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Hiring the best graphic designer in 2023
Graphic design isn't just a nice flourish for your business. It's table stakes. And good graphic design can embed your brand in your customers' minds and drive revenue.
Your graphic design dictates the way people engage with your brand. Companies are increasingly getting serious about design, with Adobe reporting that 71% of companies are creating 10 times the number of design assets today than they were in prior years. Good design is crucial for a successful business.
But how do you source good design if you're on a budget? Or if you need design assets turned around quickly? Fortunately, freelance graphic designers can help. If you already know you need help from a freelance graphic designer, great! You can post your project and get started now. If you're still on the fence about the best way to get the graphic design you need, read on.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers create visual concepts that communicate ideas. This broad definition could include materials like logos, websites, flyers, posters, advertising, vehicle wraps or even public signage. The work graphic designers do is varied, from magazine layout to creating graphics for television and film. Graphic design is a highly skilled profession, and designers need both creativity and technical know-how. A good graphic designer also needs to know how to communicate well with clients and follow detailed briefs.
How much does it cost to hire a graphic designer?
Cost of hiring a graphic designer
In-house graphic designer
$48,651 USD per year
Depends on the service, but agencies generally charge around $85–$100 USD per hour
Software as a Solution (SaaS)
Canva's premium plan is $9.95 USD per month
Freelance graphic designer
The average project on Freelancer is completed for $140 USD
The cost of your graphic design project will depend on its complexity as well as the solution you choose to get the work done. You could choose to hire an in-house graphic designer, pay an agency, try to do the work yourself using a Software as a Solution (SaaS) service or hire a freelance graphic designer.
The decision whether or not to hire a full-time graphic designer will depend on your long-term graphic design needs. If you're likely to need constant design assets, it may make sense to hire in-house. However, if you just need a few assets such as a logo, website design and brand identity materials, a full-time graphic designer may not be necessary or practical.
A design agency will employ a number of designers and will work with you to determine your needs and the best way to visually communicate your message. The downside of an agency is that you'll be one of a number of clients. Agencies can also be a costly solution.
Cost: The cost will depend on the sort of design work you need done, but expect to pay $85–$100 USD per hour.
Software as a Solution (SaaS)
While technology hasn't quite developed to the point that software can spit out a finished design to your exact specifications, there are tools that make the graphic design process much easier. From online logo generators to full graphic design platforms like Canva, software to help novice graphic designers abounds. However, you should be aware that these platforms often have limited functionality and little room for customization.
Cost: The cost varies depending on the platform. Some basic tools are free. Canva's premium plan is $9.95 USD per month.
Freelance graphic designers
Freelance graphic designers can communicate with you to determine your exact needs, budget and timeframe. They're generally lower cost than an agency, and don't require the long-term commitment of hiring in-house.
Cost: The average graphic design project on Freelancer is completed for $140 USD.
Five reasons why graphic design is important to your business
Now that you know the cost of graphic design, let's look at the return on investment. If you have trouble seeing where graphic design fits into your business strategy, it's worth looking at the reasons other companies have made it a priority.
Your graphic design tells your brand's story to consumers. For many consumers, your design will be the first way they engage with your brand. And your first impression counts. A study by Carleton University found participants took 50 milliseconds to rate the visual appeal of a website. That means you have very little time to make a good impression with your brand. Top-notch graphic design puts your brand on the front foot.
Good design is about more than just your logo. It means visual consistency throughout all your messaging and marketing materials. This consistency allows customers to form a connection to your brand. Inconsistency in your branding, however, makes your brand forgettable and your messaging confusing. It takes 5–7 brand impressions before your brand will stick in a customer's memory. Inconsistent graphic design means it takes longer for consumers to recognise you. Good graphic design also has a long shelf life. A well-designed logo could last your company years, reinforcing a consistent brand identity with your customers.
Graphic design is all about visually communicating your brand's values and proposition to customers. Studies have shown that while people remember 10% of information they hear and 20% of information they hear, they remember 80% of what they see. Add to this the fact that visual input is processed 60,000 times faster than text, and it's clear that what you communicate visually has a powerful impact.
It's difficult to stand out from the crowd. Regardless of your industry, competition for consumers' attention is fierce. A survey by PwC found 56% of CEOs believe cross-sector competition is on the rise. And 54% of CEOs said their business was competing in a new sector, or was considering it.
Good graphic design gives you a competitive advantage. A whitepaper by Adobe found that design-led companies had more satisfied and loyal customers and greater market share than companies with a less mature design approach.
Good graphic design has a measurable impact on business results. According to Adobe, design-focused companies have 1.5 times greater market share than their competitors. This shows on the bottom line as well, with design-driven companies outperforming the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years.
Customers are responsive to good design. A post by Tyton Media pointed out that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content and layout are unattractive. Good graphic design is more than a nice flourish for your business. It's a sales vehicle.
Graphic designers work in a variety of mediums and for a variety of purposes. Some of the visual assets for which you might need a graphic designer:
1. Logo and brand identity design
Your brand identity is the way customers visually connect to your brand, and your logo is the cornerstone of this brand identity. A good logo should trigger for your customers not only the service your brand provides, but how it makes them feel to engage with you. Brand identity flows from your logo, with set colors, fonts and patterns that support your brand.
2. Packaging design
Packaging can have a powerful effect on consumer perception. In 2014, Miller Lite reintroduced a retro can design for its beer. While the corporation's overall sales were down for the year, sales of Miller Lite rose nearly 5% for the year. The product didn't change, but the packaging design connected with consumers.
3. Advertising design
The design of an ad campaign communicates not only the product or service you're selling, but what your brand stands for. It also helps your advertising stand out amongst a sea of competitors. A well-designed ad sticks in customers' memories and connects with them emotionally.
4. UI design
UI, or user interface design, is the look and feel of your website or mobile app. Good UI design makes your site or app visually appealing. More than this, however, good UI removes the roadblocks to users navigating through your site or app. A recent study found 48% of users said a website's design was the number one factor they used to determine the credibility of the business.
5. Publication design
Publication design can cover a wide range of printed materials. It could include books, magazines, newspapers or newsletters. Publication design makes printed materials both visually appealing and readable.
6. Motion graphic design
Motion graphic design has exploded in popularity in recent years. It can include any animated graphic design, and can be used on the web, in film or in television. Motion design can be integrated into video, or can exist on its own as an animated design.
7. Environmental design
Environmental design includes signage, artwork in public spaces, branded environments and public installations. Environmental graphic design helps shape the way people interact with the space around them.
What tools are used in graphic design?
Graphic designers might work with a number of software tools to produce a single design. They may also use photography, video or even pencil and paper to bring your design to life. Some of the software tools a designer might use are photo editing programs, layout programs, vector drawing programs and animation programs.
There are a number of tools you can use to try graphic design yourself. You can either use professional grade vector drawing and photo editing software, or use free programs that provide templates and easy user interface. Professional-grade software can have a steep learning curve and a high cost. Free programs, on the other hand, offer ease of use but limited functionality and room for customization.
The bigger barrier in both cases, however, is that graphic design is a skill that takes years to learn. Both art and science go into crafting visuals that communicate complex themes. If you want your business to look professional to your customers, it's worth hiring a professional.
Why should I hire a freelance graphic designer for my project?
A freelance graphic designer can be a great solution if you need design work done on a budget, but saving money is only one of the benefits of a freelance graphic designer.
Freelance graphic designers can deliver to tight deadlines. Since they don't work the regular 9–5 hours of an agency, they can devote more time to your project. And since freelancers work all over the world, you can find a graphic designer in a time zone that means work can be completed outside your normal business hours.
Hiring a freelancer also means you don't have to go through a long interview process to find an in-house candidate. The hiring process can take 4–6 weeks or longer for an in-house graphic designer, whereas you can find a freelance graphic designer to start your project the same day.
Trust the reviews
A design agency may have excellent reviews, but you don't know who your work will actually be handed to. If you're not a large client, you may find your project assigned to a junior designer without the skills or experience to deliver what you need. A freelancer, however, works as an individual. All the ratings and reviews a freelancer receives reflect their actual work. Moreover, you can view a portfolio of their work to see what they've delivered on previous projects.
Find a specialist
While hiring in-house or using an agency can give you access to skilled generalists, hiring a freelancer gives you the ability to find someone who specialises in exactly the kind of projects you need. Need a band logo? There are freelance graphic designers who solely focus on band logos. Want a motion graphics ad? Find a freelancer whose domain is motion graphics.
Going through an agency means your communication will usually go through a project manager, who will communicate your needs to a designer. Going through a freelance graphic designer means you'll be communicating directly with the person doing the work. You can give immediate feedback and be certain your needs are understood.
You can click the orange "Post a Project" button at the bottom of the page to find a freelance graphic designer for your project, or check out one of the freelancers above. First, however, here are a few tips to ensure you get a design that exceeds your expectations.
Determine your graphic design needs
What design assets does your business need? Do you need a logo? Business cards? A website? Full branding? Know exactly what you want your designer to deliver.
Write a detailed brief
Write a brief to tell designers the deliverable you're looking for, your budget and the timeframe in which you need it. Be as specific as possible.
Post your project
Once you've determined exactly what you need as well as your budget and timeframe, post your project and include all these details. Remember, the more detail you offer, the better you'll be able to determine which designers are best suited to the task. Once you've posted your project, you can expect to receive bids within minutes.
Compare graphic design portfolios
Once graphic designers start to bid on your project, look through some of their portfolios to develop a shortlist. Look for work similar to what's required by your project. Find some designers whose visual style matches your needs. Reach out to a few and communicate further to see who might be the best fit.
Accept the bid that works for you
After you've narrowed the bids to a few qualified candidates, accept the bid that best fits your budget and timeframe. Your freelance graphic designer will get to work on your project, and you can communicate with them every step of the way.