Creative / Design / Copy

5 Questions Every Church must Ask Before Hiring a Graphics Designer

Whitney leaning against a railing on a downtown street
Photograph by Krisztian Tabori

It can be challenging to find the right graphic designer for your needs. And when you finally do, it’s often difficult to communicate just what you need in a way that will make sense to them. This is because every project and client are different. Graphic designers have many skills, but they primarily work with images, logos, illustrations and typography to communicate messages visually. What sets these professionals apart from other creatives is their understanding of design principles like balance and contrast which help guide their decisions on how best present information graphically. The following article features five questions that every church needs to ask before they hire a graphic designer.

"What kind of projects would you like to do?"

Some designers are more skilled in one area than others. When looking for a designer, it's important to choose someone who is experienced with the type of work that your ministry needs done on a regular basis. For example, if your church already has a history of print work and you don't foresee the need for web design needs for this applicant, it doesn't make much sense to choose a designer who specializes primarily in web design. Similarly, if you're looking to create banners and posters but aren't planning on publishing any books or magazines soon, then hiring someone who specializes in print design makes more sense.

"What is your favorite project you've ever worked on?"

The best way to understand the quality of a designer's work is to view some examples. Ask them about their most recent projects and which ones they're the most proud of. Once you've gone through their portfolio, ask for recommendations from past clients. This will tell you even more about their work and how well they performed for others in the past.

"What is your design process like?"

Every designer has a unique approach to each project, but it's best to hire someone with an established process that works for them. A good designer knows the questions that need to be asked before they even begin a project. They should have methods to gather information about the ministry's goals and target audience in order to design something that will make an impact. Each stage in the process should be clearly defined as well so there is no confusion as you go through it together. It's also important for a designer to have backup plans just in case anything unexpected occurs. For example, what if after the design is completed and approved, one of your project managers comes to them with a change that will take extra time to create?

"How do you perform working under deadlines?"

For many churches, timelines can be challenging because there is often so much going on from one week to the next. A graphic designer must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality. Creative professionals work best when given adequate time to complete projects, but sometimes this isn't possible, especially for nonprofits that don't have an abundance of resources. It's important to know how your designer will handle a demanding schedule ahead of time so there won't be any unexpected issues that leave you scrambling at the last minute.

"Do you like to work alone or in collaboration with others?"

There are times when a church will have to choose between hiring one graphic designer who can do it all or several different designers that each specialize in their own areas of expertise. For example, you may need someone who is skilled at logo design and another person who specializes in print design. Generally speaking, larger churches with a greater number of internal resources may be able to hire one person who does it all while smaller churches may need several different creatives to get the job done. You should carefully consider what your resources are before making this decision and only choose a strategy that makes sense for you.

Bonues Question: "Do you have any questions for me?"

Everyone wants to know exactly what they're paying for and what the deliverables are. Asking as many questions as possible is a great way to determine if the professional has an understanding of your ministry goals. You should also ask any questions that you have for them so you can get a better picture of their personality and how they work.

Work the Process

The graphic designer is responsible for creating images, logos and illustrations in order to communicate ideas or messages visually. A church must ask themselves 5 questions before hiring a graphics designer: 1) What kind of projects do you like to do?, 2) What are your favorite projects you've ever worked on? 2) What is your design process like? 4) How do you perform working under deadlines?, 5) Do you like to work alone or with others?, 6) Do you have any questions for me? The first two question will give your church an idea of what they can expect from that particular person with regards to their work-fit with your church. It's also important to also consider how well they handle time constraints because some designers may be able to finish their project more quickly than others. The last two questions should help answer if this individual would fit into the church's current culture as they indicate how well they will mesh with your current staff.

After going through these five important questions, you should have some idea about whether or not this designer is the right one for your church ministry.