6 Counter-Intuitive Things to Look for Before Contracting a Graphic Designer

6 Counter-Intuitive Things to Look for Before Contracting a Graphic Designer

We know that as virtual assistants, sometimes our clients ask for work or a project to be done that involves skills outside of our area of expertise. Often times, virtual assistants who work with clients on websites, marketing or social media may need to seek help with a project from a professional designer. That's why we asked Branding and Identity designer Kyle Courtright to share with us what a VA should look for when choosing a designer to work with on a client project! Read Kyle's tips below:

So you came across a graphic designer to potentially hire.

Their design portfolio looks good, they create the type of work you need, and they have some testimonials from happy clients.

All great things.

But here's the kicker...

There are several counter-intuitive subtleties that you may not be looking for. Pinpointing these subtleties can very well mean the difference between a nightmare design project, or one that goes absolutely perfect.

Let's go with the "absolutely perfect" option.

As a branding and identity designer, founder of Logo Wave International and author of a design book, I want to pass on the insights I've learned to save you a ton of headaches!

Through this article, I want to show you these graphic designer subtleties so you can hire that perfect designer--one you will have for many years down the road.

Let’s get right to it!

1. Attention to detail. 
I'm a big believer that in order to be a great designer, you have to be somewhat of a perfectionist. 

In the design community we throw around the phrase "pixel-perfect design" quite a bit. "Everything is clean, sharp and intentional". 

The best Graphic Designers will pride themselves on pixel-perfection and, more often than not, will naturally flow into other aspects of their design business. 

• Are they on time for initial meetings/phone calls? 
• Do they communicate with design jargon or in a way non-designers can understand? 
• Do they keep the focus on you and your business goals? 

Keep an eye on these subtleties and you'll be on your way to hiring a more detailed-oriented graphic designer.

 2. Portfolio subtleties. 
It's easy to look at a designer's portfolio and know what you like (and dislike)…even in a split second. 

If you were to take a closer look and even begin to study their design work, this is an extra step that can make a big difference. 

For example, if you see heavy shadows, bevels and overly 3D effects in a logo designer's portfolio, then they may not be the best choice as these logo design trends have come and gone.

3. Response times. 
If a graphic designer is slow to get back to you before the project starts, there's a pretty good chance they'll have slow response times during the project.

4. Typos.Typos can fall into the "attention to detail" category above, but this deserves it's own point. 

When a the designer has a lot of typos on their website, it can be a red flag of sorts. 

If they didn't have the time to proofread their own website, they may not want to spend a ton of time on your project either.

5. They are (genuinely) helpful. 
It's a given that your potential designer should take the time to learn about your business, your business goals, your target audience, etc. 

What if they went beyond the call? 
Let's say you're in talks with a designer. They ask questions like, "Is there anything else you need?" "Can I share ideas I had for your project?" "Do you have any other questions I can answer?" 

All of these these questions have a helping element -- giving off the feeling that they genuinely want to help. 

This speaks volumes about the designer and can’t go unnoticed.

 6. In the end, it's all about value.
 In the graphic design industry, I have found one thing to be true: You get what you pay for.

The value a designer provides and the rates they charge typically go hand-in-hand. 

Graphic Design provides a true investment for your brand.

This investment mentality is a commonality among the most successful companies.


They know the positive role that graphic design has on their bottom line.

Let's quickly look at a real-life type of scenario:

You need a logo designed for a client, and your budget is set at $500.

We already know that your logo design is the most important visual representation of your brand and acts as the foundational cornerstone of your client's brand's imagery.

Let’s say you find the perfect logo designer who is a great fit and provides excellent value. Their rate for a custom logo is $850.

What should you do? 

Should you cringe and move on to a cheaper designer? Should you pull back and tense up over an extra $350 for such an integral, representative piece of your client's company?

Hopefully not.

If your client simply doesn't have the funds in the ol' bank account, then that's one thing. In my experience, this is quite the anomaly.

So, ask clients to possibly give your budget some wiggle room. It will open you up to a higher caliber, more versatile graphic designer.

In the end, when you can convince your client along with you to hire a designer with an investment mentality, you can more clearly focus on the designer's value instead of that overly strict budget.

Your brand and your client's bottom line will thank you!

Have any questions? I'm happy to help. Let's start the conversation in the comments below.

Learn more about Kyle and his business by visiting his website!

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