How do you choose a designer to work with?

If you have not worked with a designer before, or you are looking for a better way to vet new designers - this guide is for you. Below are five questions you can use to choose a designer to work with and why you should ask them.

Have they worked on this type of project?

Having worked on a similar project to yours means they have already done research h in the industry and can design a product that will make more sense to users. This can both speed up the project and leave you with a better design. It can be difficult to find a designer who has worked on the exact project you are looking to do. If they have not worked on the exact type of project, you can also ask if they have worked on any projects similar to yours.

How long have they been in business?

Longevity is not the end all indicator, but someone who has been working in the field for a few years will have more experience, will be able to deliver quicker and can suggest changes to help fit your project. They will also be more reliable and more or less have proven themselves able to run a design business.

Can I talk to two of your past clients?

If they have no past clients, not a deal breaker - but know this ahead of time. I do not recommend spec work (work for free to prove themselves). As a former designer - I absolutely hated this approach and did not take projects on like this.

If they hide their clients or have absolutely no one you can talk to - that's kid of a red flag (NDA issues aside). A designer should have at least 1-2 clients you can talk to to get an idea of what working with them is like.

How do they bill?

Fixed price vs hourly - one will fit what you are looking for better. I always billed fixed price based on value provided because it is the easier to budget. No one wants to sit down at a restaurant to eat and be told “well your meal could be $40, it could be $400 - it all depends on how long it takes to cook it”. If there are too many unknowns, setup a paid discovery session and find out the unknowns, then get a fixed price.

Do you like them?

If someone has a shitty personality, they will be difficult to work with. Find someone who you and your team likes and gets along with. Have a quick chat with a few designers and see which one vibes with your team. Find someone who meshes with you and your team.


Here is what I look for when I hire a designer to work with me:

- familiar with industry
- longevity
- good portfolio / client references
- billing