Have you reached a point where you’re ready to do great things with your business and need the specialized skills of a design professional? How exciting! But what or who exactly should you be looking for? Hiring the best designer for your needs won’t be so intimidating if you just follow the steps below…
1. Determine how your design piece will fit in with your overall marketing and sales efforts. Even the best design projects go awry when the purpose of the piece isn’t well-defined or exists simply because “everyone else has one.” A competent designer should be able to assist you if you’re not sure what the best vehicle for your marketing message is, or be able to refer you to a marketing consultant who can help you.
2. Have a budget in mind. Knowing what you are willing to spend on a project will also help you find the right fit. If you don’t have an idea of what something will cost, a reputable designer will help you set a budget for your project based on their experience with similar projects. At JS Graphics, our work is tailored to fit the needs of our clients, so knowing what your budget is helps us determine what can be done for the amount you have available. Contrary to what some may believe, designers don’t ask about budgets so they can spend all the money you have!
3. Get recommendations. Asking associates for a referral for a designer is a good way to begin your search. Most people will be happy to share the name of a designer with whom they had a good experience or about whom they’ve heard good things! You can also find portfolio sites on-line (coroflot.com, carbonmade.com, and designrelated.com are just three) where you can search for designers world-wide.
4. Be attentive to the designer’s response and communication. The very first assessment you can make about a designer comes from their responsiveness to your initial query. How long does it take for them to get back to you? Are they timely in returning your calls or emails? This will give you a glimpse into how they run their business and their working style. A designer who does not return you calls promptly may not be sensitive to time requirements you have or may be “out of touch” at critical points during your project.
5. Look at their portfolio. Hiring a designer on cost alone is a great way to be disappointed! Even if you have a limited budget, it’s still important to work with someone whose work you’ve seen and liked. Don’t be overly concerned if they haven’t done the exact type of piece like you’re looking for-if you like what the designer has done for other clients, chances are you’ll like what they do for you, too. It’s all about the problem-solving! Most designers should have a web site that you can view to get a flavor of the type of work he or she does, who they do it for, etc. Not having a web site or portfolio should be a red flag that an individual is not a professional designer.
6. Get a detailed proposal from the designer you’d like to work with. It should address what the deliverables will be, the number of design comps you will see, and how many rounds of revisions are included. It should also detail how billing will be handled, and what instances would trigger additional costs for the project. Other items that you might want to see spelled out in the proposal are usage rights, deposits required, and how additional outside services such as printing or photography will be handled.
7. Decide on a schedule. This is essential if you have a tight time frame, but every project should have milestones, agreed upon by all parties involved, to keep it moving forward. Starting and stopping a project causes lost momentum, and excitement and interest in the outcome wanes. The schedule or time line should also be clear on who will be responsible for reviews and getting revisions to the designer in a timely manner in order to keep the project on track, and when you can expect response from the designer. This is especially important for long-term projects or critical deadlines.
Most designers get into this business because they love what they do…creating terrific work that helps their clients achieve their goals and grow their businesses. When everyone is excited about the project and the relationship, the final results are always satisfying. And if you’re having fun with your designer, then you know you’ve made the right choice!