What to Look for When Hiring a Designer


If you’re looking to hire a designer, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are millions of websites advertising design services – how do you make sure you don’t get scammed or end up with a designer who flakes?

This is a common feeling among business owners--and for good reason. There are tons of designers out there using logo templates, etc. to create beautiful portfolios, but know nothing about creating custom design for a brand.  Or, you may be investing a steep price for a package only to not receive all the key elements you will need to move forward. 

When looking for a designer, here are five things to consider:

1. Does the designer’s style fit with mine?

Take a stroll through some designers’ portfolios, taking note of things like layouts, colors, and logos. This is kind of like shopping for clothes – some options will catch your eye more than others. If you want a very modern website, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone whose portfolio looks like a flashback to 1995. If you want a logo that will stand the test of time, you wouldn't want to work with someone that specializes purely in trends. 

2. Who will be doing the main design for my project?

Many designers outsource a lot of the work these days, reselling the services to you. I believe it is fine for designers to have staff to help with smaller aspects of the projects under their supervision. But, if you are making an investment based on that designer's skills and experience, make sure that they will be the primary one working on your project. 

3. What kind of maintenance and upkeep will my project need? If its a website, can I do that myself or will I need to hire someone?

After you have completed a project, will the designer be available to make future changes? add-on pieces? Ask them if they are willing to work with your long term, and what an approximate cost for those add-ons would be.

Websites also have to be kept up to date. Your designer may offer maintenance service, or you can opt to learn how to maintain your site yourself. Ask if the maintenance is easy to DIY, or how much it will cost to hire them for each edit. Also keep in mind that rates do change over time – the ballpark rates a designer gives you in 2022 will not be the same if you contact him/her in 2024.

4. What kind of design files will I receive?

With a brand package, at a minimum, your designer should provide all versions of your logo in web and print formats. Any patterns, graphics, fonts, etc. should be included. You should also receive a detailed brand book or page that outlines the brand's fonts, colors, and design styles. If the designer is offering "just a logo", that's a red flag. A logo alone without a brand identity means nothing, and there will be a lot more work (and cost) involved down the line when creating anything for your business.

For web design, ask the designer who owns the domain and/or hosting account. Make sure that the designer agrees to transfer the ownership of each to you when the project is complete. I've had too many new clients come to me upset that an old designer ghosted them with ownership over their website. 

5. Will there be a contract? What does that include?

When you hire a designer, always make sure their standard procedure includes a contract. It will help outline what is expected of both of you. In it, there should be the details of everything the designer has agreed to deliver as well as the cost you have agreed to pay.

You may think this is the most important part of the contract, but it is not. Did you know that by default, the designer legally owns the copyright to the logo they created, even if you have paid for it? Again, I've seen this scenario turn ugly before as well. Always make sure that in the contract, the designer states that the final design ownership will be transferred to you. 

- Amanda

Have any other questions on what to look for in a designer? Just ask me.