Hiring a Graphic Designer: Questions to Ask
Do you need to hire a graphic designer to update your logo, lay out a publication or brochure, or re-design your website? Graphic designers are creative types, and that creativity is necessary for them to do a good job. A successful designer is creative, skilled and caters to your needs. Nowadays, you can go online to a variety of online marketplaces and find people who claim to be graphic designers who work for cheap. Generally, you get what you pay for. If you want a creative person with up to date knowledge and skill sets who acts with professionalism, then you should expect to hire a professional.
Here are some questions to ask to help you make a great selection. Remember, the goal is to find the best designer for your project, not to find the best designer on earth.
Technical skills. This can be tough for a non-creative type to judge, but focus on asking questions around how their skills can fit for your project. Ask how they see their skills helping you with your project and ask for details. If you are planning on a logo design (or any design for that matter), knowledge of typography is particularly important, as this can make or break your logo (literally). If your business or organization is heavily invested in a particular website software, is the designer familiar with this software and able to get you to your goal?
Experience. An experienced designer can describe the process flow for you and be as creative as a younger one. Don’t hold age (or lack of it) against anyone. Find out how long have they been doing design work and what their experiences have been.
Their design process. Every designer is different, so it’s important to understand the process the designer uses to create what you need. What does their design process look like for the project you are seeking a designer for? Do they follow a particular process for logos? For publications? For website development? Do they present a variety of designs? Do they use the one best design process (a process we use at Steppingstone LLC to best meet client needs and hold down cost overages)?
Portfolio. Any graphic designer should have a portfolio of completed work to show you. How strong is it? Have they completed projects similar to yours? Don’t make a choice based on a portfolio alone, especially when it comes to more collaborative ongoing work. Instead, ask more questions. Ask about the most complex brief they’ve received, what the challenges were, and how they responded to the ask. You want to try and get to the “why” behind a design, which shows you more customization, listening skills, and a designer who is willing to go the extra mile.
Professionalism. You want to hire a professional who works well with you and your team (if you have one). How do they present themselves? Do they respond to you quickly and efficiently? How do they communicate? How have they worked with other organizations or companies similar to yours?
Time Frame. Get a sense of how your project will flow and how you and the designer will interact over the proposed time period. When are they available to do the work? How long will it take to complete your project? At what points in the process will they need input from you?
Financials. What will the project cost? Some designers price by the project, and others by the hour. Some give discounts for ongoing work. The price usually reflects the level of service and the quality of the product that you will receive. In most cases, you get what you pay for. Do they work with a contract?
Inquisitive. A good designer asks a lot of questions and looks for details. How many questions does the designer ask about your business? Questions should revolve around your company or organization’s history, brand, target audience, and goals. Be prepared to share background materials, files and branding or style guides with the designer.
References. A good designer should have quality references to provide to you. Do they have positive testimonials from previous clients? Are they able to provide you with names and companies that you can call to verify their references?
Industry experience. It’s an added bonus if the designer has experience working with others in your industry but this should not be a deal breaker if they don’t have it. Many creative minds can get up to speed quickly!
Your gut. Remember that you are looking for more than just a specific skill set. The designer’s personal style, creative process, and workflows are just as important as skills—and don’t always come across in a proposal clearly. Look at portfolios, ask lots of questions, and make a selection based on who you think will do the job best.
If you need to hire a graphic designer, we hope you’ll consider Steppingstone LLC. Our creative director, Rick Miller, has an amazing set of skills and a great portfolio of work. Contact us to discuss your project.
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent PR practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites (contact to discuss your project, review our portfolio, sign up for our e-newsletter). She blogs about media relations, social media, public relations, and work-family balance. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven