How to Choose the Right Designer for Your Brand (+ Website)
So, you’re ready to start the process of hiring a designer for your business. Congrats - how exciting! Or… overwhelming?
It can be tough to know where to start when you feel like it’s time to take the step towards bringing your business brand and website to life. It’s no secret that there are tons of amazing graphic designers all over the world vying for your attention, so how do you know where to find the right designer for your project?
1 | Get clear about what you need help with
First things first, you need to know what you’re looking for. There are lots of designers out there doing so many different things. Brand designers, social media specialists, website designers, developers, packaging designers, user experience designers, app designers… the list goes on.
The first thing you need to do in order to find the right designer, is to get nice and clear about exactly what you’re looking for. Then you’ll have a lot more success in narrowing down your choices.
2 | Ask your community for referrals
Word-of-mouth recommendations is where I pretty much start with anything I’m looking to invest in. It's also how the majority of my own clients found me.
As soon as I start to think about hiring someone, or investing in my business, or even looking for the latest Netflix show to binge watch, I almost always start by asking close friends, family, and my extended community.
If you’re a part of a group online, or a membership or you have other friends who run their own businesses as well, start there. It’s such a great idea to get solid leads on designers from people who you trust who may have already worked with someone great.
You can also put a call for recommendations into a Facebook group you love and trust, but be prepared for bombardment ;)
3 | Do some research of your own
It’s also a good idea to do some general searches and browsing yourself so you don’t miss out on any designer who could be the perfect fit for your project. Spend some time (but not like, hours-on-end-stuck-in-a-rabbit-hole amount of time) browsing the web, Pinterest or industry-leader websites to see if you come across any styles or designers that peak your interest.
Tip: sometimes, if there's a website or brand you adore, you can do a quick search like "Marie Forleo web designer" and see if you can find the original designer's info.
4 | Pay attention to the details (and style)
Designers have a job to bring your business to life visually. There’s a need to make things look presentable, professional, and great, but also to solve a problem (usually the problem lies in reaching your perfect clients and customers). Pay attention to the way a designer has presented their work, styled other projects, packaged their services, or outlined their process.
The details in how they do their job matter and it’s important to note that style can often be pretty subjective. Try and find a designer whose style syncs up with what you’re hoping to achieve.
Make sure you browse their portfolio as well so that you can get a sense for the project types they enjoy working on and the styles they generally work within.
5 | Do some digging
No, I don’t think it’s necessary to do a full-on background check on the designer you’re scoping out, but yes I think you should go through their testimonials, look at other client sites or projects, and do some searching around for other information.
Real talk: I always like to do a good Instagram creep on someone I’m thinking about hiring or buying from. It gives me a general sense of the kind of person they are and also lets me see more of their content that’s not explicitly presented on their website.
@hellofunction Instagram creep:
6 | Consider finding a specialist
There are a lot of designers out there who do it all. And that’s great! But if you know that you want someone really focused on branding for people in the wellness industry, or you know that you need some stellar packaging done, then consider hiring a specialist focused on the specific services you’re looking for. You should be able to get a good sense of the designer’s specialties from their portfolio as well.
7 | Find someone you jive with
Your project will likely be pretty collaborative and it takes some time to work through. My branding process, for example, is about 6 weeks give or take, so you’ll want to make sure you find a designer that you have some chemistry with.
Some designers may outline their values right on their website, others you may have to get on a call with them to get a sense of their energy and vibes. But it is important that you feel good in your gut about working with them as a person!
8 | Keep your eye on the
Money is important. You need to feel good about spending something in order to receive the best value back. This energy exchange does matter.
Pricing in the design world does vary, sometimes significantly. This is usually the case in most industries.
You can opt to buy the super cheap laptop online that you know will get you by for a little while. This might even be a good option if you just need something short-term, say to travel with so you can do some light browsing on the road. Nothing crazy, because of course, this cheap laptop might not even make it home with you if you overload it.
You could also opt to buy the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro with all the gizmos and gadgets. You know that you’re paying for a good quality product that should last you quite a long time if you take good care of it. You also know you’re paying for the experience of a nicely designed product, a brand name, and feeling so super chic opening up your sleek computer in your local coffee shop during your next work date.
There’s a range, and most designers out there are charging based on things like experience, hours, value, process, and quality. Find a designer that syncs up with how you want to feel during the process and also what you’ll walk away with. Generally speaking, it’s always good to stick with the “you get what you pay for" mentality.
9 | Set up a quick call
Once you find a designer that you want to pursue, set up a quick chat with them. Most designers will offer some kind of free consultation. Let them tell you about their process, their packages, their timelines...etc. and you can share your own visions and expectations.
It’s also a good idea to share your hesitations or fears with the designer during this initial call so that they can address them head-on. You want a designer who will be transparent and honest with you because it’s important for communication throughout the entire process. And in the same fashion, it’s important for you to be as honest and open as you can about what you want out of the project.
Tip: Questions to ask a potential designer during your consultation call (if the designer hasn't already covered them) -
Do you think there is anything else (not already covered) that I'll need to get my brand off the ground?
What is your timeline like for this project?
Do you work with other designers as well, or will I be working with you exclusively?
Do you offer any kind of support after we finish up for ongoing brand work and maintenance?
When do I need to have my content ready to go (for website projects)?
Do you have payment plans or is it all up front?
What will you need from me to make sure everything goes smoothly?
10 | Trust the process
Once you find the right designer, you’ll probably know. I know it sounds cliche, but I always have a gut instinct about clients right from the get-go and I’m sure if you dig down deep, you’ll have one too about each designer you speak with. If you don’t, then the best you can do is say yay or say nay and trust the process.
Designers should have a solid process in place to guide you through your project with as few-to-no hiccups as possible. If you can lean in, let go of some of that control that I also grip on to a little too tightly, then you’ll be able to relax through the project and let things unfold naturally.
Now it's up to you!
Do your best to do the work involved in finding the right designer and then really, it's about trusting your gut and taking the leap. It can be scary and overwhelming to try and find the best fit when spending any amount of money on your business, but if you know what to look for and the questions to ask, you'll be on track to finding the perfect designer match.
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