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How to Choose a Graphic Designer

Images are a part of everyday life, especially when you live in a colorful city like Chicago. Almost as soon as we walk outside, we’re bombarded with advertising, branding and design. It is more important than ever for businesses (and individuals) to visually stand out from the crowd. A great deal of thought needs to go into the overall look, feel and message of any professional organization. And in order to develop the right visual brand, many organizations seek to partner with the right designer.

But, in a world filled with “graphic designers”, “design professionals” “creative gurus” – the list goes on: how do you find the right one for you?

As a designer, this is a question I encounter almost daily. However, I am not the one asking the question but the designer trying to land the project.

Hiring a designer can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to the task. I have tried to create a simple list of questions to consider when deciding whether a designer is the “right” one for you.

  1. What exactly do you need? First things first, it is SO important to figure out exactly what you need a designer for. I recommend coming up with a list, from the most basic starting project—such as a new logo—to a project you may have down the road–such as a newspaper ad placement or even website design. This will help everyone plan, figure out goals and determine the capabilities needed in a designer.It will also help you figure out if you can hire a freelance/contract designer for a one time project or if you need to look into a design studio or advertising agency.
  2. What is your timing for the project? How quickly will you need things turned around? And, what is the designer’s turn-around rate? For example, is there a “rush fee” associated with rapid turnaround? This is an important question that will affect who you hire. Freelance designers often can’t turn things around as quickly as a design studio with multiple people.
  3. Does the designer fit your style? Most designers have a “look”. Take a good amount of time exploring online portfolios and ask designers to bring or email you recent projects.
  4. What is your budget? What is the designer’s rate? It is always smart to be upfront about budget and rates before you hire anyone.
  5. What are the designer’s capabilities? Design is a rapidly growing field and technology is always changing. Some designers specialize in a certain area of graphic design, while others dabble in a bit of everything. You always want to know that a designer can meet your needs and expectations.
  6. How long has the designer been in the field? Honestly, this one isn’t as important as the others but it is good to think about anyways. In the end, you want a designer that is reliable, timely, produces good work and understands the industry.

Choosing a designer can be a challenging task but ultimately can make a very positive impact on your brand and ongoing marketing efforts. Hopefully these tips give you a place to start and contribute to your search!

Have you had to search for a graphic designer in the past?  Share your tips in the comments section below!

Lindsay Chenault Bolton

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