How to choose a designer

Choosing a designer is like choosing that perfect pair of jeans. You want them to make you look good, to be a comfortable fit, and you want to wear them with confidence.

But with a designer, where do you start? How do you make that choice? Below are a few tips to put you on the right path.

1. Ask around. Shop around.

When you start working with a designer, you’re starting a relationship. And as with any relationship, you want to make sure that you communicate well, and that they’re a good fit. Chances are, you know someone who has had to work with a graphic designer on one project or another. Start asking around, and get some names. Ask what kind of design they did, and if they were happy with the designer and finished product. This is your best bet at starting the search. You can always do a Google search for designers in your area.

2. Make a short list, and check them out online.

Once you have a short list, do a little digging. Check out each site and their portfolio. Do you get the impression that this design company is professional? Do you like their style? Is your first impression a good one? What kind of clients do they tend to work with? What kind of design company are they (some are specific to web design or branding, etc). If the design company is a large design firm with large corporate clients, they may not even consider you unless you have a minimum investment to make in your design project. Or if you do work with a larger design firm, understand that you might not get that personal connection with your designer that you would with a smaller design studio. Either way, you should get a sense of them by cruising their websites.

3. Make contact!

A simple conversation can go a long way. You will know right away if this person/design company might be a good fit. At the very least, have a brief conversation about your project needs and timeline, and see what they say. They may not be able to accommodate your timeframe, or your project may be outside of their professional wheelhouse. At the very least, they’ll probably be able to point you in the right direction of another suitable designer.

If the conversation progresses, you should ask them for references. Just be aware that like testimonials, they won’t likely give you a reference that won’t be favourable. But most people want to be honest – and if you ask a reference specific questions, they usually provide fair and honest answers.

If you are seriously considering the designer, you can ask them for a quote. This is common practice and if they balk at this, then you don’t want to work with them. If you are not seriously considering them though, don’t ask for a quote quite yet – be respectful of their time.

4. Trust your gut.

If you go through the steps above, you will probably have a good idea of which designer on your shortlist will make a good match. Trust your instinct, and if you need a bit more information or are ready for a quote, don’t be afraid to call or e-mail. Compare quotes from a few designers and don’t jump at the lowest bid. Jump at the designer that you think you’ll work best with, who will provide the best design, and who comes close to your budget. Starting a solid relationship with the right designer now, means that down the road, you don’t have to go through the hassle of finding and getting to know another one.

One final thing to keep in mind – designers want to work with clients that are a good fit as well. It doesn’t benefit anyone if the match isn’t appropriate.

Good luck!

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