This post focuses on giving suggestions on where and how to find a designer for your next project, by showing where they showcase their work. In order to judge designers by what you require, you need to see a range of their work so as to form an opinion to whether they're a good fit. Filtering through the millions of designers in the Google search results can take ages, and in all honesty, not the best way to spend your time. Hopefully, you will get a few pointers on the links below of where designers hang out.
The first thing to do is actually work out what ‘type' of designer you need. If the focus is on your new website, then a web designer will be a better choice than a logo designer, and vice versa. The reason I'm differentiating is not simply because it's better to hire a specialist, but because they show their work of in different ways and different places. Once you've worked out in what ‘niche' your designer lies, I would suggest filtering your scope of graphic or web designers into additional ‘genres'. If you are looking for a logo designer, do you need/want someone local? If not, does the style of logo you require need to be more illustrative and therefore require a particular range of work? Overall, you should try and write down the details of what you need for later. These can be used as search tags to narrow down on a list of designers that may be suitable candidates for getting in touch with. So if I was looking for someone for my project, where would I look and how would I find a designer online for hire?
How to find a Designer to hire online
I would start on Dribbble because the range of designers on there is pretty vast. The standard of work is incredible, and the great thing about Dribbble is that you get to see their work in progress, following along with how the project progresses. Another great feature is the “Explore by Tags” one, in which is where the filtering I mentioned earlier comes to be valuable. Try searching through some of the tags you had written down earlier to see if anything jumps out.
It's incredibly easy to connect and contact designers through their Dribbble profile, which shows their location, personal/professional website and Twitter username. Pro Dribbblers can have an individual “Hire Me” button beside their name, which allows for a quick email to be sent – very handy for quickly asking “are you available?” If that button isn't there, I advise clicking through to their website and looking for either a contact form or email address.
Another helpful feature that I probably should have mentioned first is the “Find Designers” tab. Again, this allows you to filter by skills, which is a valuable and efficient way to narrow down on the appropriate designer for your project.
Behance is another great community/resource for designers and non-designers alike. A constantly changing source of inspiration and design projects in a broad range of fields from web UI to typography. The best advice I can give is similar to Dribbble's. Start filtering down the “creative fields” tab in the navigation, either trying the most appreciated or most viewed projects of the month/year, and then clicking anything that catches the eye.
Behance allows you to post up a job opportunity, but I'd recommend against it unless it's a full-time opening. This is mainly due to the fact it costs $199 – money that could be better spent on the project itself. That brings up another point; personally, I wouldn't pay to post an advert anywhere because the ‘free' resources are more than plentiful and all you need.
Similar to Dribbble, Forrst tends to focus more on the web designers and developers so it’s a good place to start if that’s the type of creative person you need. I’m not overly familiar with it despite having an account, but looking to the Popular Snaps shows some incredible designers on there.
Almost every designer has a Twitter account, or at least, they should. My suggestion would be to send out a tweet asking something specific, such as “I am looking for a mobile app developer for a project, any help?” Or “is there any graphic designers who could help me with an infographic?” – I’m sure you get a few replies. In fact, I posted a while back on how designers can use Twitter to find your tweets.
Cargo Collective allows users to create portfolio sites free of charge in an accessible and useable form, which also looks beautiful. Although searching the site’s users is a little harder, the showcase and featured users are always incredible.
Coroflot is a popular hang out for designers and extended creative industries alike. It also allows for filtering by job type and the less-useful ‘years of experience’ – if their work is incredible, who cares how long they’ve been doing it for? Different I guess if you require a full time Design Manager. Maybe.
There are a lot of designers on Linkedin, but I think many use it for the testimonial feature that works well, as supposed to the connecting. That does bring up a good point, always have a look at their site for previous client reviews or testimonials – if you can’t find any, ask why? Here are my testimonials, by the way.
99Designs / 99 Other Crappy Sites
You can find good logo designers on crowdsourcing and sites that force designers to compete, of course, you can, but the average standard is much lower than the sites listed above. Looking over the work in their portfolios shows an excellent range of clipart on par with the Microsoft stock CD’s from the 90’s. If you need quick logo work with no budget to speak of, 99Designs is an option (I refuse to post a link to them so Google it…)
Ask for suggestions
If you know someone who has just had a rebrand or new website built that you admire, just ask them who they used. They should be happy to refer you, if not, ask why? Ask them how their experience was with said designer – would they hire them again? Were they on-time and professional? I still recommend checking the designer’s portfolio for yourself to make sure the style and skill type is in line with what you need. Mainly because a highly recommended web ninja could be entirely useless to you as an album cover designer. As before, try asking for designer suggestions on Twitter, if you trust your followers they can prove to be a valuable resource.
Well, that’s the basic places I’d start a search with for a graphic or web designer, the assumption being that I would find someone incredible probably before the list is out. If there is anywhere else you think I’ve missed feel free to post a url below and I will add it.