Whether it’s a complete website redesign, a few page templates, or the creation of a mobile app, it all requires the unique skill set of a designer. If your business is lucky enough to have one in-house, congratulations; if not, we have some pointers for you.
Navigating your way through the process of hiring a designer can be difficult, especially if you’ve never worked with one. The world of web design and construction is a complex art, which can make communicating what you want challenging. Not knowing what to ask and how to ask it is something many people in search of designers struggle with, and it can lead to a difficult partnership, mismanaged projects, and unsatisfied clients.
To avoid all of that, try preparing yourself with a few of these tips. These suggestions come straight from designers and will help you find the artist best suited to meet your needs while also developing a positive, professional relationship.
Phase 1: Do your homework.
- Before you go contacting a bunch of digital firms, you need to at least loosely identify what services you’re after. Are you looking for mobile app development? A website re/design? Branding graphics material? Going in with some clarity about the specific goods and services you’re interested in buying will keep you grounded.
- Once you get an idea of the type of project you’re after, research the rates of designers in your area. Freelance designers and developers typically charge by the hour, whereas a digital firm is more likely to charge by the bundled project. The rates for digital development services will vary considerably, as determining prices for projects is a notoriously tricky task for those in the industry. Find out what you can about what other people have paid for and go from there.
Phase 2: Narrow down the choices.
- With a clear idea of what you’re after, you can start looking for your digital provider. I recommend looking for a local designer first. As an obvious advantage, you’ll automatically have location in common with them, and can visit their creative space/office to get a feel for their style. It’s okay to cast a broad net and speak with designers both local and remote, but be sure to record your initial thoughts after. Ask yourself: Were they easy to speak to? Did they seem knowledgeable and add to my ideas? Can I see myself working with them long-term? The answers to question such as these will help you with later comparison.
- Be sure to browse portfolios and samples of past work, most of which should be available online. Looking at the projects they’ve done will give you an idea of the kind of clients they’re used to working with, their capability in pioneering style, and a visual of their talent. Indications of client versatility are always promising. Also along the lines of checking into past work, you can always speak with a designer or firm’s past clients. This will give you an idea of how easy the designer/developer is to work with, how cost-effective and timely the project was, and much more.
Phase 3: Secure the contract.
The importance of clarity during the contract phase cannot be understated. Before signing or agreeing to anything, make sure you have a firm understanding of the following:
- A clear understanding of billing cycles, what the payments are and what you will receive in exchange for payment.
- Working deadlines that can be adjusted if necessary, as well as a well-structured timeline for the project.
- A clearly defined creative process. This means knowing who your point of contact is, knowing how involved you will or will not be in the creative process, and knowing the developer who will eventually explain the project and turn it over to you. Not all designers and developers involve client feedback or encourage clients to watch while they work on the project, and you need to know ahead of time if you’ll be comfortable with the creative process.
- Knowing what you own and what you don’t own. Most designers and developers work with content management systems like WordPress or Magento, so that when the project is complete, they hand over the file and it becomes your property. However, some digital firms have their own CMS they use, which can make it really difficult should you change your mind and choose to take the project in another direction. Avoid any potential ownership conflict by getting a thorough detailing of who owns what, in writing, before signing.