Choose and work with a designer

Key things to agree with your designer


Before your design project starts, you should agree a number of key things with your designer or design team. These include:

  • Objectives - these should be specific, measurable, realistic, time-limited and understood by both sides.
  • Internal resources - take into account all the people and information the project will require, from materials to manufacturing techniques.
  • Costs - agree with a designer how you will pay them and will there be additional costs, ie are the design fees an estimate, fixed-price or on a 'price-not-to-exceed' basis.
  • Schedules - include the design team in your timetable and make them aware of any critical milestones along the way to the final deadline.
  • Communication - aim for open discussions with your design team and a steady flow of ideas between both parties to help ensure the right design is picked for development.
  • Control - aim for firm decisions at all times to avoid wasting money on unproductive ideas.
  • Progress reviews - hold regular reviews that keep everyone up to date.
  • Intellectual property (IP) - agree any IP issues in advance. You can draw up contracts to ensure that your business retains any IP created as part of the project.

Preparation is key to ensuring that you get the most from your discussions.

Estimate and negotiate your design budget

Designers usually charge either a daily or hourly rate, or a fixed fee for the entire project. Sometimes, they may wish to arrange the payment on a royalty basis, as a share of the revenue generated by their work.

Depending on the agency size and structure, and the scope of the work, the fees may involve:

  • a pitch fee
  • the design work fee
  • copywriting
  • print or production
  • specialist skills or equipment
  • prototyping and testing
  • market research
  • IP assignment

It is important to discuss all the costs involved to make sure that both sides understand what they are agreeing too.

Design proposal document

The designer may wish to develop a formal proposal document in response to your design brief. In this proposal, the designer will work out what they need to do, how long this is likely to take and how much they need to charge for it. They will also outline what you will get for your money.

After agreeing the brief and the proposal, the designer will proceed to explore possible solutions. From this point, it will be important to manage your design project effectively.