To continue our discussion on custom design, today let’s talk about how to hire a designer. Your budget is obviously going to be the biggest factor in hiring a designer, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration! Here are a few things you should know to find the right designer and make sure you get the most effective design for your budget:
1. Know your aesthetic.
This is the absolute most important thing you should know before hiring a designer. It doesn’t matter if a designer fits your budget and is someone you like personally — if their aesthetic is not a match with what you are looking for, the entire process will be a struggle for you both, and you probably won’t ever be 100% satisfied with the finished product. There are so many styles and variations when it comes to design, and every designer has their own specific style that they really love working with and do well.
Let’s say you want to go out to eat, and you have $20 to spend. You could dine at any number of restaurants with that budget, but you probably have something specific in mind. You wouldn’t go to a Mexican restaurant and ask them for spaghetti, would you? And even if you were to find a restaurant that offered both, the spaghetti probably wouldn’t be nearly as good as it would have been had you chosen a place specializing in spaghetti. The same goes for designers. Study the work of every designer you are considering, and make sure that what you want is something they do well.
2. Study sites that fit what you’re looking for.
Once you know your aesthetic, look around for sites that fit what you’re looking for. Look for a design credit on those sites — it’s pretty standard for one to be included in the footer or bottom of the sidebar. That will help you create a list of designers who fit your aesthetic, then you can start narrowing it down by budget and specific needs.
Also, while you’re doing your research, take note of specific things you like about each design. You can give your notes to your designer at the beginning of the project to help them understand what you’re looking for. However, you should never, ever tell your designer “I want something exactly like this.” Researching sites for inspiration should be just that — for inspiration, not imitation. It’s more of an exercise in finding the common thread among the things you love, not copying someone else’s work. If you love everything about someone else’s site, dig a little deeper and ask yourself why. What is it about that site that conveys the feeling you are going for? That’s something we can work with.
3. Ask around.
Another good way to find a designer is to simply ask around. If you’re ready for custom design, it’s likely you’ve been in the blogging community long enough that you know someone you can ask for recommendations, who probably knows someone else, and so on. This is where knowing your aesthetic comes in handy — if you can tell others what you are looking for, they can help you find it. Plus, it’s always a scary design to hand your money, and trust, over to someone, so talking to people who have successfully worked with that designer in the past can ease some of those fears.
4. Know your must-haves and could-live-withouts
This one goes back to budget — depending on your budget, you just may not be able to find a designer who matches your aesthetic and can do everything you want under your budget. Make a list of the things you want for your site, and know your priorities. As I said before, finding a designer that matches your aesthetic is the most important thing. Are you willing to give up some of the bells and whistles functionality wise for a design that’s a perfect fit? Are you willing to wait a few extra months to save the money to work with the right person? Or are you so frustrated with your current site that you need something as soon as possible, even if you can’t get everything you want? There is no right answer here, it’s up to you to figure out what will work best for you. Knowing what’s most important to you will help you choose the right person for the job.
If you’ve hired a designer, what did you find most helpful in the process? Do you wish you had done anything differently?