22  August  Posted by Aaron

Hiring a graphic designer: What to look for and how to work with them


If the shoe fits, where it… just make sure that it fits as good as possible.

Hiring a graphic designer is like finding a shoe that fits… perfectly. You know what I’m talking about. You go to a shoe store, see some sweet pair of Nike’s, you try them on and are instantly bummed. They look great, but the arch support just isn’t there, plus they are crazy expensive. You then spot some Asics, “those look pretty cool” thinking to yourself. You try them on and they feel better but are overly tight and look kind of cheap… will they eventually stretch and fit perfectly? Or do you put back on your old trusty New Balance shoes and head home?

Finding a design company should be like this but with even more effort in finding the right fit.


First, Go window shopping!

The search is on! You are a smart business savvy person and have finally decided that it is time for an update on your aging logo and website. The first thing you want to do to start kicking tires. Get on line, look at portfolios and make lists of companies that you like. Keeping in mind your budget, for example if you see portfolios with Nike or Apple ads or anything around that caliber, and you just want a logo and website for 5,000 dollars then look elsewhere. After you gather a list of businesses, maybe 10 or so reach out to them and get an idea of what they might charge and what there process is. Does it seem like they can work with your budget? Is their work impressive to you? Are they friendly and do they seem genuinely excited about your project? Do they seem organized and professional?

Ask Around This is usually the best way to find a designer. Find other people and or businesses that you know and ask who they used and how their experience was. This is by far the best way to go about finding a great designer.

Warning, don’t be cheap when hiring a designer!
This is your business that we are talking about! The business that is going to pay for your retirement, your children’s college tuition etc. With most businesses you have to look your best to attract customers. You attract specific customers by the way you look. Do you want to attract cheapskates or do you want to attract people with a larger bank roll. Look like a million bucks, make a million bucks. I have had numerous clients “make it big” and know for a fact that their design had a lot to do with it. It’s worth the investment.

Trust is key and whatever you do, do not micro-manage!
For some this is extremely hard, to put someone else in trust of such an important part of your business (and it’s understandable). However, if you end up micro-managing you are not letting the designer do his or her job, sure you should give input, we as designers are not the experts in your field (you are) so we need your input. Before you even get to this point, make sure you hire someone that you are impressed with by their previous work and are going to be able to trust. You hired them to design, so let them!


It’s not always about size

There is a lot to be said about the size of design firms and what the positives and negatives are. Until I write a post specifically on the difference in the sizes of design firms here are the basics.


Large to medium sized: In general you can assume that a larger company will produce better results (but be wary, this is definitely not always the case). It is true that the larger the business the more people could (possibly) be working on your project, consequently the more money you will have to shell out.

Small to freelancer A smaller business will (usually) be cheaper, more flexible and possibly more eager and dedicated to you and your project. They obviously will not have all the staff as a large company does, however many small businesses and freelancers have connections with fellow designers, illustrators, developers etc as a collaborative support group.


A long lasting client/designer relationship is a wonderful thing
We love our clients and really work hard to keep them happy. Like a good pair of shoes, as time goes by things only get better. As you and your designer begin to understand each other things become much more smooth and predictable. So when you are looking for a designer, try to find one that wants to keep you around (and obviously find a designer you want to keep around).

To recap:

  • Do some research, check out the options
  • ask around, see who others have hired and their experience
  • don’t be too cheap, you get what you pay for
  • hire a professional that you can trust
  • Build a relationship with a designer

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