Marcy Lariz

For many businesses, choosing a graphic designer for the first time can be a bit of a headache. But, get it wrong you could waste money, time, and end up on the wrong track with your identity.

So how do you go about figuring out the best designer for you? Here are some tips to get you in the right direction.

Recommendations: Chances are you have some colleagues or friends who have experience working with a designer. Talk to them about it. Be it a good impression or bad, this will helpyou narrow down your decision. Belonging to a social organization or networking group such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc can be a great resource for local professionals. Start there, and then seek some recommendations from colleagues who may have worked with them.

Portfolio: Once you have narrowed it down to a few potential companies, check them out online. They should have some samples of their work on their website. What do you think of this work? Is it professional? Does it speak to the style and feel you are looking for? What about the presentation of their website and other marketing materials? Is it professional? Remember, they will be creating the identity of your business, so if their own doesn’t look professional, chances are what they create for you won’t be either.

Interaction: Talk to the potential designers by phone, or set up a face to face consultation. There should be no charge or obligation for this from the designer. Are the professional on the phone? Did they respond and schedule in in a reasonable amount of time? Did they show up on time to the meeting? Do they look and speak professionally? The designer you choose will essentially become a member of your team, so it’s important you feel comfortable working with them. If they are difficult to get a hold of, communicate with, or schedule a meeting with, it will be just as difficult through the process and getting your projects completed on schedule. Make sure you find someone who is responsive and timely as you need them to be.

Marketing Sense: Pretty images are a dime a dozen. You’re paying for someone with skill and experience in communicating through graphics to your target audience. Your designer should be able to clearly articulate proposed design and the concept behind it. When you meet with your potential designer(s) talk to them about your goals and listen to how they respond. Does what they are proposing sound like it matches up to your vision? They should be eager to adopt your goals and come up with the right avenues and ideas to help you reach success. Remember your designer will be speaking for you through their design, it’s important they understand your message so they communicate it properly.

References: If you still aren’t sure, ask the designer for references from previous and current clients. Ask them if you they would object to you contacting one of their clients for a reference. Even if you have no intention of doing this, a good designer will be more than happy to oblige.

Contract: If you think you’re ready, ask the designer to proceed to contract. A good designer will present a professional contract to avoid surprises or problems as you go through the process. It should outline what you will receive, what ownership you will have, and so forth. If you have any questions, ask them and be sure you’re comfortable with the answers. Be leery of ones that aren’t able to give you straight answers, won’t providing anything in writing,  don’t turn over rights to you after full payment or can’t give you a full and accurate estimated amount. If you feel the fees are too high, compare with other designers to find out if it is fair. (note: some companies charge by the hour and some a flat per-project rate. Neither way is wrong, but make sure it’s the method you are most comfortable with and if it’s by the hour you understand how much you will potentially incur at the end of the project. If they can’t give you a pretty solid idea – in writing – run away)

Bonuses: These additional things to look for are not deal breakers, but if you can find one with all of these qualities you’ve got a real gem!

  • Resources – do they have relationships with various printers, media and other vendors that can leverage to make your job easier and potentially save you additional time and money?
  • Associations – do they belong to any local organizations? Being a member of chamber of commerce, professional networking groups, trade associations, etc usually means they care about their community and supporting their local business. Which means they speak your language and they are committed to success!
  • Sponsorships – do they participate in donating money or services to charitable organizations or events? Do they offer special rates to non-profits? This isn’t common but it’s great to find someone who is confident enough in the work, and cares enough about their community to give back!

If you feel that the designer will be easy and professional to work with, their quality of work is good and their fees are reasonable, then you are well on the right track to good results. If you feel hesitant for any reason, don’t be afraid to walk away and look elsewhere. A client’s relationship with their designer can, and should, last for many years. It is worth investing the time it takes finding the right fit.

MarTeeny Designs  ::  www.marteeny.com ::  info@marteeny.com  ::  (805) 270-5229