8 Must-Ask Questions Before Hiring a Graphic Designer

If you’re in the market for a graphic designer – congrats! You’ve made a great business decision and you’re on your way to professionally created graphics to promote your business. You will not regret your decision…unless you hire the wrong person.

But what makes the difference between the right and wrong graphic artist? Well, because of the subjective nature of the skillset, you’ll need to find a design partner that gels with you and your personality, not to mention has the professional and business sense you’ll need to work together successfully. Below, we’ve outlined a list of the eight fundamental questions to ask before you hire a graphic design pro. 

1. Can I see an online portfolio? 

The most important question really is: “Could I see some of your work?”  Make sure what you see fits the style of what you need. Or, look for a variety of styles within the portfolio, which shows that the designer is versatile – and able to adapt to the look and feel of every brand they work on. If there’s something aren’t liking about their work – what is it, and why? Look for qualities like consistency, alignment, good use of type, attention to detail, photo use, cropping, and color application, to start…although these are just the basics. 

2.  How long have you been working as a designer?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this one. Depending on your needs, it might be ok to work with a novice or recent grad, although you’ll probably have more success with someone who’s been around the block a few times. Just remember, you get what you pay for. You may think you’ll be saving money by working with someone with a cheap hourly rate, but all of the revisions and extra time spent going back and forth until he or she “gets it” may end up costing you. Another way a beginning may not be the greatest? Typos, print production mishaps, and other production or web-related issues. An expert-level designer will most likely know what you need or are expecting, even if you don’t. They can provide advice and ideas along with a great execution, not just a deliverable. And, after a few projects, working together will become a more seamless experience, saving you time, which ultimately saves you money. 

3. What types of projects have you completed? 

Make sure you know what kind of relationship you’re getting into. If you’re looking for a print designer, i.e. flyers, brochures, signage…anything that will ultimately be printed…try to engage with a designer that understands the print world. If you’re looking for someone to help with social media ads, a website, or maybe other digital pieces such as banner ads – you may need a digital designer. If you think you’ll need both – find a creative professional with experience on both sides. Moreover, if you need something a little more advanced, like a UI design, a highly skilled UI designer is what you should be searching for. Another thing to remember, not all designers are developers – meaning they may not know how to code that email or website that they designed – so be sure to look for both design and development skills if that’s what you need.

4. What, specifically, was your role in XYZ Project?

Let’s say you finally find the perfect designer with a fabulous online portfolio, filled to the brim with big-named client projects and every type of project under the sun. While it may be tempting to pick up the phone and engage with this individual right off the bat, it would make more sense to single out a few of their most impressive pieces and dig a little deeper. Ask questions like, what was your role? Were you involved in hands-on design? What software did you use? How long did the project take? Did the client provide you with the content? Where did you source the imagery? Do you have physical samples (if printed). The designer should be able to answer all of these questions with ease and confidence, as well as provide some extra detail to help give you a better insight into their involvement and how the overall project panned out. 

5. How do you like to receive feedback?

What’s different about the design profession is that you’ll be working with an artist. Whether the individual is business savvy or not, they’ll likely feel strongly about the design decisions they’ve made. It’s important, for this reason, to ask them how they’d like to receive feedback. Ultimately, you’re the paying customer, so you should be happy with the product you receive. But try to remember to put a little trust in the professional you’ve contracted with. Try to convey that if they aren’t hitting the mark on what you want, that they shouldn’t just regurgitate your suggestions, but use your feedback as a basis for improvement on their initial draft. Design projects should be collaborative, and you’ll get the best results when you communicate your needs clearly so that the designer has enough information to propose a creative solution and deliverable.

6. Are you a dedicated, full-time designer? 

This question is one of the more important ones you’ll need to know, if you want things to go smoothly with a designer. Here’s the thing: lots of people moonlight as graphic artists. They squeeze things in when they aren’t busy with their day jobs. Our advice to you? Find a full-timer. A dedicated design pro that earns his or her livelihood from making their clients happy. The reasoning for this is that someone who is a professional is more likely to be invested in delivering you the results you want. They’re business owners, like yourself, and they want to keep their clients happy. Chances are, if they dedicate their work week 100 percent to their craft, they’re better at what they do, since they’re laser-focused on the industry…its trends, its news, its clientele. 

7. What are your rates and how should I expect to pay you?

One of the worst things that can happen is that there aren’t expectations set for the work that is going to be done. Make certain that there is transparency between you and the potential designer you hire, so that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises when it’s time to pay the bill. Being upfront and honest about your budget will help create realistic parameters around how much work you can expect to receive. At the same time, knowing how the designer invoices for their work—hourly, project-by-project/flat fee, or on an ongoing retainer, can help you budget and prioritize when it comes to the work you need. If you’re unsure of how much you should be spending on design and marketing, #9 from this post is a great resource. It’s also a good idea to find out how the designer prefers to be paid —check, cash, or by credit card, etc—so that you aren’t surprised by any extra terms or fees. 

8. Could you provide me with some references? 

At last you think you’ve found THE one. The designer of your dreams, a great partner and creative pro. You’ve asked all of the right questions, and gotten answers you’re comfortable with. The last step should be to call up a former client and have a little chat, or seek out testimonials or reviews from others that have worked with this individual. Client to client, ask all of the questions you would want to know, gaining any last insight into this new hire. 

We know that this may sound like a lot of steps and information to know before hiring someone, but you deserve more than a flaky freelancer on your side. We hope that by doing your due diligence, you’ll find the right partner who can help you take your marketing initiatives and creative endeavors to the next level. 

Stop wasting your precious time doing stuff you aren’t good at.

Get in touch so we can figure out how to get you back to working on things you love, while we take are of your creative initiatives.