16 Points To Consider When Hiring A Graphic Designer

1. Got Ego?
Not yours… the designer’s.
Most doctors have lousy handwriting. All politicians promise you the world. Many designers are divas. Great designers check their ego at the door. It’s not about them, it’s about you and making you look good. If a designer insists on telling you what they have accomplished instead of asking what YOU are trying to accomplish, then move on.

2. Too Many Designers, Not Enough Time.
Don’t overdo the review process. Find three designers that you feel comfortable with to quote your work. Anything more is just overkill and it will drive you crazy. Make sure they are all quoting apples to apples as well. And don’t have them re-quote 20 times. It’s just not fair to the designers and will leave a bad taste in their mouths (and it won’t taste like apples).

3. Review Designers’ Portfolios.
Does the portfolio jive with your needs and taste? Has the designer worked in your industry? Does he claim to be all things to all people or have a niche? Be wary of designers who insist they can work in any arena. It’s difficult for me to believe someone whose work is 90% comprised of construction industry design materials can effectively create a perfume campaign for Britney Spears’ “Deseo” scent.

4. Expect A Lot of Questions.
When reviewing designers, if they don’t ask a lot of questions, RUN! Fast. A great designer needs to ask a lot of questions in order to thoroughly familiarize himself with your company, your product or service, and especially, you.

5. Be Specific About Your Needs.
Plan your project ahead of time. Look at designs/campaigns you like. Do your homework before looking at designers.

6. Work Out a Timeline On Your Project.
Then add an additional 30% because inevitably specifications will change, your boss will be out of town and won’t pick up his cell, someone will send you the wrong copy, and on and on.

7. There is Never Enough Time to Do It Right, But Always Enough Time to Do It Over.
See above. Is the designer overbooked? Will he/she spend the appropriate time and energy on you and your project?

8. Get It In Writing.
See above one more time.
And if the specifications change, get it in writing again.

9. Don’t Hire Overseas.

I know, I know–it’s ethnocentric and not politically correct. Tough beans.
Sure it’s cheaper, but do you really want the headaches of cultural misunderstandings and 10 hour time differences? You need a designer that not only speaks English, but understands the nuances of your market and demographic. Let companies outsource their complaint departments overseas.

10. How Schooled Is The Designer?
There are some excellent designers out there that are “technically challenged.” Find out what hardware and software they are using. Are the programs the latest and greatest versions? Are they compatible with yours? Does your potential designer work in all media or just print or web? Do they understand viral marketing and social media? Do you?

11. Vetting Your Designer.

Get references. Get the references’ names and employers. Call those references. And don’t just use emails – they can be faked. Of course, so can telephone calls, but it is a much more difficult process. And don’t be shy about asking what they liked and disliked about the designer.

12. Fast – Cheap – Quality. Pick Two.
Personally I prefer fast and quality over cheap. It’s an old saying but it goes a long way.

And related to last one…
13. Don’t Go With The Lowest Bidder.
You get what you pay for. Come on, you know it’s true and you’re going to kick yourself later.

14. Typos Galore.
No, that is not someone’s porn name (although it could be).
Does the designer’s portfolio and/or email correspondence have a lot of typos? Again. RUN. FAST! This is not a person who takes pride in what they do. If there are typos in their own personal work, what do you think is going to happen to yours?

15. Are You Hiring a Designer or a “Wrist”?
There are untold amounts of people out there who may have good technical skills, but don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. These are referred to as “wrists.” They can draw, paint, use Photoshop, or InDesign, but can’t come up with fresh, unique approaches and basically just spit back what they are told. A great designer will talk with you about your demographics, market analyses, ask you questions, and push the barriers and give you that extra effort.

And finally,
16. Trust Your Gut.
If it looks like a fish, and smells like a fish…

About the author:
Saul Fineman is the co-owner of Fineman Communications located in the Los Angeles area. He is known for his ability to intuit his client's graphic design needs, his calm problem-solving demeanor and sense of humor even during ridiculous deadlines. Saul has lectured at USC's Annenberg School for Communications and Showbiz Expo.
My website is at: http://www.finecomm.com


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