A good website needs to be well-designed and presented in a creative and attractive manner to engage the audience to influence their behavior. This is where a graphic designer comes into the picture. A graphic designer is a person who designs the website, decides the layout, images needed, logos, and can provide inputs for social media channels and other promotional marketing material.
Usually, a qualified, experienced designer understands the requirements needed and will lead the final designs . However, it can be tricky and challenging to find the right fit if you are not sure what to look for when searching for a designer.
The below steps give you some essential points, background information and tips that can help in finding the right person.
Ask known sources for references and testimonials
Look for websites which are attractive or those you wish to emulate and check if any credit is given to a web design firm or a graphic designer. This is often found in the footer towards the bottom of the page or in the source code. Ask colleagues, peers and business associates for references. Verified testimonials indicate the level of satisfaction of previous customers who are willing to go on the record. You should also consider contacting some past clients to ask about their experience working with the designer.
Look for designers with a broad range of work in various industries. You should also check whether they have considerable experience in businesses like yours and how their skills and strengths align with the immediate and long term goals of your business. Typically, those with experience in corporate communication are likely to have developed skills across disciplines and are more sensitive to budgetary constraints.
Diversity of design experience
While you may be looking for a graphic designer for your niche, finding a designer with experience in designing for other types media can often be an advantage. When there is more experience in creating logos, brand identity, brochures and other traditional advertising collaterals can unify the design message. Such experience can create a uniform design and communication style between the various marketing channels you use, to help build a unique brand identity.
The portfolio is a strong testament or assimilation of a graphic designer’s best work as well as their characteristics, strengths, uniqueness, focus and ability to deliver. Since most graphic designers share many similar skill sets, check for diverse experience in their online portfolio. Make sure to check the portfolio references to ensure that it is authentic work completed by the graphic designer.
Review skills and subject matter expertise (SMEs)
This is especially the case if you are hiring a web designer as they need to be qualified enough to fulfil all the technical requirements as needed. For example: web coding, forms coding, responsive design, HTML newsletter integration and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are some technical aspects where all designers may not be able to deliver results.
Expectations should be set early and clearly to avoid unnecessary effort and waste of time and this needs to be mutual for the working relationship to be smooth.
Meet and talk to the Designer
Talking to the designer can help you assess whether you can communicate well with each other, have similar levels of energy and enthusiasm. Since you need to spend considerable time with each other, if you have complementing personalities, it can go a long way in a better outcome.
Often, this type of work goes wrong simply because the client wasn’t specific about their needs. Therefore, it would be good to be straightforward and clear about the graphics, colors, columns, sizes, and so on to ensure the graphic designer is also on the same page as you.
Ideally turn-around-time should be in line with the rest of the project. It is also an indication of the designer’s level of excitement. Understand their other work load and commitments to figure how effective they are likely to be.
Value vs. Billing rates
Take time to research the cost of a graphic designer’s services to determine a realistic budget before contacting anyone. This helps one understand the true value of the service. If you consider graphic designing as an investment more than an expense, it will provide the right perspective while evaluating fees. Avoid those who undervalue their services or offer deep discounts to get your business.
While the less expensive may charge lower, keep in mind the old saying, “you often get what you pay for” and you may be paying only on limited experience. Experienced designers are likely to charge higher hourly rates, but typically need less direction, work more efficiently and are more attuned to best practices. They also tend to have relationships with industry experts, and vendors that can help find the right resource to complete the job.
Written contractual clauses
A contract can help lay out expectations for the project for both parties. The contract should be read carefully as the clauses should be project specific regarding pay, termination of the contract and time lines of completion. You can also ask the designer to elaborate or clarify any clauses for you.
Be open to feedback/advice
An experienced graphic designer is likely to offer advice that may need you to reconsider some of your own ideas and this can be a good thing. Look for a designer who is willing to challenge your thinking and be open to it. If you are not open to doing so, you might get exactly what you want but it might not be what is good for the business. However, they should keep you involved throughout the process so that you don’t lose ownership of the project.
The above pointers are essentially a guideline or reference to be used to review a designer’s websites, meet and interview potential candidates. It allows for a smooth transition of understanding the process and realistic expected outcomes. A dynamic working relationship with your graphic designer can yield results that are effective and provide a platform to help your business grow and head to the next level.
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area