Choosing a designer

Selecting a designer should follow a four (or five) point process:

Prepare a brief

Before you can start your selection process you must prepare your outline brief. This should contain a clear description of the project’s objectives and what you expect it to achieve for you. It should also outline the project’s success criteria and how these will be measured. This outline will then give designers sufficient information to prepare a proposal. This process will also clarify the project in your own mind.

Draw up a shortlist of designers

Invite around three to five designers to look through their portfolio of previous work. Remember that you are not simply looking for work that you like, but for work that has answered a specific brief given for the project and achieved business results.

Many designers are happy to meet face-to-face to discuss their credentials and this will allow you to see if you have complementary working styles. At the end of the day, you must get on with the designer you eventually choose. Remember that projects can sometimes take months, so getting on with a designer on a personal level is important from the outset.

Ask three designers to each submit a proposal based on your brief. This will then give you a chance to compare like with like.

Assess proposals

How will the designer tackle your brief? Don’t expect visual solutions to your brief at this stage. Instead, go back to the designer’s portfolio. This will tell you far more about the suitability of the designer’s style.

Design is a key business process and a designer should demonstrate their professionalism in the proposal. They should show interest in your company and be proud of their own. But most essentially, an acknowledgement of your project aims in their proposal shows that they have understood your brief and tried to meet your objectives.

The free/paid creative pitch

At this point some businesses like to get a clear idea of what they will get for their money before the project starts. This is a grey area for agencies. It is best summed up in the article (on page 2 of this PDF) by a high profile designer. It’s harsh, but true!

Agree terms

Appoint your chosen design consultancy and put your agreements in writing, to make sure you are both aware of contractual requirements and obligations. Be explicit in outlining and agreeing costs from the outset of the project – to avoid misunderstandings that might jeopardise the project’s completion.