As a boutique niche agency, we know we are not for everyone. And we think that’s wonderful because it means there is a lot of space out there for a vast array of different styles and processes and philosophies. Design should be one of the most fun parts of the business process (sure I’m biased but also, clients back me up) but not having the right fit of a designer can make this process, well, rough. Below are a few tips to think about when you’re seeking a designer.
Before you even begin looking for a designer, have a basic list of items that are must-haves. Not all designers do everything so knowing what items you absolutely must have (website, logo, content marketing, etc) can help narrow your scope when searching for designers. It’s okay if this list of must-haves is short.
Design is highly subjective; it is not 2+2=4.
Where to look?
Search on Instagram, especially if you are wanting to work with a smaller agency as ranking on Google will often go to the bigger players.
Ask your network. This might be your professional network or personal network. People often have strong feelings about the designers they’ve worked with and are often happy to give recommendations.
Talk to the creative folks in your life. Did you have an awesome photographer for your wedding? They probably know a great graphic designer. Do you know a fantastic videographer? They probably can refer a website designer. Creatives love passing along their talented colleagues for new jobs.
Know of a local small business with a really fantastic website or branding or logo? Ask them who did it!
What to look for?
Portfolios are powerful. Be sure to look at the work that they are showcasing on their website and social media. Most designers will layout the client challenge and their solution, read those little blurbs as it’ll give you some insight into their thought process. And ultimately, do you like what you see? Design is highly subjective; it is not 2+2=4. This means every designer will have their own solution to a given project, so if you don’t connect with their portfolio, you probably won’t connect with what they would create for you.
Do you enjoy engaging with your designer? As I’ve mentioned, design is inherently fun. Sure it can be challenging, but we are not your accountants. We’re bringing you cool ideas and colors and fonts and illustrations so I sure hope our meetings are fun. But are they also engaged in the conversation? Do you feel energized and excited to see what they’re going to deliver? Are they understanding your business and your customer’s challenge? A great designer is a curious designer and you should feel that in your meetings.
Finally, of course, is price. The truth is, design agencies vary immensely with regard to prices so having some budget in mind early in the process will help avoid heartbreak down the line. Let your designer know your budget and they’ll be able to tell you if it’s something they can work with or not. Sometimes it can be a matter of setting up a payment plan, cutting back on deliverables, extending a timeline, or they can recommend a designer or agency that might be within your budget.
You may notice we don’t mention anything about industry-specific or the size of past clients. And this is because we fully believe there are better ways to measure whether or not someone is going to be a good fit for you. A lot of design translates across industries and across sizes of projects. Sometimes, having that outside perspective can even give you that competitive edge. If you find a designer that has done awesome work with a range of other industries and clients, the chances are solid that they will do the required research to be able to do the same for you.