They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but people are often drawn to aesthetics and beauty. Therefore, you cannot underestimate the importance of the presentation of your product, website, brand, or app. In fact, it only takes fifty milliseconds for a person to decide whether or not they like your website, which will determine whether they will stay or leave. Some will even make their literal split second decision in as few as seventeen milliseconds.

To ensure that you make the best first impression possible, it is extremely important to hire a top visual designer. However, this is often easier said than done. The top visual designers are usually in high demand, and finding any candidate, much less good ones, can prove to be tricky.

To aid in this highly important and highly complicated search, here’s a comprehensive guide to foolproof hiring based on the following steps:

  • Perfect Your Job Description
  • Source Candidates from a Variety of Places
  • Browse Portfolios
  • Plan Your Interview Questions
  • Watch for Common Mistakes

Before Hiring:

1. Perfect Your Job Description

As any candidate’s first introduction to both the role and the company itself, your job description is the key to starting out on the right foot. Quality job descriptions are concise, easy to read, and contain only relevant information, but they should not be generic. Every job description should be written specifically for the job itself with details relevant to the role.

Although your description should be role-specific, it doesn’t hurt to start out with a proven template. Most successful job descriptions are separated into multiple sections with relevant headlines, so it is easy for the candidate to read. The following sections are often successful: Company Introduction, Job Description, Responsibilities, and Role Specific Skills/Qualifications.

An overview of your company’s culture, the benefits and perks of working there, and specific aspects of the job are also important to highlight. Your job description should make candidates extremely excited about the prospect of joining your company, or else they might not be convinced to apply. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

2. Source Candidates from a Variety of Places

Even with a stellar job description, you’re not likely to find a top visual designer by posting your description and waiting for all the great designers to come to you. Anyone who adopts this approach will soon realize that top designers aren’t simply flocking to posted job descriptions. In fact designers are so high in demand that they don’t spend a lot of time out of work.

Job descriptions still hold an important place, but employers also need to be intentional in their outreach these days if they want to find a great visual designer. Send your job description around instead of simply posting it. You can start by reaching out to others in your professional network who may have used a visual designer recently. Referrals are a great way for both the designer and the client to know they are being set up with a quality match.

If you don’t have anyone in your network that you can turn to, it’s worth exploring networks of top visual designers that are already in place. Freelance marketplaces for developers and designers are gaining both prominence and quality now that more and more candidates are adopting this work style. Many of the designers in these networks are at the top of their field, have a wealth of experience, and are willing to work with your company on your schedule.

Other options include contacting universities with top design departments and exploring LinkedIn. Options like these may be time consuming but they can be fruitful.

3. Browse Portfolios

The portfolio of a top visual designer should show both breadth and depth. Immediately skip any designer who has not spent time developing a portfolio. Even designers who are new to the trade and have not yet had professional work should have spent time on the side developing their portfolios through their own projects or even through school.

The path to digital design can take many routes, so don’t be afraid to browse portfolios that cover both digital and print work. High quality work in any medium should focus on the details with a final goal of impeccable visual communication. In a portfolio, this is demonstrated through a skilled use of typography, iconography, color, space, and texture to create a visual experience that inspires and engages users on any platform.

Design is a subjective field, but quality visual designers should be able to back up their design choices with logic and reason. Design is not haphazard, and great designers know this. They will have a reason for their choices, and they should be able to communicate that to you or any other potential employer.

4. Plan Your Interview Questions

Aesthetics play a critical role in visual design, but the field is not entirely about how the end product looks. Functionality should also be at the core of any visual design project, and top visual designers should know this. For employers who aren’t well-versed in development and design, it is critical to find a visual designer who is aware of the link between visuals and functionality. But how can an interviewer determine such and awareness, especially when design seems to be such a subjective field?

It always helps to have someone with design experience running your interviews, but all’s not lost if that is not your situation. Above all, it pays off to invest time in establishing a visual design interviewing plan. As a key aspect of this plan, you must determine the right questions to ask, such as:

  • Can you tell us more about your design background?
  • Why did you become a designer?
  • What is your design approach?
  • How would you describe your design research?
  • What software do you use, and when?
  • What field, industry, type of work do you prefer?
  • What do you think of (x) project?
  • What areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
  • How would you describe your work and your influences?
  • Portfolio critique: Please explain the three best products from your portfolio?

With these questions you are looking for both expertise and the ability to explain the visual design process in a way that you or anyone else can understand. The combination of design prowess and the ability to communicate such prowess demonstrates a true mastery of visual design.

After Hiring:

5. Watch for Common Mistakes

If you are able to hire a top visual designer, he or she should be able to manage their own work for the most part. But that does not give you an excuse to step away from the work yourself. After all, any work your designer completes will ultimately be used to represent your business. Instead, you should plan to be somewhat involved in the process by scheduling regular check-ins and keeping up-to-date on progress. Also be sure to watch out for common mistakes as your visual designer starts working:

Failing to consider functionality. How a product looks is extremely important, but a product that doesn’t work at the same time will be worthless. Functionality and digital design go hand-in-hand, and you should make sure your designer does not forget it.

Miscommunication. This problem can go both ways. If your designer does understand what you want from your project, you are likely to wind up disappointed. At the same time, if your designer cannot communicate his or her progress clearly to you, you will have no idea where your project stands. Scheduling regular check-ins, as mentioned above, can be an easy way to try avoid any misinterpretation getting too out of hand.

Font and color overload. Too many different kinds of type looks crowded, messy, and unprofessional. The same goes for color. Establish 2 or three main colors and fonts at the beginning of your project, and keep them consistent throughout the project. Also keep such details consistent across all platforms for the most cohesive look.

Any top visual designer you hire should be familiar with these design mistakes as well as many others. But it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with mistakes to look for. Following this guide won’t guarantee that you will end up with a great designer, but it sure will help you avoid a lot of bad ones. Feel free to leave a comment below with advice that might have been missed!

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