Choosing a graphic designer

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Get one step ahead of the game by getting the most from your graphic design company. Here are '10 top tips' to consider, when choosing a graphic designer to work with on your projects:

1) You are only as good as your last performance

Ask to see examples of their previous work, it is not essential that they have worked in your industry, but it would be advantageous if they could show that they understand your marketing objectives and target market. If you can get testimonials or a recommendation for the designer, this is far more reassuring than good work alone.

2) Say what you mean and mean what you say

Write a design brief and understand why this is important. This will act as a project blueprint and will include; deliverables, target market, purpose of designs, message to be communicated, timescales and much more. When viewing work produced by the prospective designer, ask them about the brief for each project and then judge whether they met the brief effectively.

3) Not quite brain surgery

Whilst there are some very talented designers that have no formal qualifications, design is not just about making things pretty. Choosing a designer that has a degree or similar qualification in design communication (or some other relevant subject), helps to ensure that they understand the 'method behind the madness'. Do not just choose someone who knows how to use the tools, your business is important to you, you should not risk it in unqualified hands.

4) Been there, done that

Make sure that the person you choose has sufficient experience. A junior designer, fresh out of college or university will have far less experience, design knowledge and problem solving skills. Most designers gain the majority of their skills whilst working in the industry. The designer needs to understand that the work they are producing, must meet your business objectives and ultimately give you return on investment.

5) Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em

Most people spend more time at work than they do with their families, you can't choose your families but you can choose who you work with (for the most part). Do you get on with this designer, do you trust them, can you communicate easily with them and will you enjoy working with them for the long term?

6) You are in safe hands

The designer should have confidence in their ability to deliver, but more importantly, so should you. You need to be able to trust their advice or you could end up leading the process and really you should be paying a professional to do this.

7) Jack of all trades

Many people have different specialist areas. Don't just assume that because someone says that they can do something, that they actually can. There are very different levels of skill available for each task you will require. Some companies employ several different specialists, some people are truly good at many things, some might be outsourcing, some might be terrible at a certain task. Ensure you know what you are working with.

8) Show me the money

Make sure you are upfront and realistic about money, remember you are buying someone's time. What rate do they charge and how much time do you want or need them to spend on your project? Generally you get what you pay for. This process should be an investment not a cost.

9) How long is a piece of string

Timekeeping can be an issue in the creative industry, so ensure that you set firm/realistic milestones and deadlines and ensure that the design company understands and accepts these. A good design company will have a production schedule and be able to lead this process. 

10) The customer is always right

You may not agree with this, but a customer does deserve a certain level of service for their investment. Make sure that the person you are dealing with is 'easy to get hold of' and is responsive when it comes to communication. A graphic designer should not overlook good customer service. This is the difference between a long term working relationship and a one off sale.

By Craig Barker
Creative Director of Derby based graphic design company Koobr

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Date Added: 18 September 2013

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