Are you looking for a graphic designer that you can trust? The best and most enjoyable projects I have ever worked on are always a result of establishing a mutual trust between my clients and myself from the beginning of our relationship.
When we both trust each other to do our best work and provide the other with feedback and input, not only is the output better, but any future projects we work on are also more likely to succeed. Unfortunately, there are designers out there that are not trustworthy or reliable. Maybe you have even had an unpleasant experience or two with one of them. It can be difficult to find a graphic designer you can trust, especially if you are just starting out and money is tight. So how do you know who you can trust with your business and who you can’t?
Look for an experienced graphic designer.
When you are under a budget crunch, it can be very attractive to hire the first designer you come into contact with. Maybe it’s your sister’s cousin’s daughter who knows “how to Photoshop” or maybe it’s a student from the local college that’s about to finish their art degree. In a pinch, these solutions might work, but they may not always prove to be the best or even economical choice.
A designer that has professional experience in the field can offer up more than just a sharper set of design skills. A designer who has been in the field for at least a few years can help with things like project management, vendor and printer sourcing, and more accurately estimate your project (since it’s likely they’ve done something similar before.)
While you will likely have to pay more, the value you get from their experience can actually end up saving you money, where an inexperienced designer may cost you with rookie mistakes. So how do you know if you are working with an experienced designer? Ask to see samples of their portfolio and if they have similar projects to yours they can show you. Usually even a quick chat on the phone will clue you in to whether their ducks are in a row.
Look for a contract.
Another sign that your designer is trustworthy is when they ask you to sign a contract. Most professional designers will send you a contractual agreement when you begin a new project. This is not only insurance for them, but also for you. Everyone commits to their part in writing and you have now initiated a business relationship.
Without a contract, deadlines can get hazy, deliverables get lost and either you or the designer can end up frustrated because one of you feels they are being taken advantage of. A well-written contract, including the scope of the work, sets the project and the relationship up for success.
Not every single project may need a contract, but especially when initiating a new relationship, having an agreement is the ideal situation. If your graphic designer seems more like a play-it-by-ear type or seems wary to commit to a deadline (or anything for that matter), you’d be smart to seek out another option.
Look for respect.
As corny or cliché as it may sound, the best way to establish trust in a business relationship is to have a mutual respect for one another. Respect can come in many forms. Look for someone who can respect your time. As a business owner, you are likely very busy and having someone who is flexible to work with is very important.
Look for someone who respects (and understands) what you do. You are the expert at your business and the information you have to offer is incredibly valuable to the design process. A designer who understands this will be anxious to mine your brain for in’s and out’s of your business to create the best possible product. Look for someone who respects your ideas. Design should not be a one-sided conversation; it should be a collaboration between you and the designer.
The best designers love to hear your feedback and ideas (granted they are not unreasonable or in the form of threatening demands.) Always remember that respect is a two-way street and if you find a designer that respects you, please do them the same kindness.
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Kristin Pruis • April 14, 2015