Let’s start with the important question; what is the project’s goal/objective?
This question might seem silly, but it’s a question that even the most organized small business owners might gloss over from time to time.
Having a specific objective is a great start to the project. After all, how do you know what success looks like if you do not have a destination? If you don’t have a destination, how do you know which direction to choose?
Some clients approach designers, thinking “I just need a piece of collateral to promote X.” This thinking leads clients to believe that any designer will do. The reality is designers, like tradesmen, have their specialties. Some are more experienced in illustration, others in branding or editorial design and photography.
The point is if you hire the wrong type of designer you may be disappointed with the results. However, if you have a specific objective in mind that makes selecting a designer easier.
Here are other things I recommend you look for in a designer:
1. They are curious
Is the designer you’re planning on working with curious about your company? Do they try to get the whole picture by asking questions, like:
- Who is your target audience?
- What does success look like?
- Why are you looking to compliment your project objective with X?
A great designer works to understand the general landscape of their client’s business and provide concepts that fulfill the client’s objectives. Often, that means they will be asking a lot of questions when it comes to the project scope and its objective.
They are also willing to put in time to do research, which may lead to alternative solutions that you, the client, didn’t even think of. For example, if you are looking at increasing sales, your designer may suggest converting your physical flyers to a digital ad that you can post on Instagram where you have a largely untapped market.
2. Their past work aligns with what you’re envisioning.
Browse through their portfolio and look at what kind of projects they’ve done in the past. Some designers have a specific niche when it comes to both the type of work they do and the clients they work with. Others might have a more diverse range. Ultimately, their portfolio will indicate what their strengths are, whether it’s digital marketing, branding, editorial design, etc.
More importantly, it’ll give you an idea of whether or not you and the designer speak the same language (and are a good fit). Some designers are comfortable working with larger corporations, while others may find their home with clients related to boutique firms. Their familiarity with these types of organizations helps set the groundwork when it comes to understanding your business.
3. Are they a ‘yes’ person?
The greatest of partners can challenge one another for the better. The Wright brothers were known to debate often when it came to engineering their planes. Similarly, by having someone who will provide advice based on their expertise, you may be pleasantly surprised at the result, even though it may differ from what you initially wanted.
4. Do you hit it off?
There is something to be said for following your gut. If you feel something is off with the first interview, chances are you’re correct. That said, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and clarify any possible red flags. If what they say doesn’t jive with you, move on. There are tons of designers out there. Best to work with one whose personality works with yours. After all, collaboration can only happen if both parties are amicable and respect the other’s opinion.