In a world of images and branding, every company needs a talented design team for marketing and communications. It’s not always possible for small businesses to keep permanent teams. Even the companies that have dedicated designers may need additional help for large or specialty projects. Hiring an outsourced design team is easier and more cost-effective for some of today’s small businesses. There are reputable and talented companies that provide high-quality design services.
These companies have scores of professional designers ready to work as individual talents or as part of a team. Small businesses need a set of guidelines and steps to help them choose the right people. They need to interview the talent and check references. They must establish new relationships and vet the designers’ credentials. Once they choose their design team, small business owners must manage them wisely.
With the list we provide, they can go through the steps to make sure they hire the right people for the right jobs.
Thirteen Steps Small Business Owners Should Take When They Outsource Design Projects
Design capability is a vital part of every successful business. We live in a visual world. From company websites to social media we communicate by taking in what we see and judging it accordingly. Long gone are the days when a company start-up could simply pay for letterhead and a logo. To be competitive today a small business must have graphic design talent available to it as the need arises. Luckily it is reliable and increasingly affordable to outsource design work. Rather than having permanent salaries they can ill afford, businesses can hire the talent they need at the time they need it. We cover thirteen steps small business owners can take to make good decisions while hiring outsourced design teams. There are several companies and websites that offer first-rate design services. Small businesses have more choices than ever to get the quality work they need.
Why Should You Outsource Your Design Team Work?
There are several benefits to hiring an outsourced design team. An important factor is saving money. As vital as it is to have graphic design talent on board, smaller companies may not have the work volume to justify keeping a team at the ready. Versatility is yet another element to consider. As talented as a designer may be, there are limits. Your company may have a variety of jobs that go beyond the scope of a single designer or group. Finally, there’s also the benefit of gaining outside opinions. A creative person who isn’t part of the daily routine may have a fresh perspective on design ideas for the company.
The 13 Steps
Here are thirteen suggestions for successfully hiring an outside design team. Whether you bring on one person or a group of people, these steps help you make better choices.
1. Hire Qualified People
Always hire people with the skill set that fits the job. Since this isn’t a permanent position, you can feel free to specialize instead of looking for a ‘jack-of-all-trades’. You can be as particular as you like. If you need an e-commerce specialist, you can hire them. Maybe you need a designer who understands marketing to children. Whatever capabilities you require, feel comfortable looking specifically for them.
2. Interview Your Prospects
Do a proper job interview, as though you want prospective designers as permanent hires. It’s not that you’re actually trying to bring them on board, but you should know as much about them like anyone else who enters your company. Don’t just get blown away by a designer’s talent. Like any other employee, if you can’t work with them, it doesn’t matter how good they are.
3. Get Sufficient References
Don’t rely on simply pouring through online portfolios. Dig into the weeds a little. Require that your prospects provide you with references you can contact. There’s nothing like the real opinion of a ‘live’ person to tell you whether or not a designer is reliable. The same holds true for an assessment of the designer’s talent. There may be things you don’t know by simply looking at work samples or job descriptions. Talking to a person ‘who was there’ can help you fill in the blanks and make a good decision.
4. Research Client Satisfaction
It’s good to know what former clients thought of a designer’s work. Even if they recommend the person, are they still using their designs? Do they value the work enough for it to still represent their company, or its services and products? These opinions go a long way towards letting you know if the person you want to hire is really worth the money. If the work they do only follows fads and ultimately becomes dated, that designer may not be the right fit for you.
5. Do Pilot Projects First
Be incremental with your early workloads. Get to know your designers. Find out how they work before trusting them with large, important projects. . There may be places where you bump heads or miscommunicate. You may get around those difficulties or they may be insurmountable. Starting with small projects keeps you from making a mistake. Keep the stakes small until you develop a stronger working relationship.
6. Provide A Clear Structure
Make sure everyone understands what is expected of them. Have a clear vision for your project and be certain your designers understand it. If people know their hours, salary, and the scope of their duties, they’ll do a better job, and you can monitor their progress. Having a good road map keeps you on track through miscommunications or mistakes. If the destination and path are clear, people have a better chance of arriving when they should.
7. Establish Good Working Relationships
Even though you’re outsourcing, there are times when you must work with a contractor repeatedly. It’s always important to be cordial and have good relationships. That’s especially true of people whose talents you use again and again.
8. Confirm Proper Communications Early
Test the communication waters early. Start as early as the interview process to see if you’re getting the response times and level of detail you require. It’s difficult to adjust properly when bad habits are established early. It’s even harder if you don’t check communication habits and capabilities before the stakes get too high.
9. Establish Common Work Hours
Make sure your common work and meeting times are good for everyone. It’s a foregone conclusion you may hire design team members from outside your native time zone. You could very well be working with someone on the other side of the globe. Unless someone makes an adjustment, your work and leisure times could literally be polar opposites. It may not be important that your actual work times are in sync. Usually, it’s sufficient to have agreed upon communication and turn-around times. Be clear up-front and set schedules that you know will work.
10. Have Designers Do Their Jobs Only
Let people do the job you hired them to do, and only hire them for jobs that fit their training. It may sound efficient to have a programmer who’s also a talented designer. Most often, however, such overlap only muddies the waters.
Trying to combine major duties under one person’s hat usually means one of the major components suffers badly. It’s better to have someone who’s focused and expert at what they do. As hinted earlier, you don’t want a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ who’s ‘a master of none’.
11. Remove Poor Workers Quickly
Outsourcing your design team requires working with people in a variety of settings. Get rid of poor performers early. Whether the designer really can’t cut it or is merely having a bad time, it’s unimportant if their performance is costing you money. Better to cut ties and let both parties be on their way than to delay and only make matters worse.
12. Always Add To Your Talent List
Always make a note of talented designers and keep them on a growing list. You never know when your favorite team member may be busy, and you’ll need a replacement.
13. Trust Your Instincts
Your gut call is actually the best call. Most first impressions generally have some truth about them. If you don’t think you can work with somebody, you probably can’t. Conversely, if you think a designer is an answer to your prayers, don’t look that gift horse in the mouth.