We’ve talked before about how good design can revolutionize your race. But unless you’re a graphic design wizard (and no, your childhood years of experience in MS Paint do not qualify), you’re going to need to hire a professional to keep things looking on point.
Here are 4 things to look for in a graphic design partner for your race:
What type of design do they specialize in?
And what type of graphic design do you need?
Graphic design is not a one-size-fits-all deal. Just because you found someone who designed an awesome logo for you doesn’t mean that they’re the right person to design your online race registration page. If someone delivers A+ race registration websites, that doesn’t mean they won’t deliver C- banner designs.
Graphic designers typically specialize in one or two areas, like logos, websites, or print materials. Before you hire a graphic design partner for your race, it’s super important to pinpoint exactly what your design needs are and then hire someone who specializes in those areas.
Otherwise you’ll end up with a logo that looks like it was designed by Van Gogh and a website that looks like it was designed by Kandinsky.
What does the designer's portfolio look like?
When you’re hiring a graphic design partner for your race, you’re going to want to go through their portfolio with a fine toothed comb.
Keep in mind that a designer’s portfolio is what they consider to be the crème de la crème of their work. So if you think some designs in the portfolio are just ok (or that some designs in the portfolio look like someone colorfully vomited right onto your screen), that's a good signal to move on.
A good rule of thumb is to look at the worst sample in their portfolio and ask yourself the question “If my logo/website/flyers turned out like this, would I be happy?”
If the answer is yes, boom - graphic design partner found. If the answer is no, time to say buh-bye and move right along to greener (and better designed) pastures.
What’s their experience in the race industry?
Now, before all of the designers out there get their knickers in a twist, let me preface this by saying that it’s not 100% necessary to hire a graphic design partner who has direct experience in the big bad world of racing. A good designer will have the ability to adapt their style to suit a variety of different industries.
While it’s not 100% necessary, it’s certainly 100% helpful.
If your design partner already has a solid background in the race world, there are just some things that they are going to “get” without having to do research or you having to tell them. They’ll know what works with your athletes, how to integrate their designs into your race management software and social media and what’s new and edgy in the race world.
Now, do you need someone who’s got the knowledge of the endurance industry in their back pocket? No. But if you can find someone who does, it’s going to save you time and energy in the long run.
How are their communication skills?
Last, but abso-freakin-lutely not least, you're going to want to take a good, hard look at your potential designer's communication skills.
You might be thinking “But I’m not paying them to talk, I’m paying them to design. I don’t care about their communication skills!”
Really, though, you do. Design = visual communication. More importantly, the work they do for you is going to be visually communicating on your behalf to your athletes. You want the communication around your design needs and expectations to be 100% clear.
It's incredibly important that your designer have excellent communication skills. Now, I’m not saying they need to be a Chatty Cathy or an Harvard educated linguistics expert, but they do need to be able to communicate their thoughts clearly, take direction well and just be overall pleasurable to communicate with. If talking to your potential graphic design partner makes you want to a) fall asleep, b) scream or c) scratch your head in complete and utter confusion, it’s safe to say that their communication skills are a wee bit lacking.
Pay close attention to how your potential graphic design partner communicates with you during the interview process and make sure that their style is going to work for you in the long term.
With these tips you should be well on your way to finding the right graphic design partner for your race. Which means you can stop trying to Photoshop things yourself. Huzzah!