When it comes to clients, there’s an old saying among freelance graphic designers: “Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should!” The user-friendliness of current graphic and Web design software has turned thousands of small business owners and others into wannabe Picassos and the results are mostly … scary.
It’s time to maybe put away the software and get serious about your graphic design needs. You might be a mom-and-pop business, a start-up just getting off the ground or an employee of a small company with graphic design duties thrown onto your already-packed plate. Regardless, there are compelling reasons for hiring a professional graphic designer to do all your design work.
Hiring a professional graphic designer will:
- Save you time and money
- Help you stand apart from your competition (the “Wow!” factor)
- Keep your look consistent throughout all your marketing materials
- Hold on to your customer’s attention
- Let you acquire a brand new source of ideas for your materials
Professional designers know more than just how to “make things pretty.” They understand how images, graphics, colors and typefaces affect the viewer. They might specialize in making your Web site look as good on a 24” PC screen as a 6” smartphone screen. And, if you do a lot of printing, they are indispensable in creating pieces that look the same before and after your print shop gets the file.
So you’ve decided to hire a professional graphic designer … what’s the next step? Picking the right one requires you to follow these three steps:
1. Initial Planning
Before you create a job description and interview candidates, create a list of your specific graphic design needs. Do you need a logo or business cards? Do you need your Web site redesigned, or a social media page customized? By creating a list, you can better see if your workload can be handled on a job-to-job basis by a freelancer, or if you need to dive in and bring on a designer full time. Either way, creating a list will allow you to create a job description and articulate the needs of your company to interviewees.
Next, determine your budget and timeline. These factors will affect how many designers you hire and their levels of expertise.
2. Interviewing prospects
Always inquire into the interviewee’s specialties. Graphic design is a large field and professionals will have different areas of expertise, such as Web or print design. In addition to their expertise, look at their design styles. Not all graphic designers will work in every style. Professionals can focus on children, corporate, abstract design or many other techniques.
Carefully look through their portfolios. This is the best way to understand the graphic designer’s abilities, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. To learn more about a designer’s work, ask about the objectives of some of the pieces in the portfolio. Ask about his or her role in developing the piece – was it a solo or team project? Ask how he or she decided on the concept, images and colors.
If you have a mobile or online platform the designers will need to work with, ask about their experience with the program. If you find a designer you love, but they aren’t experienced with your platform, you have to decide if that is a deal-breaker or not.
3. Follow Up
Like any potential employee, it’s important to contact references. Ask the interviewees for contact information for past clients if they have them. This way, you can ask the clients directly how they felt about the designers’ work.
Fight the temptation to take on graphic design yourself, because creating a comprehensive look for a business should be left to a professional. When hiring a graphic designer, don’t just pick anyone. Look for someone who has experience creating exactly what you need in the style you want. Focus on his or her portfolio – it will tell you whether the designer is right for you.