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The #1 Rule for Choosing the Right Designer

Web Design Mistake

I don’t know about your experience, but I’ve found that choosing the right designer or design team isn’t easy.

Yet every digital marketer needs a good designer they can work with.

Whether it’s for web design, infographic design, or Facebook ad designs, we all need a designer (or two) who can create beautiful and effective materials to support our outbound and inbound marketing efforts.

But again, selecting the right designer isn’t easy.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

A marketer is working on a project, selects a designer, and then ends up being frustrated with the results. It just doesn’t look quite the way they want it to, which means the project takes longer and seems to drag on and on.

So what’s the secret to choosing the right designer, and how can you avoid the biggest mistake most marketers make when it comes to selecting a designer? That’s what I’m going to cover in this post.

The #1 Rule for Choosing a Designer Is…

The #1 rule for choosing a designer…

…is that you need to be in love with their work.

As soon as you see their portfolio on Dribbble, Behance, or the designer’s personal site, you should think, “Man, I love this guys work. This is exactly what I’m looking for.”

The reason for this is that design is very subjective. And it’s something that you want to make the right first impression. You don’t want the design to grow on you, you want to be in love with it right away.

So the minute you see a designer’s work, you should be impressed, blown away, and inspired.

Following this rule also saves you from making the biggest mistake when it comes to selecting a designer…

The Biggest Mistake People Make When Selecting a Designer Is…

The biggest mistake people make when selecting a designer is…

…thinking that if the designer can just change his or her style a little bit, then they’ll be perfect.

Here’s a description of how this might play out.

You land on a designer’s portfolio and begin to look around. You start to think to yourself, “This designer is pretty good, but I don’t really like X, Y, or Z. If I can just get them to change their style a bit, then they’ll be perfect for my project.”

And that just so happens to be the biggest mistake you can make—wanting the designer to change his/her style for your project.

Why Is That Such a Big Mistake?

This ends up being a big mistake because every designer is different. They have a particular style, and a particular way they view the world.

Paul Windle, a friend of mine, for example, has worked for big-name clients like Adidas, The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, ESPN, Fox, GQ, Lacoste, and more (seriously, the list goes on from there).

But he has a very, very particular design style, one that you won’t find anywhere else. Here are some samples of his work in case you don’t believe me:


And here’s a commercial he did for ESPN.


As I’m sure you can tell, his style is quite unique. He doesn’t design the same as your average designer.

So if you wanted him to change his style to design a logo or a website, you’d be out of luck.

This example is a bit extreme because technically Paul is an illustrator and not a designer, but I think it proves the point well. In the same way that you wouldn’t expect Paul Windle to all of a sudden do Apple-grade minimalistic designs, you shouldn’t expect a designer you find on Dribbble or Behance to completely change his or her style and match what you’re looking for.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that this happens a lot.  A small business owner is working on a design project, and he begins by talking to the first designer he meets. The designer’s work isn’t bad by any means, but it just doesn’t quite match the style of what the business owner is looking for.

Nevertheless, the business owner thinks to himself, “If I can just get him to design like this other guy, he’ll be perfect. Besides, he is a good designer, right? Shouldn’t he be able to change his style a bit?”

The answer is no, and you’re much better off finding a designer who’s work you’re in love with than finding a designer who you hope can change his style just a bit to match what you’re looking for.

Your Turn: What’s your take on this topic? Have you been involved in projects where you selected the wrong designer? Did you learn any lessons? Leave a comment to join the discussion and to share your experience and top tips for finding the right designer.

The Author

Joe Putnam HeadshotJoe Putnam (@josephputnam) is the Director of Marketing at iSpionage. He’s helped organizations increase SEO traffic over 400%, conversion rates 133%, and AdWords conversions 10X. Get in touch with him via Clarity to get advice for content marketing, SEO, PPC, and conversion rate optimization.