User Experience: How to Hire a Great Graphic Designer

Hire a great graphic designer by asking the right questions

by Kelsey Sarles

To discover a great graphic designer suitable for hiring, ask questions.

 1. Ask to see their portfolio. It should make you say things like, "Wow! I could never do that!" and "It's so creative!!"

Keep in mind that if you're looking for someone who can create designs for both print and web (and you probably are), you'll want to see examples of both their print and digital design work.

2. Ask about the specific portfolio pieces that interest you. You'll want to learn:

– exactly what the designer designed themselves
– what may have been created with the help of others
– what/who the designs were created for
– how they came up with the design concept

3. Ask what design programs they use most frequently. If they say: "Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop," that's a good sign. If they include these programs plus Dreamweaver, Fireworks, or Flash, that's a great sign!

4. Ask about their education. You want to hear: "I have a B.A. in Graphic Design from __." or "I have a B.A. Advertising and Communications from ___." Do they have an additional degree in photography or fine arts? A minor in business or marketing?

5. Ask what design-related blogs or magazines they read. If they don't mention Smashing Magazine, be concerned. If they don't subscribe to any design publications, be very concerned.

6. Ask about their biggest accomplishment. What design-related project are they most proud of and why? "It was just really cool" is not an acceptable answer. A good designer will express concrete results directly attributed to their work.

7. Ask about their creative process. How do they create effective design solutions? Good designers don't pull their ideas out of thin air. They create effective design solutions by:

– understanding their clients' project objectives
– understanding their clients' target markets
– researching the competition
– having both ability and passion for their work

8. Ask them to describe the types of projects they most enjoy working on and where they see themselves in 5 years.

– Do they express a passion for the type of work you need?
– Do they want to progress in the creative field? If they say, "Well, I like design, but I really love working with animals…" then this is probably a sign that they don't love what they do. You want people who love what they do. 

9. Ask about their work style, their ability to multi-task, and their turn-around time. If you run a fast-paced company, you'll want to find a designer who can work quickly and under the pressure of tight deadlines.

10. Ask them about themselves, their other interests, and hobbies. Do you find them interesting, pleasant, fun, smart? Will you enjoy collaborating with them on a daily or weekly basis?

The most important factor that separates a good designer from a great design is thoughtful, creative, goal-oriented design. It not just about making pretty things. It's about making great looking, effective design solutions.

User Experience is by Kelsey Sarles.

Kelsey Sarles is a User Experience and Graphic Designer, passionate about creating inspiring, results-driven marketing and design solutions for her clients. Her portfolio includes concept, UX, and graphic design of Handshake® Mobile's Thought Full™ – an app to remember, and UX and graphic design for She Chooses® mobile powered by Feel. Think. Choose.™

Read and see: User Experience by Kelsey Sarles | Everything from Kelsey Sarles on Handshake 2.0.

First Bank & Trust CompaySponsored by First Bank & Trust Company, one of the top community banks in the United States, with office locations in southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee, and the New River and Shenandoah Valleys of Virginia. You're invited to read more from First Bank & Trust Company on Handshake 2.0.

First Bank & Trust Company is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

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  1. This is a subject Kelsey knows well and practices in her work with clients. I’m one of them and I have always loved that she asks “what is it you want the user to do when she comes to this page?” I have greatly enjoyed working with her on Smart College Visit and various other projects and, just like the post above demonstrates: she gets GREAT graphic design.

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