This is going to be a juicy article, filled with information I didn’t learn in graphic design or “designer school”. That’s because I didn’t go to graphic design school, nor do I have any formal education it graphic design. I say that because it’s important for you to know that finding the right designer for your project is a lot like finding a new best friend. They have to fit your style, personality, and interests or the project is going to drag on forever. Coming into the industry 5 years ago, I had expectations to what I should look like, and they didn’t always line up with what clients likes the most about working with me. So for all of you looking to work with a designer, here are five check boxes you should tick for that special one.
This is by far the most important thing for you to have with your designer. It can make or break a brand, keep you from being frustrated, keep the designer on task, and you may just end up with a new BFF. Before I tell you email is king or you should never text your designer, it’s important to figure out your favorite, and best way of communicating. Those two ways may be different by the way. For me my favorite way of communication is in person or over video chat. It allows for quick and clear communication of hard topics. However I have found the best way I communicate is via email. Not because I am terrible face to face, rather it’s the balance I need to collect information, have a reminder of what was said, and keep it within business hours.
Don’t be afraid to interview designers, or just ask what has been the most interesting discovery they have made lately, it helps you see their expertise, as well as find out if they can consistently communicate during your project. Another tip, set expectations, even if something isn’t done, let your designer know you are ok if they check in and fill you in. This is important when you are working on the stage of a project with not a lot of visible changes happening.
If your designer talks more than you during your interview or initial call, something is wrong. A good designer knows how important it is to listen first, then clarify later. Your project/business is most likely your baby, your dream child. You need time to talk about it, throw ideas around, and explore all the possibilities. Naturally I have found the best designers are curious cats by nature and are always wanting to hear more about your business and help to make it thrive. Another way curiosity helps vet that designer is that it shows their interest in furthering their education. If they are curious, it’s likely they are learning more every day which will only make your project better.
This is especially important in a world of “he-said-she-said” and social drama that surrounds us. Working with a designer should mean you are taking on a business partner for a period of time. Sure maybe they don’t make all the decisions but their expertise can weigh in on many decisions you end up making. Often times they are helping you make a strategic game plan or integrating sensitive client data into your website or internal systems. You need to be able to trust your designer with all of these things, and know they have skin in the game too. It creates a project that the designer is going to want to work on first, as well as giving you the peace of mind to let them make some of the smaller decisions needed.
I just realized all my points were starting with “C” so we are going to continue that trend.
The worst feeling in the world is getting a second, third, fifth draft back from a designer and hating it. I have been on both sides of that journey, and it’s not fun for anyone. Thankfully for me as a designer I was able to push through and get to the client’s vision. That’s your end of the stick, when looking for a designer, go in with a vision to share with them. See if they are confident in making that vision happen, and ask them how they would do it. You will see more competency with designers who latch on to a vision and have all sorts of ideas to run with. In the end, your designer should be able to use the following programs well: Illustrator, Photoshop, WordPress, (webdesign platform you want your site on), and even Social Media. If they aren’t representing themselves well, or at all, on these spaces – just ask why not!
You have a lot on your plate with a new brand, website, or business launch. The last thing you need is a designer who is late to every meeting, deadline, or disappears for days on end. Make sure that in all of these points above your designer is constant with all of them. Having that consistency will keep you sleeping happy at night, excited for monday to come, and better yet wanting to make another business just to work with your designer again. The best designers I have seen can pick up a conversation at WPPI or any other conference that they had with a client a year ago. That’s because they are invested in every business they work with and that doesn’t get forgotten easily!
As a designer myself, I have make mistakes in each of these areas before, but thankfully I have seen more success each time I work to improve these areas of my business. Being technical is great, and to be honest, it’s expected. If you are in the search of a designer, even if I am not the right fit, I would be happy to help you find one who is. You can learn more about me and the projects I have worked on here: 2BlokesDesign.
Just for you guys, if you ever need to email me, this is my direct inbox. Aka the top of the list. 🙂