We have created this free guide to explain the process of finding and working with a designer – focusing on your needs and ensuring you get the most out of the project.
Over the next six chapters, we will cover:
How to find a designer
In this chapter we will look at four different approaches to finding a designer.
Finding a designer
There are several ways to find a designer. For instance, you might want to search a directory of UK designers and design consultancies.
As a government-funded organisation, the Design Council must remain impartial, and is therefore unable to recommend individual designers or design businesses.
However, we are able to recommend the following organisations, which offer a comprehensive resource of UK-based designers and consultancies, grouped by discipline – e.g. graphic design, product design, web design, branding and so on.
Please note that you will need to register with the Design Business Association to use their directory, but that registration is free. Design Week magazine also runs www.newdesignpartners.com, a commercial site for design consultancies to showcase their work which lists businesses by discipline and the sectors they work in.
In practice, most people prefer a more personal route than a directory when looking for a designer, so other approaches are very common.
In the first instance, scouting around is a good idea. Ask friends or colleagues if they know of any designers whose work has been successful and who were reliable and productive to work with. Whilst you’re not necessarily looking to commission friends or friends of friends, getting people you already trust to recommend designers they’ve worked with is a good idea. Personal recommendation is commonplace and acts as a kind of pre-vetting, which you wouldn’t get when selecting designers from an impartial list.
It’s also a good idea to try and find a few examples of existing designs, products or services that you believe are effective in their market and then find out who worked on the design – good work can recommend itself.
So, whether you’re interested in branding work, packaging design, annual reports, a retail space or an office redesign, if you come across something good in the same area, then it’s probably worth talking to the designers who worked on it.
Talking to a middleman
Another approach is to bring in an intermediary who knows the design industry well and can help set up introductions to a few designers who may be appropriate.
This person might also help you prepare information about your business and focus your objectives into the beginnings of what will become a design brief – a document which lays out in writing what you are commissioning your designers to do and what you need to achieve.
My wife and I started the business eight years ago with no training in marketing, branding and so on, so we’re learning as we go. We met with a consultant called Rob Waddell who helped us structure a brief. At first we said ‘Rob, we’ve never done a brief before – a brief for what?’ He explained the importance of telling the designer about our product and business. After we’d done that he then spoke to a few design consultancies and invited three for interview. Crispin Clay, Co-founder, Munchy Seeds
Intermediaries may well specialise in a particular area, so if you can find someone who knows your market and knows which designers are skilled in that area, they could prove doubly useful. There’s also a Design Week article discussing the merits of using an intermediary, which can be found here.