As a designer, I know how important it is to have the right fit between a designer and a client. And while nobody likes to turn away business, nobody wants to waste their time either. If there isn’t a good, trusting relationship between designer and client, this can cause friction in places later that no one wants friction. (I’m fighting the dirty joke, I swear.)
But one thing I want you to be super aware of when hiring anyone are the following steps, though these are written specifically from a designers point of view. So no more fluffy stuff. Here is the breakdown, step by step.
Step 1. Do Your Research
You have homework to do as the client. I can hear your eye rolling from here, so let me clarify a little. You need to know who you are looking for. I dare you to go Google “designer.” Go on. I’ll wait.
Frankly, you need to have a general idea of what you need at the bare minimum before moving forward. In fact, you’re not going to start looking for designers until step three if you do it by the book, and by the book I mean this blog post. And this might seem super obvious but humor me and give my question a try below. Answer honestly.
Do web designers mainly work on the back end of a website?
+ I don't know
You need to be researching. Period. Start with the bits you do know. This question is a fab place to start. What do you actually need?
Sorry, boo. Not so. Web designers focus on the layout and visual bits of a website, specifically with goals in mind. You’re thinking of a web developer. Those folks code.
Brava! You’ve been doing a little homework haven’t you? Well done.
How’d you do? Not what you expected? I’m not saying that you should be able to school someone else in what their job title includes, but you need to know that when someone says they are a web designer, they're not going to be talking in tags or busting out code for you.
Step 2. Plan Out Your Project
I get it. I get it. That’s the whole point of hiring someone else. But really, you need to have some answers to basic questions that your designer is going to need to know and will more likely than not ask straight up front.
- When are you hoping to take your project public?
- When are you going to be able to pay for this? (Be real…)
- How long does the designer have to make it happen for you?
- What is your budget? (Be real…)
Have these answers on hand and be that client that has their shit super together. Your designer will thank you for this.
Step 3. Start Looking For Designers
Please for the love of pearl, don’t just pop into a Facebook group, drop an “I need a designer” post and be gone while the thread fills with everybody and their mother trying to get hired. You’ll end up overwhelmed, underprepared, and above all else, over your project before it even has a designer.
Do your homework. Reach out to people you know.
Another great resource is just that. People put people they recommend in their resource pages. Check those!
Have a VA? Ask them! They may have worked for a talented designer at one point.
Step 4. Go Through The Discovery Process
Keeping your cool here is super important. Remember that this person is trying to sell their services. By keeping a cool head, you’re going to do yourself the favor of not falling in love at first sight. This will give you the chance to go through several interviews, portfolios, processes, gather proposals/quotes, and generally run your own little discovery process. A few tips:
- If someone tries to charge for the discovery process, run.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but for the most part, your person is going to pitch you, meaning your questions should be answered.
- Save your questions until the end and make sure you get answers that satisfy you.
- Don’t be scared off if someone has to do research on their end. All questions get asked for the first time once.
Step 5. Sign Nothing Until You Read + Fully Understand It
I mean it!!! Don’t do it!!!!
Contracts are legally binding and include payment responsibilities. This means that you could end up paying for something you’re not getting if you terminate the contract because you married someone you just met.
Most questions have the unfortunate habit of being in Lawyer, which if you’ve never seen is pretty much a language of it’s own. Your designer should be able to answer any questions that you have about this document and if they can’t get the fuck out of there. They should be able to explain the terms of their own contract. Period.
Step 6. Trust In Your Choice + Their Process
I’m going to be real with you. This is just a nice way of saying let them do their job. If you’ve gone through this process, you should have a relationship with the designer that you have entrusted your hard earned dollars and project with. Take your Type-A behind and go get your toes done. Or take a bath. But don’t hover over your project. They should have already told you their check in schedule, when you can expect things from them, and what it’s going to be.