What to ask before hiring a graphic designer

It helps to know exactly what you want when approaching a graphic design agency with a brief as the clearer and more organised you are, the smoother the process will be for both parties. 

Start off by asking yourself: What is the purpose of this publication? Other ways to draw out the answer would be to ask: Who is the audience? What is it to be used for? What environment will it be used in? What is the lifespan of the publication? This will answer a number of specification questions that an estimator will ask you in order to give you an accurate quote. 

  • Paper stock – the kind of paper to be printed on. Annual reports are normally printed on a better quality, thicker matt paper than a company newsletter that is printed on a thinner, glossy paper.
  • Binding – the number of pages and the nature of the publication will dictate whether it is stapled (under ±100 pages) or section sewn.
  • Number of pages – this will impact on the cost. Try to find a good balance between cost and accessibility of the information (don’t compress the text and cut out all the pictures to save money!) Be aware that printed publication pages need to be divisible by four.
  • Paper size and orientation – most reports are A4 portrait, whereas books and brochures differ in shape (which costs more because the printers have to trim). Brochures are more accessible as an A5 size as people place them in bags or briefcases.
  • Full colour/black and white – this impacts on cost. Two-colour is no longer really an option as full colour costs almost the same to produce.
  • Finishing on the cover – if you have a hefty budget to impress your audience with, then you can splash out on foiling, embossing, UV spot varnishing or adding an extra colour.
  • Die-cutting – cutting your publication (or cover) into a shape can give you the added edge over competitors. Folders are die-cut in order to facilitate the flap inside.
  • Pdf version of the document – most clients nowadays ask for a pdf version to accompany their printed publication. Some even ask for their publication to be placed on a branded, interactive CD.
  • Advance copies – you could request a portion of your copies to be delivered earlier than the rest if you have a tight deadline, for instance, a breakfast meeting. Some things like foiling for those copies may have to be sacrificed to meet the deadline, however.
  • Delivery – graphic design studios normally deliver to one address as part of their fee. You may request packaging publications into smaller parcels and delivering to a few of your clients/readers at a fee.

So now that you know what specifications to ask for, send a request for a quote and you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy the process is when you know what to ask for!

By Gaylene Jablonkay, Managing Editor

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