Recently we’re hearing more and more stories of companies having trouble with designers. They’re coming in from North Georgia to South Florida – including graphic and web designers that don’t communicate, don’t meet deadlines, don’t deliver what’s they’ve promised, and who bite off more than they can chew. All told, this kind of service not only gives our industry a bad rap, but it leaves businesses out in the cold as far as developing their marketing plan, promoting events, capturing timely opportunities, and so forth.
A detective always seeks out witnesses. Consider yourself Sherlock Holmes in search of a creative team. Start by asking other business owners for recommendations and references. When you see a business card you like, or an ad or website you find compelling, ask the owner who did the work. As a general rule, if they’ve had a good experience, you will too.
Second comes research. Don’t necessarily take a reference at face value. Start looking for clues inside the designer’s portfolio. Good design companies have a comprehensive portfolio of work on their website. Thoroughly review the portfolio for samples that have the same features you’re interested in (design style is important, but a good designer should be able to create a variety of looks). Features are super important because a company that designs a gorgeous static website may not have the programming capabilities to create a database driven Ecommerce site for you.
Here are our 10 Clues that point to a successfully completed design project:
Clue #1: If you’re looking to hire a designer and they don’t have a website… RUN! These days there is NO excuse not to have an online presence for your advertising and marketing company.
Clue #2: If all or most of the samples on a web designers site say “Coming Soon” or “Page not found”… RUN! Obviously they’re probably a company that doesn’t finish projects.
Clue #3: If their portfolio has many samples, but they’re all for the same campaign or company (and one you’ve never heard of)… RUN!! Most likely these are samples done for design school, not real world business.
Clue #4: If their website or work samples have typos, broken links and outdated information… RUN! If they’ve done it before, they’ll do it again.
Clue #5: If you’re interviewing a designer and they don’t ask the three key questions… RUN! Your designer has to have these questions answered: what does the client do, what does the client want done, and what is the project deadline.
Clue #6: If you have trouble getting the design company on the phone, or they’re not answering your emails in a timely and efficient manner… RUN! This is just a foreshadowing of what’s to come when the real work begins.
Clue #7: If you don’t get a price quote (and or printing estimate) in writing… RUN! Verbal estimates are amateur, indicating that that designer is as well.
Clue #8: If the price sounds too good to be true… RUN! It probably is too good to be true. You’ll either never get the final project completed, or you’ll get what you pay for. Get several quotes to see what the ballpark figures should be if you’re new at this. And don’t rely on internet companies as many are in foreign countries making communication impossible, and again… you’ll get what you pay for.
Clue #9: If you aren’t asked to sign a contract… RUN! Do you know what the payment terms are, who owns the copyright, are there royalties or usage limits, and so on. Don’t hire any contractor without some agreement in writing.
Clue #10: If you aren’t asked for money up front… RUN! Think of it as a retainer, and typically, an assurance that your job is taken as a serious priority. If you’ve gotten to this point with your research, a deposit of 30 or 50% shouldn’t scare you.
There are tons of reputable, talented, and yes, affordable creative service companies around. The care you take at the beginning should pay big when you receive a finished project that’s what you expected (or better), that’s within budget, that’s on time, and most importantly, that’s effective at meeting your marketing goals.