How to choose the perfect designer for your budget, goals and style.
You are on the search for a designer but where on earth do you start? What exactly should you be watching out for? How do you avoid getting scammed? What is too cheap or too expensive? Who will bring your vision to life?
It can be a daunting task when looking for someone trustworthy to hire, and if you have never hired a designer before, you may not know where to start. Your head is full of questions, you have trawled through more portfolio websites and Facebook groups than you can count and you are still far from making your decision.
Here’s a handy set of tips that you can follow to choose the designer that is right for your goals, your budget and your style.
Pay attention to portfolio
Is the general style up your street?
It’s simple really - you should pick a designer just like you would pick a restaurant, hairstylist or a wedding dress shop. Look at what they are producing and see if it matches up with your own expectations, style and quality. You should also pay careful attention to the consistency to steer clear from stolen or fake work (yep, that’s actually a thing...stay woke!).
Another thing to look for on portfolio website pages is an explanation of what the designer has done for each client on each project. What value are they providing? What expertise do they have? Are they doing background work to help the client truly come to the best design decisions for their business? Do they care or are you just money on the table? If you like what you see, you think they will see your vision and they are offering contemporary solutions, then pop them on that shortlist!
Getting the brief just right
Clarity KILLS Confusion.
Be clear in what you want. This is crucial. You would never go food shopping without knowing what is in the fridge, what you are going to cook and how much you can spend, right? The same applies here.
Write yourself a brief.
A good designer will most likely go through some groundwork/research with you when the project starts but you should be prepared with some well thought out answers. Here’s how:
Start a fresh page on your notebook or app and answer the following:
How much are you able to spend?
When do you need it completed?
What problem are you facing why you now need this help?
What do you expect this design/service to solve?
What are your top three goals for your business?
What brands/businesses inspire you and why?
Who are you selling to? Who are you targeting?
Being prepared with this will help you when you are going through your shortlist, you can crosscheck the pros and cons of each designer against your brief. You don’t want to get started with the designer you thought was perfect but it turns out they cannot fit you in to their schedule for another six months, nor do you want to be hit with additional revision costs because your goals have been set and the direction has massively changed after work has started. Clarity kills confusion.
Create a realistic budget.
Designers, just like all businesses, typically price based on their time spent on the project, their industry experience and the service offering itself. You absolutely need to work out what your maximum spend would be and create your shortlist based on that. Some designers will charge considerably more to factor in the groundwork they do to create the perfect logo for your business, and some offer extras that experience tells them that businesses need during that process.
Pricing should also reflect the quality of work they are providing so you obviously wouldn’t want to pay top end for a low quality product. That being said, you should not hire simply because someone is super cheap. There may be a sinister reason why a designer appears to be offering too-good-to-be-true pricing and you do not want to have to pay twice over to re-do poor or unfinished work. I myself have had a few clients come to me to design something they have paid for a creative to do sites like Fiverr and Upwork that have not worked out well.
Work out how much you can afford to spend at the most
Shortlist your favourite designers based on portfolio
Ask for a quote based on your brief (if you skipped step two, go back and finish that!)
Rank your shortlist in order of pricing and service offering
Can’t afford it now? Try this.
Do your best to avoid choosing bad and cheap. Can you work around your need for now? For example, if you find that your budget is not yet stretching to get you the quality you need, you could create a basic logo by typing your business name up in a font that you like, use that for now and save until you can afford the branding that will skyrocket your success.
The right Communication, not just Good communication
How will you work together?
Do you find it easier to express yourself face to face or over the phone? If your designer does not take calls or meetings, that won’t work for you. On the flipside, if you need a minute to mull things over in your mind or get you flustered in conversation, then written communication is probably your thing therefore you will appreciate a designer who works with you via email. This is also best for those who are not available all of the time; let’s say you have a full time job and are starting a side hustle, you won’t have time for meetings during typical business hours so email communication will allow you to reply properly when you can.
Bottom line, if you are not singing from the same hymn sheet here, one or both of you will get frustrated with unread/ignored emails or the struggle of finding mutual meeting times will more than likely kill the project before it has gone anywhere. Make sure you choose a designer that you can work with harmoniously.
what are other users saying about them?
If you have taken a good look at portfolios, you should have half covered this one. Reviews and testimonials from past clients will tell you most of what you need to know, too and a lack thereof may be a red flag. Look for impartial reviews on Google and Facebook and not just on their website as they could well be edited.
If you are looking for a website designer, for example, you should take a closer look at their product. Does the website look good on mobile as well as tablet? Is it easy to use/navigate? Does the content flow well? If it is glitchy and takes forever to load, chances are, whatever website they build for you will be too so don’t overlook these details.
Make an informed decision
You should be about ready to make your choice. Just remember all of the points I have talked about here when you are making your enquiries, and always refer back to your brief whenever you get confused again. Don’t hesitate to contact the designers you have shortlisted to ask any burning questions, or to clarify anything that is not clear on their website.
If you follow these tips, you should have the right mindset and confidence to search for the perfect designer. These are the sound, informed decisions that will get you the best for your spend.
Feel free to share this article with other business owners who may need the same help and I wish you all the best on your search!