how to choose the right designer for your business

in an effort help more people understand how to get the most out of design services, i offer these helpful primers to demystify the process of hiring a graphic designer and getting prepared for your next project. if you find yourself here with a head full of questions, 2 other pieces to read are how to prepare a for a design project which will give you the tools to narrow your design objectives into a creative brief, and process & design project timeline which is a rough outline of all the phases of production i use with my clients.

follow these steps to find the right designer for your business

it’s a bit of a toss-up between whether style or industry is the more important place to start. obviously, some businesses will be more concerned with insider sensitivity, while others will want a designer whose style clicks with their creative direction. in my opinion, both of these factors should be weighted equally, and let some of the subsequent factors help tip the scales in your top choices:

industry focus

if you’re in a niche that has a lot of specifics attached to it, or want someone who understands the history of your industry so they can help consult on key ways to differentiate you from your competition, look into creative professionals that specialize in your slice of the market. i am a strong proponent of getting referrals, either from colleagues or trade organizations, where you can search on specifics and see linked portfolios of work samples. you can also do research on who your competitors are hiring by looking at their web sites for a design credit and following that link to the firm’s portfolio. to get a feel for the breadth of options, add “design” to any of the keywords for your industry and see who’s doing what all around the world. once you get a sense of who is doing it well, you’ll be ready to look for…

individual style

every designer worth his or her salt will have an individual style that is evident in their work. whether you search online, get referrals from colleagues, or go to a trade association, go straight to the portfolio and look at all their work. do the pieces in their portfolios show clever design solutions that work well in your opinion? if their work resonates with you, can you also see your clients & target market receiving it positively as well? the key here is that you are hiring a visual translator. every designer sees a unique “best avenue” for translating your message, so the major consideration in individual style is to see what this particular designer has done with the information in each piece to appeal effectively to the viewer.

customer service & transparency

once you’ve narrowed it down to excellent talent and experience, take some time to notice how each firm’s site introduces themselves, how much information do they put forward about how they work and what they value? how much of a sense do you get about what they’d be like to work with? it’s smart to be a bit wary of any firm that seems vague about what you’ll be getting. the best of us realize that you have your own businesses to run and perhaps aren’t familiar with the design process or don’t know what to expect or how to get started, and we do our best to anticipate your questions and answer them. it’s the beginning of a relationship and we’re all looking for compatibility. if you’re feeling good about a designer’s approach, take the next step and…

ask questions!

we are service providers, and the best we can do is educate people whenever they are curious. designers that follow best practices will be able to provide you with a clear explanation of what you can expect from working with them. if you have the parameters of your project outlined, [use this system to prepare a creative brief] you can ask for a project proposal, which will give you a good idea of the costs involved as well as the production timeline.

plan ahead

or rather, plan ahead to plan ahead. we do understand that sometimes you’re looking for a designer because of a looming rush deadline, but in ideal circumstances, you won’t want to make these decisions in a day. you’ll also run the risk of not getting a slot with your designer of choice, because they’ll already be booked out. the best marketing efforts take careful planning and projection far before they are put into action. if you’re in business, you’ll eventually need marketing materials, so look for someone you want to work with early on—long before you’re ready to start a project. this will give you a chance to meet them, see their work, have lunch, meet up at a mixer, read their blog, and google their online presence so you get to know them and how they work for the most critical ingredient in the mix: peace of mind that you’re working with someone who is right for you.

if you think that person might be me, let’s talk!

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