So you have decided to upgrade your marketing pieces and you’re in need of a professional graphic designer. How do you determine which one will be a perfect fit? Here are 8 questions to ask….
1. How much experience do you have with this type of project?
The designer you’re interviewing may have 10 years of experience designing business cards but that doesn’t help you much if you’re in the market for a vehicle wrap. Find a designer that has at least two recent successful projects under their belt that have very similar specs to yours.
2. Do you have samples of your work that I can review?
Samples may be presented in the form of physical printed pieces or may be available as an online portfolio. When looking over the samples be sure to ask lots of questions about the execution. Did the designer just slap a logo on top of a stock photo? Or was that logo custom designed by them and the background photo retouched and special effects added to make the piece more dynamic?
3. What are your rates and what is included in my quote?
First of all you should always receive a quote in writing that includes a breakdown of each fee. Most designers charge an hourly fee for their design time. In addition to the hourly fee there may be charges for additional proofs (most designers include two proofs in their quote but ask to be sure), reimbursement for stock photo purchases, a rush fees, etc.
4. What is your turnaround time?
If you need a brochure designed for an event that takes place in two weeks, and it takes a week for it to be printed and delivered, you need someone that can get an initial proof to you within 2-3 days. I recommend getting the estimated turnaround time included in your written quote.
5. Who owns the original files?
This is a big one. Most people don’t realize that when they hire a designer to create something for them, they do NOT automatically own the copyright to those files unless they have specifically been granted full copyrights from the designer in writing. When you pay a designer to create a logo for you for example, even after you have paid them in full they still retain the rights to that image, what you paid for is just usage of it. If you truly want full control of the original files you may need to negotiate a separate price for full copyrights to be transferred. Make sure you get it in writing if this is the case.
6. When is the payment due? Is a deposit required?
Payment structure often depends upon the scope of the project. A 300 page magazine that requires hours and hours of design work would most likely require a 20% deposit before the project begins, whereas a quick business card design would probably be billed in full upon completion. If the project is on-going you may want to set up a monthly payment plan. Each designer and each project is different so be sure to always check before you contract the work.
7. How is the printing handled?
Printing is usually handled one of two ways: Either the designer provides you with a print-ready file which you can then take to the printer of your choice, or the designer subs out the work themselves. If you’re not familiar with printing methods and paper specs I strongly suggest allowing the designer to order the printing for you.
8. Do you have references?
The designer should be able to provide you with at least two recent (within 6 months) references that you can contact. Preferably these contacts should be customers that had projects similar to yours, however for unusual projects this may not be possible. The important thing is to find out whether these contacts were happy with the services they received and whether the final product fit their needs.