Want to know how to find the best person for your next design project? Follow these simple guidelines and find the best talent.
Finding the perfect designer is a mix of research, strategy, budget, communication and, sometimes, luck. However, if you follow these steps, we guarantee that finding a great designer for your next project is going to be a lot easier than it might seem.
How to hire a designer
Even if you don’t know the first thing about design, these steps can help you find the right designer for your business.
Define your project
Whether you want to hire a designer for a one-off project or are looking for someone to work with in the long term, you need to know what type of designs you’re looking for.
It goes without saying that you won’t confuse hiring an interior designer with a web designer, but when it comes to different types of graphic design, it makes sense to decide whether you need someone with experience in print designs or illustration.
Finding one person that excels at everything is difficult, so it’s good to know what types of projects you’re most likely to request and look for someone with specific expertise in the field.
A designer might have several years of experience in a certain field, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the right person for the job. Style and previous experience play a huge part in the design process, so you need to make sure you research the designer’s work to get an idea of what their projects look like.
Of course, research is an essential part of writing a design brief, as you’ll need to show them what style and work you like, and which one you don’t.
Also, make sure you check their CV for relevant design skills, in particular the design software you would want them to use. For example, if they use Adobe XD for web or product design, you might need to purchase this software yourself in order to use the source files. If that doesn’t fit into your budget, look into free or more cost-effective options like Figma.
Set a trial project
You can spend hours going through a designer’s portfolio or interviewing candidates, but nothing beats vetting prospective designers as effectively as a trial project. This is your chance to see the designer in action and figure out if they can deliver on their promises.
Although it was common practice a few years ago, unpaid trial projects are both unfair and harmful to the process of finding the best designer. The reason for that is that quality designers usually won’t agree to do unpaid work and if they do, they might not give it their best. The scope of the trial project should be such that you’re able to provide adequate compensation. For example, if you’re looking for a logo designer, a trial project shouldn’t be a complete logo, but perhaps some element of it (illustration, typography, etc.) or a rough concept that the designer can talk more about in the interview.
Hold an interview
Refined communication skills are what distinguishes a good designer from a great one. Although they are creatives who essentially work alone, a design project is necessarily a joint effort. Your designer of choice needs to be able to appreciate and implement your feedback, but also provide you with expert advice and direction when needed.
Hiring a designer should always involve an in-person or video interview. It’s a great way to avoid scams if you’re using freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, but it’s also an important step in finding the right personal fit for your company.
Come prepared with specific questions, directly related to the project. But also take time to get to know them better, ask them about their creative process and if they have experience working with a bigger team.
Many great designers are not verbal types, so if you make the interview feel very formal, they might get anxious and fail to show everything they can do. When communicating with your designer, make sure that you also leave some room for more casual questions, such as their personal background, interests, daily life.
Discuss budget and deliverables
If you’re not familiar with the design process, it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of work needed to make even the slightest changes to a finished design project. To you, it might just seem like changing the color or the font, but any experienced designer knows that these changes will affect the balance and overall look of the whole project.
Therefore, it’s critical that before any work is done you and your designer agree exactly what the deliverables and the required timeframe are. Ideally, this will also be specified in any type of contract you may put in place.
A final point you need to agree on is the cost and number of revisions. On Fiverr and Upwork, designers often specify how many revisions are included in the initial price of the gig. Some designers may agree to do small tweaks at no charge, but don’t assume this will be the case.
Set attainable goals and when you provide feedback, make sure it’s clear and actionable: instead of saying “I don’t like this”, say “I don’t like this because… so let’s try…
Where to find designers
Unless you move around creative circles, perhaps with a couple of designer friends, you might be tempted to just google “designers for hire”. Well, that’s certainly one route to go, but you’re better off looking for creative talent on these specialized platforms.
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Probably the most famous freelancing platform in the world, Upwork has over 18 million registered freelancers. This professional platform offers a wide range of talent and expertise, so you’re likely to find just what you’re looking for.
If budget is an issue for you, Fiverr is one of the most cost-effective freelancing platforms out there. Fiverr gigs start for as little as $5, although of course in most cases the price of the gig will reflect the experience and quality of the freelancer.
Fiverr has a slightly less reliable vetting process than Upwork, so scams are even more common.
Dribbble is a portfolio platform that allows designers to showcase their work, for both professional and personal projects. It’s one of the two go-to platforms (the other being Behance) for designers to demonstrate their skill, style and ability, so even if you opt for using a different channel to find them, it’s always a good idea to ask whether they have a Dribbble profile.
While Behance has a more comprehensive project layout, Dribbble provides “visual snippets” which are very easy to browse through. For this reason, it’s particularly popular with graphic designers, and specifically logo designers and illustrators.
From typography to interior design, Behance is a place to showcase just about any design project there is! It can be pretty easy to get lost in the variety of different projects, so make sure you start your search with a clear idea on what you want to be designed, and perhaps a general style direction.
If you find a project you like, make sure to check out the rest of the designer’s work to see if the style really fits your needs.
Dieline is a specialist platform for packaging designers, so if you want to hire one, this can be a great place to look.
You can post a job on Dieline for $99 and wait for designers to approach you, but you can always try to avoid the fee by approaching a designer you like directly. Just head over to the “Talent” section on their page and find your next designer!
UI/UX design requires a very specific skillset and plenty of experience to make a good designer. Behance is a great place to look at different UX projects and get a better idea of what it is exactly that you’re looking for.
However UX Hires specializes in matching businesses with UX designers and researchers, and they have a custom-made approach, meaning you’ll be matched with a UX designer that best suits your needs.
If you’re looking for a graphic design solution that’s a little more sustainable over the long term than working with freelancers, you should consider a subscription-based unlimited design service like ManyPixels.
We have dozens of quality, vetted designers in our ranks with expert skills for just about any graphic design project. You pay the same flat fee every month for all the designs you need!
99 Designs is a graphic design service from Vistaprint. They have a specific business model which connects clients with their community of freelancers. There are two ways to get design done on this platform. Make a design request and let the 99 Designs team connect you with a suitable freelancer, or you can start a design contest. This way you create a design brief and wait for submissions from different freelancers. In the end, you can pick the one you like and pay for it. Or if you don’t like any of the submissions, you get your money back. If you know about a designer from their community whose work you like, you can invite them to take part in the contest.
This is a useful, cost-effective solution for smaller, one-off design projects, but not really viable in the long run (you can’t really establish a relationship with one designer and paying on a project-by-project basis can be quite expensive).
Every type of design has a platform that’s specialized, and Houzz is the one to check out if you’re in the market for an interior designer.
It’s a terrific place to find interior design and decorating ideas, but also a rich pool of talent, including architects, interior designers and even home builders! Use their search filters to find a person or design studio that will fit your style, budget and location.