Whether you need a new logo, a stunning web page, or a flashy advertisement, professionally designed visuals make the right first impression and can leave a lasting impact. However, it may feel a little bit intimidating to hire a graphic designer if you don’t know much about the design industry.
But don’t get too hung up on what you don’t know. These six questions will guide you through the research process and let you know when you’ve found the best fit for you.
1. Does their portfolio reflect the right experience?
A serious and talented graphic designer will not be afraid to show off their work. Many designers will showcase their work on portfolio sites like Behance and Dribbble but are available for hire through freelance marketplaces like Moonlighting. Start your search on Moonlighting and if their portfolio of work is limited, don’t be afraid to ask for more samples.
Look for designers who present a broad variety of work for a wide range of industries. See if they’ve worked with businesses similar to yours and how their style aligns with your own.
2. How are their reviews and ratings?
Check their reviews — what do they say about this designer’s work, ability to meet deadlines, and working personality? Reviews and testimonials are a great way to ensure the quality of work provided by a graphic designer. Consider contacting some of their clients and asking them about their experience working with the freelance designer. This could help you avoid any potential future issues.
3. Is the price right?
Take some time to research and evaluate the cost of your project. Look at the prices offered by local businesses and other freelancers. Give yourself a realistic budget, but also take into account the value of the work of the freelancer you’re interested in hiring. Most people will accept spending $80/hour on a plumber, but balk at putting a similar price tag on the value of their company’s website.
While you might find that less-experienced graphic designers charge lower rates, some tend to work slower and might require more time hand-holding and giving direction, time you may not have. Experienced designers charge higher hourly rates, but typically work more efficiently, need less direction, and are more attuned to best practices.
Decide what level of guidance and direction you want to provide and go from there but be sure to avoid anyone who undervalue their services or offer deep discounts to get your business.
4. Have you clearly set your expectations?
How much will you be involved? What is the deadline and it is flexible? When can they be reached? How often should there be check-in meetings? These are only a few of the questions you should ask yourself and your graphic designer. State your expectations early on in the business relationship, and communicate any changes required as soon as they arise. Be wary of a freelancer who sounds like they might be overpromising.
5. Do you respect their professional opinion?
An experienced graphic designer is likely to know more about the creative process than you would, so always be flexible and willing to accept their advice. Look for a designer that is experienced enough to respectfully challenge your thoughts on the product — you just might like what they have to offer. Often, an experienced freelancer will have some insight into the design you thought you wanted only to come with something you like even more.
6. Do they offer skills beyond design?
When talking to your potential designer, treat the consultation like you would an interview. Are they passionate about their work, do they discuss responsibilities and results? Ask about specific clients they’ve worked with in the past. Do they offer any other skills that you might be able to bundle together? Some designers might also be able to develop the website they design, or write marketing copy to go with the ads they are designing. Who knows, you could create a long-standing partnership with a multi-faceted freelancer you can trust.
There is a difference between hiring a full-time employee and hiring a freelancer. But one thing is for sure. You can’t afford to hire the wrong person for the job. Ask all the right questions and remember, the more hands-on you can be during your initial communications, the better the overall process and final product are sure to be.
Originally published at usatoday.com on March 19, 2018.