to read and understand the brief (many designers clearly didn't).
This was the first time for me at 99Designs. I have to say it was a really positive experience. The whole 99D portal is very well set up. When I needed support I was able to get it on the phone. I learned a lot about how to do these things - starting with a need to "blind" the contest. I didn't find out about the possibility to run polls until quite late - wish I'd known earlier.