MC CREATIVE Freebie How To Choose a Skilled Designer

I got in an argument in a Facebook group (so 21rst century, right?) about how to judge a the quality of a graphic designer.

As I watched business owners argue over what they feel is acceptable in a graphic designer, I was blown away by how much people were willing to compromise on what could very well be the most important part of their business.

So, here’s a few check points to consider when hiring a graphic designer for your next project.

1. Ask about the software they use. There are a lot of programs on the market, but there are a few that are considered to be the industry standard for the field of Graphic Design. Adobe Creative Cloud is the main set of programs a designer should be using.

If a designer only uses programs like, Canva and PicMonkey, be wary. Those programs should never be used for anything other than social media post creation as they have consequential limitations when designing things like, PDFs and logos.

Ask the following questions:

  • What’s your favorite program and why?
  • What types of things to you like to design most?
  • What program do you use to create design work?
  • Could you tell me a little bit about your work flow?
  • * How will you ensure future compatibility with my design files?

2. Inquire about the work in their portfolio. A designer may have an uh-mazing portfolio and great personality, but if their website is poorly designed, or their own graphics are of a much lower quality, it’s a SERIOUS red flag. The internet isn’t strongly regulated and work gets stolen all the time.

Ask the following questions:

  • Is your work original?
  • *Were any of these works completed for paying clients?
  • Are these tutorials, or projects you’ve created for yourself?

The only wrong answer is, ‘yes, I stole all this,’ but good luck getting a confession. It’s a great sign if a designer is growing her skills through tutorials or has personal projects- it shows initiative and drive. But, it’s a big reg flag if she doesn’t have paid client work in her portfolio and is still charging a premium for her service.

3. Ask for references. Any skilled designer who has been working in the industry will have solid references. Ask to speak to past or current clients to gauge how satisfied they are with the graphic design service he is providing.

4. Ask about educational background. Graphic design is a skill that is taught at 2 YR and 4 YR Universities, at a graduate level, but is also a skill that can be an apprenticeship or learned by oneself. Having a degree in graphic design doesn’t make an amazing graphic designer, but it does guarantee the basic principals of design were taught.

Ask the following questions:

  • What was your favorite class you took during your design education and what did you learn?
    (keep it vague, as a designer may have taken online courses by himself. Not everyone can afford an education, it doesn’t make them less of a designer.)
  • What was the best internship you had?
  • What was your favorite project or tutorial and why?
  • *Could you tell me a little history about your favorite font?
    (There is enough main stream media for a designer to have a real answer to this question, regardless of educational background.)

5. Ask for a resume. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘you can talk the talk but not walk the walk?’ This applies immensely to hiring a skilled graphic designer. Ask for their resume- if the designer is able to provide a resume that accounts for their years of claimed experience, there is a good chance she’s telling the truth. Plus, you can always sleuth around and call the companies on the resume to confirm.

Ask the following questions:

  • What was your favorite work experience and why?
  • *Have you ever had to deal with a problem client? How did you react? (If the designer says they’ve never dealt with a problem client, there is a good chance they’re lying about their experience. Red flag here.) 
  • Was there a project where you really took charge and let your creativity shine?
  • Have you had to manage your own schedule for deliverables before?

I cannot tell you how many hundreds of literal dollars I’ve seen wasted investing in ‘graphic designers’ who promise a high quality product, but fail to deliver, over and over again.

High quality, consistent design builds trust with your audience, and you have the right to reliable graphic design services for your business.

Download the worksheet here to use for future graphic design interviews. It’s free.


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