1. Ask Around. Find out from friends and colleagues who they use and if they would recommend them. If the designer did a good job, they will be more than happy to pass on their details.
2. Collect Examples. Make a collection of designs you like/don’t like, and give reasons for your choices, this will help you later. Find out who produced the work. Most designers will credit their work if it is on a flyer, poster or website for instance. If you love the look of a company’s brochure, try phoning them and asking who the design company was. I doubt they will mind you phoning, as it’s to praise their good judgement!
3. Search Online. Search for designers by region, speciality and experience on the Design Directory. http://www.designdirectory.org/index.php?page=directory/search You can try searching on Google but the design market has become very saturated, so searching by speciality will always be better. Remember to check out their website if they have one, you should find a range of their best work displayed, and possibly even testimonials or case studies to explain how they came up with the final design solutions.
4. Questions, Questions, Questions. Once you’ve made a few selections, ask them questions to check they have the necessary skills to undertake your project. Remember, not all designers do all things. Some are all-rounders and some specialise in certain areas. A website designer may not have the same skills as a designer that works on corporate brochures and identities. Ideally, you want to find a designer that can take on anything you ask them, that way you’ll save time and money by keeping the job with one company.
5. Write a Brief. Being clear about what you want from the start will help you in choosing the designer you work with. Write a clear brief that includes a description of the project and what you want to achieve. What is it that you need? A new brand? A website? What are the project objectives? Who do you want your product/company to appeal too? If you’re not clear about how you want your target market to see you, then the designer will struggle too. Most designers will have a questionnaire they use to help them get the information they need. Answer these honestly and you’ll be halfway there!
6. Personality Counts! Meet with the designers and talk through the brief with them. Make sure they fully understand your goals, needs and where you’re coming from/going to. You should pick a designer that you feel comfortable to build a working relationship with, some one you trust and could work closely with.
7. Budget. Set yourself a realistic budget and ask for quotations for the work. If you’re just starting out in business, costs are big issue, but remember cheaper isn’t always better. Again, try asking people what they paid for their website etc…that will give you a good idea what yours will cost if it has similar features. It really helps to discuss what budget you have with the designer, so they know what restrictions they have. Use your best judgements.
8. Track Record. Does the designer have a good history of solving the design issues you have? Have they created an e-commerce website before? Or is there evidence in their portfolio that they can work on branding issues? (if that’s what you’re after). Testimonials from happy clients are a good sign, as are case studies, or ask if you can speak to any of the past clients yourself.
9. Ask for Ideas? This is a tricky one. Some designers feel it’s the norm to free pitch for work, while others feel you should pay for their ideas and creativity. Personally speaking, I’m not 100% happy to do work for free, but it does all depend on the size of the project and whom you speak to. A lot of smaller companies will not be able to afford to do this
Another idea is to pay for say 2hours of their time to come up with some ideas. At around £40 per hour it’s not a huge amount to pay. Or some designers ask for a small deposit up front to secure the job. This has worked very well for a number of designers we’ve spoken to.
10. You and your Designer. Hopefully by now you’ll have made your decision and be in designer heaven with your choice! If it’s not Rubber Cheese, then you’re missing out!
A few things to remember…
a. Pick someone you like and trust. You may have to work with them for quite a time.
b. Listen to advice from your designer. Remember that they are there to help you gain more business and solve your problems. Making you look good, makes them look good. Always tell them if you are not happy with an idea, and don’t worry – us designers are thick skinned!
c. Enjoy the process!
Kelly Molson & Paul Wright run Rubber Cheese, a Design & Illustration company based in the Hertfordshire countryside. firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.rubbercheese.com Tel:01279 434488
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