A great graphic designer can take your business further than you’ve ever imagined. Strong design and branding can drive your sales, and create your lasting impression on the world. You’re paying for more than the final products – you’re paying for the experience. Your designer can influence your brand with their creative-thinking, visual conception, and strategic consultation that empathetically resonates most with your audience. A bad graphic designer can leave you with wasted time and efforts that, as a small business owner, you simply cannot afford (nevertheless, a sucky logo!) But finding a graphic designer is an ambiguously daunting task. Here’s why.
The graphic design industry is mature, meaning we’ve seen all kinds of trends come and go. However, in the past couple of years we’ve seen a challenging trend that is here to stay: the globally outsourced designer. With so many websites like elance.com and fiverr.com offering prices as low as $10/hour, it has become tempting to cut your budget for a “good enough” job.
In the graphic design and web design / development industries, the playing field has never been so level. Everyone can compete with everyone. People want to be sure that they are getting the very best design and functionality for the absolute least amount. Which is perfectly fine, so let’s review what points you should consider when hiring a graphic or web designer in the vast world of the internet.
Local vs. Overseas
You just can’t beat the prices you will find for globally outsourced graphic design. While it’s not to say there aren't talented and hard-working creative professionals in 3rd world countries, there will be more barriers to get what you want. Time differences, language barriers, cultural understanding and involvement will directly impact your design, and experience in the process. You may lose the ability to communicate back and forth about your specific needs. Your designer may not understand what you mean by “make it easy on the eye” or “make it pop,” let alone have the capacity to create a flawless user experience for your website's intended audience in say, Denver. There are legal ambiguities as well – even if you are happy with your $50 logo, there’s nothing to say is hasn’t been sold dozens of times before.
Freelance vs. Agency
It makes sense that you might look for a local, freelance designer to hire to work with your small business. You might search for something like “where do I find a good U.S web designer?” The first 5 links are advertisements for freelance designer websites. Most of these sites allow you to work with a budget of less than $200 – a clear indicator that the site is saturated with overseas workers. On the flip side, you google “best graphic design agencies” and you find beautiful websites and impressive portfolios, some of the world’s most reputable agencies. These agencies do amazing work - for no less than $15,000 a project. The clients that work with these agencies are corporations with seemingly unlimited marketing budgets. Wouldn’t that be nice!
Full Service vs. Niche
Okay, you’ve searched and searched and have found a few local graphic designers who understand your business and ideas, and are within your budget. One is a freelancer who specializes in logos; an illustrator and graphic artist - exactly what you need right now. The other is a small team that offers a plethora of design services. As always, it comes down to what you need. Are you building a new business from the ground up? We have one piece of advice for you:
Beware of the ad-hoc brand.
This means that one designer did your logo, your friend’s cousin built your website, and you bought a couple of generic infographics online. This rarely adds up to a strong, cohesive brand. And you’ve probably spent a good amount of time figuring out how to get these things done. Prepare yourself to be ready for the growth your business deserves.
Remember, when it comes to hiring and paying for a graphic and web designer - you’re not just paying for the design, you’re paying for the experience. Phone calls. Listening. Ideas and consultation. Creative thinking. Customization. Involvement. Do yourself a favor, and invest in a local, full-service agency from the start. Your business will thank you.