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So, You Need to Hire a Designer

Designers come in many disciplines, price brackets, and skill levels. It can be hard to know which one is the right fit for your project and your budget.

These 4 questions can help you find the right one:

1. Who are "you" (company), what's your message (story), what do you want to achieve (purpose), and who's your audience (market)?

Before hiring a designer, you should think about how your product or service fits into the marketplace, solves problems, and establishes or creates your brand. Don't worry if it's rough. Your designer can help you, but you want to drive the vision of your product or service rather than have the designer tell you who you are and what you should have.

2. What kind of design work do you need?

When you are trying to see what you want to make, you hire a concept designer. They help figure out your idea's essential features and the user experience you want to provide. They translate ideas into something concrete by turning your doodle into a sketch.

When you're ready to produce a finished and polished product, you hire a product designer. Once you have the general idea, you turn to a product designer to prepare your product for production, to make it market-ready, whether to be printed, manufactured, or coded.

Sometimes, you'll want to hire a designer who can serve both functions -- design the concept and then prepare it for production. But the ability to do both requires strengths and skills in several areas and may be more expensive.

3. What can you afford, and when do you need the work done?

Don't start a conversation with a designer until you're clear about how much money you have to spend on the job and how quickly you need it done. Be realistic. It is too easy to be attracted to someone who does extraordinary work but is too expensive for you, especially when you're starting. And time is a costly commodity. Remember the classic mantra: "Good, cheap, and fast. Pick two."

To help you when talking with a potential designer, make a list of what you want done and when.

Look at the Graphic Art Guild for some sample contract agreements and Glassdoor and Linkedin for comparative wages and costs to give you a sense of standard fees, terms, and practices.

4. What are your personal design preferences?

Know what you like in a design … style, tone, colors, etc. There's no point hiring someone whose style and work are at odds with yours. The more revisions you'll want, the more expensive the process. To help you figure out what you want, actively review online portfolios. (A Google search will get you to many.) Use this review to compare the portfolios of those who apply to do your job. Finding examples of work you like will help you develop your design vocabulary and prepare you to talk with the designers you’re interviewing.


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