So you’ve decided to hire a designer. That’s awesome! But where do you find one? And when you do, how do you know if they’ll be a good fit for you and your project?
Finding a designer isn’t just about seeing somebody with that job title and assuming they can produce what you need. There are many different kinds of designers who all have strengths and (even if they don’t like admitting it) weaknesses.
So here are four ways, in order of effectiveness, that you can find your perfect design match.
1. Ask around for a referral
The first thing you should try is asking people you trust for a referral. Referrals are a really good way to find a designer. You have the benefit of getting a truthful answer about what it was like working with them and, because you were referred by someone you trust, you’ll automatically raise the level of trust you have with your designer.
It’s a win-win. Nobody is going to refer somebody to you who doesn’t do a good job. It not only reflects badly on the designer, but it reflects badly on the person who referred them and their judgement.
So ask around friends or colleagues if anybody can recommend someone for your project. Someone you know will have probably had design work done before.
2. Look for websites you already like
If it’s a web designer you’re after, try going on websites you enjoy using and like the look of and see if you can find out who designed them.
Often they’ll have a “Designed by” link right at the bottom of the page, in the footer which will take you directly to the designers website.
If they don’t have this you can always fire over a quick email to the company complimenting them on their website and asking who their designer was. Most of the time they’ll be more than happy to give out the details — everybody loves a compliment, right?
Just remember that if the website is particularly big or well-known the designer could be booked up months in advance. You also have to be very open with your budget as website costs can vary greatly.
3. Go where designers hang out
Another good way to find a designer is to go to where they hang out. There are many websites that allow designers to showcase their work and get feedback from other designers and these are great places for you to see a bit more of their ‘behind the scenes’ work which can often tell you more about a designer than their portfolio pieces.
My favourite is one called Dribbble (and you can see my profile here). It’s a great place for you to search for designers, refine by the skills you’re looking for (e.g. Illustration) and you can even contact them directly.
Another popular one is Behance which is more of a collection of portfolios but you can also see works in progress there too.
4. Google search, only if you have to
This is usually the first thing people do when looking for a designer. Especially if you want one who’s local to you.
However I’d only recommend doing this as a last resort as it’s very hit and miss as to whether you’ll find someone who’s right for your project.
It can also get quite soul destroying having to navigate around tons of websites that say roughly the same thing. But by all means give it a go, try searching for things like 'Freelance Graphic Designer Leicester' or 'Web Design Portfolio Leicester'. Try to be as specific as possible to narrow down your results.
So by now you should have quite a few potential designers you’d like to work with. Your job is to narrow this down to something manageable (I recommend 3-5).
Then read on to find out how to whittle these down until you’re left with The One.