Top 5 Questions To Ask a Designer
(before you hire them!)
When I was in my early twenties I started embracing my femininity. I started to get my hair professionally cut and styled. I relied heavily on the expertise of the salon owner, she was hip and fun. I gave her full reign on creativity. It started off well, then as time went on I noticed that not only was the salon owner passing off drinks to her customers, she was also consuming a little herself on the side. When I left the salon my hair looked different each time. She was always adding some new technique or using a new tool. It wasn’t until my then 8-year-old nephew said, “Aunt Cindy, why do you have a mullet?” that I decided it was time to go elsewhere. That’s when I started taking a little more interest in the final result. I did have a style I just hadn’t defined it. I can tell you right now it didn’t consist of rocking a mullet! I like a little layering but this was extreme.
When you’re working with a designer it’s important to also get clear about your goals for the end result. If that’s not a process you’re familiar with you’ll want to find a designer that can help you arrive there. If you’re paying a minimal fee and the designer hasn’t put systems and processes in place to ensure you’re happy with the final result, you’ll end up having to pay someone else in the near future. Maybe you already know exactly what you’re looking for and therefore prefer to pay someone only to execute your ideas. There are so many different scenarios to consider about your own personal preferences before you even begin your “Graphic Designers Near Me” search. Let’s get started by looking at my top 5 questions to consider before hiring a designer:
1. How do you ensure that my brand comes through in the final result?
If you tell a designer that you aren’t sure what you’re looking for and that you’re open to whatever they come up with then be prepared to see anything—including the latest trends. That could look like a mullet, bushy eyebrows, or fanny packs. Do any of those resonate with your brand? Some of you are resonating with bushy eyebrows. I personally love a good fanny pack! In all seriousness though, you do have preferences and that should come through in your brand materials. An experienced or well-versed designer will have a system or process set in place to ensure that your preferences and brand shine through in the final result. Ask them what this looks like. If they don’t have an answer for you, that’s a red flag. Save yourself time and money by continuing your search.
2. What is it like to work with you from start to finish? What does your process look like?
Now that they’ve shared a little of their process with you ask them to expand on this. Simply ask them to talk a little about their process and see what they offer you. While they are talking, listen for clear direction and guidance on what type of schedule they will put in place, how much involvement from you will there be, and what systems they have in place to ensure you both stay on target. Does their process include enough time for you to adequately make changes? Are the changes included in the cost? Will they give you a notification when your feedback is due? These are all important aspects of the process that you will want to know they have defined.
3. How do you prefer we communicate throughout the process?
This one can be tough. Some designers will work directly with you from start to finish. Others prefer to start a project by working directly with you and then direct you to a Project Manager once the job is in motion. This can feel uncomfortable for the customer, leaving you feeling unimportant even if that truly isn’t the case. The idea is to find out how the communication will work throughout the life of the project so that both parties are clear. This process is 100% acceptable if it’s conveyed upfront. Inevitably, communication issues do happen. They are less likely to happen when both parties are clear on their expectations upfront.
4. Do you prefer to have full reign on the creativity or is it a collaborative process?
Generally, the customer-designer relationship can be broken into three groups: Some designers look to the customer to provide direction, others feel it should be collaborative, and the third party would like to have full reign on the creative process. If you are coming to the table with a lot of creative ideas, some resources for inspiration, and your favorite fonts or a style guide you are probably in the first group. If you have an idea of what you’d like but would appreciate insight, direction, and professional opinion from your designer then you are in the second group—the collaborative party. Finally, if you aren’t sure exactly what you need and you are truly looking for a designer to come to the table with ideas, direction, and strong visuals then you are in the third party. There isn’t a right or wrong way to go about this. It’s important to acknowledge that you have a preference and find a designer whose workflow aligns with your own.
5. What exactly is included in my final deliverables?
Look for clarity in your deliverables. If you haven’t made your way through all of the project details you can simply ask, “How will I know what exactly is included in my deliverables?” The designer should have a process for outlining this in the original agreement. By listing out the deliverables it should be extremely clear what is and what is not included. If you don’t see something on the list you should assume that it is not included. You’re looking for someone that has strong communication skills and is willing to be transparent throughout the project, from start to finish. Transparency is key when working with any contractor. If they aren’t able to inform you in a clear and concise way then you should continue your search.