a web designer drawing a wire frame

Need to engage a freelance designer to bring your project to life? When it comes to design, there are lots of details to cover—whether you need an infographic, a new logo, or a full site design.

Before you post your design-related job post on Upwork, it’s important to cover all the basics in your job post—especially those nitty gritty details that can add up to lots of time and energy for a designer. In this article, we’ll give you a checklist of the things you can include to ensure you’re writing the most thorough design job post possible—and getting the most accurate proposals in return.

Note that you may need some or all, depending on your project—but this should get you thinking like a designer.

1. First, provide all the necessary background information.

Give the freelancer all the information they need to get to know you, your company, your brand, and who your audience is. This is a chance to introduce you and your project so they have a big picture of what you need. This section can include any of the following:

  • Who are you? Describe your company, business, or industry.
  • Summarize your brand. Beyond your business, what’s the heart of your brand? How do you relate to consumers?
  • Who is your target audience? What are their demographics, their goals, and how will they be accessing or viewing the designs? What are your goals for the design—what do you want them to do with it?
  • Provide examples of designs you like, or what your competition is doing. Providing examples of designs you like (or don’t like) can help guide the designer and give them a little insight and inspiration into what you’re looking to accomplish.

Note: If you’re concerned about confidentiality, you can provide sensitive information later in the process.

2. Give a high-level summary of the project.

While staying out of the weeds, next you’ll want to cover the top-line information the designer needs to know about what it is they’ll be doing.

  • What is the project? Is it web-related, graphic design, UI design, logo design, etc.?
  • Why do you need it done? What’s your primary business goal with the project? Are you launching a new site, designing the UI of an app, or creating imagery to accompany content?
  • What’s the timeline? What are the start and end dates? Is there a launch date in mind?

3. Attach a creative brief if you have one.

This is where having a thorough creative brief and attaching it to the post is very helpful. If you don’t have a brief, here are some things the post should ideally include:

  • What are your project milestones and which have design requirements to meet?
  • What are the actual deliverables? How should they be submitted? Some designers may deliver you your site’s layout as an image to be coded by a front-end designer, or code it themselves. Be specific here: If they’re not doing the development work, do you need the layout broken into elements that can be coded into the CSS and HTML of your site?
  • What specific assets do you need? What elements must the design include?

Do you need…

  • A landing page
  • Full website design (wireframes and design)
  • Advertisement
  • Printed collateral
  • Email layout
  • Mobile app design and icons
  • Logo design
  • Infographic
  • Collateral design materials
  • Animation

This is also a good time to tackle things like:

  • What file formats do you need? Will you just need image files or will you need to be able to access the artwork later in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or Visual Studio?
  • Is any development work required along with the design? Development means that the project will require development resources, either associated with the work that the designer will do, or technical skills you may need them to have. For example, are you tweaking a WordPress theme? If so, the designer will likely need to know some basic code to accomplish the task.

Assets You’ll Be Providing

Let the designer know what you’ll be sending their way, which might include:

  • Design guidelines. Do you have a brand book that includes any specific design guidelines they’ll need to adhere to?
  • Existing design assets.
  • Color scheme.
  • An existing copy deck, if applicable.
  • Elements like logos, photography, illustrations, and fonts.
  • Site wireframes for an existing site. If it’s not a new site, include how your current site is organized. This is important for web design projects. Why? It can greatly affect navigation and menus, and how they design these menus to be responsive and when/where they will break, and how they’ll break.
  • Do you have a logo? Talk about it. Get specific with your logo and your design standards. Is it a vertical logo? A light-colored logo? A detailed logo that is tricky to put over photos? Vertical logos in particular can be complex for designers to put into headers, themes, and other parts of a website.
  • Imagery. Do you have original photography, or do you need the designer to source or take the photos themselves? Are you using stock images?
  • UI elements. Every industry has their own standard interface and elements that make a design intuitive for users, whether it’s restaurant menus or contact forms. If you have any of these elements, include these in any discussion of your design.

4. Be sure to mention if user testing is on the agenda.

Oftentimes, user testing will inform the need for updated design, a refresh of UI, or new design collateral to support an objective. What’s your strategy for the project? Do you have any testing results to share with the designer that might help guide their work?

If yes, when will it occur?

  • During development
  • After development

5. What expertise should the freelancer have?

If there are any specifics to cover here, be sure they’re in the job post. This will help a designer who’s looking at your job post to know if the project is a good fit for them.

  • Do you need experience with certain programs or platforms? This could be PhotoShop, Illustrator, a tool like Sketch, prototyping tools like InVision, or a WordPress framework like Genesis.
  • Do you need programming experience? Does the designer need HTML or CSS programming experience? JavaScript? PHP?

6. Technical considerations

Design and development go hand in hand, with many developers and designers overlapping in expertise and specialties. That’s why if you’re looking to engage a front-end designer with development experience, you’ll want to mention if any of the following need to be included in the scope of work.

SEO Elements

Design can play a big role in SEO, so it’s helpful to kill two birds with one stone if your designer is able to tackle a few SEO-related tasks—especially if they’re designing for or uploading images to a CMS like WordPress. Mention if you want any of the following SEO elements included in your design work.

  • Meta tags.
  • Favicons. This is the icon that shows up next to your website name in browser tabs or bookmark menus, or as a web app icon on a smartphone or tablet. It will be a default icon from your browser (e.g., a blank page icon) if you don’t specify it. A designer can pull part of your logo or create an abbreviated version as a vector. This takes a bit of coding and understanding of pixel dimensions, so be sure to mention it as a requirement if you don’t already have one.
  • Custom graphics/images for Facebook OpenGraph. A plugin like Yoast can do this for you, or a designer can hard code these images into your site’s code.
  • Twitter images, etc.
  • Analytics. Do you have or need analytics added to your site?

Other technical-related specifics for a web designer to know about:

  • Need responsive design? Graceful degradation, and you may need different versions of your logo. For responsive design, when a site shrinks to fit a smaller size, designing a more simplified version of your logo to suit a smaller mobile navigation or header.
  • Menus and responsive navigation preferences. Do you know how you want your navigation to look and work? Knowing how you want your mobile/responsive menus to look is helpful for the designer. Do you have preferences, like the word “menu” or a hamburger menu icon? This is also when it’s helpful to provide a sitemap so they know how many links they’re working with. Will the menu break sideways, or down, slide out from the side? And at what resolution? Will it require animation? This could dictate whether the designer needs experience with JavaScript, jQuery, and more.
  • Animation and interactivity. Animated graphics and interactive design are common elements of many sites—especially when it comes to navigation. Not every designer does animation, so be sure to specify this both to ensure the designer can complete the task and to help them create an accurate estimate for the work.

Speaking of menus and transitions, this is one place where aesthetics and functionality really meet in web design. There’s lots of room for creativity and beautiful animations when it comes to menus and navigation. The more complexity you want, the more time and experience that could require—including the use of JavaScript and libraries like jQuery.

  • Mobile-first design vs. desktop—do you have a preference?
  • Accessibility considerations. Does your design need to be compatible with a screen reader?
  • What devices does the design need to work on? This will dictate the media queries in responsive design.

WordPress CMS Design

Working with content management system themes and frameworks is another ballgame, and carries a bunch of its own specifics. We’ll outline a few of these here, but check out How Much Does it Cost to Hire a WordPress Developer for more helpful information.

To summarize…

You might need all or only some of the above—it’s an extensive list to make sure you’re covering all your bases. All in all, just be sure to cover:

  1. Your background information
  2. A high-level summary of the work
  3. A creative brief + deliverables
  4. Testing requirements + timeline
  5. Any expertise the freelancer should have
  6. Technical considerations for the designer like responsive design, SEO, etc.

Want more information and tips on finding design pros? Check out Upwork’s Hiring Guides for articles on how to hire an array of design professionals, from graphic designers and web designers to UI and UX designers.

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