Congratulations! You need a graphic designer — usually a sign that you’ve reached the point where what you’re doing now has an audience. Whether it’s a new website, a company brochure or a simple logo, you’re in the market for a graphic designer. But choosing a graphic designer can be a difficult, confusing or a nearly impossible process wherein you look at a portfolio of prior work and promise to pay for something that you’ve never seen, all with the hope that the designer captures your untold vision in perfect form.
The Truth about Design
Good design requires both a good designer and a good client. The best way to interview a graphic designer starts with understanding that even the most skilled designer may not deliver what you want if you have no idea what you want. However, that being said, there are many things you can, should and must ask before considering any designer for your job. After all, this design is going to represent your company and what could be more important than that? When it comes to choosing a graphic designer who will meet your design needs, you have plenty of options. Try looking for a freelance designer, posting your requirements on a specialist site like 99designs.com, or hiring a professional virtual services company like Worldwide101 that can support you with designers, project managers and other small business services.
Reviewing Past Work
It is a common mistake to look at a designer’s portfolio and picture your project in a previous work. First and foremost, you should not picture your work as someone else’s. If you already know you want a certain look or feel, such as modern with clean lines or dramatic and complex, look for designers with portfolios heavy in that type of design.
Not sure what you’re looking for? Be prepared to provide samples of designs and aesthetics that you do like, with detailed notes and explanations. If you’re doing something complex, such as a full website design, do your research and provide samples of all the features you like and don’t like and look for these in your potential designer’s former work.
Get Some Face Time In
These days it is really common to do everything via text and email. Yet, if you can grab some face time with potential designers, you can get a feeling for whether they really understand what you’re looking for. If you can’t meet in person, try for a Skype or other video-based meeting. If your designer hears you explain what you’re looking for and you hear him or her explain the way they see it working out, you might come to a meeting of the minds much quicker.
Preparing for Design
Once you’ve narrowed down your designers, its time to get a clear picture of how the process is going to work. You’re the one hiring and you need to be ready to make sure your interests are protected. Make sure multiple revisions are included in the process and consider payment terms upon milestones rather than hours worked. If possible, seeing rough conceptual drafts of the designer’s intentions and direction will help make sure your project is heading in the right direction. Depending on your project, these drafts may include basic wireframes, which are rough sketches of the anticipated layout of a web design or user flow, or a perhaps a mood board, which may include colors, fonts and other general aesthetics they’re considering. In this way you can guide or agree on basic design direction before work and time is wasted.
The best designer-client relationships become long-term engagements with a clear understanding of branding and execution. If you think your project is going to be one of many, express that to your designer and set the stage for future work. It will help at the outset to create a clear method of communication and a comfortable forum for discussion and editing. If you and your designer are comfortable together, you will receive better results. If you’re not, remember that you’re the boss and consider looking elsewhere if things don’t suit your needs.
Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Worldwide101 (@bestvirtualhelp), a virtual professional services company, which provides Admin and Customer Service for companies worldwide. Born and raised in France, Sandra has travelled extensively as a Project Manager to Asia, Australia, North America and in various parts of both Eastern and Western Europe. During her career she has worked as Operations Manager for companies such as Regus and BuroServices, with a focus on supporting small businesses to be effective as they scale. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working virtually, she manages her entire team on 4 continents, on a virtual basis.