You finally came to the realization that you need professional graphic design to make the right impression, but how do you find the right designer? You can ask your friends on Facebook (word-of-mouth is always great), or you can google designers in your area. Either way, before you make a decision here are a few things to look for:
1. Portfolio: A graphic designer without a website is a red flag. Make sure they have an online portfolio that you like. See if their previous works are in line with the style you're going for. Notice if that designer is versatile or if all of their work looks the same. Does their overall website have the level of quality you are looking for? Do they have a lot to show or do they only have a few examples?
2. Personality: The portfolio is important but don't rely on that alone. Have an actual conversation with the designer and see if you get a good vibe from them. You can video chat, meet for lunch, or just speak on the phone. Chances are you're going to be working together for a while so you want to make sure you have the right chemistry. Ask them what inspired the creative choices from your favorite projects in their portfolio. Ask them about their process and how they would approach your needs. Notice if they are paying attention to you, what you're looking for, and your needs.
3. Contract: Does this designer use a contract before each project? If not, then make sure to draft one with all the specific details of your project. This will ensure that you are both on the same page and know what to expect from each other. Any professional designer will have a contract readily available for you, so if they do not consider if this is someone you want to work with.
4. Reviews: Have you read the reviews that others have left online about this designer or design agency? Reviews are a great way of getting insight into other people's experiences. If you do see a bad review, consider whether that person's complaints seem reasonable or not. And of course if most of the reviews are bad, then move on to someone else.
5. Open-Minded: When talking to a designer make sure you know what you want and what skills you are looking for. Share as many details as possible about your project and see how open the designer is to your ideas. If you find that your designer is not really listening to what you want is relentlessly trying to sway you away from your vision, it is possible this designer doesn't know how to do what you are asking them for. Work with someone who is willing to accommodate to your needs. At the same time keep in mind that a good designer will listen to you AND challenge you to consider new ideas that may better serve your end goal. I always try to find the balance between what my clients WANT and what they NEED.
6. Experience: Is this designer a newbie or a seasoned professional? Ask them how long they have been working in the field, check out their LinkedIn profile, and again notice their portfolio.
While it is important to find someone who is open to your ideas and is willing to work with you, you should also go with someone who can offer a different point of view than yours, after all that's part of the reason why you want to work with a designer. You want a designer that is flexible but who isn't going to automatically say yes to all of your ideas as not all of them may serve you best. Hire a designer you trust; a designer with a lot of professional experience who can guide you to better achieve your goals. Go with someone who can find a balance between what you're asking them for and what they believe is most suitable for your market audience.
7. Able to Handle Criticism Well: Graphic design and art in general is a process with trial and error, and lots of communication. The designer may not match your vision in the first try, SPECIALLY if you didn't do a great job communicating your vision. Find someone who is patient and be patient yourself. A true professional will be able to take your constructive criticism and adjust to meet your expectations.
8. Passionate: It is really apparent when something is done with love. When speaking to your designer, see how excited they are; how much enthusiasm you can detect in their voice. It's important to work with people that cares as much about your project as you do. The people that share your passion are the ones that are going to help you the most.
9. Reliability: An awesome portfolio, a great personality, and experience mean nothing if your designer is not reliable. You need more than just talent to get a job done, you need accountability, efficiency, and responsibility. Be clear with your designer about your deadlines, and go with someone who will respect and meet those deadlines.
10. Flexibility & Evolution: Things may not always go as expected. Problems can arise ranging from issues with the printer, to technical issues, to simply unforeseen circumstances. Ask your designer how he/she would handle such an occurrence. Work with someone who is flexible and be flexible too. Understand that issues may come up, but they don't have to stand in your way, even if they present a bit of a detour. The right designer for you will be creative and resourceful in these situations.
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