Choosing a Designer or Firm

There are many factors to consider when researching and hiring a designer or firm. Consider the entire package: the quality and value of the work, responsiveness, ability to meet your deadline, costs, etc. One designer or firm may charge more than another but may achieve better results for you.

Most design work is charged at a flat rate, as opposed to hourly. Comparing different hourly rates among potential designers or firms is not apples to apples. Ask for an estimate for a particular job, not about hourly rates in general.

Prior to requesting an estimate from a potential designer/firm:

  • Review their portfolio: It should be available online. Do they have repeat clients? Do they have the expertise you are looking for? Do they have testimonials from clients they’ve worked with?
  • Ask about their creative process: Are they simply order takers who will blindly do whatever you tell them even when they think it’s not the best route, or do they act as your partner and provide professional opinions and guidance, allowing you the option to take it or leave it?
  • Gauge how responsive they are via phone or e-mail with your initial contact (and later as well): Do they have normal business hours and respond promptly, if at all? How long will it take to get a first proof or to make minor text changes throughout the process? Calling the designer or firm to ask questions can also be a great way to see if you both might be a good personality match, which can play a role in working with someone.
  • Ask for references: Once you have references, find out what the client’s experience was/has been with respect to attention to detail, staying within budget and on schedule, the type of work you are seeking to have done, knowledge of the industry, etc.

If the designer or firm seems to be a good fit, request an estimate for your next project. Be sure to check the terms about the number of designs, number of drafts or time allotted for revisions, and even what constitutes a “revision” (typically anything deviating from the content you originally submitted) so you can manage your expectations. You don’t want to end up spending money on unforeseen expenses or incurring additional time into your schedule—both of which can be costly. If something is not mentioned as being included, then it probably isn’t. Always ask to be sure.