10 Questions to Ask Your Graphic Designer | MP 92

On this marketing podcast, Samantha Carvalho talks about 10 questions to ask your graphic designer.

Are you looking to hire a new creative for your team? How can you best vet a new designer? What makes a great designer great?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about the 10 questions you should ask your graphic designer.

Podcast Sponsor: Heard

An image of the Practice of the Practice podcast sponsor, Heard, is captured. Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting, and tax assistance.

As a therapist, you’re probably too preoccupied with your caseload to want to think about bookkeeping or tax filing. Heard can help you out with that. Heard is a bookkeeping and tax platform built specifically for therapists in private practice that helps you track and improve your practice’s financial health. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned clinician or are in the first year of your practice, Heard will help you to identify areas for growth and streamline best financial practices for your business.

When you sign up with Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online, and grow your business. You’ll also receive financial insights such as profit and loss statements and personalized monthly reports. You can say goodbye to poring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or quarterly payments; focus on your clients, and Heard will take care of the rest.

Plans begin at $149 per month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up now at www.joinheard.com.

In This Podcast

  • “Where do you find your inspiration?”
  • “How did you design your portfolio?”
  • “Tell me about the projects you’re most proud of, and why. What was your role?”
  • “What software do you use?”
  • “How do you work cross-functionally with developers, copywriters, project managers, etc?”
  • “Are you typically involved in the strategy or ‘concept’ phase of a project?”
  • “What’s your creative process?”
  • “How do you deal with feedback?”
  • “How do you hand off a project?”
  • “What’s your dream job?”

“Where do you find your inspiration?”

See who or what influences your designer and whether they keep up with current trends:

  • Are they influenced by the art scene, architecture, furniture, interior decorating, or visual design?
  • What apps do they admire?
  • Which websites make them jealous they did not create?

Even though you may not recognize every name, brand, or product they list, that’s okay, because you are looking for passion and an open mind. Great designers are constantly inspired by and learning from the work of others. (Sam Carvalho)

“How did you design your portfolio?”

Double-check that they did design it themselves!

Did they use Squarespace or Dribble? Did they code it themselves? Explore why they arranged it like it is.

If they say, “the newest stuff is up front”, or “it’s just all my work laid out”, that’s a bad sign. You’re looking to learn how they think and organize their work, especially if you want a designer who’s skilled in user experience and interface. They must be aware of the usability and functionality of their portfolio. (Sam Carvalho)

Look for variety in their work. You need a flexible designer with a broad range of abilities, so they can adapt quickly and create work that appeals to you and your clients.

“Tell me about the projects you’re most proud of, and why. What was your role?”

Before the interview, try to find your favorites within their portfolio so that you can mention them if the designer does not. Get details on the project itself and the specific role they played in it.

Have them walk you through the process to see if and how they were involved. Knowing what they regularly tackle will help you to see if they would be a fit.

“What software do you use?”

  • Can they go beyond Photoshop and InDesign towards newcomers like Sketch and UXPin?
  • Do they have extra skills like animation, video editing, and illustration?
  • Which coding languages and programs are they learning or are interested in learning?
  • Do they have print skills for layout and production work?

If you are not familiar with the creative world, get someone else on your staff to jump in on the meeting as a go-between.

“How do you work cross-functionally with developers, copywriters, project managers, etc?”

The best designers are team players. They know how to conceptualize, ask questions, incorporate feedback, and collaborate on projects.

Ask for a specific example of how they worked under a tight deadline, when they had to rely on other people, or for how they interacted when the team had very different work styles. (Sam Carvalho)

“Are you typically involved in the strategy or ‘concept’ phase of a project?”

Designers who have led projects, incorporated intake from stakeholders, and have been a part of the strategic planning phase are the ones you want to snag for your team.

Their range of skills is extensive, from executing existing briefs to understanding the why behind the ask to developing concepts to presenting work. It is a bonus if the designer has worked face-to-face with clients.

“What’s your creative process?”

Here you want to understand how this person works best, and if that works for you and your team.

  • Do they try to understand the problem before they start designing?
  • What kinds of questions do they ask?
  • Are they comfortable with ideation?
  • Can they execute someone else’s idea?
  • Do they like to brainstorm or concentrate on their own?
  • Do they like when people offer advice?
  • Are they more of a leader or contributor?
  • How do they collaborate remotely, which is rapidly becoming the new norm?
  • Can they handle curveballs?

Their answers will give you something to marinate on.

“How do you deal with feedback?”

Great designers want feedback on their work because they know it can make the final project even better.

They can support and defend their work in respectful ways, sharing insights on their choices and providing options for change.

You want someone who believes in their work but is not difficult or inflexible.

“How do you handoff a project?”

Final handoff can determine the success and future accessibility of any design project, so you want a designer who makes the final handoff as smooth as possible. (Sam Carvalho)

  • Do they recommend specific file types for final review with the client?
  • Do they provide source files?
  • Have they bundled or organized the files for future use?
  • Have they created a naming structure for ease of use?

You don’t want someone who is rushing to the finish line without considering the project’s results or future needs.

“What’s your dream job?”

Broad questions like this can give you a glimpse into their personality. Personality is important in making sure that they can fit in with the culture of your company.

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Sam Carvalho

A photo of Samantha Carvalho is captured. She is the Chief Marketing Officer and Designer at Practice of the Practice. She is the host of the Marketing A Practice Podcast and helps therapists successfully market and brand their private practices.Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[SAM CARVALHO] Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho where you’ll discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand new business visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. If you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.

Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today, I’m going to be talking through some questions to ask a graphic designer. If you plan on bringing a graphic designer onto your team, or even just outsourcing some work to a graphic designer, it’s helpful to know kind of what questions you should think of asking in terms of figuring out whether they’re a quality designer to bring onto your team. So you want to make sure that they’ll mesh well with your team and with your company. You don’t just want any designer. And finding the right designer can often be overwhelming, especially if you’re not a creative yourself. So you have some questions to help you discover if a designer has the conceptual and collaborative skills, attitude, and of course, design mojo to be a part of your team.

The first question to ask them is where do you find your inspiration? You want to see what or who influences your designer and whether they keep up with current trends. Are they influenced by the art scene, architecture, furniture, interior decorating, or just visual design? What apps do they admire? Which websites made them jealous that they didn’t create it? Even though you might not recognize every name or brand or product that they list that’s okay. You’re essentially just looking for passion and an open mind. Great designers are constantly inspired by and learning from the work of others. So it’s important to see where they get that inspiration from and also if it aligns with the look and feel that you are going for.

The second question to ask is how did you design your portfolio? This might seem a bit odd, but it’s an important part of vetting a graphic designer. You also want to double check that they did their portfolio themselves. Did they use Squarespace or Dribble? Did they code it themselves and then explore why it’s arranged the way it is. So if they say just the newest staff is upfront or it’s just all my work laid out, that’s a bad sign. You’re looking to learn how they think and organize their work. Especially if you want a designer who’s skilled in user experience or user interface, UX, or UI, it’s particularly important that they’re aware of the usability and functionality of their portfolio, because obviously that’s your first touchpoint with them. So hopefully they’ve put in some strategic thought into how that is laid out. You also want to look for variety in their work, so making sure that they have experience in designing logos, print, design, digital design. Obviously it depends what your requirements are, but you want to, you need a flexible designer with a broad range of abilities so that they can adapt quickly and create work that appeals to you and your clients.

The third question is to get them to tell you about the projects that they are most proud of, that they’ve completed and why, and what was their role. Try looking through their portfolio before the time and picking out some of your favorite projects that they’ve done as well. This is so that you can mention to them if they don’t necessarily know what their favorite project is, then you can say, tell me about this specific project. What was your role in it? Usually designers don’t actually list their duties. They just list the end result. The deliverable. So have them walk you through to see if they were involved in the strategy, connecting, executing and so on of that specific project. Of course, just because something isn’t in their portfolio, it doesn’t mean they can’t create it, but understanding what they regularly tackle helps you to see if they’d be a good fit for you.

Number four is what software do you use? So you want to kind of figure out if they’re able to go beyond Photoshop and InDesign, and if they maybe make use of some new programs like Sketch and UXPin, for example. Do they have extra skills like animation, video or illustration as these could come in handy with some projects that you have planned for them? Are there languages or programs they would like to learn? Do they have print skills for layouts and production work? Can they back up their design with coding skills? So obviously if you’re not familiar with the creative design world and with all the jargon and all the programs that graphic designers make use of, then you can always get someone on your team or maybe just a friend who is able to jump in on the interview with you and kind of help you out with that jar side of things.

Number five is how do you work cross-functionally with developers, copywriters, project managers and so on? An important part of graphic design is communication and is being able to work as part of a team because a lot of the time it’s a project that involves a lot of moving parts and a lot of different people. It’s not necessarily all just down to the graphic designer. So the best designers are team players. They know how to concept, ask questions, incorporate feedback, and collaborate on projects. So you want to ask for a specific example of how they worked under a tight deadline and when they had to rely on other people or for how they interacted with the team, when the team had very different work styles to them. Because as we all know in the real world, a lot of the time people aren’t going to work how you work, and that’s just something you have to navigate around. So you want to find out how they go about doing that. Are they able to do that and yes,, essentially, are they able to be a team player?

Number six, is, are you typically involved in the strategy or concept phase of the project? Again, you want to kind of find out their strengths and whether they are an all-round designer. When I say all round, like I said just now graphic design is a lot more than just designing. There’s a lot more to it, but obviously some designers don’t necessarily have the people skills side or don’t want to be involved in the strategy or concept side of things. They literally just want to be told what to design and they’ll design it and that’s that. If that’s what you’re looking for and that’s perfect, but if you’re wanting maybe a designer who’s previously led a project, who’s incorporated intake from stakeholders and been a part of the strategic planning phase, then this is an important question to ask.

The range of skills is obviously more extensive than those of just someone who just focuses on design. So these designers won’t just work at executing the briefs. They’ll also want to understand the why behind the briefs and they will then be able to develop the concepts and also present the work. So that’s kind of from A to Z, as opposed to just doing the design side of things. You also may want to ask if they are able to work face to face with clients, if that is part of your requirements. Again then you want to access out if this is a graphic designer with people skills. I know that sounds funny to say, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of graphic designers don’t have people skills. We’re a bit introverted and like to stay behind the computer. So that’s just something that you want to get a feel of as well
[HEARD] As a therapist, you’re probably too preoccupied with your caseload to want to think about bookkeeping or tax filing. Heard can help you out with that. Heard is a bookkeeping and tax platform built specifically for therapists in private practice that helps you track and improve your practice’s financial health. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned clinician or in the first year of your practice, Heard will help you to identify areas for growth and streamline best financial practices for your business.

When you sign up with Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online and grow your business. You’ll also receive financial insights, such as profit and loss statements and personalized monthly reports. You can say goodbye to pouring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or quarterly payments, focus on your clients Heard will take care of the rest. Plans begin at $149 per month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up now www.joinheard.com.
[SAM CARVALHO] Number seven is what’s your creative process? So here you want to understand how this person works best and if that works for you and your team. Do they try to understand the problem before they start designing? What kinds of questions do they ask? Are they comfortable with ideation? Can they execute on someone else’s idea? Do they like to brainstorm or concentrate on their own? Do they like when people offer advice? Are they more of a leader or a contributor? How do they collaborate remotely, which is rapidly becoming the new norm, as we know? Can they handle curve balls? All of these answers will give you a lot to think about and give you a good idea on basically the way that they work and whether that’s going to fit in with your team or not.

Number eight is how do you deal with feedback? So this is again, a very, very important question because the truth of the matter is that when they send you initial drafts, you’re not always going to love it, or there’s going to be certain things that you want to tweak, and you want to make sure that you’re able to kind of collaborate on that design with that designer, without them getting upset or refusing to make those changes and so on. So, great designers actually one feedback on their work because they know it can make the final project even better.

Most of the time, if communication channels are open, I really enjoy collaborating with clients on a specific task. As much as I enjoy the freedom to design what I want it’s also a nice challenge to incorporate obviously, what the client wants, but when the client then gives feedback on what you’ve designed, it’s a nice challenge to incorporate that. It can often make the design better because obviously the client knows their target market better than you. So it’s important for those channels to be open and for feedback to go both ways. So ask for specific ways that your designer has used feedback to improve and what they consider is valuable criticism, how they prefer to receive it and how they handle themselves when the feedback from you or a client differs from their own opinion.

Top designers can support and defend their work in respectful ways, sharing insights on their choices and providing options for change. You want someone who believes in their work, but won’t be difficult or flexible. There are times in the past where I have not counteracted feedback from a client, but I’ve just given my honest opinion as to why I don’t think it’s a good idea, but if they want to go ahead with that, the client’s always right. So then we can do so. So you want to be open to that as well? Like I said, the feedback goes both ways.

Number nine is how do you handle a project? Final handoff can determine the success and future accessibility of any design project. So you want a designer who makes the final handle of as smooth as possible. Some questions to consider within this topic is do they recommend specific file types of final review? Do they provide source files, very, very important? Have they bundled or organized the files for future use? Have they created a naming structure for ease of use? You don’t want someone who’s just rushing to the project, finish line without consideration of the project results or future needs. So it’s very, very important to kind of figure out how they deliver the end designs and yes, making sure that this is accessible in the future, should other designers need to access it, should members of your team need to access it and so on.

Finally, what is your dream job? So obviously this is quite a broad open-ended question, but it can give a good glimpse into their personality because again, personality is important in making sure that they fit into the culture of your company. You might get someone who takes it very seriously and sticks to a realistic role with their current space or you might get someone who showcases some humor by saying they actually want to be a food critic or a novelist. This can be a great way to determine if they are a good culture fit for your company.

So I hope this has given you some insight into some things to consider asking future designers that you plan on working with. Obviously, you’re welcome to ask me these questions as well. Yes, I hope it’s been helpful and I will see you in the next episode.

Thanks again to Heard for sponsoring this episode. When you sign up with Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online and grow your business. Plans begin at $149 per month, and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up now www.joinheard.com.

Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want some print flyer designed head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. If you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.

Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon. .

Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network. .

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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