Choosing a graphic designer can be an overwhelming task. You need someone reliable, skilled, communicative, and able to stick to your budget. Before you commit to a project, check out these six questions to ask a graphic designer.
1. What can you do within my budget?
The money issue is almost always a deciding factor, so get it on the table right away. Many business owners are hesitant to share their budget with a potential graphic designer, possibly out of fear of being overcharged. We recommend a different approach: Share your budget and ask what you can get for that amount.
Why not just ask the designer what they charge? Some projects allow for flexibility in number of options, revisions, or level of detail. Maybe you can’t afford the Cadillac, but you can get the long-lasting, reliable Toyota.
Discuss what will happen if the project goes over budget. Make sure you ask about related costs in addition to the design work, such as web hosting or printing.
2. Do you charge by the hour or by project?
If your designer charges hourly, make sure you get an estimate of the number of hours needed to complete the work. Also ask what exactly counts as billable work versus not billable. Typically, project management like email communication and an initial consultation would not be billable, but additional meetings and phone calls might be.
Hourly rates can be deceiving. The designer who charges $40 an hour might take ten hours to complete the project ($400). Whereas, the one who charges $100 an hour may only need five ($500). What sounds at first like a huge price difference may not be too significant.
We quote by the project so that our clients know from the start how much their total investment will be. This way, you don’t need to question whether we’re working efficiently. And we don’t need to worry if you’re going to be upset by the final bill.
3. What is your design process?
Discuss your desired timeline and the designer’s typical process. Will you approve a complete design or see mockups or drafts along the way? What will communication look like throughout the project? Even though it’s awkward, feel free to ask what happens if you don’t love the results or completely change your mind halfway through.
Do you already have a complete vision and need someone to execute it? Or do you need an expert to think through your audience and message and craft something thoughtful and powerful?
Some designers do best when given a clear brief. (Ex: I need a 4″ x 6″ postcard will this photo and text on the front and this message on the back in blue.) Others are craftsmen who want to bring their expertise into the conversation. (Ex: I want a postcard that will encourage young moms to check out my store.)
4. How many options will I see?
Sometimes you need a quick turnaround and you don’t care if you see one design or ten. On more significant projects, like a new logo design, you’ll want to see a few options and have a chance to give feedback or request revisions. Granted, too many choices makes the decision process even harder.
Keep in mind, more work takes more time which costs more money.
For most print projects (brochures, business cards, posters, etc.), we quote the work assuming one design and minor revisions. If you know you won’t be satisfied unless you see two, three, four options, tell your graphic designer.
5. What exact deliverables will I receive?
Adequate deliverables are one of the biggest differences between capable, professional graphic designers and others.
If you contract a designer for a logo, make sure you’ll receive many file formats of the design that work for both print and digital applications. (We typically deliver dozens of files for logo projects.) How about colors? Ask if you’ll receive the artwork in full color only or if other variations are included.
Let the designer know if you plan to print the work or use it digitally since this affects the whole design process and the final product. Do you want to use this design as a template for future collateral? Share from the beginning if you want the editable artwork files, and don’t be surprised if this comes at an additional cost.
6. How do revisions work? Are they included?
If I was hiring a plumber, I couldn’t guess which problems require a quick fix and which demand major work. Likewise, you may not know what’s “quick and easy” in the design world. So ask! Generally speaking, fonts, colors, and small copy edits take less time to change than layout. (Can that green be a little darker? vs. Can you redo it as 4″ x 9″ instead of 4″ x 6″?)
Designers prefer to tackle revisions all at once, so it’s best if you can gather your feedback and share it all together. We call these “rounds of revisions.” Ask your graphic designer how many rounds are included in the quote and what constitutes a revision versus a change of scope.
A total redesign is not a revision. If you’re asking to change the colors, pick a new font, go for a more kid-friendly style, and swap out some copy—you’re asking for a new product.
Questions your designer should ask YOU
- What’s your vision for the final product? Do you have any design ideas in mind?
- Who is the target audience? What impression do you want to give?
- What is your goal for this project?
- What additional pieces do you need to make this successful? (Logo variations, print and digital formats, an alternate size, etc.)
- Who will be involved in approving the final work?
If your graphic designer doesn’t ask you these questions, share the info anyway. You’ll end up with a much smoother, more successful project in the end.
What other questions would you ask a graphic designer you wanted to hire? Share with us in the comments.