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Find the Best Designer For Your Small Business Site

by: | January 13, 2012

If you’re looking for a designer to handle some design work for your business, you want to make sure you hire the right person. You want someone who understands your business and your design needs. You’ll also want them to help you to define what it is you’re looking for and help guide you in the right direction. It’s often hard to find the right person, so I’ve put together this guide to help you find a good fit!

Make Sure the Designer Is Right For You

Style

It’s important that the designer’s style is what you want to reflect in your business. Many designers specialize in particular styles or abilities. Make sure you see examples of the kind of style you want in the designer’s portfolio so you can be sure he or she can accomplish what you need. It also helps when talking to the designer to be able to articulate what you’re looking for. Do you want something with bright colors that conveys excitement or a more muted color palette that conveys luxury? Your designer should be able to articulate back to you how your look will be achieved.

Experience

Does the designer you’re looking at have experience designing for your industry? It’s helpful, but not essential. If they don’t have experience in your industry, it helps if they’ve got experience in a relatively similar industry. Someone who’s experienced in designing for bands and action sports probably isn’t the best option for a law firm, and vice versa. Take a shrewd look at the portfolio and look specifically at the kinds of clients the designer has had. Keep in mind that seeing your industry represented is definitely a plus, but as long as the style is reflective of what you need, you should still be OK.

Marketing

Make sure the designer is not simply building you a website but also a marketing system. Your website is more than a brochure, it should be working for you by generating leads, collecting contact information and building a relationship with visitors, as well as conveying information. Ask your designer what experience her or she has in setting up these marketing funnels. It helps to have the same designer execute designs for all your needs: the website, your email newsletter template, any online ads you create, etc.

References

Ask for references from clients the designer has worked with. A designer with nothing to hide will gladly give these references, and you’ll hear from the clients whether the designer was good to work with, how the process went for them, and what you can expect from your own relationship.

Finding the Designer

Directories

So, how do you actually find your designer? A fishing line with cheese is a great place to start (designers like cheese). When that doesn’t work, go online and look for directories and portfolio sites. There are many CSS galleries out there that are picky about whose work they allow on the sites. Two very good ones to start with are: The CSS Gallery List and Unmatched Style. If you’re looking for logo design, a very good place to start is Logopond.

Find work you like, look at the rest of the portfolio, then contact that designer to ask particulars about availability and cost.

Local Market

If you want to find someone local, try searching for designers in your local market. Do a search in Google for “web designer [insert your city here].” Take a look at the portfolios that pop up and see if anyone shows what you’re looking for.

You can also look at Craigslist for designers for hire or post the work you need to get done on there. Keep in mind you will get a lot of responses, but you’ll be bringing the designers to you. Another tactic is to ask local businesses whose websites you like who did their work.

Avoid Design Contests

Whatever you do, avoid design contests, or “crowdsourcing” your design work. Generally you’ll get subpar work from non-professional designers. Design doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and you don’t want to have a website that doesn’t match the rest of your brand, and that’s likely what you’d get. Most of the projects on there are inexpensive, but you get what you pay for, and the cheapness will show through.

I elaborate further on why design contests are bad for clients and the design industry in my blog.

Hopefully this guide will help you in choosing the right designer for your business. What other tactics have you used to find the right designer for your company? Let us know in the comments!Marketing Zeus

Stay tuned for part 2 on working with your new designer!

Posted in: B2B, B2C, Branding, Content, E-Commerce, Email, Engage!, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Development, Professional Services

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

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