Choose and work with a designer

Choose the right designer for your project


Design businesses range from sole traders to large consultancies. They may specialise in one design discipline, or offer a range of skills and services. If you're starting out or rebranding an existing business, choosing the right designer or agency for your project is key.

How to find a professional designer?

Start with looking for referrals and recommendations from business acquaintances. You can also search online, in professional directories or enquire with local business support agencies.

If you come across design work that impresses you, find out who did it, but don't be swayed by one high-quality project you have seen. You will want to make sure that the designer has:

  • good credentials
  • an extensive portfolio that shows high standards of creativity and skills
  • a track record in problem-solving and achieving success

Draw up a shortlist of designers by looking at recent work. Ask them for a summary of their credentials and what approach they would take to your project. You should also ask them for a quote or to tender for the job.

By this stage, you should have a clear idea of the budget for your design project. Keep in mind that the larger the company you hire, the more complicated the fee structure may be. Budget is one of the key things to agree with your designer.

Questions to ask a potential designer

When choosing a designer, you may want to ask them the following questions:

  • Are they specialists in your sector?
  • Have they the necessary skills to take on this project?
  • Can they meet your requirements within budget and deadline?
  • What systems do they use and are they compatible with yours?
  • What are their estimated response times - can they be flexible?
  • Will they maintain confidentiality about your project?
  • What do they charge and how do they want to be paid - is there a fixed rate for the job or are extras to be negotiated?

Personality and ethos matter too. You should choose a designer with whom you feel you could develop a good working relationship.

Creative vs credentials pitch

While you are shortlisting, you may want to invite a few preferred agencies to 'pitch' their services to you. Two most common types of pitching are:

  • creative pitch
  • credentials pitch

Creative pitching sometimes involves a designer doing free creative work in the hope of winning a contract. This does not necessarily mean they will produce the best solution for your project.

Credentials pitch allows you to interrogate past work and experience, and assess the designer's proven capabilities, expertise and record of accomplishment.

Regardless of the nature of the pitch, you will typically have to give the candidates an outline brief of your project's objectives and business goals. See how to write an effective design brief.

You will get a chance to ask further questions during the pitch. This will enable you to get a better idea of the designer's approach, and decide if they are the right fit for your project.