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5 Steps to Quickly Vet Designers and Ensure Good Design

5 Steps to Quickly Vet Designers and Ensure Good Design

Graphic design
March 11, 2022
11 minutes

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So you’re ready to take the plunge and hire a graphic designer? Exciting times filled with good design are ahead! If your designer is any good, that is. How do you know you’ve found the right fit? These five easy steps will help you quickly vet your designer and make sure you’ve found the perfect one.

Good graphic design begins with a good graphic designer, simple as that. But finding a good designer is easier said than = done. We’ve listed five steps to help you vet a graphic designer and ensure good design.

Specify your design needs

Before even thinking about where and how to find a graphic designer, it’s essential to specify your design needs. In other words: what type of graphic design do you require?

The world of graphic design is vast and divergent. For example, a designer specializing in social media graphics is inherently different from a typography designer.

Types of graphic design

Let’s look at some of the most commonly used types of graphic design services to give you an overview of the possibilities.

Visual identity design

A graphic designer specialized in visual identity design will help with each visual element that communicates your brand identity. Your brand identity heavily influences how your audience perceives your brand, so the help of a high-quality designer is essential.

stationery brand design.png By The Seventh Art LLC

Elements of visual identity design are:

  • Logo
  • Typography
  • Signature colors
  • Style guide

Marketing and advertising design

Good graphic design can help a business promote and communicate more effectively. It’s a fact that people engage more with visual content. Marketing and advertising design is often the branch of graphic design people first think of when it comes to their design needs. This makes sense, considering the range of deliverables it contains.

busy street.jpg Photo by Anthony Rosset on Unsplash

Packaging design

Most products require packaging, which is an invaluable marketing tool apart from protecting the product. Choose your visual elements wisely, and you can tell a story with your packaging. Graphic designers specializing in packaging design require expert knowledge about printing processes and industrial design and manufacturing.

packaging design.jpg Photo by Studio Blackthorns on Unsplash

Examples of packaging design are:

  • Carrier boxes
  • Labels
  • Packing paper
  • Mailing bags
  • Printed tape

User interface design

Designing a user-friendly and appealing user interface is called user interface design, or UI design in short. In graphic design, the secret lies in visualizing this interface.

ui design.png Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

Publication design

Traditionally, publication design consisted out of print design. Nowadays, any long-form pieces that communicate with audiences through publication are considered publication design. It’s often a collaboration between editors and publishers to create an appealing layout.

Photo by Good Good Good on Unsplash

Examples of publication design, whether print or digital, are:

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogs

Know your good design from your bad design

Now that you’ve determined which type of graphic design you need, it’s time to move on to the next step - knowing your good design from your bad design.

What is good design?

A graphic design rookie may think design is subjective, but a seasoned designer will tell you otherwise. Good graphic design is so much more than aesthetics. It’s a way to solve problems, communicate with your audience, and establish your brand.

Good design and Dieter Rams are often used in one sentence. Dieter Rams is a German architect and designer who established the 10 principles of good design. It’s since used as a benchmark to answer the question: What is good design?

Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of good design

According to Dieter Rams, a good design…

  1. is innovative
  2. makes a product useful
  3. is aesthetic
  4. makes a product understandable
  5. is unobtrusive
  6. is honest
  7. is long-lasting
  8. is thorough down to the last detail
  9. is environmentally friendly
  10. is as little design as possible

What makes a bad design?

After examining each principle Dieter Rams established, you know what great design is. Let’s look at the other side of things. What makes a bad design?

These common design mistakes instantly give away that your designer didn’t bring his A-game.

  • Placement: No matter how many strikingly visual elements a design has, they must be placed a certain way to make the design work.
  • Kerning - The spacing between letters should be even and consistent, contributing to legibility.
  • Colors - Colors can make or break your design. A color clash is an obvious design fail, but it’s also important to bear in mind colors have different meanings in different cultures.
  • Unfriendly user-experience - Good design puts the user experience above all. Doing the opposite is a guaranteed bad design that can cause frustration amongst your audience.
  • Too little white space - Every design can use a little white space. This helps the viewer to process things, as well as amplify certain elements.
  • Not on trend - You don’t always need to be super on-trend. However, being able to adapt and slightly modernize your designs shows that you keep up with recent developments.
  • Wrong typography - Like colors, typography can evoke certain expectations or feelings. Fonts range from classic to playful and everything in between. It’s crucial to pick the right typography for your design to get your message across.

bad design.png

Wrong-Typography-graphic.png

Evaluate a designers’ portfolio

Now that you understand the basics of good graphic design, it’s finally time to start thinking about the actual hiring process. The biggest asset of a graphic designer is their portfolio. It’s up to you to inspect these portfolios to find your perfect match.

Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs

Download our guide to find a solution that suits your business

When it comes to sifting through portfolios and designs, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Simplicity

First and foremost, a strong portfolio is well-curated. It isn’t a pile of random projects dating way back. Instead, it’s a modest selection of fairly recent work. A portfolio should contain anywhere between 6 and 12 projects as a rule of thumb. Remember that you can always ask for more during an initial interview.

Versatility

A good portfolio should showcase a wide range of skills. It should be clear from the overall selection that a designer is versatile and able to adapt. It’s okay if a designer has a recognizable style throughout projects, but in that case, make sure there is diversity in other aspects. Target audiences or fields clients operate in, for example.

Relevancy

Say you’re looking to have a visual identity design for the rebrand of your company. A portfolio only showcasing flyers, no matter how beautiful and stylish they are, clearly indicates you may want to move to the next portfolio. Don’t forget to judge a portfolio on projects relevant to the scope of work you want your designer to execute.

Spot designer red flags

Tread with caution once you have found one or more designers that sparked your interest. A designer can have a fantastic portfolio, but that doesn’t mean per definition that it’s a great designer. We’ll list a few red flags that could indicate a mismatch.

graphic-step-4.png

No questions asked

A design brief almost always evokes questions. A high-quality designer is a skilled problem-solver that digs deep to understand the goal of your design. Therefore, a designer that doesn’t ask any questions is a clear red flag. Chances are your designer will simply throw a design together without thinking twice about it.

Careless copy

Spotted a spelling mistake in the design? This is a telltale sign that your designer was careless and rushed the design. Sure, it’s often not a graphic designers’ task to provide the actual copy. But it is their responsibility to implement it into the visual design. It says a lot about their eye for detail.

Emphasis on aesthetics

Another red flag that indicates a bad graphic designer is when a designer gets caught up in their design. They prioritize the overall look over your needs and a user-friendly design. A high-quality designer can and will put the clients’ and the audiences’ needs over their own artistic needs.

Bad communication

When it comes to graphic design, communication is key. This relates to asking questions, but it goes a little further than that. Taking criticism and responding to inquiries quickly, for example. Any creative professional knows that taking criticism is part of the job. Additionally, a slow response can indicate that someone doesn’t take deadlines too seriously.

Designer's Work Tracking Checklist

Learn how to work effectively with designers: from writing a brief to giving feedback and tracking work.

No creative perspectives

Organizations rely on the visuals a graphic designer creates, but a good graphic designer has more to offer than just creating impressive visuals. You should also expect them to bring in a fresh and creative way of thinking. A high-quality designer brings their own ideas to the table. Instead of seeing your designer as someone who works for you, see them as someone you collaborate with.

If your designer accepts each idea without bringing in some flair of his own, you might want to find a new designer.

Understand the importance of quality assurance

Good design is vital to the success of your business. No matter who provides you with graphic design, they should have a solid understanding of quality assurance.

Quality assurance is the process of checking whether a product or service meets specified requirements. Putting a process like this in place will ensure you end up with good designs each and every time.

Unfortunately, many small agencies and graphic designers systematically underestimate the importance of a solid quality assurance process. It’s no surprise, considering freelancers often work alone, and self-evaluation is extremely challenging.

In the context of graphic design, quality assurance means establishing whether your designer has understood your vision. Additionally, it means checking the delivery of a project according to your stylistic and technical requirements.

Sounds like quite the work, right? We have some good news for you; we’re happy to take on those tasks for you. You save a bunch of time you can spend doing what you do best, and we’ll take care of all of your design needs.

ManyPixels’ quality assurance process

At ManyPixels, we understand how important it is for your company to get consistent, top-notch results. Therefore, we have established a thorough approach when it comes to quality assurance.

We work with a detailed checklist that’s created based on your project requirements and plans. But we don’t just leave it up to our designers to tick off boxes. We have a team of experienced quality control managers working with our designers to ensure quality.

Learn how to get started with our unlimited graphic design service

Download the ManyPixels User Guide — you’ll find all the useful information there

The checklist is comprised of three major categories, with subcategories. These are all the categories and their objectives in a nutshell:

  1. Customer requirements - Does the design comply with the design brief and your branding guidelines?
  2. Acceptance criteria - Is everything, including copy, clear, concise, and error-free?
  3. Performance criteria - Has the designer met the deadline and respected the clients’ brief?

Each design is thoroughly evaluated according to this quality assurance process. Afterward, our quality control manager can determine whether a design needs improvement or is good to go.

Save time, hire us!

Instead of using your valuable time to vet a graphic designer, we do this for you. Think about all the time you could save by outsourcing all of your design needs.

ManyPixels’ hassle-free design service is a great way to level up your brand and knock your competition out of the park. The cherry on top? Our range of affordable plans has options for every business out there.

Our highly-skilled team of enthusiastic designers is ready to roll. If you are, too, we’d love to hear from you!

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Guest Writer: Simone Timmers

March 11, 2022

Simone is a writer, dividing her time between native Netherlands and 'home away from home' Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, she's either on her yoga mat or exploring any off the beaten track she can find.