Looking for a Designer

Posted on Jul 22, 2012 in Business

Tips to find the best one for you

Ok, lets say you do not know anybody in the Design community in Calgary, and you do not want to hire your cousin which happen to read a book about Design and is “between jobs” to do your design project.  You are aware of your design needs, and you start searching Google for Design Company in Calgary.  You might end up with thousands of results, but still it is hard to figure out which one of the options available may be the best for you.  No worries, we are going to give you good hints for finding the best designer. It does not matter if you are looking for an experienced graphic designer, web design studio, industrial design company or ux design freelancer, the same principles apply to all of them.

Why ? Because we care about you, even if you are not our client.

This metaphor will help us to get started.

Let’s say you want to buy a new car. 

I know it is not the kind of choices you do every day but you may understand that this kind of decisions will have small and big repercussions in your future.  It is probable that the decision-making process would go like this.  What are my needs?  What it can do for me? What it would say about me?  And finally, how much can I invest on it?

If you love Mini Coopers but you have fit your five teenager boys on it, chances are this car would not be a good option according to your needs.  Some cars are more useful than others, a huge pick up truck would be a good off road option, when the roads are frozen and you need to load big heavy boxes. Now let’s say you are an ecology activist, then buying a Hummer would come even close to the image you have about yourself.  Imagine you really want a Ferrari, and you are trying to convince the concessionary to get a half price discount. If you get it, congratulations, but it is more than likely they would not take it seriously.

Now, how this explanation is applied to find the right designer for me?


The Designers 4P’s:

Problem, Portfolio, Personality, Price.

P1 = Problem: What are my design needs?

What are your needs?  This especially tricky, and it is a common mistake to confuse the solution with the problem.  Let’s go back to the car example. Whenever you say you need a car, what you are actually saying is that you need is a solution for your private transportation problem, a car happens to be way to solve it, but a bicycle could also be a viable solution.  Before asking for a logo, web design, business card, UI, 3d model, you name it… step back for a second, think about your strategy, how this project will bring you a ROI, who is your audience and what do you want to say.  Chances are you might be jumping into conclusions.

Make sure the design companies or designers you are interviewing can offer alternatives (a car or a bicycle) based on a reasonable understanding of your business.


P2 = Portfolio: What this design professional can do for me?

The basic rule of thumb, “No Portfolio = No Designer”. In the Design World, who you are, is what you are doing, did and are going to do.  A good design portfolio has to be able to clearly tell you the past, present and future of the company.

Small hint, ask for the ugly projects, the ones they do not want to show to you.  We all have our projects where circumstances are less than optimal.  That presentation where the clients sent all the files two hours before the meeting, that day all the computers in the studio died, that occasion when the creative muse just did not show up.  A design professional lives this kind of things everyday, but what makes him or her a good designer is being able to face these situations, take the most out of them and deliver a good service to you.


P3 = Personality: What the design would have to say about me?

The bound between a client and a professional designer is a relationship after all, and it follows the same patterns as any of them.  Sometimes the romance last forever, like a match made in heaven; other times the story does not have a happy ending.  Some personalities are not meant to hang around together, not even work.

Ask the company you are meeting how would they describe themselves?  Be sure they are saying who they are, and not trying to please you and tell you what you want them to be.  At the end, you do not want to end up driving a Hummer to your Green Peace meeting, right?  Choose the right designer for you. If you feel you can deal with them, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, from this day forward until the end of the project do you part? If not, speak now or forever hold your peace.


P4 = Price: How much can I invest on Design?

Money, oh, that small detail.  A good Design Company should be able to put a very well defined price policy right in front of you. Be careful of the free design with… deals,  Ej. “Free Design with business cards”. It would be pretty much like a plastic surgeon saying free beauty with nose job.

Remove from your vocabulary the words “cheap” or “expensive”. You are in business, you are looking for ROI (Return on Investment).  If you are going to put one dollar in design, be sure the designer will be able to bring two back.  If a designer cannot figure out ways to convince you he will bring money from that investment back to your pocket, basically the results you will get are decoration.

Design is one of the fastest and most effective ways to create value for you company.   A Ferrari is because of the time and dedication designers put on make it a Ferrari.


What if you are now able to tell the P4’s just from the company’s website?

Then it is time to go for a coffee.  A good designer in Calgary is for sure addicted to caffeine and warm places.  In my case, I am always looking for a excuse for a large Americano with lots of cream lots of sugar.   Contact me.

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