Hiring a graphic designer for the first time can be scary. Most designers these days require a deposit before beginning new projects. For a lot of people, however, throwing down a chunk of change without knowing for certain what they're going to get is not an easy thing to do.
The flip side, of course, is that no designer wants to invest hours upon hours into a project without knowing for certain that they'll be paid for their work. While most of you fabulous folks would never dream of not paying someone for work done, it does happen from time to time, and designers have to protect themselves somehow.
Ultimately if you're going to hire a brand designer, you'll need to trust that whoever you hire is capable of meeting your needs and delivering a final product that will do the job, and do it well, for you.
That’s why it’s so important to do your homework before hiring anyone. Follow these steps and you're guaranteed to hire a designer who'll be a good fit for your business and your needs the FIRST time around!
The first step is to ask around to see if you know of anyone who can recommend a good designer. If you belong to any physical or online groups for entrepreneurs, check with other members who may have worked with designers before. With so many designers launching online businesses, it’s definitely worth it to do some searching on the internet, as well. There might even be someone you’ve been following on Pinterest or Instagram who would be a good fit
Once you’ve found a candidate or a few, start looking at their portfolios and work experience to see if they’ve done projects similar to yours, with clients similar to you. If a designer isn’t showing a huge number of projects on his or her website, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should pull them from the running immediately. It might be because he or she is selecting only the very best to showcase or worked for a number of years for another firm. If that’s the case, check out the designer’s bio to see how many year’s they’ve been working as a designer. If the person is a good fit in other ways, you might want to overlook the small work sampling.
When looking at designers’ portfolios, you also want to get a sense for their styles and think about whether or not they match what you’re looking for for your business. If your brand is all about a feminine, romantic vibe, you probably don’t want to hire a designer whose body of work feels more edgy and counter=culture. Similarly, if you think your audience will respond better to a clean, spare look, you definitely don’t want to hire someone whose work is highly complicated and fussy.
Whatever style you are looking for, you want to make sure any designer you hire has a good grasp of how to use color, typography, space and visual hierarchy to communicate a message.
If you look at a designer’s work and find any of the following, you probably should stay away:
- It feels overwrought, cluttered or overcomplicated.
- The copy is hard to read because of poor font choices or treatment.
- You don’t know where to look first - everything seems to have the same level of importance on the page.
- Color, font or illustration styles don’t feel appropriate to the type of business.
Next, try to get a feel for how much the designers know about their areas of specialization. Do they have blogs? Are they active on social media? Do they seem to be knowledgeable and offer helpful advice and tips? You’ll get more from a designer who demonstrates a solid understanding of business and marketing strategy over someone who just has great design skills.
Whether or not a designer’s past clients were satisfied with the work provided and happy with the relationship says a great deal about whether or not you’ll feel similarly at the end of your project. Read provided testimonials carefully to see if they offer insight into the client/designer relationship. If a designer doesn’t provide as many as you’d like to see, consider contacting some of their other clients to see how they feel about their experience and their level of satisfaction.
RATES & VALUE
Not all designers publish their prices on their websites, so be sure to ask what your project will cost you and what exactly is included for that cost. With that said, you should try to get a handle on the value of the services you're seeking before evaluating prices. Hiring a graphic designer to develop the face of your business is an investment that warrants a realistic budget. The old adage, “You get what you pay for.” definitely holds true with graphic design - often a cheaper price tag comes with lower quality work and more hassle for you.
WORK STYLE & PROCESS
How does the designer run his or her business? Do they seem organized and prepared for on-boarding clients, meeting deadlines and responding to emails? Are their terms clear and reasonable? Do they tell you up front how many rough versions you’ll see, how many rounds of revisions are included, what steps occur and when, how long the project will take, when payments are due, etc.?
Do they seem friendly and enjoyable to work with? Is their work and communication style professional and appropriate? These are all important things to consider when hiring a designer who you’re likely to work with for several weeks at least.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS YOUR PROJECT
Last but not least, any designer you hire should be truly interested in you and your project. They should be willing to hear what your business is about, what your goals are, where you see the business in 5 or 10 years, and what you want your visuals to communicate. They should be happy to not only hear what you want and need, but they should also be willing to offer advice and even challenge your thinking in an effort to ensure you get the best results possible from your new logo and brand identity.
TRUST YOUR GUT
Even after doing all of your homework, you still have to trust your gut! If you get on the phone with a designer who looks perfect on paper, but it just doesn't feel right, walk away. Enough said, and Happy Hiring!