Quality • Time • Price
We want all three, however, only two are reasonable to expect. So how can you be sure that the two you want are the two your designer can give you? Just ask!
1 – Does your designer have experience with logo/graphics that match your needs? If you are in the fashion industry and the designer you’re working with has a portfolio of logos that are predominately in the technology industry you could both have a very different approach to your goal. This is not to say that the designer can’t deliver what you’re hoping for, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have some logos that aren’t in their portfolio to demonstrate a broader style range.
2 – Can they work in your time frame? If you need your final files delivered in under a month it ought to be one of the first things you discuss with them. This gives you each clear direction for the pace required to ensure you’re happy with the product. It is not unusual for a designer to refer projects elsewhere when they simply don’t have time to give the attention required. We would all love to take every job that comes our way, but commitments to other clients and fear of not fulfilling your design needs influence our decision to take on a quick turn around project.
3 – How does the designer charge for their time and when is payment required? Designers can price their services hourly, as a flat rate, and/or in a price range. It is best to determine early on if their pricing is going to fit your budget. Many designers require a percentage of the total as a deposit with the remainder of the payment due when files are delivered. It is also important to inquire about out of scope services and how many revisions are included. All designers want you to be happy with the final product, but “unlimited revisions” can leave a lot of room for interpretation. It’s best to be specific about these from the start.
4 – Will there be a project proposal and contract? The project proposal should have a clear breakdown of the expectations from the designer and the client, as well as time frames for each stage. Many designers will gladly go over the proposal with you to answer questions or clear up confusion as needed. Don’t be afraid to ask that the proposal be adjusted to reflect changes you’ve discussed and agreed upon. Typically, this proposal is attached to the payment agreement contract. The proposal will often be referred to throughout the design process by both designer and client, so getting the details right will help ensure you get the final product you were hoping for.
5 – Will the product have custom art or royalty free pieces and how are those billed? There is a wide array of photography and illustration sites out there where designers can get elements for your designs. Custom art, created by the designer, can cost more, but can also ensure that it’s unique to you. Royalty free pieces mean your competitor can buy the same thing and use it in their marketing, but this also makes it cheaper with a quicker to turn around. What is important to note is how the designer will be billing you for these things if they use them. Ask if this is an additional fee or if it’s covered by the design fee.
6 – Are the source files going to be made available and will there be a charge for them? A source file is the layered, original, editable file(s). Many designers prefer to keep these source files and not release them. If you know you’re going to have another person edit them for other purposes, for example, an in-house designer, or perhaps you want them in case you ever need to use a different designer, then you should ask about obtaining these. The original file will be in whatever file format the designer created them in. For example, if they made your logo in Adobe Illustrator, the file extension will be .ai and if you don’t have that specific program you won’t be able to open the file.
7 – If specialty fonts are used is their cost included in the design fee? Most designers have spent a small fortune on a solid font library to pull from. These are usually considered an investment in their business. If specific fonts are requested the designer doesn’t have the proposal price may be adjusted to reflect it. With this in mind, if the source files are requested as in the above question, then turning over the font file that was paid for by the designer can get tricky. There are a variety of ways this can be handled and it’s a good idea to determine how you and your designer will approach this.
Good communication, a clearly written proposal, and shared objectives will ensure that you and your designer are going to successfully create exactly what you need for your business and brand. So much of what you have to discuss with your designer can be a bit awkward for one or both of you, so be sure to find someone you feel comfortable speaking with so you can both make it through the details and move on to the project itself as quickly as possible.